Reading is such an underrated way to spend your free time. There are so many good books out there that are just begging to be read and discussed. These books are some of those stories that should be devoured and talked about, especially by women.
Each book on this list tackles some big issues, has some strong female characters, or teaches us some important things about how to be our best selves in this world.
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Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid
Such a Fun Age follows the story of a young black babysitter who is accused of stealing the child she is watching after taking them to the supermarket late at night. The book follows the lives of the babysitter and her employer after the incident.
In this fast-paced read, Reid examines transactional relationships with a striking social commentary.
The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank
The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing is about what happens during your first great heartbreak. Jane Rosenal falls in love with an older man who offers her a life she could only have dreamed of, but she comes to realize that what she would be giving up might be worth more than anything she’d gain.
A surprisingly funny and witty look at the world, The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing perfectly captures what it’s like to grow from a girl to a young woman.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
The Hate U Give is a powerful and important novel. Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is torn between the world of her poor neighborhood and the suburban prep school she attends. The tensions are pushed to the edge when she witnesses the shooting of her friend Khalil by a police officer.
The fallout that follows is nothing short of life-changing and will move any reader.
Matilda by Roald Dahl
Matilda is a staple for anyone who has ever felt a little bit out of place in their life. It follows the antics of the exceptional young Matilda who discovers that she has superpowers after a scary incident at school.
Even though it’s for children, Matilda shares a story that is important for people of all ages.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is about Nick and Amy Dunne, who are about to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary. Things seem to be going perfectly for the couple until Amy disappears. With passages from Amy’s diaries as proof, and Nick’s behavior, it becomes clear that he wasn’t the man everyone thought he was—but is he guilty?
Flynn’s masterful suspense novel is one of those rare books that comes along and changes the genre.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Jane Eyre is no doubt a classic and for good reason. It introduced a new kind of heroine who was of unquestionable moral character and passion, and who stood up for what she believed in, even if it meant letting go of someone she loved.
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
Fun Home is a graphic memoir that tells the story of Bechdel’s relationship with her parents and their old Victorian home. In it, she explores her coming to terms with her sexuality and the nature of her changing relationship with her parents as she grows to learn more about herself.
This book is a perfect dark comedy that is full of self-realization that will strike a chord with all of us.
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
The History of Love is a story of loneliness and the power of writing. Alma is a 14-year-old girl who is trying to help her mother find a cure for her loneliness. Without telling her mother, Alma decides to track down the writer of a manuscript her mother has been translating.
Krauss tells one larger story about love by interweaving the stories of people connected by the same book.
Tamarind Mem by Anita Rau Badami
Tamarind Mem is a multigenerational story of women who are trying to find themselves. Kamini is always struggling to be noticed, most of all by her withholding mother Saroja. When Kamini is grown, she moves to Canada, and after the death of her father, her mother goes on a cross-country train exploring India.
Badami tells the story of the misunderstandings that arise with the people we love the most, especially when we are like them.
A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor
A Good Man is Hard to Find is a collection of short stories like no other. After its publication in 1955, O’Connor cemented herself as one of the greatest writers of her generation. Her stories are rich with religious symbolism and haunting in their contemplation of human behavior.
It’s one of the most defining pieces of the Southern Gothic genre and explores the flaws we all share, even the ones we try to keep secret.
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a beautiful letter written from a son to his mother who can’t read. Little Dog writes to his mother in his late 20s, and reflects on their family’s history in Vietnam before he was born until the present moment when he is reaching a revelation about who he is.
This heartbreaking narrative explores race, class, masculinity, trauma, as well as the love and compassion shared between a single mother and her son.
The Power by Naomi Alderman
The Power is an incredible work of speculative fiction that challenges the world as we know it. The lives of four families converge together after a mysterious force takes hold, causing all the teenage girls of the world to have immense power. The world resets in a way that no one was anticipating, turning everything on its head.
Alderman explores what might happen in a world where men finally understand the sort of struggles some women face.
The Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro
The Lives of Girls and Women was Alice Munro’s only novel, and it chronicles the life of Del Jordan, a young woman growing up in 1940s rural Ontario. Along with her best friend Naomi and an impressive cast of complex women, Del explores the intricacies of womanhood through her encounters with sex, death, birth, and everything in between.
While often melancholy, Munro’s story of Del draws from some of her own deepest life lessons.
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
Pachinko is a story about Sunja, the daughter of a crippled fisherman. She falls in love with a wealthy man near her home in Korea. But she soon finds out that she is pregnant and that her lover is married to another woman. She refuses to be bought off and instead accepts the marriage proposal of a sickly minister passing through on his way to Japan.
What Sunja doesn’t know is that her decision to leave her home and her powerful lover behind will set off a chain of events that will be felt through generations.
The Overstory by Richard Powers
The Overstory is a methodical slow burn on the natural world and our relationship with it. The book follows the stories of various people at different points in their lives from all different times in our history. Each story eventually comes together to create a catastrophic and haunting end that will change the way you see the world around you.
Powers writes something that is rich with metaphor and full of truth that will stick with you long after finishing.
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
A Little Life follows the lives of four college classmates who are all lost in their own way, held up only by their friendships with one another. Together, they decide to move to New York in search of a better life but instead find themselves faced with struggles including pride, addiction, and success. The friends are held together by their love for their friend Jude, a man who was scarred by childhood trauma, and their quest to help him heal.
Yanagihara writes a beautiful tribute to friendship and the families that we make for ourselves.
Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Eat Pray Love is a memoir about Gilbert’s early 30s. She had everything a young woman in her early 30s could want: a booming career, a house in the country, and a husband. But, despite having it all, she couldn’t shake feelings of panic and dread about the way her life was unfolding and made the scary decision to leave it all behind and took a trip through some of the most spiritually fulfilling places in the world.
Gilbert’s book is one that has changed countless lives and continues to be a testament to the strength we all have inside of us.
Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed
Tiny Beautiful Things is a selection from Strayed’s advice column in The Rumpus, where she once worked anonymously. It tackles a little bit of everything from chasing your dreams, losing a family member, not being able to pay bills, to how to have the hottest lovemaking of your life.
Strayed’s book has become one that many have turned to for advice.
Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin
Your Money or Your Life has been a book that people have relied on for 25 years. It’s the go-to book for changing your relationship with money, which may seem like a dry topic, but is discussed with such passion and intelligence that it’s hard to put down.
It covers a variety of topics from getting out of debt, more mindful living, savings, and even some tips on how to declutter your life emotionally and spiritually.
The Vagina Bible by Jen Gunter
The Vagina Bible is nothing short of revolutionary. OB-GYN Jen Gunter wrote us a book to help debunk all the myths we’ve been led to believe about our bodies and aims to empower women in their health and their body.
She covers everything—hygiene, cosmetic surgery, pregnancy and birth, menopause, and how to deal with health care professionals dismissing your symptoms.