10 Books Every Woman Should Read

Holly Hanau

Reading has always been a favourite pastime of mine. Ever since I can remember I’ve had a book in my hand, and I thought I was an avid reader until I discovered a little thing called bookstagram. Bookstagram, or book Instagram, is a niche corner of the internet for book lovers. I turn to bookstagram for the aesthetic feeds and book recommendations, so when I sat down to write this article I decided to get the opinion of someone who reads even more than I do.

I got the opportunity to speak to bookstagrammer Hollie Jacks (@holliesreads) about her top 10 must-reads for every woman. She made her bookstagram in late 2020 during the second Covid lockdown and she says it has been one of the best things for her wellbeing that she’s ever done, recounting that “It’s been amazing to connect with so many like-minded people”. 

So if you’re looking for a new read for the winter or want to tap into the divine feminine, check out the 10 books every woman should read:

10. Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters. Detransition, Baby explores the polarising topic of unconventional relationships, pregnancy, and gender transition from the perspective of its three main characters; Reese, Ames and Katrina. Hollie says, "If you have never read a book by a trans author this is your sign. A stunning story of motherhood, queerness and love."

9. Brown Girls by Daphne Palasi Andreades. Brown Girls is a fierce story of a group of friends and their immigrant families from ‘the dregs of Queens’ and their coming-of-age in a country worlds away from the lands their parents knew. Hollie recounts that it’s “A gorgeous ode to women of colour living in New York.”

8. Memphis by Tara Stringfellow. Memphis investigates the weight of family history and what is passed down through generations — not only in our own families, but in our society through acts of injustice and forgiveness. Hollie describes it as “A multi-generational tale of three black women in southern USA documenting the complexities of race, class and family resilience — and so beautifully written.” 

7. Sorrow & Bliss by Meg Mason. Martha always felt that something wasn’t quite right within herself, and the labels others put on her made her feel more trapped than liberated. Mental illness can have debilitating effects on our relationships, and Hollie defines it as “A heartbreaking but completely visceral delve into one woman’s mental health and how it affects those around her.”

6. My Broken Vagina by Fran Bushe. My Broken Vagina recounts Fran’s hilarious, moving, and awkward journey to developing a better relationship with herself and her genitals. “One woman’s mission to rediscover herself and her body, breaking all the barriers and stigma related to women’s pleasure and misogyny,” Hollie says.

5. Amazing Disgrace by Grace Campbell. Lighthearted humour mixed in the world of politics and exploring topics of shame around sex, rejection, and mental health, Amazing Disgrace is “An absolutely hilarious memoir that you will relate to more than you think.” 

4. Release the Beast by Bimini Bon Boulash. In Release the Best, Bimini, a drag icon, “provides their ‘guide to life’ and is a must-read in the LGBTQ+ genre.” Bimini eloquently recounts their journey of gender-identity discovery and how to break out of the norms of the society we live in.

3. Sunset by Jessie Cave. What are we to do when the world around us and everything we have ever known comes crumbling down? This beautifully unconventional love story between sisters Ruth and Hannah explores the relationships that define us and how we can find joy even in the mundane. Sunset, Hollie says, is “A beautiful story of grief and my most recommended book of 2021.”

2. Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo. “She won the Women's Prize for Fiction herself! A phenomenal intertwining story of love, class, race and found family,” says Hollie. Girl, Woman, Other is a dynamic story following twelve black, British, (mostly) women, and their journeys of coming home to themselves in friendship and love throughout the years. 

1. Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton. Dolly speaks directly to the heart and soul of female millennials in this hilarious memoir. The tumultuous era that is our twenties is all about finding ourselves through trial and error and navigating the twists and turns of heartbreak, careers, and growing older. Hollie says, “If you’ve ever had close female friends or lived with other women, you need to read this most beautiful ode to friendship.”

I’ve read a few of these myself and am thrilled Hollie put them on her list. I would like to add one more — Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarrissa Pinkola Estés. This quickly went to my top favourite books from the start after being gifted it by a friend who deemed it ‘feminist required reading’. I couldn’t agree more. I’m upset that it took 28 years for this book to find its way to me, but I know that it found me at just the right time. It’s a slow burn, but I found myself reading each story at exactly the time I needed it over the course of several months. Estés eloquently illuminates myths and fairy tales from around the globe and reminds each of us that there is an intuitive and Wild Woman inside us all — and that we’d be doing her a disservice to not honour her.

Holly Hanau

"What makes the human experience so incredible is that we have the power to heal one another. By sharing our stories and embracing our differences we can confront the topics and paradoxes that make life both interesting and challenging. I love learning from and working with a diverse group of women from around the globe — we can embrace the unknown and explore the unfamiliar as we all navigate this world together."
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