The best books about unapologetic women

Kristina Riggle Author Of Vivian In Red
By Kristina Riggle

Who am I?

I’ve always loved stories about the anti-heroines–messy, brash women who do things in print that I would never dream of doing in real life. I’ve tried to honor the difficult women in my own books, by showing that a heroine’s flaws do not have to be adorable to carry a narrative. My first career was as a reporter for small-town newspapers, during which time I enjoyed confounding my sources who underestimated a petite, baby-faced young woman. Journalism may have been an awkward fit at times for a person raised to be a nice girl (a literal Girl Scout) but it certainly gave me opportunities to practice being an unapologetic woman!

I wrote...

Vivian In Red

By Kristina Riggle,

Book cover of Vivian In Red

What is my book about?

Vivian is a magnetic woman from the past of Milo Short, a famous Broadway producer who thought he had buried her story and memory. But one day, he has a vision of Vivian–impossibly young and beautiful, when she should have been elderly or dead–and the sight fells him on the spot with an apparent stroke. Robbed of his voice by the stroke, the vision of Vivian haunts him while his granddaughter digs for the truth about what he did, and what she meant to him. Vivian Adair was supposed to be polite and demure, supposed to be just an assistant, supposed to respect cultural divides, yet she refuses to be anyone but purely her mercurial, passionate self.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

Why did I love this book?

I adore a book that manages to be more than one thing at a time, and the way this novel blends the sweetness and charm of awkward humans trying (and failing) to connect, with a mordant, sharp humor, and a backstory that makes you catch your breath is a kind of sorcery. Eleanor Oliphant as a person is not at all fine, actually, but as a character is brilliantly memorable.

By Gail Honeyman,

Why should I read it?

22 authors picked Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


A Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick

"Beautifully written and incredibly funny, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is about the importance of friendship and human connection. I fell in love with Eleanor, an eccentric and regimented loner whose life beautifully unfolds after a chance encounter with a stranger; I think you will fall in love, too!" -Reese Witherspoon

No one's ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine.

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she's thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of…

Book cover of Where'd You Go, Bernadette

Why did I love this book?

When Bernadette Fox triggers a mudslide into a fancy party because of her snooty neighbor’s imperious demands, I was hooked. This wonderfully weird story of the offbeat, agoraphobic, but not-actually-crazy Bernadette is a darkly funny exploration of how easy it is for an eccentric woman to be tarred as a madwoman and rushed offstage, lest she causes more ruckus.

By Maria Semple,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked Where'd You Go, Bernadette as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A misanthropic matriarch leaves her eccentric family in crisis when she mysteriously disappears in this "whip-smart and divinely funny" novel that inspired the movie starring Cate Blanchett (New York Times).

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect; and to 15-year-old Bee, she is her best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette vanishes. It all began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle --…

Daisy Jones & The Six

By Taylor Jenkins Reid,

Book cover of Daisy Jones & The Six

Why did I love this book?

Part of me has always wanted to be a girl like Daisy, one who will walk barefoot through the streets of LA and just trust that she won’t get tetanus. Alas, I keep my shoes on. But that’s why reading about Daisy Jones is so much fun. Her innate talent, beauty, and powerful charisma might be enough to propel her to stardom anyway, but she does not settle for being just another pretty singer, pushing her writing, ambition, and her voice to their scratchy, stretched-out limits. I could read this again and again.

By Taylor Jenkins Reid,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Daisy Jones & The Six as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?



From the author of THE SEVEN HUSBANDS OF EVELYN HUGO and the bestselling MALIBU RISING

'I LOVE it . . . I can't remember the last time I read a book that was so fun' DOLLY ALDERTON

Everybody knows Daisy Jones and the Six.

From the moment Daisy walked barefoot on to the stage at the Whisky, she and the band were a sensation.

Their sound defined an era. Their albums were on every turntable. They…

The Mothers

By Brit Bennett,

Book cover of The Mothers

Why did I love this book?

In a certain light, Nadia Turner has much to apologize for. Pain, grief, and alienation throb in the background of some of her teenage decisions, which are rife with consequences that ripple through generations. Though various characters try to shame Nadia, box her in, and wield their judgment, they don’t quench her spirit as she forges ahead–imperfectly, messily–to find her way and finally break free of secrets and the sickness they bring. The way The Mothers collectively narrate sections of this story makes clear how the actions of individuals reverberate in a community, for better or worse.

By Brit Bennett,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Mothers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Vanishing Half.

The Mothers is a dazzling debut about young love, a big secret in a small community and the moments that haunt us most.

All good secrets have a taste before you tell them, and if we'd taken a moment to swish this one around our mouths, we might have noticed the sourness of an unripe secret, plucked too soon, stolen and passed around before its season.

It's the last season of high school life for Nadia Turner, a rebellious, grief-stricken, seventeen-year-old beauty. Mourning her own mother's recent suicide, she takes…

Broken Horses: A Memoir

By Brandi Carlile,

Book cover of Broken Horses: A Memoir

Why did I love this book?

I became a Brandi Carlile fan through her memoir, first. Various bookish people had been excited about it, and I love a memoir in audiobook, especially from a creative person. She sings! In the audiobook! Coming of age as an openly gay young person in the 1990s Pacific Northwest who loved country music wasn’t the easiest way to fit in. (I saw her in concert recently, and she joked about performing three-part harmony in Seattle at the height of grunge.) But she has always embraced her inner misfit. For example, some of her early performance costumes were inspired by the outlandish outfits of ‘70s Elton John…who is now a personal friend. “The Joke”, one of her most beautiful songs, is all about the misfits winning out in the end, and I love her for this stubborn faith.

By Brandi Carlile,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The critically acclaimed singer-songwriter, producer, and six-time Grammy winner opens up about faith, sexuality, parenthood, and a life shaped by music in “one of the great memoirs of our time” (Glennon Doyle, author of Untamed).

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR AND AUTOSTRADDLE • “The best-written, most engaging rock autobiography since her childhood hero, Elton John, published Me.”—Variety

Brandi Carlile was born into a musically gifted, impoverished family on the outskirts of Seattle and grew up in a constant state of change, moving from house to house, trailer to…

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