1. The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan
Tan's 2013 novel about three generations of women is set primarily in China in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Narrated by Violet and her mother Lulu, the novel follows both women on after the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1912, Violet to a courtesan house and Lulu to America. As Lesley Downer writes in a New York Times Review of the book, "Here are strong women struggling to survive all that life has to throw at them, created by a writer skilled at evoking the roil of emotions and mad exploits they experience when they follow their hearts."
2. White Teeth by Zadie Smith
Written in 2000, White Teeth is the story of two families in London. Samad Iqbal and Archie Jones, friends from when they fought in World War II both struggle with their marriages, their children and their beliefs. A review on bookbrowse.com raves about the book, saying, "A winning debut in every respect, White Teeth marks the arrival of a wondrously talented writer who takes on the big themes--faith, race, gender, history, and culture--and triumphs."
3. I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
The true story of Malala Yousafzai, a young Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban after advocating for young girls in her country and their right to education. On October 12, 2012, Malala was shot by the Taliban for her work and treated in a military hospital in Peshawar. Malala continued to organize after her recovery and won the noble piece prize in 2014, soon after the book's publication in 2013. Fatima Bhutto writes in a review from The Guardian that "Malala's fight should be ours too – more inclusion of women, remembrance of the many voiceless and unsung Malalas, and education for all."
4. Home by Toni Morrison
Home, which was published in 2012, tells the story of 24-year-old Korean War veteran Frank Money, who is rediscovering home and what that means, if it means anything at all. Frank bounces around from streets to mental institutions to churches, until he hears his sister Cee needs him. In the length of a novella, Morrison manages to cover homelessness, mental illness, and family. As stated in a Publishers Weekly review, the novel is "Beautiful, brutal, as is Morrison's perfect prose."
5. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
The autobiography of actress, executive producer and director Mindy Kaling, the book covers Kalings life up until its publication date in 2011. Kaling speaks to her experience as the daughter of two Indian immigrants, her career from an intern on Late Night With Conan O'Brien to the producer and star of The Mindy Project and so much more. As a review in Barnes & Noble claims, "In Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls."
6. Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat
Published in 1994 by then 25-year-old Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat, Breath, Eyes, Memory tells the story of Sophie Caco, raised in Haiti by her aunt until her mother whom she has never met summons her to New York so they can be together. The book covers gender and racial violence, familial connection and the power of women. A review from Oprah's Book Club calls Danticat "a writer who evokes the wonder, terror, and heartache of her native Haiti—and the enduring strength of Haiti's women—with a vibrant imagery and narrative grace that bear witness to her people's suffering and courage."
7. Woman at Point Zero by Nawal El Saadawi
Woman at Point Zero (1975) tells the story of Firdaus, imprisoned for murder in Egyptian. After accepting a visit from a psychiatrist hours before she is to be killed, Firdaus tells the other woman about what its like to be used, the value of power and what it means to have pleasure. In doing so, the reader understands how an act that seems so atrocious at first glance may have been Firdaus' saving grace. Former Iranian Minister of Women's Affairs Mahnaz Afkahmi calls the book "a ground breaking publication" in an interview on The Diane Rehm Show.