The best books about wasted women

Paige Harbison Author Of Anything to Have You
By Paige Harbison

Who am I?

I have spent my entire life in the literary industry, first being raised by an author and her two published sisters, then signing my own book deal at age nineteen. So basically, I am completely incapable of seeing the world through anything but a bookish lens. For this little project, I was asked to make some recommendations based on a subject I care about. I chose Wasted Women. These are books about women who deserve more out of life than they have—and about the consequences of letting a clever woman stay caged.

I wrote...

Anything to Have You

By Paige Harbison,

Book cover of Anything to Have You

What is my book about?

Brooke and Natalie have been friends so long that they’re more like sisters—that is to say, they don’t have very much in common these days. Brooke is the fun one. The crazy one. The life of the party. Natalie is an introvert with her eyes on the future. Which is why it’s so surprising when Natalie betrays Brooke, and the two throw gasoline on a fire that clearly started years ago.

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The books I picked & why

Gone Girl

By Gillian Flynn,

Book cover of Gone Girl

Why did I love this book?

If you haven’t read Gone Girl by now, then stop everything and pick it up. What fascinates me about this book is the main character, Amy, and what drives her. She is a wasted woman—that is to say, she is a brilliant woman living a life too small, and this is a book about the consequences of that. 

By Gillian Flynn,

Why should I read it?

19 authors picked Gone Girl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


Who are you?
What have we done to each other?

These are the questions Nick Dunne finds himself asking on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police suspect Nick. Amy's friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn't true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they weren't made by him. And then there are the persistent calls on…


By Kathleen E. Woodiwiss,

Book cover of Shanna

Why did I love this book?

A classic that probably hasn’t made its way onto many modern lists. But this book, in its nearly seven hundred pages, will absolutely carry any reader away. Shanna is a feisty, rambunctious, often bitchy, often wrong, character. She’s so clever that she gets in her own way. You never know what she’s going to do, but you know she’s too big for the life she is being threatened with and that she’ll do anything to make sure she doesn’t fall victim to a life that will bore her. She refuses to be a wasted woman. Also? This book is jampacked with very, very hot sexual tension.

By Kathleen E. Woodiwiss,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Shanna" is a magnificent tale of freedom and passionate destiny from incomparable storyteller Kathleen Woodiwiss. In 1749, heiress Shanna Trahern marries convict Ruark Beauchamp, only to abandon her bridegroom to set sail to the Caribbean, with her determined bridegroom in pursuit.

Gods in Alabama

By Joshilyn Jackson,

Book cover of Gods in Alabama

Why did I love this book?

This book. I can hear the cicadas now. I love this book because our main character is guided by self-imposed rules for herself that she desperately wants to abide. At first glance, she seems like she might be just anyone—but she has a wild past you can hardly believe she moved beyond. The women in this book are more powerful than the world they are in.

By Joshilyn Jackson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Gods in Alabama as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For 10 years Arlene has kept her promises, and God has kept His end of the bargain. Until now. When an old schoolmate from Possett turns up at Arlene's door in Chicago asking questions about Jim Beverly, former quarterback and god of Possett High, Arlene's break with her former hometown is forced to an end. At the same time, Burr, her long-time boyfriend, has raised an ultimatum: introduce him to her family or consider him gone. Arlene loves him dearly but knows her lily white (not to mention deeply racist)Southern Baptist family will not understand her relationship with an African…

Book cover of The Midnight Library

Why did I love this book?

This is a book that’s landed on a million lists in the last few years. I ignored it for a long time, and when I ultimately read it, I fell completely under its spell. It’s rare that without venturing into the genre of fantasy, we get to be so swept away into the magic of a world like this. Despite being set, mostly, in our everyday world, it feels enchanting the whole way through. The main character doesn’t know how big she is. (Sub-plug, it’s very in the world of the excellent new film Everything Everywhere All at Once.)

By Matt Haig,

Why should I read it?

18 authors picked The Midnight Library as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The #1 New York Times bestselling WORLDWIDE phenomenon

Winner of the Goodreads Choice Award for Fiction | A Good Morning America Book Club Pick | Independent (London) Ten Best Books of the Year

"A feel-good book guaranteed to lift your spirits."-The Washington Post

The dazzling reader-favorite about the choices that go into a life well lived, from the acclaimed author of How To Stop Time and The Comfort Book.

Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of…

Book cover of How to Murder Your Life: A Memoir

Why did I love this book?

This one is literally about a wasted woman. It’s a fascinating non-fictional journey to be taken on by the author, who has led a fascinating, glittering New York life working for Conde Naste and other high-profile jobs. A life that she is consistently self-sabotaging through the abuse of drugs—particularly the ones prescribed to her by her father when she was a child. She is smart, sharp, interesting, interested in the world around her, and yet she continues to burn everything down time and time again.

By Cat Marnell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Murder Your Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'I was twenty-six years old and an associate beauty editor at Lucky, one of the top fashion magazines in America. That's all that most people knew about me. But beneath the surface, I was full of secrets: I was a drug addict, for one. A pillhead. I was also an alcoholic-in-training who guzzled warm Veuve Clicquot after work alone in my boss's office with the door closed; a conniving and manipulative uptown doctor-shopper; a salami-and-provolone-puking bulimic who spent a hundred dollars a day on binge foods when things got bad (and they got bad often); a weepy, wobbly, wildly hallucination-prone…

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