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!

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In the last 20 years, the internet has become almost as essential as water or air. Every day, many of us wake up and check it for the news, sports, work, and social media. We log on from our phones, our computers, even our watches. It's a luxury so often taken for granted. With the COVID-19 pandemic, as many now work from home and children are going to school online, home access is a more critical service than ever before.

On the flip side, some 3.6 billion people live without affordable access to the internet. This digital divide — which has only widened over the past 20 years — has worsened wealth inequality within countries, divided developed and developing economies and intensified the global gender gap. It has allowed new billionaires to rise, and contributed to keeping billions of others in poverty.

In the US, lack of internet access at home prevents nearly one in five teens from finishing their homework. One third of households with school-age children and income below $30,000 don't have internet in their homes, with Black and Hispanic households particularly affected.

The United Nations is working to highlight the costs of the digital divide and to rapidly close it. In September 2019, for example, the UN's International Telecommunication Union and UNICEF launched Giga, an initiative aimed at connecting every school and every child to the internet by 2030.

Closing digital inequity gaps also remains a top priority for the UN Secretary-General. His office recently released a new Roadmap for Digital Cooperation. The UN Foundation has been supporting both this work, and the High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation co-chaired by Melinda Gates and Jack Ma, which made a series of recommendations to ensure all people are connected, respected, and protected in the digital age. Civil society, technologists and communications companies, such as Verizon, played a critical role in informing those consultations. In addition, the UN Foundation houses the Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL), which advances digital inclusion through streamlining technology, unlocking markets and accelerating digitally enabled services as it works to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

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With vaccine rollouts for the novel coronavirus on the horizon, humanity is getting its first ray of hope for a return to normalcy in 2021. That normalcy, however, will depend on enough people's willingness to get the vaccine to achieve some level of herd immunity. While some people are ready to jump in line immediately for the vaccine, others are reticent to get the shots.

Hesitancy runs the gamut from outright anti-vaxxers to people who trust the time-tested vaccines we already have but are unsure about these new ones. Scientists have tried to educate the public about the development of the new mRNA vaccines and why they feel confident in their safety, but getting that information through the noise of hot takes and misinformation is tricky.

To help increase the public's confidence in taking the vaccine, three former presidents have volunteered to get their shots on camera. President George W. Bush initially reached out to Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx to ask how he could help promote a vaccine once it's approved. Presidents Obama and Bill Clinton have both stated that they will take the vaccine if it is approved and will do so publicly if it will help more people feel comfortable taking it. CNN says it has also reached out to President Jimmy Carter to see if he is on board with the idea as well.

A big part of responsible leadership is setting an example. Though these presidents are no longer in the position of power they once held, they are in a position of influence and have offered to use that influence for the greater good.

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Courtesy of Macy's

Brantley and his snowman

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"Would you like to build a snowman?" If you asked five-year-old Brantley from Texas this question, the answer would be a resounding "Yes!" While it may sound like a simple dream, since Texas doesn't usually see much snow, it seemed like a lofty one for him, even more so because Brantley has a congenital heart disease.

On Dec. 11, 2019, however, the real Macy's Santa and his two elves teamed up with Make-A-Wish to surprise Brantley and his family on his way to Colorado where there was plenty of snow for him to build his very own snowman, fulfilling his wish as part of the Macy's Believe campaign. After a joy-filled plane ride where every passenger got gift bags from Macy's, the family arrived in Breckenridge, Colorado where Santa and his elves helped Brantley build a snowman.

Brantley, Brantley's mom, and Santa marveling at their snowmanAll photos courtesy of Macy's

Brantley, who according to his mom had never actually seen snow, was blown away by the experience.

"Well, I had to build a snowman because snowmen are my favorite," Brantley said in an interview with Summit Daily. "All of it was my favorite part."

This is just one example of the more than 330,000 wishes the nonprofit Make-A-Wish have fulfilled to bring joy to children fighting critical illnesses since its founding 40 years ago. Even though many of the children that Make-A-Wish grants wishes for manage or overcome their illnesses, they often face months, if not years of doctor's visits, hospital stays and uncomfortable treatments. The nonprofit helps these children and their families replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy and anxiety with hope.

