The best books that reimagine women’s lives

Who am I?

Before I became a writer, I worked for a time in the violence against women sector, and I started to see how violence against women was normalised or sanctioned by a complex matrix of laws, norms, and ideas that stick to our society like a spider’s web. I wanted to do my part in unpicking the web—and for me, as a writer, that comes in the form of beginning to break down simplistic stories and archetypes about what women should be, and what they historically might have been, in favour of a liberated future where the true potential of half the human race can be dreamed of, and realised. 

I wrote...

Young Women

By Jessica Moor,

Book cover of Young Women

What is my book about?

When Emily meets enigmatic and dazzling actress Tamsin, her life changes. Drawn into Tamsin's world of Soho living, boozy dinners, and cocktails at impossibly expensive bars, Emily's life shifts from black and white to technicolour and the two women become inseparable.

Tamsin is the friend Emily has always longed for; beautiful, fun, intelligent, and mysterious and soon Emily is neglecting her previous life—her work assisting vulnerable women, her old friend Lucy—to bask in her glow. But when a bombshell news article about a decades-old sexual assault case breaks, Emily realises that Tamsin has been hiding a secret about her own past. A secret that threatens to unravel everything...
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of Their Eyes Were Watching God

Jessica Moor Why did I love this book?

This is the book that, after three years of a long and often turgid English degree, made me fall back in love with reading. Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on boardis there a better opening line in the English language? The novel tells the story of Janey, an African American woman in Florida in the 1920s, and her three husbands. A candidate for shaming and marginalisation if ever there was one. But Janey resists every constraint that society seeks to impose on her. I read this book whenever I need a good weep. 

By Zora Neale Hurston,

Why should I read it?

16 authors picked Their Eyes Were Watching God as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Cover design by Harlem renaissance artist Lois Mailou Jones

When Janie, at sixteen, is caught kissing shiftless Johnny Taylor, her grandmother swiftly marries her off to an old man with sixty acres. Janie endures two stifling marriages before meeting the man of her dreams, who offers not diamonds, but a packet of flowering seeds ...

'For me, THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD is one of the very greatest American novels of the 20th century. It is so lyrical it should be sentimental; it is so passionate it should be overwrought, but it is instead a rigorous, convincing and dazzling piece…

Book cover of Alias Grace

Jessica Moor Why did I love this book?

Simply the best historical novel that I have ever read. Grace, our anti heroine, is constantly cast into different roles—victim, ingenue, murderess. But who is she really? Atwood captures the fundamental elusiveness and complexity of this fascinating historical figure. This is a book that you will want to crawl inside and live within. I recommend it for a rainy weekend with no other plans, preferably while chain-drinking tea.

By Margaret Atwood,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Alias Grace as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

By the author of The Handmaid's Tale

Now a major NETFLIX series

Sometimes I whisper it over to myself: Murderess. Murderess. It rustles, like a taffeta skirt along the floor.' Grace Marks. Female fiend? Femme fatale? Or weak and unwilling victim? Around the true story of one of the most enigmatic and notorious women of the 1840s, Margaret Atwood has created an extraordinarily potent tale of sexuality, cruelty and mystery.

'Brilliant... Atwood's prose is searching. So intimate it seems to be written on the skin' Hilary Mantel

'The outstanding novelist of our age' Sunday Times

'A sensuous, perplexing book, at…

Book cover of Minor Detail

Jessica Moor Why did I love this book?

A fascinating novel that depicts, in unsettlingly flat style, a historic gang-rape of a Palestinian woman by Israeli soldiers. Cut to the present day and a nameless, obsessive narrator becomes an amateur sleuth, preoccupied with understanding what took place. A brilliant meditation on memory, agency, and our relationship with history.

By Adania Shibli, Elisabeth Jaquette (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Minor Detail as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Minor Detail begins during the summer of 1949, one year after the war that the Palestinians mourn as the Nakba - the catastrophe that led to the displacement and expulsion of more than 700,000 people - and the Israelis celebrate as the War of Independence. Israeli soldiers capture and rape a young Palestinian woman, and kill and bury her in the sand. Many years later, a woman in Ramallah becomes fascinated to the point of obsession with this 'minor detail' of history. A haunting meditation on war, violence and memory, Minor Detail cuts to the heart of the Palestinian experience…

Book cover of The Neapolitan Novels Boxed Set

Jessica Moor Why did I love this book?

