Required Reading: 10 Women Writers We Love


The recent showdown between Jezebel and The Daily Show got us thinking about our own favorite writers of the fairer sex. To show our support, we thought we’d give a shout-out to the female writers who currently have us crushing, wordsmith-style. We kept things simple, sticking to living authors only (sorry Louisa May Alcott), and in no way mean for this to be a definitive list of the “best” women writers. After the jump, our top picks for the lovely ladies who leave us weak at the literary knees. And of course, let us know in the comments if we’ve missed your object of authorly affection.

1. Sloane Crosley Why we love her: She’s the female David Sedaris. Best known for: Her two books of humorous essays,


The line that made us fall for her: “It was a Sunday night, and it’s a well-known fact that calling in sick on a Sunday night is a fancy way of saying ‘three-day weekend.’ I settled on the infinitely dodgier but always effective alternative: a death in the family.”

2. Aimee Bender Why we love her: Her latest literary venture (another delicately-worded contemporary fairy tale),

, takes emotional eating to a whole new level. Best known for:


, both short story collections The line that made us fall for her: “The world had matched what he’d dreamed up, and he settled himself inside what they’d made.”

3. Kendra Wilkinson Why we love her: We’ll cop to a soft spot in our hearts for this Girl Next Door, who strikes us as just dumb enough to be pitied and not judged. While we’d deny it in public, this book is currently perched on our nightstand. Best known for: Sliding Into Home, having sex with an 81-year-old man The line that made us fall for her: “I was starstruck, but I didn’t act like it. I simply went up to Brooke Burke, gave her a Jell-O shot, and politely told her that I loved her. I was cool like that.”

4. Miranda July Why we love her: The filmmaker, artist, pillowcase maker, and author delivers quirk with endearing charm. Best known for:


The line that made us fall for her: “This person suddenly feels the need to check her post office box. It is an old habit, and even if everything is going to be terrific from now on, this person still wants mail.”

5. Barbara Kingsolver Why we love her: She’s been anointed by Oprah and accused of “screwing up America” by the far right, giving her an immediate Badass Pass in our book. Best known for:


The line that made us fall for her: “I pictured us wading through piles of salad greens, breast stroking into things like tomatoes, basil and mozzarella. I snapped out of it, recognizing this was not a very normal daydream.”

6. Heidi W. Durrow Why we love her: Durrow deftly navigates the fluidity of racial identity and cultural connections in her honest, absorbing debut. (She was also the winner of the 2008 Bellwether Prize for Fiction, an award established by Kingsolver.) Best known for:

The line that made us fall for her: “I feel my middle fill up with sounds that no one else understands. Then they reach my throat. What if these sounds get stuck in me?”

7. Sarah Vowell Why we love her: Vowell validates our inner history geek. She was also the voice of Violet in The Incredibles. Best known for:



The line that made us fall for her: “Once I knew my dead presidents and I had become insufferable, I started to censor myself. There were a lot of get-togethers with friends where I didn’t hear half of what was being said because I was sitting there, silently chiding myself, Don’t bring up McKinley. Don’t bring up McKinley.”

8. Jean Kwok Why we love her: Born in Hong Kong, raised in New York and now living in Holland, Kwok knows how it feels to be the new girl in town, and it shows in her debut novel. Best known for:

The line that made us fall for her: “There’s a Chinese saying that the fates are winds that blow through our lives from every angle, urging us along the paths of time. Those who are strong-willed may fight the storm and possibly choose their own road, while the weak must go where they are blown. I say I have not been so much pushed by winds as pulled forward by the force of my decisions.”

9. Erica Jong Why we love her: Jong paved the way for Carrie & Co. to talk about sex with a frankness formerly reserved just for men. Best known for:


The line that made us fall for her: “And the crazy part of it was even if you were clever, even if you spent your adolescence reading John Donne and Shaw, even if you studied history or zoology or physics and hoped to spend your life pursuing some difficult and challenging career, you still had a mind full of all the soupy longings that every high-school girl was awash in… underneath it, all you longed to be was annihilated by love…”

10. Beverly Cleary Why we love her: While Judy Blume gets all the YA glory, it was Cleary who got us through a childhood marked by hand-me-down clothes and a bad bowl cut. Best known for:



The line that made us fall for her: “Ramona knew what new babies meant — a stroller in the hall, a playpen in the living room, a high chair in the kitchen, tiny clothes strewn around, plastic toys underfoot, Zwieaback crumbs sticking to chairs. Of course she could not expect her friends to get excited about the Quimby’s new baby.”