- Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson (AKA The Bloggess)
She might not be a former “Weekend Update” anchor, but that doesn’t mean her book isn’t one of the best and most hilarious things ever written. This is a kind of memoir by the always on-point Jenny Lawson, who runs an award-winning (and epic) blog, “The Bloggess.” Almost every word of this book will make you laugh (except the words that will make you sad). It’s worth the read for an infinite number of reasons, but perhaps the best is a story about a turkey (or, depending on who you are, a large quail) named Jenkins.
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
It’s possible you already had to read this classic for your eleventh grade, British literature class. But if you didn’t, you should really give Frankenstein a read. This is such a win for female writers everywhere. Shelley and her literary friends were in the middle of a competition to see who could make up the best horror story, and Shelley won hands down. Did we mention all of those other writers were guys, including Shelley’s husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley? Plus, you’ll finally stop confusing Dr. Frankenstein and the Monster.
- Is Everyone Hanging out without Me? by Mindy Kaling
This question is one we probably ask all the time, but nobody asks it better than TV writer and star, Mindy Kaling. This book is filled with hilarious lines, touching advice on how to love yourself, and pretty cool information about what it’s like to work in television. If you’re a fan of The Office, we couldn’t recommend this book enough. Perhaps the best story in it is one where Kaling and her co-star, Ellie Kemper, did a photo shoot… and the rest, we’ll let you read for yourself. And if you like it, be sure to keep a look out for Kaling’s second book, Why Not Me?, slated for release September 29, 2015!
- The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver
We’re not sure how widely read this book is, but it’s incredible. Really, every page of it. It was written in the 80s and touches on issues of immigration, single motherhood, and above all, what it means to be a true friend. A really heroic and triumphant read for not just women, but people everywhere.
- Yes Please by Amy Poehler
One of the most encouraging, non-fiction reads nowadays. Amy Poehler actually makes us admire her more in this book. It feels like you’re really having a conversation with Poehler when you read it. She gives good advice, but it doesn’t feel like she’s your aunt who buys you Taco Bell but then pushes you around about what to do with your life. It feels like you’re friends. But not in a creepy way. She’s hilarious, her obviously kind heart and fearless attitude shine through, and this book is so worth it.
- Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
We know it’s possible you had to read this one before, too, but you won’t regret it. Janie, the novel’s protagonist, takes the modern day term “slut-shaming” and runs it over with a garbage truck. If you want to judge her for marrying more than once, go ahead. Janie’s going to do what’s best for Janie, and you better keep your mouth shut. For this reason and many more, Their Eyes Were Watching God is a powerful read.
- Bossypants by Tina Fey
Did you really think we’d forget to include Tina Fey’s book on this list? We get a kick out of reading this one time and time again. It’s genuinely funny, frank about issues that women face in the workplace and literally everywhere else, and really, just well-written. Our favorite part is when Fey tells the reader what it’s like to put your iPod on shuffle during a photo shoot. Let’s just say, you’ll be hearing “We’d Like to Thank You, Herbert Hoover” a lot more than you probably ever should, ever.
- A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
It seems like less and less children are reading this book. Here at The Hot Zone, we need to keep that tradition alive. There’s a kickass female protagonist, Meg, on a science fiction adventure that reminds us of the importance of family, friendship, and true love in all the right places. There’s a scene between Meg and her youngest brother, Charles Wallace, that could make anyone cry. Author’s Note: Back in the day when books had trailers, there was one for this one. This creepy, deep, man’s voice read quotes by kids who reviewed the book, and hearing him say, “Sam, age 9, says, ‘It has a great plot. I recommend it” has haunted me for my entire life.
- Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
If you miss silly picture books from your childhood days, never fear. Hyperbole and a Half is one, big picture book with themes that will speak to you now. This tells the tale of author Allie Brosh’s life, including how she handles her crazy dogs and how she tries to be a good person. It’s funny and touching at the same time. Also, the bits about Brosh’s depression are crazily well written and worth the purchase of the book. Plus, there’s a story about cake that will make us laugh until the day we all die.
- The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Written about a woman by a woman, this narrative will keep you on the edge of your seat even after you’ve finished it. It’s all about science, yes, but it’s all about bravery, too. The book tells the story of HeLa cells, which were actually taken from the book’s titular figure’s body for scientific research. Along the way, we learn a lot about Lacks, her life, and what a strong person she really was. This isn’t anything like a textbook. It’s like looking into someone else’s eyes for real.