6 Nonfiction Reads by Strong Women
Updated: Oct 9
By Sara Voigt (@meaningfulmadness)
If you have been listening to the podcast, you know that I am have been reading a lot of non-fiction this year, with a focus on reading strong female voices. Today's Bookish Fave is a list of several strong female voices in nonfiction. What I love about these women is that they speak their mind unapologetically. While I don't always agree with everything they say, I respect and appreciate what they are bringing to the table. I am finding the older I get, the more I want to read views and opinions different from my own. This collection of books ranges from hilarious, to poignant, to angry, to thoughtful, and to everything in between. What I love most is the way these amazing women speak frankly and openly about topics, issues, and subject that matter to them.
Holly Whitaker's Quit Like a Woman: The Radical Choice to Not Drink in a Culture Obsessed with Alcohol
"We live in a world obsessed with drinking. We drink at baby showers and work events, brunch and book club, graduations and funerals. Yet no one ever questions alcohol’s ubiquity—in fact, the only thing ever questioned is why someone doesn’t drink. It is a qualifier for belonging and if you don’t imbibe, you are considered an anomaly. As a society, we are obsessed with health and wellness, yet we uphold alcohol as some kind of magic elixir, though it is anything but.
"When Holly Whitaker decided to seek help after one too many benders, she embarked on a journey that led not only to her own sobriety, but revealed the insidious role alcohol plays in our society and in the lives of women in particular. What’s more, she could not ignore the ways that alcohol companies were targeting women, just as the tobacco industry had successfully done generations before. Fueled by her own emerging feminism, she also realized that the predominant systems of recovery are archaic, patriarchal, and ineffective for the unique needs of women and other historically oppressed people—who don’t need to lose their egos and surrender to a male concept of God, as the tenets of Alcoholics Anonymous state, but who need to cultivate a deeper understanding of their own identities and take control of their lives. When Holly found an alternate way out of her own addiction, she felt a calling to create a sober community with resources for anyone questioning their relationship with drinking, so that they might find their way as well. Her resultant feminine-centric recovery program focuses on getting at the root causes that lead people to overindulge and provides the tools necessary to break the cycle of addiction, showing us what is possible when we remove alcohol and destroy our belief system around it.
"Written in a relatable voice that is honest and witty, Quit Like aWoman is at once a groundbreaking look at drinking culture and a road map to cutting out alcohol in order to live our best lives without the crutch of intoxication. You will never look at drinking the same way again."
Lindy West's The Witches Are Coming
"From the moment powerful men started falling to the #MeToo movement, the lamentations began: this is feminism gone too far, this is injustice, this is a witch hunt. In The Witches Are Coming, firebrand author of the New York Times bestselling memoir and now critically acclaimed Hulu TV series Shrill, Lindy West, turns that refrain on its head. You think this is a witch hunt? Fine. You've got one.
"In a laugh-out-loud, incisive cultural critique, West extolls the world-changing magic of truth, urging readers to reckon with dark lies in the heart of the American mythos, and unpacking the complicated, and sometimes tragic, politics of not being a white man in the twenty-first century. She tracks the misogyny and propaganda hidden (or not so hidden) in the media she and her peers devoured growing up, a buffet of distortions, delusions, prejudice, and outright bullsh*t that has allowed white male mediocrity to maintain a death grip on American culture and politics-and that delivered us to this precarious, disorienting moment in history.
"West writes, 'We were just a hair's breadth from electing America's first female president to succeed America's first black president. We weren't done, but we were doing it. And then, true to form-like the Balrog's whip catching Gandalf by his little gray bootie, like the husband in a Lifetime movie hissing, "If I can't have you, no one can"-white American voters shoved an incompetent, racist con man into the White House.'
"We cannot understand how we got here-how the land of the free became Trump's America-without examining the chasm between who we are and who we think we are, without fact-checking the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves and each other. The truth can transform us; there is witchcraft in it. Lindy West turns on the light."
