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40 Books Every Woman Should Read At Least Once

Did your favorite make our list?

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Agata Nowicka
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There’s no shortage of great books to read, just a shortage of time in which to read all the great books. With so many worthy tomes to choose from, how can you be sure you’re reaching for a book you’ll be glad you read? The kind of story you’ll feel compelled to encourage your girlfriends to read, too? You look for a thoughtfully curated list of must-reads that align with your interests, or that spark new curiosities. So based on the recommendations of thousands of women, here is just such a list (with accompanying thoughts on the last mentioned book in each category).

Inspirational memoirs/biographies

· Gift from the Sea, Anne Morrow Lindbergh 

· Know My Name, Chanel Miller

· Educated, Tara Westover

· The Rules Do Not Apply, Ariel Levy

· Wild, Cheryl Strayed

· Love Warrior, Glennon Doyle
This candid life story spurred on my own healing from my broken marriage, like nothing else did. And its real-talk and unapologetic truth-telling are why I’m a writer today. To date, I’ve recommended this “so-much-more-than-a-memoir” more than any other book, ever.

Self-help/improvement, creativity, health and healing

· This Naked Mind: Control Alcohol, Annie Grace

· Furiously Happy, Jenny Lawson

· The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, Don Miguel Ruiz

· Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Anne Lamott

· The War of Art, Steven Pressfield

· Rising Strong, Brené Brown
This renowned shame researcher and university professor has the gift of gab — and I need relatable gab woven into my “self-help” content or my attention span falters. If you’ve ever felt like you’d benefit from a course on how to better navigate your one wild and precious, Mary Oliver-esque life, then read absolutely anything Brown has ever written.

Fiction: Stories that’ll stick with you

· The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas

· The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison

· The Color Purple, Alice Walker

· Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston

· The Signature of All Things, Elizabeth Gilbert

· This Is How It Always Is, Laurie Frankel
Drawn in from the beginning, when one of the children in the story explains they could lick the spine of any book the family owned and tell you its genre, years later I’m still wistful over this compelling tale of parental love in an ever-changing and complicated world.


· Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race. paperback, Margot Lee Shetterly

· We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, Samantha Irby

· Everything That Remains: A Memoir by the Minimalists, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus

· Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, David Grann
Currently being made into a major motion picture, this unbelievable, true — but long covered up — account of our country’s history will rock you to your core.

Historical fiction

· Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

· The Red Tent, Anita Diamant 

· The Help, Kathryn Stockett

· Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Lisa See

· All The Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr
This story contains my favorite line from any book ever. At the end of the embattled heroine’s saga, she is asked if she has found any happiness after everything she has been through. She replies, “I am happy for moments of every day.” It struck me then — and has stuck with me ever since — isn’t that really all there is, for any of us?

Books that read like a much-needed conversation with a girlfriend

· For the Love, Jen Hatmaker

· Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes

· Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies, Tara Schuster

· Untamed, Glennon Doyle

· Braving the Wilderness, Brené Brown

· The Price of Admission, Liz Petrone
You’ll feel like you sat on the author’s porch — so close your knees could touch — while she relayed her heart’s biggest torments and treasures, leaving you nodding your head in sweet relief that you’re never alone in anything.

Relationship advice

· The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity, Esther Perel

· What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage, Paul David Tripp

· Parenting with Love and Logic, Foster Cline and Jim Fay

· The Five Love Languages (any of the 11 versions), Gary Chapman
Just because you feel loved when your partner spends some quality time on you doesn’t mean that’s what makes your partner feel loved, too. Find out their love language to amplify the love they feel emanating from you.


· The Shack, William Paul Young

· Option B, Sheryl Sandberg

· It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way, Lysa TerKeurst
For when life takes a turn you never saw coming, and you need help getting back on the road to recovery.