10 books like The Girls of Atomic City

By Denise Kiernan,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The Girls of Atomic City. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Hidden Figures

By Margot Lee Shetterly,

Book cover of Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race

I’m a science writer and love to read and write about history’s hidden figures—especially women in science, art, and technology. Margot Lee Shetterly masterfully blends the biographies of five brave Black female mathematicians with the stories of America’s space program and the Space Race. Hidden Figures is a wonderful, inspiring book that illuminates an era bursting with creativity but weighed down by discrimination, introducing readers to a new group of American heroes.  

Hidden Figures

By Margot Lee Shetterly,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Hidden Figures as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Soon to be a major motion picture starring Golden Globe-winner Taraji P. Henson and Academy Award-winners Octavia Spencer and Kevin Costner Set against the backdrop of the Jim Crow South and the civil rights movement, the never-before-told true story of NASA's African-American female mathematicians who played a crucial role in America's space program-and whose contributions have been unheralded, until now. Before John Glenn orbited the Earth or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of professionals worked as "Human Computers," calculating the flight paths that would enable these historic achievements. Among these were a coterie of bright, talented African-American…


The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

By Rebecca Skloot,

Book cover of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

There is a wonderful world of science writing out there, and this book is a great entry into that world. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is part science journalism, science history, and biography. Skloot introduced the world to Henrietta Lacks, a previously unknown woman whose cells have been responsible for some of the leading research and advances in medicine. In introducing the story of Lacks, Skloot, with obvious affection for both Lacks and her descendants, poses a number of important questions regarding race, ethics, and medical research.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

By Rebecca Skloot,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With an introduction by author of The Tidal Zone, Sarah Moss

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. Born a poor black tobacco farmer, her cancer cells - taken without her knowledge - became a multimillion-dollar industry and one of the most important tools in medicine. Yet Henrietta's family did not learn of her 'immortality' until more than twenty years after her death, with devastating consequences . . .

Rebecca Skloot's fascinating account is the story of the life, and afterlife, of one woman who changed the medical world for ever. Balancing the beauty and drama…


Code Girls

By Liza Mundy,

Book cover of Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II

Mundy’s unputdownable book tells the story of the women behind some of the most significant code-breaking triumphs of the war. The work of women like Elizabeth Friedman – who got her start unpicking the codes of Prohibition-era liquor smugglers – was one of the war’s best-kept secrets.

Code Girls

By Liza Mundy,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Code Girls as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An expert on East European politics and economics analyzes and evaluates Western policies toward the new East European democracies as they struggle to build stable political orders and functioning market economies. He argues that the West must give higher priority to assisting the region and reorient its strategies so as to emphasize the political and administrative dimensions of economic reconstruction. He reviews the economic legacy of past Western policies and of Eastern Europe's previous dependency on the Soviet Union, and then examines in detail the changing East-West trade patterns, the prospect for Western investment and technology transfer, the questions of…


The Doctors Blackwell

By Janice P. Nimura,

Book cover of The Doctors Blackwell: How Two Pioneering Sisters Brought Medicine to Women and Women to Medicine

Janice P. Nimura digs deep into the diaries and letters of the Blackwell sisters, who were among the very first women in America to be trained as doctors. The book reads like a novel without sacrificing historical accuracy and scholarly rigor. I found myself deeply moved by the sisters’ struggles to be taken seriously as physicians in an entirely male world. Jeered in lecture halls and treated as curiosities off-campus, they maintained a dignified courage and a relentless work ethic. Eventually, they shamed their skeptics and opened the doors for future generations of women doctors. This is a compelling tale told well.

The Doctors Blackwell

By Janice P. Nimura,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Doctors Blackwell as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Elizabeth Blackwell believed from an early age that she was destined for a mission beyond the scope of "ordinary" womanhood. Though the world at first recoiled at the notion of a woman studying medicine, her intelligence and intensity ultimately won her the acceptance of the male medical establishment. In 1849, she became the first woman in America to receive an M.D. She was soon joined in her iconic achievement by her younger sister, Emily, who was actually the more brilliant physician.

Exploring the sisters' allies, enemies, and enduring partnership, Janice P. Nimura presents a story of trial and triumph. Together,…


Our Mothers' War

By Emily Yellin,

Book cover of Our Mothers' War: American Women at Home and at the Front During World War II

I recommend this book because it gives a broader picture of the women who changed the way women participate in society forever. It wasn’t just building bombs, liberty ships, and planes that women had a part in. It was everything! When I’ve talked to women who lived during that time, and when I read this book, I realized how many ways women changed during that period of history.

Our Mothers' War

By Emily Yellin,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Our Mothers' War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Our Mothers' War is a stunning and unprecedented portrait of women during World War II, a war that forever transformed the way women participate in American society.

Never before has the vast range of women's experiences during this pivotal era been brought together in one book. Now, Our Mothers' War re-creates what American women from all walks of life were doing and thinking, on the home front and abroad. These heartwarming and sometimes heartbreaking accounts of the women we have known as mothers, aunts, and grandmothers reveal facets of their lives that have usually remained unmentioned and unappreciated.

Our Mothers'…


Orlando

By Virginia Woolf,

Book cover of Orlando: A Biography

Because even its subtitle is subversive. Written as a valentine to Woolf’s lesbian lover, the book is anything but a biography. It is a gender-bending, time-traveling work of fiction that stretches from Elizabethan England to modern times—with the central character never aging, but changing sex. The book explores the fluidity of gender while poking fun at the pageantry and conventions of aristocratic English life, as well as taking to task the English tradition of male primogeniture. Fans of the book must also watch director Sally Potter’s brilliant film adaptation, Orlando, that stars a young, transcendent Tilda Swinton. 

