“The book itself is a curious artifact, not showy in its technology but complex and extremely efficient: a really neat little device, compact, often very pleasant to look at and handle, that can last decades, even centuries. It doesn’t have to be plugged in, activated, or performed by a machine; all it needs is light, a human eye, and a human mind. It is not one-of-a-kind, and it is not ephemeral. It lasts. It is reliable. If a book told you something when you were fifteen, it will tell it to you again when you’re fifty, though you may understand it so differently that it seems you’re reading a whole new book.”
—Ursula K. Le Guin, “Staying Awake: Notes On the Alleged Decline of Reading,” Harper’s Magazine
Ursula K. Le Guin is an American novelist, poet, and essayist who is most recognized for her influential work in the science fiction and fantasy genre. Though private with her personal life, she is famous for the quality and sophistication of the characters and worlds she creates. She received many accolades to commend her influential writings, including winning multiple Hugo Awards, Nebula Awards, World Fantasy Awards, and receiving a National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. She is also one of the few women to be given the honor of being made a Grand Master of Science Fiction.
With numerous inspirational titles that are all great and thought-provoking reads, some of Le Guin’s better known books to start with are her Earthsea series, the Hainish Cycle series, The Lathe of Heaven, and Lavinia.
“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”
–Anne Bradstreet, “Meditations Divine and Moral,” The Works of Anne Bradstreet
Anne Bradstreet was one of the most prominent early English poets in North America as well as the first female writers in the North American colonies to be published.
Inspired by the work of Guillaume de Salluste Du Bartas, Bradstreet’s poetry read similar to his, but soon she developed her own unique writing style centering on her role as a mother, her struggles with the sufferings of life, and her Puritan faith.
Some of her works include: Several Poems Compiled with Great Variety of Wit and Learning, The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America, and The Flesh And The Spirit
“You have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world, and you have to do it all the time.”
—Angela Davis during a lecture at Southern Illinois University
Angela Davis is a lifelong activist icon for many movements, from feminism to race to prisoners’ rights. As a scholar, philosopher, and writer, Davis is able to bring attention and advocate on academic and literary platforms for important social issues.
One of Davis’s most famous title Women, Race, & Class provides a poignant look at the women’s liberation movement, civil rights issues, and classism in America. Other notable titles from Davis include her follow-up Women, Culture, & Politics, Freedom is a Constant Struggle, and her self-titled autobiography.
“When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else.”
—Toni Morrison, in an interview for O: The Oprah Magazine
Toni Morrison is an American author, editor, literary critic, playwright, and professor. She has won numerous honorable literary and humanitarian distinctions throughout her life, such as the Nobel Prize in Literature, the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Morrison’s focus on the black experience in America, as well as her refusal to include the white gaze in her works or to write for a white reading audience, is something she credits to making her works standout amongst other writers.
Morrison’s most notable works of fiction include The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon, Beloved, and her most recently published work God Help the Child. Some of her noteworthy nonfiction titles are Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination, Birth of a Nation’hood, and Burn This Book.
“Change requires intent and effort. It really is that simple.”
—Roxane Gay, “Beyond the Measure of Men,” Bad Feminist
Roxane Gay is an essayist, writer, editor, public speaker, and professor. Gay has made a name for herself for her exemplary essay collections on feminism, namely works she featured in Bad Feminist. Some of her other works are fiction novels An Untamed State and short story collection Difficult Women.
Gay is also one of the writers for Marvel’s comic series Black Panther: World of Wakanda along with poet Yona Harvey, and together they are the first black women to be lead writers for Marvel.
In between books and tours, Gay shares her poetry, links various works,and shares her thoughts on a wide array of topics on her personal blog.
“In my years, I have seen that people must be their own gods and make their own good fortune. The bad will come or not come anyway.”
—Octavia Butler, Wild Seed
Influential science fiction writer Octavia Butler was a true genius of the genre, amassing a strong following for her series, standalone novels, and short stories.
Committed since her youth to becoming a popular science fiction author, Butler persevered tirelessly to make a name for herself despite the challenge of being black and a woman in a genre dominated by white male authors. Not only did Butler succeed at establishing herself as a famous author, she also won prestigious awards, such as the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, and the Locus Award. She was the first science fiction author honored with the MacArthur Foundation fellowship.
