“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.
“If you’re good at it, and you love it, and it helps you navigate the river of the world, then it can’t be wrong.”
— Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Sherman Alexie is a preeminent creative nonfiction writer with award-winning novels, short stories, poems, and film writing experience. Alexie draws upon his experiences growing up as an indigenous Native Indian in the Spokane Reservation in most of his published works, and attempts to bring readers’ attention to the repressions of his tribe and the suffering and problems of Native Indians with engaging emotive writing and wit. Along with his semi-autobiographical novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, some of Alexie’s other most notable works include The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, Reservation Blues, The Toughest Indian, and War Dances.
“The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.”
– Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie
Bestselling author Mitch Albom is recognized around the world for his inspirational works and active participation in charities. Having started his career as a sports writer, Albom moved on to start a literary career that deal with such interpersonal topics as mortality, morality, faith, and love. Besides Albom’s account of his relationship with a sociology professor confronting his terminal illness in Tuesdays with Morrie, his first serious work separate from sports columns, Albom’s other works—such as The Five People You Meet in Heaven, For One More Day, The Time Keeper, and The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto—all carry a weighty message that demand reflection after reading. Some of Albom’s charities are S.A.Y. Detroit, Working Homes/Working Families, A Time to Help, and Have Faith Haiti.
“Gratitude, not understanding, is the secret to joy and equanimity.”
Anne Lamott is a progressive political activist and writing teacher along with producing novels and autobiographical nonfiction. Known for a great sense of openness and self-deprecating humor, Lamott covers various topics in alcoholism, depression, and single-motherhood. Some of her nonfiction and fiction work include Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son’s First Son, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, and Crooked Little Heart. Due to her strong following on social media, Lamott is often deemed the “People’s Author” and writes in a style that Howard Freeman calls ‘particularism.’ Lamott has been awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship in 1985 and was inducted in the California hall of Fame in 2010.
“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
— Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou is one of the most prominent American writers, activists, and creative minds in our recent history. Angelou has an extensive list of published works, including the famous biography of her youth I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, The Heart of a Woman, and Letter to My Daughter, among other titles. Angelou also has published poetry collections. Angelou, throughout her life, has accumulated over 50 honorary degrees, as well as winning the highest civilian honor from President Barack Obama later in her life. She was still actively writing and working on other art and civil awareness projects until her death in 2014.