13 Books Every Grown-Ass Woman Should Read

You don’t have time for body-shaming, self-hating, haters or bad sex. You aren’t afraid of saying “no.” Sometimes you’re feelin’ yourself and you’re not afraid to say so. You’re a grown-ass woman, and you should read grown-ass woman books.

That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a good science fiction novel or adventure story or the latest in self-help. You’re grown; you read whatever you want, whenever you want. But let’s be real: There are those days when you have to shut down some foolishness trying to get in your way, or when, despite all your grown-ness, things just haven't gone your way, or you just generally want to be in the company of grown-ass women and grown-ass ideas.

On those days, you don’t have time for books that try to shame, humiliate, refrigerate, or otherwise attempt to denigrate women. Nope, you ain’t got time for that. You want books by, about, or celebrating women who know what it’s like to be grown and have grown-ass issues that can be solved with grown-ass solutions. Or books that help you be an even doper version of the grown-ass woman that you are. These are some of the books that should be on every grown-ass woman’s bookshelf.

Woman And Nature By Susan Griffin

Susan Griffin does the *work* in this book. She goes into science and ecology and philosophy and economics and race studies. She dug deep into every source she could find to point to the many different ways throughout history and today that women have been silenced, subjugated and oppressed. And she’s not pointing it out to cry over it. No, she’s pointing it out so that we can do something about it personally, politically, socially. It’s a demanding book, but it’s also insanely well-written and criminally under-read.

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Sister Outsider By Audre Lorde

Audre Lorde’s pen is sharp. She doesn’t beat around the bush or compromise any part of herself for the sake of politesse or political agendas. Sister Outsider speaks loudly and personally on behalf of those often marginalized or just straight-up forgotten in feminist movements.

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Bad Feminist By Roxane Gay

It’s all fine and good to read the classics, but don’t forget to keep up with what’s going on today. You’d be missing out. Bad Feminist is funny and feminist and very very much about what grown-ass women are dealing with in today’s culture. Reading Bad Feminist is just like getting real with your favorite, super-smart grown-ass woman friends.

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The Beauty Myth By Naomi Wolf

Even if you’re usually feelin’ yourself and not giving even a second’s notice to what anyone else thinks, the world is full of media with the sole purpose to make women feel bad enough about themselves to buy things. Even grown-ass women sometimes fall victim to the onslaught of shame. The Beauty Myth is like holy water against the vampiric tastes of body-shaming marketing and media.

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The Way Forward Is With A Broken Heart By Alice Walker

If you think being a grown-ass woman means that you have to be cold, hard and unloving, then please proceed to the back of the line and wait your turn, ‘cause you ain’t grown yet. Knowing how to love yourself and others is part of being grown, and The Way Forward Is With a Broken Heart is about learning exactly that. Its stories are honest and complex and draw on Walker’s own grown-ass wisdom.

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Woman: An Intimate Geography By Natalie Angier

You are one. A woman, that is, complete with all the working parts. And if you don’t know how your own machinery works, how can you expect someone else to know? The journey of self-discovery doesn’t end at … well, it doesn’t end. Every grown-ass woman ought to be an explorer of her own body. Here’s a guidebook.

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Catherine The Great By Robert K. Massie

... aka “Catherine Explains It All.” (Now that’s a show that should have been made.) The way Catherine the Great handled things (and by “things” we’re talkin’ war, rebellion, crazy kings …) is just inspiring. She went from a poor man’s daughter to ruler of all Russia … and she wasn’t even Russian! Just saying, she not only took care of herself — she ran Russia, haters be damned.

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Plum Bun By Jessie Redmond Fauset

Most grown-ass women weren’t born all grown and bold. You had to overcome some obstacles, learn some things, and probably even mess up quite a bit along the way. And you’re not afraid to admit it either. That’s what makes you grown AF. Plum Bun is about a young woman’s going through it before she sees her mistakes, owns them, and learns from them to become a grown-ass woman.

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Infidel By Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Ayaan Hirsi Ali has no shortage of haters. But the hate that’s after her is on a scale most people couldn’t even begin to imagine. From public death threats to being stripped of her citizenship and disowned by her family and forced into exile, she’s very familiar with being … unpopular. But all the hate and violence hasn’t stopped her one bit. She fought through some serious struggles and made even more noise over injustice. Whether or not you agree with everything she says, there's not doubting she's a badass.

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The Portable Dorothy Parker By Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker was one of the few women at the Algonquin Round Table, but with her sharp wit, she ran the show. Grown-ass woman that she was, she didn’t mind if she hurt a few feelings with her bold opinions, and she wasn’t scared to tell someone all about himself. Honestly, Dorothy says it best in one of her poems:

In youth, it was a way I had,And change, with every passing ladTo suit his theories.

But now I know the things I knowAnd do the things I do,And if you do not like me so,To hell, my love, with you.

To do my best to please.

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The Rebellious Life Of Mrs. Rosa Parks By Jeanne Theoharis

Because a grown-ass woman isn't about to be written off by history as an accidental activist whose feet were too tired on the bus one day. Jeanne Theoharis tells the real story of Rosa Parks, who was an activist in her own right years before she put on her Sunday best and deliberately took a seat at the front of a bus to kick off one of the most important movements of the Civil Rights era. All those biographies painting her as some passive force in the movement can go ahead and have all the seats, thanks.

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Far From The Madding Crowd By Thomas Hardy

Not every book for grown-ass women is written by women. Thomas Hardy pays homage to grown-ass women everywhere with his heroine Bathsheba Everdene. She runs her own farm, takes care of herself, and knows she’s fly. She values her independence and isn’t about to let anyone try to take it from her. Grown-ass women will be in good company reading this book.

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Captain Marvel By Kelly Sue Deconnick

In the hands of Kelly Sue Deconnick, the historic comic book character dropped the “Ms.” and gave herself a promotion to “Captain.” That’s how grown she is: She gave her own damn self a promotion. She even upgraded her outfit from the “comic book babe” style bathing suit and sash combo to a pretty dope suit. Every grown-ass woman could take a tip from Captain Marvel. She is one of the most powerful superheroes in the Marvel universe, and she isn’t hiding in anyone’s shadow anymore. Yes, you can be grown and still read comic books (grown folk know you still gotta have some fun). And if you’re a grown-ass woman, you’ll have some special words if the anybody tries to give you any of that “fake geek girl” nonsense.

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