WOMEN
07/21/2015 04:26 pm ET

17 Memoirs By Women You Should Add To Your Reading List

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Looking for some end-of-summer reading? We have some women's stories to suggest -- 17 of them, in fact. 

The remarkable women on this list of unputdownable memoirs have shared the most personal and painful parts of their lives through their writing. They have suffered from mental illness, escaped abuse, stood up for their political beliefs, experienced tragic loss, redefined gender and stressed the importance of equality. They have worked as sex workers, lived in psychiatric institutions and hiked the Pacific Crest Trail alone. They have learned valuable lessons from their life journeys, and impart their wisdom through their books.

 Here are 17 women's memoirs you need to add to your reading list:

  • 1 "Wave" by Sonali Deraniyagala
    "Deraniyagala's memoir about losing her husband and sons in the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami is... possibly one of the most moving
    Amazon
    "Deraniyagala's memoir about losing her husband and sons in the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami is... possibly one of the most moving books ever written about grief." -- The Guardian
  • 2 "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed
    "Strayed tells the story of her emotional devastation after the death of her mother and the weeks she spent hiking the 1,100-
    Amazon
    "Strayed tells the story of her emotional devastation after the death of her mother and the weeks she spent hiking the 1,100-mile Pacific Crest Trail. As her family, marriage, and sanity go to pieces, Strayed drifts into spontaneous encounters with other men, to the consternation of her confused husband, and eventually hits rock bottom while shooting up heroin with a new boyfriend. Convinced that nothing else can save her, she latches onto the unlikely idea of a long solo hike." -- Booklist
  • 3 "Men We Reaped" by Jesmyn Ward
    "A brutal, moving memoir of five deaths highlights the shocking reality faced by many young black men in America."
-- <a href
    Amazon
    "A brutal, moving memoir of five deaths highlights the shocking reality faced by many young black men in America." -- The Guardian
  • 4 "Whip Smart" by Melissa Febos
    "Melissa Febos' new memoir, <em>Whip Smart</em>, details the four years she spent working as a dominatrix. Febos enacted fant
    Amazon
    "Melissa Febos' new memoir, Whip Smart, details the four years she spent working as a dominatrix. Febos enacted fantasy sequences, spanked grown men and verbally humiliated them for $75 an hour in a dungeon located somewhere in midtown Manhattan." -- NPR
  • 5 "Blackout" by Sarah Hepola
    "Alcohol was the fuel of choice during Hepola's early years as a writer, but after too many nights spent falling down stairca
    Amazon
    "Alcohol was the fuel of choice during Hepola's early years as a writer, but after too many nights spent falling down staircases, sleeping with men she didn't remember the next day, and narrowly surviving countless other near disasters, she fought her way clear of addiction and dared to face life without a drink in hand." -- O Magazine
  • 6 "The Liars' Club" by Mary Karr
    "Mary Karr's haunting memoir of growing up in East Texas in the early 1960's, virtually motherless, and fiercely seeking to u
    Amazon
    "Mary Karr's haunting memoir of growing up in East Texas in the early 1960's, virtually motherless, and fiercely seeking to understand her parents, their lives and their relationship to her sister and herself." -- The New York Times
  • 7 "Her" by Christa Parravani
    "Add the twin mystique to a drug-fueled reality drama and you’ve got the recipe for double the intoxicating read in Christa P
    Amazon
    "Add the twin mystique to a drug-fueled reality drama and you’ve got the recipe for double the intoxicating read in Christa Parravani’s memoir, Her, a sister book. Parravani offers a sinuous, startling, and intimate look at what it means to be share someone’s DNA by playing on the reader’s fantasies and stereotypes: confirming some—think Doublemint Gum commercials, Mary Kate and Ashley—while setting others straight." -- The American Literary Review
  • 8 "Girl, Interrupted" by Susanna Kaysen
    "Susanna Kaysen's excoriating memoir about the nearly two years she spent in a psychiatric institution at the end of her teen
    Amazon
    "Susanna Kaysen's excoriating memoir about the nearly two years she spent in a psychiatric institution at the end of her teens." -- NPR
  • 9 "The Year Of Magical Thinking" by Joan Didion
