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Five female-centric books that celebrate the everyday woman

In March, we honor in all genres, fiction and nonfiction, the courageous, the extraordinary, the powerhouse women who broke down barriers, pushed back against the status quo, or lived their lives in defiance of gender norms. I'm sure you're picturing the name or face of a woman on whom you once wrote a school report because of her shining accomplishments, eloquent words, and bold actions.

I have no doubt she deserves all the praise and attention her remarkable life warranted, but ruminating on those achievements makes me think, "What have I done with my life?!"

What about the other 99.9% of women whose names will never be in a history book? The "every-woman" who spends her days doing "ordinary" things. Those are the women we are or know. Remembering to put on deodorant before I leave the house may be my biggest accomplishment in a day.

So this March, I encourage you to read female-centric books with women you can relate to, commiserating as they navigate friendships, romance, mental health struggles, grief, and the general mundanity of human existence.

As they find their strength and joy among their "every-woman" woes, it brings me comfort that maybe I'm not doing so bad myself. I hope you get a little boost from these contemporary, everyday -- albeit fictional -- women, too.

Gallery Books

The Many Treasures of Amy Ashton by Eleanor Ray
(Neuro-diverse, New Beginnings, Fiction)

Amy Ashton is the kind of protagonist who you just want to reach through the pages and give her a hug. She once dreamed of becoming an artist—of creating beautiful objects. But now she simply collects them. Aquamarine bottles, bright yellow crockery, deep Tuscan red pots (and the odd slow-cooker) take up every available inch of space in her house.

Having suffered a terrible tragedy, she’s decided that it’s easier to love things than people. Things are safe. Things will never leave you. But when a new family moves in next door with two young boys, one of whom has a collection of his own, Amy’s carefully managed life starts to unravel, prompting her to question why she began to close herself off in the first place.

The Music of Bees by Eileen Garvin
(Ability-diverse, Dealing with Grief, Mental Health, Found Family, Fiction)

I love a woman with a passionate hobby. Forty-four-year-old Alice Holtzman raises honeybees in her spare time to escape from her soul-sucking job and begin healing from the sudden death of her husband. Her bees, or her girls as she calls them, bring her the only joy she can find these days.

Alice has begun having panic attacks whenever she thinks about how her life hasn't turned out the way she dreamed. In the grip of a panic attack, she nearly collides with Jake--a troubled, paraplegic teenager--while carrying 120,000 honeybees to expand her queendom in the back of her pickup. Charmed by Jake's sincere interest in her bees and seeking to rescue him from his toxic home life, Alice surprises herself by inviting Jake to her farm.

And then there's Harry, a twenty-four-year-old with debilitating social anxiety and desperate for work who applies to be Alice's handyman. As an unexpected friendship blossoms among the unlikely trio when they unite for the sake of the bees against a nefarious pesticide company moving into town.


Ghosts by Dolly Alderton
(Romantic Relationships, Female Friendship in Adulthood, Memory, Fiction)

If you have never ventured into the world of online dating, this book will make you glad you haven't. If you have, then you have probably experienced something similar to Nina Dean's foray into the virtual meet/meat-market.

Nina has arrived at her early thirties as a successful food writer with loving friends and family, plus a new home and neighborhood. Sounds nice, right? Wrong. Nina's life is filled with the ghosts of dreams, relationships, and memories past. Professional success aside, her personal life is not where she expected it to be by her thirties. Hence the online dating and entrance of a man who could be her dream guy.

After a whirlwind few months of dating (and a half serious declaration of marriage on the first date), her leading man might not be as keen on their relationship as he pretended to be.


Mika in Real Life by Emiko Jean
(Family, Adoption, Fiction)

The feeling of not accomplishing what you thought you would by a certain age is exacerbated by several other complicated factors in this heartwarming novel of mothers and daughters.

At thirty-five, Mika Suzuki’s life is a mess. Her last relationship ended in flames. Her roommate-slash-best friend might be a hoarder. She’s a perpetual disappointment to her traditional Japanese parents. And, most recently, she’s been fired from her latest dead-end job.

Mika is at her lowest point when she receives a phone call from Penny—the daughter she placed for adoption sixteen years ago. Penny is determined to forge a relationship with her birth mother, and in turn, Mika longs to be someone Penny is proud of. Faced with her own inadequacies, Mika embellishes a fact about her life.

What starts as a tiny white lie slowly snowballs into a fully-fledged fake life, one where Mika is mature, put-together, successful in love and her career. All she shares with her daughter of her feelings, dreams, and passions is true, but which version of Mika, the true to life or the imagined version, is the real one?

Amazon Publishing

The After Party by A.C. Arthur
(Female Friendship, LGBT, Mystery)

How many of us have complained with coworkers about someone at work (all hands raised), but then how many have woken up the morning after that gripe session to learn the subject of their complaints has turned up murdered? I'm guessing (hoping) fewer hands are raised.

That is exactly what happens, however, to Venus McGee, Draya Carter, and Jackie Benson, coworkers with a lot in common in a competitive and often toxic workplace. They’re smart, independent, driven, and deserving of recognition—certainly more than they’ve been handed by a demoralizing boss, who is the topic of conversation at their impromptu get-together after the company holiday party where the threesome fantasizes about a life without him.

When morning comes, Venus, Draya, and Jackie are blindsided by the news of his murder that forces them to navigate a hair-raising detour they never saw coming. What starts as a necessary bond of mutual trust soon morphs into an empowering and galvanizing friendship that Venus, Draya, and Jackie need now more than ever.

For more fiction recommendations and a few nonfiction, here is a list of a these and a few more titles for you to check out from the Tulsa City-County Library.

A lifelong reader of all genres and an aspiring fiction author, Carissa Kellerby has worked at several locations during her 13 years with the Tulsa City-County Library and is currently the manager of the Jenks Library.