98 books like The Girls of Atomic City

By Denise Kiernan,

Here are 98 books that The Girls of Atomic City fans have personally recommended if you like The Girls of Atomic City. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II

David Snell Author Of Sing to Silent Stones: Part One

From my list on wartime books about families torn apart by the conflict in WW1 and WW2.

Why am I passionate about this?

My reading is almost entirely influenced by my own family’s extraordinary history. My mother and father-in-law were both illegitimate. Both suffered for the fact and my father-in-law was 11 years old when he first found out and was reunited with his mother, albeit on a second-class basis compared to his half siblings. My mother trained bomb aimers. My father flew Lancaster bombers and was just 19 years old in the skies above wartime Berlin. My own books combine history, my personal experiences, and my family’s past to weave wartime stories exploring the strains that those conflicts imposed on friendships.

David's book list on wartime books about families torn apart by the conflict in WW1 and WW2

David Snell Why did David love this book?

What I loved about this book is that it is the true story of an American woman living in Nazi-occupied France, where she organised and ran resistance groups and led them in action.

The book, though factual, reads like a fictional novel, and her exploits and shear "daring do" almost beggar belief. She only had one leg, a fact that many who met her were completely unaware of, yet she crossed the Pyrenees on foot in winter!

It didn’t surprise me to find out that the men who "ran" the operations from London and Washington denigrated her achievements and consigned her to obscurity, describing her in the words of the book’s title. But she was a truly amazing heroine, and I would have loved to have met her.

By Sonia Purnell,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked A Woman of No Importance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


Chosen as a BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR by NPR, the New York Public Library, Amazon, the Seattle Times, the Washington Independent Review of Books, PopSugar, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, BookBrowse, the Spectator, and the Times of London

Winner of the Plutarch Award for Best Biography

"Excellent...This book is as riveting as any thriller, and as hard to put down." -- The New York Times Book Review

"A compelling biography of a masterful spy, and a reminder of what can be done with a few brave people -- and a little resistance." - NPR


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

Shohini Ghose Author Of Her Space, Her Time: How Trailblazing Women Scientists Decoded the Hidden Universe

From my list on amazing women scientists who will inspire you.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a curious optimist, which means I want to know how the universe works and use that knowledge to imagine and build a better future. That’s why I chose a career as a physicist. Along the way, I learned about the marvelous laws that govern our universe, but I also discovered the many unsung women who played a huge role in uncovering those laws. I love to share the inspiring stories of women scientists who persisted in the face of many challenges in fields dominated by men. I think they too were curious optimists.

Shohini's book list on amazing women scientists who will inspire you

Shohini Ghose Why did Shohini love this book?

As a physicist and a woman of color, Hidden Figures was absolutely unforgettable for me because it was the first book I read that celebrated women scientists of color.

This wonderful account of the remarkable African-American women who broke through societal and racial barriers and played critical roles at NASA during the space race, transformed the way I thought about the history of science. Interlacing history with personal narratives, Shetterly powerfully brings these women to life.

Not only does the book draw these long-forgotten women out of the shadows, but it also shines a light on the biases and challenges they faced which still persist today. This is a must-read for anyone interested in science, history, and achievement in the face of adversity.

By Margot Lee Shetterly,

Why should I read it?

9 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…

Book cover of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Mary Shanklin Author Of American Castle: One Hundred Years of Mar-a-Lago

From my list on nonfiction with fantastic storytelling.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a lifelong journalist, I’m riveted by stories that dissect actual events. Nonfiction is my wheelhouse and I’m fortunate to have a related body of distinguished work. Over the decades, I’ve written for exceptional newspaper and magazine editors who taught me the craft of making reality not only engaging – but also meaningful. Instead of ignoring the not-so-convenient truths – details that might be swept away by a historical fiction writer – I hunt for them. My coverage of inequities, hurricanes, and real estate scams has taught me: show, don’t tell. Any author who can take a mountain of interviews, details, facts and color and transform it into a thought-provoking story, they have my attention. 

Mary's book list on nonfiction with fantastic storytelling

Mary Shanklin Why did Mary love this book?

Only dogged research could unearth the story of how one Black woman’s death – and the harvesting of her cells – could change the course of medical research.

It is a story of how some innocuous biological matter could grow into a hothouse of excess. Pharma companies enriched themselves reproducing the cells of Henrietta Lacks but did little or nothing for the family who lost their matriarch.  

For me, this book unleashed the idea of shaping deep research into a story can change our view of society.

By Rebecca Skloot,

Why should I read it?

5 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…

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

Robbyn Swan Author Of A Matter of Honor: Pearl Harbor: Betrayal, Blame and a Family’s Quest For Justice

From my list on American code-breaking in World War II.

Why are we passionate about this?

Anthony Summers and I are the authors of several books that focus on the world of intelligence, including The Eleventh Day: The Full Story of 9/11 and Osama bin Laden- which was a Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. As we revealed in our most recent book, A Matter of Honor, U.S. code-breaking efforts in World War II began with a colossal failure – Pearl Harbor. According to the first official report on the disaster, the attack “had been clearly foreshadowed” in the Japanese diplomatic traffic the U.S had decoded. The story of how the Americans turned that initial failure into success came to fascinate me.

Robbyn's book list on American code-breaking in World War II

Robbyn Swan Why did Robbyn love this book?

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.

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…

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

Heather Clark Author Of Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath

From my list on group biographies of women.

Why am I passionate about this?

Heather Clark is the author of Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath which was a finalist for the 2021 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award in Biography, and a Book of the Year at The Guardian, O the Oprah Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, The Times (London), Lit Hub, Good Morning America Book Club, and elsewhere. She is currently working on a new group biography about the Boston years of Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Adrienne Rich, and Maxine Kumin, under contract with Knopf. She is a professor of Contemporary Poetry at the University of Huddersfield in Yorkshire, England.