    "Didion's husband, the writer John Gregory Dunne, died of a heart attack, just after they had returned from the hospital wher
    Amazon
    "Didion's husband, the writer John Gregory Dunne, died of a heart attack, just after they had returned from the hospital where their only child, Quintana, was lying in a coma. This book is a memoir of Dunne's death, Quintana's illness, and Didion's efforts to make sense of a time when nothing made sense. "She's a pretty cool customer," one hospital worker says of her, and, certainly, coolness was always part of the addictive appeal of Didion's writing. The other part was the dark side of cool, the hyper-nervous awareness of the tendency of things to go bad. In 2004, Didion had her own disasters to deal with, and she did not, she feels, deal with them coolly, or even sanely. This book is about getting a grip and getting on; it's also a tribute to an extraordinary marriage." -- The New Yorker
  • 10 "I Feel Bad About My Neck" by Nora Ephron
    "Nora Ephron has mastered the art of seeming likable -- a rarer facility than one might think. In tone and touch, her essay c
    Amazon
    "Nora Ephron has mastered the art of seeming likable -- a rarer facility than one might think. In tone and touch, her essay collection I Feel Bad About My Neck makes a useful bible for those of us who foster the less useful knack for seeming irritating." -- The Guardian
  • 11 "The Long Goodbye" by Meghan O'Rourke
    "In this memoir, the poet Meghan O'Rourke chronicles her mother's death and its desolate aftermath."
-- <a href="http://www.n
    Amazon
    "In this memoir, the poet Meghan O'Rourke chronicles her mother's death and its desolate aftermath." -- The New York Times
  • 12 "Wasted" by Marya Hornbacher
    "A gritty, unflinching look at eating disorders... written from the raw, disintegrated center of young pain.”
— <a href="http
    Amazon
    "A gritty, unflinching look at eating disorders... written from the raw, disintegrated center of young pain.” — New York Times Book Review
  • 13 "She's Not There" by Jennifer Finney Boylan
    "The most powerful section of <em>She's Not There</em> takes place over the roughly two-year period when Boylan went on sabba
    Amazon
    "The most powerful section of She's Not There takes place over the roughly two-year period when Boylan went on sabbatical from teaching, started taking estrogen doses, and slowly eased out to the world as a woman. In simple and direct language, Boylan describes an extraordinary metamorphosis." -- AV Club
  • 14 "I Am Malala" by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb
    "<em>I Am Malala</em> tells the story of how a young education activist survived a Taliban bullet."
-- <a href="http://www.wa
    Amazon
    "I Am Malala tells the story of how a young education activist survived a Taliban bullet." -- The Washington Post
  • 15 "Orange Is The New Black" by Piper Kerman
    "Just graduated from Smith College, Kerman made the mistake of getting involved with the wrong woman and agreeing to deliver
    Amazon
    "Just graduated from Smith College, Kerman made the mistake of getting involved with the wrong woman and agreeing to deliver a large cash payment for an international drug ring. Years later, the consequences catch up with her in the form of an indictment on conspiracy drug-smuggling and money-laundering charges. Kerman pleads guilty and is sentenced to 15 months in a federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut." -- Booklist
  • 16 "How To Be A Woman" by Caitlin Moran
    "<em>How To Be a Woman </em>follows its anti-heroine from her 13th birthday (182 pounds, friendless, fleeing from gravel-flin
    Amazon
    "How To Be a Woman follows its anti-heroine from her 13th birthday (182 pounds, friendless, fleeing from gravel-flinging yobs) onward, with stops along the way to praise masturbation, argue both for and against motherhood, celebrate her abortion, and more. Each self-deprecating chapter ('I Start Bleeding!' 'I Become Furry!' 'I Don’t Know What To Call My Breasts!') is an occasion to explore how, from puberty through senescence, the modern female body has become a series of problems to be solved— usually at great expense to its inhabitant." -- Slate
  • 17 "Redefining Realness" by Janet Mock
    “[Janet] Mock defies the historically apolitical confines of the transgender memoir… Her vivid prose arouses every sense, wre
    Amazon
    “[Janet] Mock defies the historically apolitical confines of the transgender memoir… Her vivid prose arouses every sense, wrenching emotion from the reader.” —Publishers Weekly
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