Simply the finest literary achievement of the 21st century by my reckoning. I won’t pick just one of the books, and you can’t make me. The story of Lila and Lenu is a story of poverty, competition between two women, but it’s also the story of the last century. Ferrante is one of the finest observers of human behaviour that I’ve ever read, and I rudely neglected my loved ones when I was in the grip of these novels.

By Elena Ferrante, Ann Goldstein (translator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Neapolitan Novels Boxed Set as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The complete four-volume boxed set of the New York Times–bestselling epic about hardship and female friendship in postwar Naples that has sold over five million copies.

Beginning with My Brilliant Friend, the four Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante follow Elena and Lila, from their rough-edged upbringing in Naples, Italy, not long after WWII, through the many stages of their lives―and along paths that diverge wildly. Sometimes they are separated by jealousy or hostility or physical distance, but the bond between them is unbreakable, for better or for worse.

This volume includes all four novels: My Brilliant Friend; The Story of…

Book cover of Toto Among the Murderers

Jessica Moor Why did I love this book?

I write about violence against women, because I think it’s important and overlooked. Toto Among the Murderers takes place in the north of England in the late 70s and early 80s, when the country was shadowed by the presence of multiple serial killers. It sounds dark, right? But this is a paen to young womanhood, to the fun and freedom that can be inhabited even within the constraints of a world that, too often, allows women to be harmed. 

By Sally J Morgan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Toto Among the Murderers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Vividly portrays the human face of young women on the margins of society, women who defy being statistics, who have their own stories and loves to tell' Sophie Ward


It is 1973 and Jude - known to her friends as Toto - has just graduated from art school and moves into a house in a run-down part of Leeds. Jude is a chaotic wild child who flirts with the wrong kind of people, drinks too much and gets stoned too often. Never happy to stay in one place for very…

You might also like...

Dinner with Churchill

By Robin Hawdon,

Book cover of Dinner with Churchill

Robin Hawdon Author Of Number Ten

New book alert!

Who am I?

My writing is eclectic and covers many topics. However, all my books tend to have a thriller element to them. Perhaps it's my career as an actor and playwright which has instilled the need to create suspense in all my writings. I sometimes feel that distinguished authors can get so carried away with their literary descriptions and philosophical insights that they forget to keep the story going! It is the need to know what happens next that keeps the reader turning the pages. Perhaps in achieving that some subtlety has to be sacrificed, but, hey, you don't read a political thriller to study the philosophical problems of governing nations!

Robin's book list on lone heroes and threats to national security

What is my book about?

This is a new novel by one of the UK's most prolific writers. It is based around an extraordinary true incident at the start of World War II when fierce political opponents Winston Churchill and Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain encountered each other at a famous dinner party. Seen from the perspective of Lucy Armitage, a young girl suddenly conscripted by a strange stroke of fate into Churchill's overworked but adoring team of secretaries.

As Churchill prepares to take over the leadership of the nation, Lucy finds herself increasingly involved in her famous employer's phenomenal work output and eccentric habits. When romance and the world of espionage impinge on her life, she becomes a vital part of the eternal struggle between good and evil regimes that still exists today.

Dinner with Churchill

By Robin Hawdon,

What is this book about?

It is on historical record that, on the evening of October 13th 1939, six weeks after war had been declared on Hitler's Germany, Winston Churchill and Neville Chamberlain, fierce and implacable opponents for years over the appeasement issue, met together with their two wives, Clementine and Anne, for a private dinner at Admiralty House, and event which caused ripples throughout Westminster.

Chamberlain was still Prime Minister, but had seen all his efforts to negotiate peace with Hitler shattered. Churchill had been recalled to the cabinet after ten years 'in the wilderness', his dire warnings of the Nazi threat vindicated.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in murder, murder mystery, and Palestine?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about murder, murder mystery, and Palestine.

Murder Explore 891 books about murder
Murder Mystery Explore 469 books about murder mystery
Palestine Explore 53 books about Palestine