The quote above was pulled from Butler’s prequel for her Patternist series,which approaches serious real-world topics such as sexism and slavery, to name a few, unflinchingly through supernatural characters and situations. Other noteworthy series from her include her Xenogenesis trilogy and the Earthseed books.
“I have sometimes dreamt, at least, that when the Day of Judgment dawns and the great conquerors and lawyers and statesmen come to receive their rewards—their crowns, their laurels, their names carved indelibly upon imperishable marble—the Almighty will turn to Peter and will say, not without a certain envy when He sees us coming with our books under our arms, ‘Look, those need no reward. We have nothing to give them here. They have loved reading.’ “
—Virginia Woolf, “How Should One Read a Book?” The Common Reader
Complementing this quote that encourages people to be avoid reading passively, all of Virginia Woolf’s literary abilities went toward ensuring her essays and books could be actively engaged with. Born Adeline Virginia Stephen, Woolf grew up surrounded by books and creative company, influences that would later lead her to become a valuable member of the Bloomsbury Group. She is often cited as being a revolutionary writer for the modernist movement, writing about feminism in works such as Orlando, A Room of One’s Own, and Mrs. Dalloway. Three Guineas is another famous work of hers that expresses feminist themes and her stance against fascism. She also explored her depression and struggles with mental health in her works.
With her husband and fellow Bloomsbury Group member, Leonard, Woolf went on to start the Hogarth Press, which is presently an imprint The Crown Publishing Group of Penguin Random House.
The Pace University Press has also published works in honor of Virginia Woolf: Virginia Woolf and Trauma: Embodied Texts, Women in the Milieu of Leonard and Virginia Woolf, Virginia Woolf: Selected Papers, and Woolf Across Cultures.
“You’ve got a chance to start out all over again. A new place, new people, new sights. A clean slate. See, you can be anything you want with a fresh start.”
—Annie Proulx, The Shipping News
A nature enthusiast who captures and pins the wonder of the outdoors in all her literary works, Annie Proulx established herself as a short story writer, novelist, and journalist. Once an active camper, skier, hunter, and white water rafter, Proulx prefers now to dedicate her time to writing and hiking through forests and her vast farmlands for inspiration. Proulx won the 1994 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction and the National Book Award for The Shipping News and has won the 1993 PEN/Faulkner Prize for Postcards. Her short story, “Brokeback Mountain,” was first published in The New Yorker before getting an Academy Award winning movie adaption.
“As we head into 2017, we can expect that our civic and cultural life will remain turbulent. In these times it is especially important to remember that as publishers we will always endeavor to give voice to a wide range of opinions and divergent viewpoints. We publish for many different and frequently conflicting audiences, and must be fully cognizant of our responsibility to resist censorship and stand unequivocally for freedom of speech, no matter how difficult that might be at times.”
—Carolyn Reidy, President and CEO of Simon & Schuster, in her “year-end message” to S&S staff around the world
Carolyn Reidy is one of the highest ranking women in publishing, having been the President and CEO at Simon & Schuster Inc. since 2008. Reidy experienced many different jobs across the publishing industry; since 1976, she’s worked her way into becoming a subsidiary rights director, a president and publisher of imprints and trade divisions, and associate publisher to now being in charge of all domestic and international publishing operations for Simon & Schuster. Reidy also currently serves on the Boards of Directors of the Association of American Publishers, the National Book Foundation, and Literacy Partners, Inc. Reidy’s forward thinking and open-mindedness about important issues, ranging from how she thinks of gender in the workplace to the future of digital publishing, provide an exemplary platform for publishing hopefuls to consider when shaping how they want to one day impact the publishing industry.
“I learned by patience and persistence that everything has a point of balance. You just have to find it.”
– Amy Tan
Indulging in themes of heritage, family, and assimilation, Amy Tan is an author that captures lively storytelling. While most of her work speaks to the relationship between mother and daughter, all her works draw from her Chinese and American backgrounds. Some of Tan’s most notable works include The Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God’s Wife, The Moon Lady, The Bonesetter’s Daughter, and The Valley of Amazement.