50 Contemporary Books Every Woman’s Gotta Read: Contemporary Fiction
What Alice Forgot

What Alice Forgot

Alice is 29, expecting her first child, and crazy in love with her husband—or at least she thinks she is, but then she bumps her head and wakes up on the gym floor, to find that she’s actually a 39-year-old mother of 3 who's in the middle of divorcing the man she's come to hate. She doesn't know what’s happened to her these past 10 years, or who she's become. She's about to find out—and she's not going to like the answers. More info →
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Homegoing

Homegoing

$13.99$3.99Audiobook: 12.99 (Whispersync)
By exploring the stories of two sisters, who met different fates in Ghana more than 200 years ago, Gyasi traces subtle lines of cause and effect through the centuries, illuminating how the deeds of ages past still haunt all of us today. Her debut follows the generations of one family over a period of 250 years, showing the devastating effects of racism from multiple perspectives, in multiple settings. A brilliant concept, beautifully executed. More info →
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Hannah Coulter

Hannah Coulter

In this atmospheric novel, an older Hannah looks back on her life and reflects on what she has lost, and those whom she has loved. I adore Berry, who writes gorgeous, thoughtful, piercing novels, and this is one of his finest. Contemplative, wistful, and moving. More info →
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Gilead

Gilead

$9.99$4.99
Robinson's story of the dying Iowa minister John Ames is one of the most beautiful books you’ll ever read, containing some of the most beautiful sentences ever put to paper. Wistful, reflective, and wise, this is a book you can read over and over again. More info →
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The Mistress of Spices

The Mistress of Spices

Divakaruni's first novel tells the story of Tilo, a young Indian girl trained in the magical powers of spices and their blends. She disguises herself in a run-down spice shop in Oakland, California, where she uses her powers to improve the lives of the immigrant Indians who come to her for spices, but her longing to find a love of her own tempts her to leave her magical post in search of her own fate. More info →
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Americanah

Americanah

The story centers around a smart, strong-willed Nigerian woman named Ifemelu. After university, she travels to America for postgraduate work, where she endures several years of near-destitution, and a horrific event that upends her world. She finds her way, winning a fellowship at Princeton, and gaining acclaim for her blog, called “Raceteenth or Various Observations About American Blacks (Those Formerly Known as Negroes) by a Non-American Black." A highlight: Adichie seamlessly weaves blog posts—about race, national identity, class, poverty, and hair—into the narrative. Haunting, moving, incredibly well done. More info →
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The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give

$10.99$4.99Audiobook: 12.99 (Whispersync)
This has been called "the Black Lives Matter novel," for good reason. At age 16, Starr Carter has lost two close friends to gun violence: one in a drive-by; one shot by a cop. The latter is the focus of this novel: Starr is in the passenger seat when her friend Khalil is fatally shot by a police officer. She is the sole witness. Thomas seamlessly blends current events with lower-stakes themes common to teens everywhere, with great success. Fun fact: the title comes from a Tupac lyric. More info →
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The Shell Seekers

The Shell Seekers

This family saga tells the story of three generations of a modern British family, brought together again during a time of crisis, all of whom have been burned by love and must figure out how to move forward. Full of interesting, well-developed, flawed-but-likable characters. It's one of the top 100 novels in the BBC's Big Read. More info →
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The History of Love: A Novel

The History of Love: A Novel

$7.64$1.99
With interweaving storylines, Krauss shows how a sixty-year-old lost-and-then-found manuscript connects multiple people—Holocaust survivors, fatherless children, widows, and lovers—across time and space. If you love book-within-a-book narratives, give this a try. More info →
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My Brilliant Friend (Neapolitan Novels Book 1)

My Brilliant Friend (Neapolitan Novels Book 1)

$24.473.95 (AUDIBLE DAILY DEAL)
This is the first installment of Ferrante’s Neapolitan Quartet, which revolves around the friendship between Elena and Lila; My Brilliant Friend begins when the girls are in first grade and carries them through adolescence. Thought-provoking, beautifully written, realistic enough to be quite difficult in places. But readers who love this LOVE IT. Beautifully translated by Ann Goldstein. I LOVED this series on audio. More info →
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The Stone Diaries

The Stone Diaries

This Canadian novel won the 1995 Pulitzer Prize. Shields adopts an unconventional narrative structure: this is the fictionalized autobiography of Daisy Goodwill Flett, who reflects on her life, from birth to death, with a great deal of self-awareness and insight; she sees her life as a series of "mini-lives," and in each, she must become a different version of herself. More info →
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Let the Great World Spin

Let the Great World Spin

In 1974 New York City, Phillipe Petit walked a high wire strung between the Twin Towers. This true event is the backdrop to McCann's fictional response to 9/11, in which he tells the interlocking stories of three New Yorkers struggling with their own personal tragedies. More info →
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A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories

A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories

This 2015 anthology of loosely connected short stories creates engaging and readable stories out of everyday moments affecting women in the American Southwest—some hopeful, some devastating, some tender, and many tipping towards the autobiographical. More info →
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The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale

Set in a future where women have no control over their bodies, this is a staple of high school reading lists ... and banned books list. The first person perspective and societal commentary make this novel extremely discussable. Heads up for audiobook fans: Claire Danes's understated narration makes the story compulsively listenable (is that a word?) and extra-creepy. More info →
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Follow the River

Follow the River

Mary Ingles was a real person: she was twenty-three, married, and pregnant when she was taken captive by Shawnee Indians following the Draper's Meadow Massacre in 1755. She escaped and journeyed over 500 miles across the Appalachian Mountains to return home. This is Thom's convincing novelization of her true survival story. More info →
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A Man Called Ove

A Man Called Ove

I couldn't get into this as a hardcover but then a friend with great taste suggested I give the audio a try. I started again from the beginning, and this time this grumpy old man story hooked me. George Newburn narrates, and his accents—especially for Ove—are fantastic. I laughed and cried and couldn't stop listening. But do yourself a favor: don't even think about finishing this novel in a public place, and think about removing your mascara first. More info →
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The Red Tent

The Red Tent

In the book of Genesis, Dinah is the only surviving daughter of Leah and Jacob. She's a minor character in the Bible, but The Red Tent is her life story: Diamant interweaves characters from the biblical narrative with characters of her own invention to vividly portray what it was like to live in those times, with a strong emphasis on the relationships between the women. Stirring, imaginative, and atmospheric. More info →
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The Kitchen House

The Kitchen House

The year is 1791, and an orphaned Irish girl is brought to a Virginia plantation as an indentured servant and makes her home among the slaves. The story is told alternately by the orphan Lavinia and 17-year-old Belle, the half-white illegitimate daughter of the plantation owner, who becomes Lavinia's de facto mother figure. The story keeps a brisk pace, propelled forward by rape, corruption, lynching, and occasionally, love. More info →
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This Is How It Always Is

This Is How It Always Is

$13.99$2.99Audiobook: 12.99 (Whispersync)
This is a story about a family that, years ago, started keeping a little secret. And, as secrets tend to do, it became bigger over time, implicating all the family members in its keeping, until it felt like the secret was keeping them. I fell completely in love with Rosie and Penn, gained insight into a situation I thought had nothing to do with me, and had complicated feelings about the resolution. The title comes from the idea that parents frequently have to make terrifyingly important decisions about their kids with not enough information even though the stakes are enormous. More info →
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