About Women By Women Book List

Are you looking for your next summer beach read? I asked around on social media what everyone’s favorite books about women, written by women authors were.

I got a wide variety of responses from historical non-fiction, memoirs, and novels.


Pick a favorite, hit the beach or pool, and start reading!


I recently read Heart and Soul: The Story of Florence Nightingale by Gena K. Gorrell, for which she won the Norma Fleck Award for Non-Fiction. Gorrell’s work is pegged as for young people, but Heart and Soul was such a revelation for me that I recommend it to anyone with an interest in women’s history, the Victorian period, healthcare or military history, or the power of one person to make immense differences and progress in her own time and place and beyond decades and borders. I had a notion of Nightingale as an iconic wartime nurse, but no appreciation of her as an all-round healthcare reformer, or of the scope of her expertise and influence during her own time and beyond. Heart and Soul fixed that. – Lara M

“The Sisters Are Alright” by Tamera Winfrey Harris talks about the historical stereotypes that Black women struggle to overcome in modernity. Harris also includes statistics and anecdotes of Black women’s success through the years, despite the many forces against us. I recommend this because it’s empowering, educational, and very easy to read! -Shelby M

Princesses Behaving Badly by Linda Rodríguez McRobbie is a collection of short stories about real life princesses. A nice fluffy read that is easy to pick up as you please. I like picking a princess at random to read, my favorite is the ones about the ‘warrior’ princesses! – Anonymous

The Burning of Bridget Cleary by Angela Bourke. I read this book years ago and I still think about every now and then. A horrific tale of an Irish woman killed by her husband and the late 1800s and the media sensation that followed. I would recommend it to anyone interested in True Crime TV shows and podcasts. – Anonymous


Memoirs & Autobiographies

Love Joan Didion. Currently reading Year of Magical Thinking. A few others stacked on shelf waiting to be read.   -Drew M



Jeanette Winterson’s Oranges Aren’t The Only Fruit A semi-autobiographical coming of age tale about a young lesbian growing up in Pentecostal England. (Would also recommend checking out her other novel The Stone G-ds) – Anonymous

Andrea Levy’s Small Island Story focuses on post-war immigration and an emerging multicultural Britain, but two of the four protagonists/narrators are female and it explores issues relating to their gender as well. – Anonymous

Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea Serves as a prequel to Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, exploring and re-writing the story of Rochester’s “mad” wife. – Anonymous

Virginia Woolf’s “Orlando” (about her girlfriend Vita Sackville-West – the longest love letter I’ve ever read – Susanne W



Do you have your own favorite book written about women by a woman author that isn’t on the list? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter at @WMofC

Melissa Jones
Find out how you can help support the Women’s Museum of California here
Are you a member of the museum? Check out our library catalogue to find your next book

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