Emily Catherine Mealor is a Raleigh native who works to show how creative expression can empower citizens, build resilient communities, and change the world! Currently, she lives in Durham with too many house plants and too few bookshelves. In her free time, she enjoys theatre, fiber arts, tabletop games, Bollywood movies, tennis, and anything Harry Potter. Happy to have been part of the amazing QRB family since 2014, she can recommend sci-fi/fantasy and creative nonfiction, tell you whether your online order has been processed, and explain how to support your local bookstore if you prefer audio books.
Describing my connection to this book often feels rather trite and clichéd, but I really do feel that this novel changed my life (or—at the very least—led me to my English degree, writing career, and bookselling gig). I’ve even got the tattoo to prove it!
Ibsen is the one man on the list. Written and performed in 19th century Europe, this play was considered so scandalous by some (women thinking for themselves? Oh, the horra!) that Ibsen was forced to write an alternative, “suitable” ending for certain stages—an act of revision he called a “barbaric outrage.”
Flannery is my spirit animal in all the ways. She was critiquing hypocrisy long before it was cool. These stories may keep you up at night, but the realizations you’ll come to while lying there in bed are all too important to miss out on. I’ve got a tattoo related to her as well!
Could there be a better time for this essay? Every woman in the arts should read this book and consider the realities of those that came before us. If you’re wanting to totally nerd out over it, try the Eileen Atkins dramatic interpretation, the one VHS tape you’ll keep your VCR to watch.
From the first page, Esperanza settles you into her new neighborhood—the smells, the sounds, the idiosyncrasies of her family and neighbors. You’ll follow her winding prose through hope, fear, and heartbreak; this book is for all those who dreamed of escaping, and all the ones they’d have to leave behind.
Jane Austen is hilarious! This book features some of the best quippy one-liners, darkest humor, and the single greatest proposal scene literature has to offer. Make some jasmine tea, put on the soundtrack to the Keira Knightley film adaptation, and prepare to laugh your bum off!
Eugenics, a dystopian future, genetically engineered pigs—what more does one need? From the woman who scared the living daylights out of you with The Handmaid’s Tale comes another science fiction masterpiece that will...also scare the living daylights out of you. With two sequels, you’ll be up for weeks.
My middle school favorite, this book does a masterful job of elegantly weaving stories in the manner in which we look back on our lives—some broken memories, soundbites of others, with new eyes years later. This gorgeous portrayal of mothers and daughters is one for the ages.
Graphic novel memoirs have been very popular, and I love how it makes difficult material more accessible. A beautifully illustrated autobiography, this story is an essential read for anyone, young or old, seeking to understand the world we’re living in.
Through an unexplained time connection, Dana, a young writer, finds herself passing between her 1970s home and that of a pre-civil war plantation. Butler examines race and power throughout history, and the lasting trauma of America’s past.