Becoming an adult isn't easy, especially as a woman. You not only have to figure out who you are and what you want to become, like every other struggling grown up, but you're also faced with women's issues such as motherhood, femininity, sexuality — the list is endless, which is exactly why every grown-ass woman needs to read these books.
Being a woman is a wonderful, magical experience, but like every unique identity, it comes with its own set of complications. From issues of body image to questions over reproduction rights, women are constantly fighting an uphill battle in their daily life and beyond. With the right resources, though, that battle can be a little bit easier to win. Sure, every woman's reading tastes are different, but there are some essential books, fiction and nonfiction alike, that all women should read.
Like weapons in an arsenal always at the ready, these female-focused stories and these books about women's issues, sex, identity, feminism, and positive relationships are there for your grown-ass self whenever you need them. Forget stories of weak-willed girls waiting for their knights in shining armor, and leave the catty condescension of women's stories told by men behind, because grown-ass women don't have time for books that belittle them.
They do have time for strong, powerful, and inspiring books about issues that matter them, however, which is why every grown-ass woman needs to read these 11 books. Trust me, it will make being an adult female much easier.
1. The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
Before feminism was a mainstream idea, there was Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex, a women's manifesto that was decades ahead of its time. An important book about sexuality, independence, and identity in terms of women's issues, every grown-ass woman should read The Second Sex, probably more than once.
2. Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay
Thanks to Roxanne Gay's honest collection, women everywhere are figuring out that there is more than one way to be a feminist. Hilarious and insightful, Bad Feminist takes a sharp look at feminism in terms modern culture and the modern woman, examines its strengths and its shortcomings, and ultimately asks others, men and women alike, to join its ranks. If your a grown-ass woman, think of this as your grown-ass guide to feminism.
3. Mistakes I Made at Work by Jessica Bacal
As Beyoncé so aptly expresses, women run the world, but it isn't always easy. In Mistakes I Made at Work, Jessica Bacal interviews twenty-five successful women, from author and columnist Cheryl Strayed to Sonic Youth founding member Kim Gordon, on the most important moments of their careers — the times they made mistakes. A powerful and inspiring book about strong women kicking ass in every industry, Mistakes I Made at Work is a book every hard working grown-ass woman can learn from.
4. Asking for It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture and What We Can Do about It by Kate Harding
Rape is so pervasive and normalized in our society, there's a term for it — rape culture. In Asking for It, Kate Harding not only asks those tough, hard-hitting questions about why and how things got this way, but she attempts to answer them, too. A sharp book that uses research, practical knowledge, and current events to prop its argument up, Asking for It is an important text, not only for grown-ass women, but for readers everywhere.
5. Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation by Elissa Stein
Menstration has long been stigmatized, but Elissa Stein's Flow throws all of that out the window and examines women's periods in a humorous and eye-opening way. Flow not only examines why women have their periods, but it also recounts the history of menstruation, answers questions about period sex, and looks at the sale and marketing of sanitary products throughout time. If you're a grown-ass woman who wants to know what her grown-ass body does monthly, this is the book for you.
6. Zami: A New Spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde
An emotionally stirring memoir, Audre Lorde's Zami explores the life of one of the most influential black lesbian writers of the modern age. A brilliant "biomythography," which is described as "the weaving together of myth, history and biography in epic narrative form, a style of composition that represents all the ways in which we perceive the world," by Ted Warburton, Lorde's radical coming-of-age story is a beautiful portrait of womanhood, blackness, sexuality, and artistry that all grown-ass women need to read to understand.
7. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
One of the first books about female issues that doesn't patronize women, The Awakening was groundbreaking upon publication and still holds value to women reading it today. A timeless book about women's independence, this is an essential feminist text grown-ass women everywhere should have on their nightstand.
8. Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion
In my opinion, every grown-ass women should have an entire shelf full of Joan Didion's work, but if you are to read only one, go with her highly praised Slouching Towards Bethlehem. A mix of personal stories and political critique, Didions essay collection is a smart, poignant, and insightful examination of life as a woman.
9. Cunt: A Declaration of Independence by Igna Muscio
They say sticks and stones can break your bones, but words can never hurt you — so why does it feel like a deep cut when someone uses the word cunt as an insult? Outspoken feminist, activist, and writer Inga Muscio calls for a reversal of the negative connotations surrounding female pejoratives, like the aformentioned c-word and the other frequently used ones like slut and bimbo, in her essay collection Cunt. Covering important women's issues, such as female genitalia, womanhood, menstruation, birth control, prostitution, and more, this is a profound read for all grown-ass feminists.
10. #GirlBoss by Sophia Amoruso
Hashtag aside, Sophia Amoruso's motivational memoir is a grown-ass woman's handbook to becoming her own #GirlBoss. From humble beginnings as a dumpster diving clothes seller on eBay to founder and CEO of a $250-million fashion retailer, Sophia Amorusa is living proof that women are capable of anything. Thankfully for us, she decided to share her secrets to success.
11. Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights by Katha Pollitt
Despite the fact that Roe v. Wade was settled over 40 years ago, a war over abortion rights is still being waged today. Now more than ever, in a country where DIY abortions are on the rise, grown-ass women need to understand their rights, and Katha Pollitt's Pro can help them do just that. A thought-provoking and controversial book about the moral and social aspects of abortion, Pro can be one of the most powerful weapons in a woman's reading arsenal.