If you’re like me, you have a long to-be-read (TBR) list that just keeps growing and growing and growing. If you’re also like me, you find yourself reading two, three, sometimes, four books at once (I know, it’s a problem).
Because I like reading books from different genres, I often have at least one fiction book, one nonfiction book, one business book, and one poetry or short story collection in my rotation. I know, it’s a little much… but reading has been shown to reduce stress, improve sleep, and boost brain power, so it can’t be a bad thing.
If you’re looking for your to-read books this fall, here are some recommendations — all written by women:
Educated by Tara Westover
There’s a reason why this debut memoir shot up the New York Times Best Seller list. As the member of a survivalist family in rural Idaho, Westover writes of the harrowing experiences of being raised a fundamentalist Mormon without proper schooling in incredible detail. This Brigham Young University and Cambridge University graduate chose to leave her family behind to seek an education, and through her memoir, we come to understand how and when her ideals and beliefs started to change. This is not only a powerful story, but also a fascinating look at the United States and the educational system.
Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes by Shauna Niequist
Holidays can be stressful, especially if you and your relatives are on two different sides of the political spectrum. For those of you looking to bring a new dish (or a new tradition) to the dinner table, check out this collection of recipes and personal essays. Niequist is honest and inspiring. She talks about faith, community, friendship, family, and if you love this, you’ll love her self-help book Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
I finished this book in less than three days, because of the plot, the pacing, and most importantly, the style. Little Fires Everywhere, written by the author of Everything I Never Told You, is a layered story of a family’s move to a midwestern American suburb, Shaker Heights, which spreads figurative fire throughout the community. There are family secrets, betrayals, friendships broken and forged, but really, it’s a novel about race, class, and privilege.
Jewels of Allah: The Untold Story of Women in Iran by Nina Ansary
Ansary is a historian and a leading authority on the women rights’ movement in Iran. You might agree that women’s rights are human rights, but what do you really know about the women living in Iran before, during, and after the revolution? Ansary dives headfirst into the history of Iran, shattering stereotypes and giving readers an inside-look into the lives of Iranian women today.
American Street by Ibi Zoboi
Young adult books aren’t just for young adults—and if you pick up this coming-of-age novel, you’ll see why. An American citizen by birth, this Haitian immigrant moves to Detroit as a teenager to live with her relatives but her mother is detained and left behind. Feeling like a tourist in her “home” country, Fabiola embraces American culture and finds herself making new friends and falling in love with a boy, all while clinging to her roots and missing her mother. This is a timely story that will have you rooting for teens like Fabiola.
Leapfrog: The New Revolution for Women Entrepreneurs by Nathalie Molina Niño and Sara Grace
This books tell you everything you need to know about going out on your own. If you’ve discussed potential business ideas with friends, started your own side gig, or have already quit your full-time job to give it a go, you need this book. The authors want to help you succeed, no matter what. You’ll find more than a dozen different hacks that are actually beneficial, personal stories, and inspirational stories of others who have been there and succeeded with lots of hard work. This isn’t for women looking for overnight success. This is for women who are looking to make entrepreneurship a career.
The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor
You can pick up The New Yorker for a short story, or you pick up Naylor’s first novel which weaves together the stories of seven different African American women living in the same building (and is structured more like a short story collection). Originally published in 1982, this novel is timeless. You’ll be hooked by the struggles and triumphs of these women, and you’ll fall in love with Naylor’s writing — raw, lyrical, and relatable. If you’ve never read Naylor’s work, which includes titles like Mama Day and Linden Hills, start here.
Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Menton
The woman behind the Momastary.com blog and the nonprofit Together Rising tells her story of addiction, motherhood, marriage, and her understanding of the world. She is relatable, raw, and inspiring, but most importantly, she is authentic. She writes, “Every girl must decide whether to be true to herself or true to the world. Every girl must decide whether to settle for adoration or fight for love.” This is a memorable quick read that will remind you to embrace your fears.
Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture by Roxane Gay
This is a no-holds-barred look into both rape culture and the reason behind the #MeToo movement. Fearless and honest, Gay is a force to be reckoned with. These personal essays, written by various women, are painful, heartbreaking, and deeply moving. If you don’t believe “her” yet… you will. If you’ve been struggling to explain the importance of the movement to family members or friends, give them this book. Within the first sentence, they’ll be hooked.
Feeling uninspired? Check out InHerSight’s blog for more articles about inspirational books, films, women, and more.
Sarah Sheppard is a professional writer and editor. She worked as a senior manager at an independent publisher in Boston, earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University, and currently resides in the Midwest. She is working on her first novel. You can find her at @writershep on Twitter, and @sarahsheppardwriter on Instagram.