Heather's book list on group biographies of women

Heather Clark Why did Heather love this book?

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.

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,…

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

Merrill J. Davies Author Of Becoming Jestina

From my list on how women helped win World War II.

Why am I passionate about this?

After teaching high school English for thirty-one years, I retired and began my second career in writing. I have published five novels and one collection of poetry. When I met Jane Tucker in 1974, she became a good friend, fellow church member, and my dental hygienist. I had no idea she had worked as a welder on Liberty Ships during World War II when she was only sixteen years old. After I learned this in 2012, I began my journey into learning all about the Rosies during World War II and writing my fourth novel Becoming Jestina. Jane’s story is an amazing one, and I still talk to her regularly.

Merrill's book list on how women helped win World War II

Merrill J. Davies Why did Merrill love this book?

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.

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'…

Book cover of Orlando: A Biography

Donna M. Lucey Author Of Sargent's Women: Four Lives Behind the Canvas

From my list on women who broke the rules—or new ground.

Why am I passionate about this?

A New York Times bestselling author, I love excavating the lives of eccentric, strong-willed women. There’s the thrill of the chase—holding handwritten letters and diaries and uncovering, bit by bit, the story of each woman—and the adventure of encountering the unexpected: Wandering through a rattlesnake-infested Montana cabin (Photographing Montana 1894-1928: The Life and Work of Evelyn Cameron); being woken by a ghost while staying at a decaying Astor mansion in the Hudson Valley (Archie and Amélie: Love and Madness in the Gilded Age); climbing 200 stone steps to reach the Royal Archives in Windsor Castle, while the recently-departed Queen Elizabeth was in the courtyard below (Victoria’s Island, in process). Such fun.

Donna's book list on women who broke the rules—or new ground

Donna M. Lucey Why did Donna love this book?

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. 

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. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

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…

Book cover of The House of Mirth

Jan Eliasberg Author Of Hannah's War

From my list on exploring the world from a female point of view.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was raised to believe that I could do everything a man could do, just as Ginger Rodgers did, “backwards and in high heels.” My discovery that social expectations and boundaries for women were vastly different than those for men came as an enormous shock, and struck me as deeply, tragically unfair. I take strength from women in history, as well as from fictional female characters, who passionately pursue roles in a man’s world that are considered transgressive or forbidden. As a glass-ceiling-shattering female film and television director I take inspiration from women who have the gritty determination to live on their own terms. And then tell it as they lived it.

Jan's book list on exploring the world from a female point of view

Jan Eliasberg Why did Jan love this book?

This novel’s power remains intact every time I read it, even as the nature of the tragedy seems to shift – from the perils of living by one’s looks (my teenage reading) to the cruelty of the world towards women (my young adult reading) to the struggle for personal freedom in a money-obsessed culture (my more recent readings).

Edith Wharton’s novel is a masterpiece, both electrifying and relevant, and worth re-reading as often as possible. 

Once you finish the book, watch the Terence Davies-directed film, starring the luminous Gillian Anderson as Lily Bart.

By Edith Wharton,

Why should I read it?

8 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…

Book cover of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Lynn Alsup Author Of Tinderbox: One Family's Story of Adoption, Neurodiversity, and Fierce Love

From my list on memoirs that crack open a brutal and beautiful world.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a young social worker, I left the world I knew and moved into violent urban centers and traveled the developing world. The suffering and beauty entranced me. Questions reverberated in me: What does it mean to be part of the vast human community? How can I live most fully? When I adopted children, violence and difference confronted me not “out there” but at home. I wrestled, shocked by my own judgment and narrowness—until I accepted in my bones the myriad ways to live a remarkable life. Curiosity became my superpower. Tinderbox, my unflinching memoir, invites readers into my family’s brutal and beautiful transformation through embracing neurodiversity. 

Lynn's book list on memoirs that crack open a brutal and beautiful world

Lynn Alsup Why did Lynn love this book?

Angelou’s words sat me in a comfy chair as if in a favorite movie theater as the lights dimmed.

The world unrolling before me enveloped me from the red dirt of Arkansas in the 1930s all the way to the California sun. Her prose read like poetry and led me into each space she inhabited, including the ones in her mind. She slowed down the moment and let me ponder—no sideways judgments or explanations.

Her experience of childhood sexual assault ripped through me as my own had. She didn’t shy away from the horrors or beauty of life as a young Black woman finding her place in the world but projected them onto the screen in my mind. They’ve lingered there a long time.

By Maya Angelou,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Maya Angelou's seven volumes of autobiography are a testament to the talents and resilience of this extraordinary writer. Loving the world, she also knows its cruelty. As a Black woman she has known discrimination and extreme poverty, but also hope, joy,achievement and celebration. In this first volume of her six books of autobiography, Maya Angelou beautifully evokes her childhood with her grandmother in the American south of the 1930s. She learns the power of the white folks at the other end of town and suffers the terrible trauma of rape by her mother's lover.

Book cover of Country Girl: A Memoir

Patrick Doherty Author Of I Am Patrick: A Donegal Childhood Remembered

From my list on Irish childhood.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an experienced teacher I was fascinated by how writing personal stories helped to develop confidence as well as oral and written self-expression at different levels of complexity in children across the primary school age range. This encouraged me to embark on a MA in creative writing where I wrote an extended autobiographical piece that focused on how the relationship between my father and myself affected my childhood.  I continued this research into my doctoral studies in Irish autobiography. I explored the history of Irish autobiography, memory, and identity formation. This research provided the context to write my own childhood memoir I Am Patrick

Patrick's book list on Irish childhood

Patrick Doherty Why did Patrick love this book?

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.

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…

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