Roxane Gay's Bad Feminist: Essays
"A collection of essays spanning politics, criticism, and feminism from one of the most-watched young cultural observers of her generation, Roxane Gay.
“'Pink is my favorite color. I used to say my favorite color was black to be cool, but it is pink—all shades of pink. If I have an accessory, it is probably pink. I read Vogue, and I’m not doing it ironically, though it might seem that way. I once live-tweeted the September issue.'
"In these funny and insightful essays, Roxane Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman (Sweet Valley High) of color (The Help) while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years (Girls, Django in Chains) and commenting on the state of feminism today (abortion, Chris Brown). The portrait that emerges is not only one of an incredibly insightful woman continually growing to understand herself and our society, but also one of our culture.
"Bad Feminist is a sharp, funny, and spot-on look at the ways in which the culture we consume becomes who we are, and an inspiring call-to-arms of all the ways we still need to do better, coming from one of our most interesting and important cultural critics."
Rachel Held Evans's Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again
"If the Bible isn’t a science book or an instruction manual, then what is it? What do people mean when they say the Bible is inspired? When Rachel Held Evans found herself asking these questions, she began a quest to better understand what the Bible is and how it is meant to be read. What she discovered changed her—and it will change you too.
"Drawing on the best in recent scholarship and using her well-honed literary expertise, Evans examines some of our favorite Bible stories and possible interpretations, retelling them through memoir, original poetry, short stories, soliloquies, and even a short screenplay. Undaunted by the Bible’s most difficult passages, Evans wrestles through the process of doubting, imagining, and debating Scripture’s mysteries. The Bible, she discovers, is not a static work but is a living, breathing, captivating, and confounding book that is able to equip us to join God’s loving and redemptive work in the world."
Priyanka Chopra Jonas's Unfinished: A Memoir
"A remarkable life story rooted in two different worlds, Unfinished offers insights into Priyanka Chopra Jonas’s childhood in India; her formative teenage years in the United States; and her return to India, where against all odds as a newcomer to the pageant world, she won the national and international beauty competitions that launched her global acting career. Whether reflecting on her nomadic early years or the challenges she has faced as she has doggedly pursued her calling, Priyanka shares her challenges and triumphs with warmth and honesty. The result is a book that is philosophical, sassy, inspiring, bold, and rebellious. Just like the author herself.
"From her dual-continent twenty-year-long career as an actor and producer to her work as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, from losing her beloved father to cancer to marrying Nick Jonas, Priyanka Chopra Jonas’s story will inspire a generation around the world to gather their courage, embrace their ambition, and commit to the hard work of following their dreams."
"NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Ali Wong’s heartfelt and hilarious letters to her daughters (the two she put to work while they were still in utero) cover everything they need to know in life, like the unpleasant details of dating, how to be a working mom in a male-dominated profession, and how she trapped their dad.
"In her hit Netflix comedy special Baby Cobra, an eight-month pregnant Ali Wong resonated so strongly that she even became a popular Halloween costume. Wong told the world her remarkably unfiltered thoughts on marriage, sex, Asian culture, working women, and why you never see new mom comics on stage but you sure see plenty of new dads.
"The sharp insights and humor are even more personal in this completely original collection. She shares the wisdom she’s learned from a life in comedy and reveals stories from her life off stage, including the brutal single life in New York (i.e. the inevitable confrontation with erectile dysfunction), reconnecting with her roots (and drinking snake blood) in Vietnam, tales of being a wild child growing up in San Francisco, and parenting war stories. Though addressed to her daughters, Ali Wong’s letters are absurdly funny, surprisingly moving, and enlightening (and gross) for all."
Note: If you are a reader who does not like profanity or frank talk about sex, this likely isn't the book for you.
(A note to our readers: click on the hashtags above to see our other blog posts with the same hashtag.)
Interested in what else we're reading? Check out our Featured Books page.
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