It's hardly an outlandish notion — research shows that a wish come true can help increase these children's resiliency and improve their quality of life. Brantley is a prime example.

"This couldn't have come at a better time because we see all the hardships that we went through last year," Brantley's mom Brandi told Summit Daily.

Brantley playing with snowballs

Now more than ever, kids with critical illnesses need hope. Since they're particularly vulnerable to disease, they and their families have had to isolate even more during the pandemic and avoid the people they love most and many of the activities that recharge them. That's why Make-A-Wish is doing everything it can to fulfill wishes in spite of the unprecedented obstacles.

That's where you come in. Macy's has raised over $132 million for Make-A-Wish, and helped grant more than 15,500 wishes since their partnership began in 2003, but they couldn't have done that without the support of everyday people. The crux of that support comes from Macy's Believe Campaign — the longstanding holiday fundraising effort where for every letter to Santa that's written online at Macys.com or dropped off safely at the red Believe mailbox at their stores, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. New this year, National Believe Day will be expanded to National Believe Week and will provide customers the opportunity to double their donations ($2 per letter, up to an additional $1 million) for a full week from Sunday, Nov. 29 through Saturday, Dec. 5.

There are more ways to support Make-A-Wish besides letter-writing too. If you purchase a $4 Believe bracelet, $2 of each bracelet will be donated to Make-A-Wish through Dec. 31. And for families who are all about the holiday PJs, on Giving Tuesday (Dec. 1), 20 percent of the purchase price of select family pajamas will benefit Make-A-Wish.

Elizabeth living out her wish of being a fashion designer

Additionally, this year's campaign features 6-year-old Elizabeth, a Make-A-Wish child diagnosed with leukemia, whose wish to design a dress recently came true. Thanks to the style experts at Macy's Fashion Office and I.N.C. International Concepts, only at Macy's, Elizabeth had the opportunity to design a colorful floral maxi dress. Elizabeth's exclusive design is now available online at Macys.com and in select Macy's stores. In the spirit of giving back this holiday season, 20 percent of the purchase price of Elizabeth's dress (through Dec. 31) will benefit Make-A-Wish.You can also donate directly to Make-A-Wish via Macy's website.

This holiday season may be a tough one this year, but you can bring joy to children fighting critical illnesses by delivering hope for their wishes to come true.

Anne Owens and Luke Redito / Wikimedia Commons
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When Madeline Swegle was a little girl growing up in Burke, VA, she loved watching the Blue Angels zip through the sky. Her family went to see the display every time it was in town, and it was her parents' encouragement to pursue her dreams that led her to the U.S. Naval Academy in 2017.

Before beginning the intense three-year training required to become a tactical air (TACAIR) pilot, Swegle had never been in an aircraft before; piloting was simply something she was interested in. It turns out she's got a gift for it—and not only is she skilled, she finds the "exhilaration to be unmatched."

"I'm excited to have this opportunity to work harder and fly high performance jet aircraft in the fleet," Swegle said in a statement released by the Navy. "It would've been nice to see someone who looked like me in this role; I never intended to be the first. I hope it's encouraging to other people."

As Swegle's story shows, representation and equality matter. And the responsibility to advance equality for all people - especially Black Americans facing racism - falls on individuals, organizations, businesses, and governmental leadership. This clear need for equality is why P&G established the Take On Race Fund to fight for justice, advance economic opportunity, enable greater access to education and health care, and make our communities more equitable. The funds raised go directly into organizations like NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, YWCA Stand Against Racism and the United Negro College Fund, helping to level the playing field.

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Just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down...in the most delightful way.

There are certain songs from kids' movies that most of us can sing along to, but we often don't know how they originated. Now we have a timely insight into one such song—"A Spoonful of Sugar" from "Mary Poppins."

It's common for parents to try all kinds of tricks to get kids to take medications they don't want to take, but the inspiration for "A Spoonful of Sugar" was much more specific. Jeffrey Sherman, the son and nephew of the Sherman Brothers—the musical duo responsible not just for "Mary Poppins," but a host of Disney films including "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," "The Jungle Book," "The Aristocats," as well as the song "It's a Small World After All"—told the story of how "A Spoonful of Sugar" came about on Facebook.

He wrote:

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