Orlando

By Virginia Woolf,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

HarperCollins is proud to present its new range of best-loved, essential classics.

'The flower bloomed and faded. The sun rose and sank. The lover loved and went. And what the poets said in rhyme, the young translated into practice.'

Written for her lover Vita Sackville-West, 'Orlando' is Woolf's playfully subversive take on a biography, here tracing the fantastical life of Orlando. As the novel spans centuries and continents, gender and identity, we follow Orlando's adventures in love - from being a lord in the Elizabethan court to a lady in 1920s London.

First published in 1928, this tale of unrivalled…


The House of Mirth

By Edith Wharton,

Book cover of The House of Mirth

Unlike the other titles listed on my list, The House of Mirth was not written with history receding in the rearview mirror. It was published in 1905, and meant to reflect the moral character and social context of a beautiful young woman at the century’s turn in New York. It’s the kind of book I would have wrongly dismissed as a trifle when I was a teenager. But Wharton writes with such pitiless precision and ferocious insight that she makes her story seem as modern as a Netflix show about Anna Delvey, the grifter. Of course, Wharton portrays her protagonist, Lily Bart, with far more compassion. But the author is so tough and knowing about the world Lily is operating in that I was reminded at times of Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas. Then as now, the city can be a jungle.  

The House of Mirth

By Edith Wharton,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The House of Mirth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A bestseller when it was published nearly a century ago, this literary classic established Edith Wharton as one of the most important American writers in the twentieth century-now with a new introduction from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jennifer Egan.

Wharton's first literary success-a devastatingly accurate portrait of New York's aristocracy at the turn of the century-is considered by many to be her most important novel, and Lily Bart, her most unforgettable character. Impoverished but well-born, the beautiful and beguiling Lily realizes a secure future depends on her acquiring a wealthy husband. But with her romantic indiscretion, gambling debts, and a maelstrom…


Country Girl

By Edna O'Brien,

Book cover of Country Girl: A Memoir

Edna O’Brien’s 2012 autobiography Country Girl is a blunt, gripping, lyrical and non-self-pitying depiction of her early life in the west of Ireland. It exposes the stultifying conformity imposed by the Catholic Church, family and community which I experienced myself. She rebelled as she sought freedom and self-expression from a domineering mother and drunken father. Edna’s escape to Dublin, London and New York as well as her exile from Ireland reflects an individual addicted to drugs and alcohol who seeks acknowledgement, liberty and success through many failed relationships. Edna’s autobiography resonates with many of my own experiences of the 1960’s. Country Girl demonstrates how one Irish female writer broke the cultural silence so that others would not feel alone. Her writing was an inspiration to me for my own memoir.

Country Girl

By Edna O'Brien,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The BBC Radio 4 dramatisation of Edna O'Brien's The Country Girls trilogy begins in August 2019.

I thought of life's many bounties, to have known the extremities of joy and sorrow, love, crossed love and unrequited love, success and failure, fame and slaughter ...

Born in Ireland in 1930 and driven into exile after publication of her controversial first novel, The Country Girls, Edna O'Brien is now hailed as one of the most majestic writers of her era - and Country Girl is her fabulous memoir.

Born in rural Ireland, O'Brien weaves the tale of her life from convent school…


From Life

By Victoria C. Olsen,

Book cover of From Life: Julia Margaret Cameron and Victorian Photography

I adore eccentric, talented women—and Julia Margaret Cameron was surely that—and I love nineteenth-century photography. When nearly 50 years old, Cameron took up photography and created her signature art of soft-focus, emotive portraiture. She was living on Britain’s Isle of Wight, surrounded by a who’s who of Victorian England: Tennyson, Lewis Carroll, Dickens, Charles Darwin, and Queen Victoria herself who summered in a nearby palace. Cameron photographed the humblest islanders as well as some of the greatest personages of the day, and her work has inspired modern artists such as Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith. 

From Life

By Victoria C. Olsen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Acknowledged as the outstanding portrait photographer of her generation, Julia Margaret Cameron was a very late starter. She was born to English and French parents in Calcutta in 1815, five days before the Battle of Waterloo. Her father was a high-ranking civil servant in the British East India Company, and it was expected that Julia would follow the example of her sisters by connecting herself to an established Anglo-Indian professional. She did exactly that in 1838 when she married Charles Hay Cameron, a legal scholar, and settled down to the quiet life of a typical Victorian colonial matron. But beneath…


Live to See Tomorrow

By Iris Johansen,

Book cover of Live to See Tomorrow: A Novel

Catherine Ling, the main character, is a CIA operative. Her strength and smarts enabled her to survive the streets of Hong Kong as a child until she was brought into the CIA at age fourteen. On top of having a woman as the main character who is tough and skilled—which I love—Iris Johansen weaves an exciting story of how Catherine must rescue an imprisoned woman journalist in Tibet. Two strong and brave women, exotic locations, and suspense that won’t quit…do I need to say more?

Live to See Tomorrow

By Iris Johansen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Live to See Tomorrow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author Irs Johansen comes Live to See Tomorrow, a thriller featuring CIA agent Catherine Ling

Catherine Ling is one of the CIA's most prized operatives. Raised on the unforgiving streets of Hong Kong, she was pulled into the agency at the age of fourteen, already having accumulated more insight and secrets than the most seasoned professionals in her world. If life has taught her anything, it is not to get attached, but there are two exceptions to that rule: her son Luke and her mentor Hu Chang.

When Luke was kidnapped at the…


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