Incredible news: 7 of The New York Times' top 10 books of 2015 are by women.

The gender gap in literature is real.

Research has shown that women are less likely to have their books reviewed or to be contributors in many major literary publications.

Novelist Nicole Griffith found that in recent years, literary awards overwhelmingly go to men writing books about boys and men — and books by women about women and girls don’t receive near as many accolades.


That’s why fiction written by and about women is often relegated to the "women’s fiction" section, while fiction written by and about men … well, that’s just called "fiction."

GIF from "Lip Sync Battle."

It’s a huge problem.

And that’s why it’s such a big deal that The New York Times just named the 10 best books of 2015 — and seven of them were written by women.

GIF from "The Book Thief."

That’s right! Seven awesome women have been chosen as some of the best authors who published books this year.

Check them out below and add them to your reading list.

1. "The Story of the Lost Child" by Elena Ferrante

The Neapolitan series is a captivating series that tells the story of a friendship between two girls who become women over the course of four books, written by an author who calls herself Elena Ferrante. Almost as captivating for readers? Trying to figure out who the enigmatic Ferrante actually is.

Ask all of the readers in your life what their favorite book was this year, and at least one of them is bound to say that it was this one. Borrow it from them.


GIF from "Beetlejuice."

2. "Outline" by Rachel Cusk

If you love hearing other people’s stories, you’ll appreciate "Outline." In "Outline," the narrator says little herself, but the novel is filled with the stories and experiences of the people around her who feel compelled to share with her.

Although Cusk has published memoirs before, this novel is fiction — but there are obvious overlaps between the author and the narrator, who is recently divorced like Cusk.

3. "A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories" by Lucia Berlin

This Lucia Berlin collection contains 43 short stories, many of them about imperfect women in difficult situations. The stories focus on the trials of working-class women, and they’re gritty and sometimes humorous — just like Lucia Berlin was.

The author died in 2004. Talk about long overdue accolades!

4. "One of Us: The Story of Anders Breivik and the Massacre in Norway" by Asne Seierstad

Stories about people who commit unspeakable acts are often difficult to read, and this book by Asne Seierstad about the 2011 Norway shootings and bombing is no different. But it’s an important perspective on what modern violence looks like and what precipitates it.

And Seierstad herself is close to the story: She’s a Norway native who lives in Oslo.

5. "The Door" by Magda Szabo

"The Door" was originally published in 1987 in Hungary, but it was translated and republished for an American audience this year, eight years after Magda Szabo’s death.

This is a novel about a writer and her housekeeper. And according to a New York Times book reviewer, "It has altered the way I understand my own life." Sold.

6. "H Is for Hawk" by Helen Macdonald

The death of a parent can be a traumatic, life-changing event, and it’s a topic that many memoirs explore well. The difference between "H Is for Hawk" and those books is that Helen Macdonald coped with her grief by raising a bird of prey named Mabel.

7. "The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World" by Andrea Wulf

Andrea Wulf, a design-historian-turned-author, wrote this biography of Alexander von Humboldt and it really brings the 18th century German genius, ecologist, and scientist to life.

Buy this book for nature lovers, science nerds, and biography lovers on your list.

And a few bonus reads:

Just because!

8. "Enchanted Forest: An Inky Quest & Coloring Book" by Johanna Basford

2015 was the year that coloring books by adults went mainstream — both as a way to create beautiful illustrations and to relax and de-stress. It’s hard to walk into a coffee shop these days without seeing at least one table covered in colored pencils and one of these books.

In part, we owe this trend to Johanna Basford. Basford was "discovered" several years ago when a publisher found her desktop wallpaper designs online.

9. "Drawing Blood" by Molly Crabapple

This memoir by Molly Crabapple just came out this December. It’s the story of an artist’s life, but it’s also the story of contemporary America and what it means to be a witness to 9/11, Guantanamo Bay, and the U.S. presence in the Middle East.

So there you have it — some of the best books of 2015, written by women. Go forth and read!

Most Shared
via Stratford Festival / Twitter

Service dogs are invaluable to their owners because they are able to help in so many different ways.

They're trained to retrieve dropped Items, open and close doors, help their owners remove their clothes, transport medications, navigate busy areas such as airports, provide visual assistance, and even give psychological help.

The service dog trainers at K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs in Canada want those who require service dogs to live the fullest life possible, so they're training dogs on how to attend a theatrical performance.

The adorable photos of the dogs made their way to social media where they quickly went viral.

On August 15, a dozen dogs from Golden Retrievers to poodles, were treated to a performance of "Billy Elliott" at the Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada. This was a special "relaxed performance" featuring quieter sound effects and lighting, designed for those with sensory issues.

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"It's important to prepare the dogs for any activity the handler may like to attend," Laura Mackenzie, owner and head trainer at K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs, told CBC.

"The theater gives us the opportunity to expose the dogs to different stimuli such as lights, loud noises, and movement of varying degrees," she continued. "The dogs must remain relaxed in tight quarters for an extended period of time."

The dogs got to enjoy the show from their own seats and took a break with everyone else during intermission. They were able to familiarize themselves with the theater experience so they know how to navigate through crowds and fit into tight bathroom stalls.

via Stratford Festival / Twitter


via Stratford Festival / Twitter


via Stratford Festival / Twitter

"About a dozen dogs came to our relaxed performance, and they were all extremely well-behaved," says Stratford Festival spokesperson Ann Swerdfager. "I was in the lobby when they came in, then they took their seats, then got out of their seats at intermission and went back — all of the things we learn as humans when we start going to the theater."

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The dogs' great performance at the trial run means that people who require service animals can have the freedom to enjoy special experiences like going to the theater.

"It's wonderful that going to the theater is considered one of the things that you want to train a service dog for, rather than thinking that theater is out of reach for people who require a service animal, because it isn't," Swerdfager said.

The Stratford Festival runs through Nov. 10 and features productions of "The Merry Wives of Windsor," "The Neverending Story," "Othello," "Billy Elliot," "Little Shop of Horrors," "The Crucible" and more.

Inclusivity

15 'habits' of people who grew up with an 'emotionally fragile' parent

Having an emotionally fragile parent can leave lasting damage.

via The Mighty

If you grew up with an "emotionally fragile" parent, chances are, you didn't have the typical, idyllic childhood you often see in movies.

Maybe your parent lived with debilitating depression that thrust you into the role of caregiver from a very young age.

Maybe your parent was always teetering on the edge of absolute rage, so you learned to tiptoe around them to avoid an explosion. Or maybe your parent went through a divorce or separation, and leaned on you for more emotional support than was appropriate to expect of a child.

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Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash

Jasmine has been used as a natural treatment for depression, anxiety, and stress for thousands of years. Oil from the plant has also been used to treat insomnia and PMS, and is considered a natural aphrodisiac. It turns out, our ancestor's instincts to slather on the oil when they wanted a little R&R were correct.

A study, published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, and according to Professor Hanns Hatt of the Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany, revealed that jasmine can calm you down when you're feeling anxious.The results can "be seen as evidence of a scientific basis for aromatherapy."

"Instead of a sleeping pill or a mood enhancer, a nose full of jasmine from Gardenia jasminoides could also help, according to researchers in Germany. They have discovered that the two fragrances Vertacetal-coeur (VC) and the chemical variation (PI24513) have the same molecular mechanism of action and are as strong as the commonly prescribed barbiturates or propofol," says the study.

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