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15 Great Nonfiction Books By Women (And the Best Time to Read Them)

15 Great Nonfiction Books by Women(And the Best Time to Read Them)

One of my favorite things about being a reader is finding the perfect book at the perfect time. Whether it’s a book that scratches the right itch or a book that answers a question we didn’t know we were asking, a book read in a particular moment can resonate throughout our lives.

I was inspired to write about this topic over at Book Riot after reading Mindy Kaling’s most recent memoir, Why Not Me? I really enjoyed her first memoir, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? And Other Concerns, when I read it back in 2012 because the lightness of it — and the age Kaling was when she started writing — felt like what I needed to read at that time. Why Not Me? has a similarly funny tone, but the advice she’s passing on now (as a woman of 36) feels even more relevant to me now. Why Not Me? is particularly good when it comes to talking about work, especially being someone “in the trenches” still in a mode of striving for more.

I used this idea to pull together 15 of my favorite works of nonfiction by women, with suggestions on the best time to read them. I’m not going to give all my detailed reasons here, just the books, and suggest you head on over to the post a Book Riot if you want more details.

When You’re Approaching College Graduation

When You’re Struggling at Adulting

When You’re Making A Big Career Leap

When You’re Considering Your Future Family Plans

When You’re in a Rut

When You’re Thinking About Aging/Mortality

When You’re Reading Through Grief

P.S. The framing of this list isn’t to say that you can’t read this books at different times – you do you, obviously! – but to recognize that life experiences affect how we read certain books and can affect the impact. Enjoy!

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links through Amazon. If you make a purchase through any of those links, I will receive a small commission.

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  • Leah @ Books Speak Volumes March 24, 2016, 7:16 am

    Great recommendations! Spinster came along at the perfect time for me, and I feel like I need to read Why Not Me and Year of Yes.

    • Kim March 26, 2016, 2:47 pm

      Year of Yes is such a perfect kick in the pants kind of book, once you get into the meat of it… I didn’t love the first three chapters, but adored it after that.

  • bermudaonion (Kathy) March 24, 2016, 9:36 am

    I’ve really gotten into nonfiction this year so will make note of some of these titles.

  • Gabby March 24, 2016, 11:54 am

    I really want to read Spinster! And I too read Why Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me and really enjoyed it a few years ago…I might have to move up Why Not Me because it sounds like it would be a good one to read for where I am in my life. This is a great list!

    • Kim March 26, 2016, 2:46 pm

      I’ve got Spinster out from the library right now, but I’m afraid I’m not going to get to it before it needs to go back…

  • Lisa March 24, 2016, 5:23 pm

    I don’t know all of those books but I wholeheartedly agree with the Joan Didion. It is so honest and real and I want to read it again just so the lessons are implanted for when I need them.

    • Kim March 26, 2016, 2:46 pm

      That book… it’s one of the best, if not the best, book on grief and grieving that I’ve ever read. She’s such a talented writer.

  • Trisha March 24, 2016, 5:37 pm

    I definitely could use some books to help me with the difficulties of adulating. This is a great list!

  • Allison @ The Book Wheel March 26, 2016, 12:50 pm

    I’ve only read two on this list (Lean In and Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed) but need to pick up a few others. I’m hesitant about Mindy K’s book because I haven’t seen her show and don’t *love* her, so I’m afraid it might be too much for an intro to her.

    • Kim March 26, 2016, 2:45 pm

      In that case, maybe go with Why Not Me? over her first book — I think it skips over more of the “get to know Mindy Kaling” stuff and jumps into some interesting thoughts on friendship and work that I thought were interesting, regardless of the celebrity writer.

  • iliana March 27, 2016, 8:19 pm

    Great list and I liked how you set up the recommendations. I have heard of most of these books but haven’t read any of them. Sounds like I need to catch up!

  • Kailana March 29, 2016, 7:07 pm

    Oh, books to check out! I need some more non fiction in my life.