The best books about women’s lives, our relationship with technology and reproductive justice

Rachel Lehmann-Haupt Author Of Reconceptions: Modern Relationships, Reproductive Science, and the Unfolding Future of Family
By Rachel Lehmann-Haupt

Who am I?

I’ve always been fascinated by the influence technology and science on culture and our lives, especially women’s lives. The history of women’s rights, in many ways, is a story of science and technology’s influence on women’s evolution towards having more freedom (and now less) to control our bodies. As a science writer, these themes influence many of the stories that I choose to read and tell, including both my books, In Her Own Sweet Time: Unexpected Adventures in Finding Love, Commitment and Motherhood and Reconceptions: Modern Relationships, Reproductive Science and the Unfolding Future of Family. I also love to read both fictional and non-fiction stories about the nuances of personal identity. 

I wrote...

Reconceptions: Modern Relationships, Reproductive Science, and the Unfolding Future of Family

By Rachel Lehmann-Haupt,

Book cover of Reconceptions: Modern Relationships, Reproductive Science, and the Unfolding Future of Family

What is my book about?

Traditional family structures are adapting to make room for children conceived in previously unimaginable ways. Combining intimate personal stories with cutting-edge research, Reconceptions: Modern Relationships, Reproductive Science and the Unfolding Future of Family invites readers to reconsider their own ideas about parenthood and embrace a new vision of the meaning of family.

In 2012, I chose to begin a family as a single mother by choice. In the years since my son was born, my interest in collaborative reproduction has only grown—leading me to search for pioneers in reproductive science and the different permutations of families. In Reconceptions, I share intimate stories from the bleeding edge of society’s redefinition of family—including my own experience of creating a new kind of tribe with my son’s “dosies,” or donor siblings, and their parents. 

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love

Why did I love this book?

Dani Shapiro’s Inheritance tells the story of learning late in life that she was conceived by a sperm donor and that her father was not her biological father. It’s a gripping lyrical memoir about loss of identity the author experiences from learning the truth about her conception.

As a single mom by choice who conceived my son through sperm donation, it illustrated the importance of telling my son the truth about his origins from the beginning, and the need for all modern families who conceive children with donor eggs or sperm to be honest with their children about their conception. 

By Dani Shapiro,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Inheritance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the acclaimed author of Inheritance and host of the hit podcast Family Secrets: a memoir about the staggering family secret uncovered by a genealogy test, an exploration of the urgent ethical questions surrounding fertility treatments and DNA testing, and a profound inquiry of paternity, identity, and love.

“Memoir gold: a profound and exquisitely rendered exploration of identity and the true meaning of family.” —People

In the spring of 2016, through a genealogy website to which she had casually submitted her DNA for analysis, Dani Shapiro received the stunning news that her beloved deceased father…

The Handmaid's Tale

By Margaret Atwood,

Book cover of The Handmaid's Tale

Why did I love this book?

The Handmaid's Tale is a futuristic dystopian novel set in a near-future New England in a totalitarian patriarchal state known as the Republic of Gilead.

The leaders of Gilead have overthrown the United States government and placed all women of childbearing age in the role of handmaids, conceiving and giving birth for mothers of the ruling class. After the overturning of Roe v. Wade, this novel is an ominous reminder of the delicacy of a woman’s body sovereignty.

By Margaret Atwood,

Why should I read it?

27 authors picked The Handmaid's Tale as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


Go back to where it all began with the dystopian novel behind the award-winning TV series.

'As relevant today as it was when Atwood wrote it' Guardian

I believe in the resistance as I believe there can be no light without shadow; or rather, no shadow unless there is also light.

Offred is a Handmaid in The Republic of Gilead, a religious totalitarian state in what was formerly known as the United States. She is placed in the household of The Commander, Fred Waterford -…

In the Orchard

By Eliza Minot,

Book cover of In the Orchard

Why did I love this book?

This novel tells the story of Maise, a devoted wife and mother of four children.

It takes place over the course of a single day in October that begins with Maise nursing her infant and leads to a family outing to an orchard the following afternoon. It beautifully captures the daily emotions that a mother feels, ranging from anxiety to grief to deep love, and explores the feelings around the unpaid labor of motherhood and the financial anxiety that being a parent brings to us all. 

By Eliza Minot,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A novel about womanhood, modern family, and the interior landscape of maternal life, as seen through the life of a young wife and mother on a single day.

At night, Maisie Moore dreams that her life is perfect: the looming mortgages and credit card debt have magically vanished, and she can raise her four children, including newborn Esme, on an undulating current of maternal bliss, by turns oceanic and overwhelming, but awash in awe and wonder. Then she jolts awake and, after checking that her husband and baby are asleep beside her, remembers the real-world money problems to be resolved…

We Run the Tides

By Vendela Vida,

Book cover of We Run the Tides

Why did I love this book?

We Run the Tides is a coming-of-age novel told through the eyes of Eulabee, a young girl growing up in the upscale Sea Cliff neighborhood of San Francisco in the 1980s.

The novel tells the story of the mysterious disappearance of Eulabee’s classmate from her toney private school and its impact on her group of friends. The story wonderfully captures the complicated relationships of young teen girls grabbling with identity, truth, and lies. Vida’s lyrical prose is filled with wit and attention to eclectic details in both her descriptions of San Francisco and the characters that she creates.

By Vendela Vida,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked We Run the Tides as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


An achingly beautiful story of female friendship, betrayal, and a mysterious disappearance set in the changing landscape of San Francisco 

Teenage Eulabee and her magnetic best friend, Maria Fabiola, own the streets of Sea Cliff, their foggy oceanside San Francisco neighborhood. They know Sea Cliff’s homes and beaches, its hidden corners and eccentric characters—as well as the upscale all-girls’ school they attend. One day, walking to school with friends, they witness a horrible act—or do they? Eulabee and Maria Fabiola vehemently disagree on what happened, and their rupture is followed by Maria Fabiola’s sudden disappearance—a potential kidnapping that…

Book cover of 24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week

Why did I love this book?

By giving up screens one day a week for over a decade, Internet pioneer and renowned filmmaker Tiffany Shlain and her family have gained more time, productivity, connection, and presence.

I have always found connection with Tiffany’s films and writing because of our mutual interest in the impact of technology on our culture and people’s lives. With humor and wisdom, Shlain showed me how the ritual of unplugging from the screen one day a week, which is based on the ancient Jewish ritual of Shabbat, can help you feel more calm and connected to people in your life. 

By Tiffany Shlain,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked 24/6 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Marshall McLuhan Outstanding Book Award
Entrepreneur’s 12 Productivity and Time-Management Books to Read

“I’m won over to a day with people, not screens….I tried Shlain’s idea. I highly recommend it.” —The New York Times
“Tiffany Shlain is a modern-day prophet, brilliant and incredibly funny in equal measure...24/6 is timeless and timely wisdom.” —Angela Duckworth, #1 New York Times bestselling author

This “wise, wonderful work” (Publishers Weekly starred review) demonstrates how turning off screens one day a week can work wonders on your brain, body, and soul.

Do you wish you had more time to do what you…

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