The best beach reads for when you want to smash the patriarchy and still enjoy your vacation

Sharisse Coulter Author Of The Big If
By Sharisse Coulter

Who am I?

As a feminist writer, I first gravitated to light female-driven stories in college as a break from the heavy academic tomes I was reading. I tore through the chick lit section of my local bookstores and realized that there was so much more to the genre than I knew or had heard it given credit for. They explored relatable themes— friendship, injustice, love, loss, sex—while being unapologetically feminine and light. For my own writing, I still read a lot of heavy nonfiction about injustice and smashing the patriarchy, but I keep the lightness by blending the heavy stuff with humor—this genre’s specialty.

I wrote...

The Big If

By Sharisse Coulter,

Book cover of The Big If

What is my book about?

Set in the never-dull music industry The Big If takes a deeper look at that gray space in love where compromise crosses the line. When what is expected and what one dreams of can no longer coexist. It’s a story about those moments when life forces us to choose our true priorities and act the part of the person we wish to become. Can Penelope have her dreams and desires satisfied without shattering culturally created boundaries? If choosing her own path means losing stability and comfort, not to mention love, will this adventuress have the courage to throw expectations aside and follow her heart? 

The books I picked & why

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Pride and Prejudice

By Jane Austen,

Book cover of Pride and Prejudice

Why this book?

When I first read Pride and Prejudice in high school I didn’t get it, but then years later when I reread it I realized what a badass Jane Austen really is. She also may have created the chick-lit genre. She crafted a delightfully engaging story with sharp wit satirizing the arcane rules women faced in their only available pursuit of the era: an agreeable match for marriage. It combines all the things I love—feminism, intelligence, humor, and insight—and packages them neatly into an enduring tale of love, duty, and learning to be your own woman whether or not that puts you at odds with the culturally constructed and accepted norms of your time.

Good in Bed

By Jennifer Weiner,

Book cover of Good in Bed

Why this book?

Good in Bed is an ideal feminist beach read. It’s fun and easy to read—like candy—while giving the reader bigger things to think about. I love when a book satisfies my desire to be entertained while also giving me elements that I continue to think about years later. And of course, I love female heroines who learn to save themselves.

The Keeper of Happy Endings

By Barbara Davis,

Book cover of The Keeper of Happy Endings

Why this book?

This book found me and took me by surprise by turning out to be exactly what I didn’t know I needed to read. With two storylines in separate timelines it’s a little bit historical fiction, a little bit about the relationships that change and define our lives, a little bit about healing after loss and then a dash of magic to seal in the heartwarming feels. It’s a story that left me wishing I could spend more time with these characters in their world. And really, what more can you ask of a book?

Bitter Greens

By Kate Forsyth,

Book cover of Bitter Greens

Why this book?

I came across this book in the research stage of writing my new novel and from the very beginning I was hooked. I love a good fairytale, in this case Rapunzel, retold as feminist historical fiction. The characters are deliciously multi-faceted, the alternating storylines deftly woven together, and I felt like I was being doled out insights into where we are now as women through the lens of where we’ve been before. Engaging and enlightening. After reading it I felt inspired to read more of her work, write more of my own, and empower as many women as possible.

Eleven on Top

By Janet Evanovich,

Book cover of Eleven on Top

Why this book?

I love Janet Evanovich’s writing and the entire Stephanie Plum series, but this book is my favorite. I laugh-cried more than once (making family members back out of the room slowly, sure I’d finally lost my mind), ignored all other obligations as I read it in one sitting, and developed a real crush on a fictional character (Team Ranger). I love that Stephanie Plum is such an endearing and well-rounded character. She does some badass things, makes a lot of (often gross) mistakes, has a big heart, and gets to have an enviable love life all while figuring out how to be an independent woman who, however blundering, saves herself. It’s fun, sexy, and hilarious.

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