50 Contemporary Books Every Woman's Gotta Read: Biography/Memoir
The Glass Castle

The Glass Castle

Walls, a former New York gossip columnist, reveals the hardscrabble past she carefully hid for years in this family memoir, which centers on her charasmatic but highly dysfunctional parents: a father with "a little bit of a drinking situation" and a mother who was an "excitement addict," who moved their family all over the country, seeking the next big adventure. Walls spins a good story out of her bad memories. More info →
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Evidence Not Seen

Evidence Not Seen

Darlene Deibler Rose and her husband enter New Guinea as missionaries, but when World War II erupts, the Japanese invade their community. After the men are sent away, Darlene spends the next four years in a notorious Japanese internment camp, where she is charged with espionage, isolated, and sentenced to death. In her own words, she shares her story of how she survived excruciating losses and hardship. More info →
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Between the World and Me

Between the World and Me

$12.99$2.99Audiobook: 12.49 (Audible)
This is an incredible book, and a timely one. Coates frames this series of essays as a letter to his son, exploring what it means to be black in America, and how issues involving race have shaped and continue to shape the country in which he lives. Entertainment Weekly: calls it "the latest essential reading in America's social canon." The audio version, read by the author, is fantastic. More info →
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Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person

This inspirational memoir's epigraph bears quotes from Maya Angelou and Christina from Grey's Anatomy, which gives you a good idea of what you'll find inside. Rhimes is the queen of Thursday night tv, creating and producing smash hits like Grey's and Scandal. This time she's telling her own story of how her sister issued her a six-word wake-up call—You never say yes to anything—and the year of YES that followed. More info →
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The Year of Magical Thinking

The Year of Magical Thinking

$15.00
This book is Didion's account of year following her husband's death, but it's really about the many years of the life they lived together. Writing in real-time, she captures emotion on the page so well. I felt like this wasn't just an exploration of her own grief and mourning, but an inquiry into capital-case Grief and Mourning. So well done, and so worth reading (if a little tough to do so at times). More info →
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Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman

Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman

West is a comedian and former Jezebel writer; this is her nonfiction debut. Her conversational essays cover family, weight, self-esteem, racism, feminism, and being a woman on the internet. More info →
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The Dance of the Dissident Daughter

The Dance of the Dissident Daughter

$11.99$1.99
This 1996 memoir tells the story of Monk's spiritual journey from traditional Southern Baptist to her discovery of what she calls "the sacred feminine." Amena Brown chose this as a favorite in Episode 88 of What Should I Read Next. More info →
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Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood

Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood

$16.99$1.99Audiobook: 7.49 (Audible)
Fuller does justice to her extraordinary childhood in this 2001 memoir. She was born to British parents in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) during the Rhodesian Civil War, suffered from malaria, lost three siblings to disease, and carried an Uzi—which she was trained to use—to school. Her true story is absolutely riveting. More info →
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Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake: A Memoir of a Woman’s Life

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake: A Memoir of a Woman’s Life

This memoir was a #1 New York Times bestseller when it was published in 2012. In it, Quindlen uses her own past, present, and future as fodder to examine marriage, friendship, parenting, body image, work, growing older, and more in her signature graceful style. Humorous and wise. More info →
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Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body

From the author of Bad Feminist, a raw and moving memoir about food, weight, self-image, and hunger. After a traumatic incident in her youth, Gay turned to overeating because it made her feel safe, and spent decades learning to quiet her personal demons in other ways. She denies that hers is a success story, but passionately argues the importance of learning to feel comfortable in one's skin. More info →
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Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman’s Awakening

Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman’s Awakening

Al-Sharif's nuanced memoir gives a striking account of what it means today to "drive while female" in Saudi Arabia. This is the story of how she grew up as a devout girl in a modest family, the second daughter of a taxi driver, but became an accidental activist. A fascinating story of human rights, gender politics, and social media. More info →
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My Life on the Road

My Life on the Road

In her 2015 memoir, Steinem reflects on the definitive events of her life and career—her early years as a freelance journalist, her travels to Europe and India, the 1963 March on Washington, her time on the campaign trail for the Equal Rights Amendment and Geraldine Ferraro and Hillary Clinton, and her work with Native American women activists. Steinem emphasizes throughout that when you take to the road, the road takes—that is, changes—you. More info →
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