77 books like The Personal Librarian

By Marie Benedict, Victoria Christopher Murray,

Here are 77 books that The Personal Librarian fans have personally recommended if you like The Personal Librarian. 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 Unceasing Militant: The Life of Mary Church Terrell

Elisabeth Griffith Author Of Formidable: American Women and the Fight for Equality: 1920-2020

From my list on formidable Black women, whose lives mattered.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an academic, activist, author, and a student of American women’s history, I’m passionate about recognizing the contributions of diverse American women. I graduated from Wellesley College, on the cusp of the 1970s women’s movement. My doctoral dissertation, a biography of suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton, in Her Own Right, hailed by both Oprah and the Wall Street Journal, was the basis of Ken Burns’ documentary, Not for Ourselves Alone. My career centered on women: working to advance women’s rights, writing and teaching women’s history, and leading a girls’ school. As a cisgender white woman, I’m a member of the Society of American Historians and Veteran Feminists of America. 

Elisabeth's book list on formidable Black women, whose lives mattered

Elisabeth Griffith Why did Elisabeth love this book?

This pathbreaking work is the first in-depth biography of Terrell (1863-1954). It challenges common stereotypes about Black women and identifies common ground among women who struggle to balance work and family. Mary Church, born during the Civil War, had two white grandfathers, who impregnated enslaved women and then allowed their offspring to marry. After Emancipation, Molly’s father became a wealthy Memphis land developer, which allowed her to attend Oberlin, earn a master’s degree, and travel in Europe. She married a graduate of Harvard and Howard Law, whom Theodore Roosevelt named the first Black justice of the peace in Washington, DC. She did not allow her distrust of Susan B. Anthony to derail her fight for Black voting rights, before and after the Nineteenth Amendment passed. A founder and the first president of the National Association of Colored Women in 1896, Terrell used her lace and pearls and Republican connections…

By Alison M. Parker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Born into slavery during the Civil War, Mary Church Terrell (1863-1954) would become one of the most prominent activists of her time, with a career bridging the late nineteenth century to the civil rights movement of the 1950s. The first president of the National Association of Colored Women and a founding member of the NAACP, Terrell collaborated closely with the likes of Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Wells, and W. E. B. Du Bois. Unceasing Militant is the first full-length biography of Terrell, bringing her vibrant voice and personality to life. Though most accounts of Terrell focus almost exclusively on her…


Book cover of My Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton

T.K. Thorne Author Of Noah's Wife

From my list on history’s remarkable women.

Why am I passionate about this?

T.K. Thorne became a police officer during the first decade of women policing in Birmingham, Alabama, retiring as a captain. Her background as a woman in a macho man’s world helped inform the writing of award-winning historical novels about completely unknown women in two of the world’s oldest and most famous stories—the tale of Noah’s flood and the burning of Sodom (Noah’s Wife and Angels at the Gate). An experienced speaker, T.K. shares the fascinating background research into the culture of those early civilizations, as well as the scientific discoveries behind the flood in the Mideast and first-hand information gained from her personal trips to the area.

T.K.'s book list on history’s remarkable women

T.K. Thorne Why did T.K. love this book?

My Dear Hamilton is a compelling novel of a Revolutionary woman who falls in love with a dashing man destined for greatness and tragedy.

Richly imagined and researched, Eliza’s story gives us, on one level, an in-depth understanding of one of American history’s founders. But it is also a story about strength, resilience, and forgiveness. I loved this story for the depth of Eliza’s character and her untold contribution to history and for what I learned about the details and dynamics of the era that so inform our own time.

By Stephanie Dray, Laura Kamoie,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked My Dear Hamilton as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the New York Times bestselling authors of America's First Daughter comes the epic story of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton-a revolutionary woman who, like her new nation, struggled to define herself in the wake of war, betrayal, and tragedy. Haunting, moving, and beautifully written, Dray and Kamoie used thousands of letters and original sources to tell Eliza's story as it's never been told before-not just as the wronged wife at the center of a political sex scandal-but also as a founding mother who shaped an American legacy in her own right.

A general's daughter...

Coming of age on the perilous frontier…


Book cover of When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America

Lee Ann Timreck Author Of Pieces of Freedom: The Emancipation Sculptures of Edmonia Lewis and Meta Warrick Fuller

From my list on the activism of African American women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm fascinated with material culture – studying the things we make and use – and what they tell us about our history. My particular passion is for nineteenth-century Black material culture, often the only tangible history of enslaved and newly-emancipated Black lives. The books on my list educated me of the historical realities for African Americans, from emancipation to Jim Crow – providing critical context for deciphering the stories embedded in historical artifacts. Overall, the gendered (and harrowing) history these books provide on the contributions of African-American women to civil rights and social justice should be required reading for everyone. 

Lee's book list on the activism of African American women

Lee Ann Timreck Why did Lee love this book?

This book details the engagement and impact African American women have made on race and gender issues throughout American history.

Paula Giddings uses first-person narratives to portray how generations of Black women have acted as “agents of change” to achieve political and economic progress. In researching the lives of two nineteenth-century Black female sculptors, I needed to understand the cultural and political environment that inspired them to tackle the controversial themes of race, gender, and social injustice in their art.

When and Where I Enter provided a gendered and historical framework to help me answer these critical questions.

By Paula J. Giddings,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked When and Where I Enter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“History at its best―clear, intelligent, moving. Paula Giddings has written a book as priceless as its subject”―Toni Morrison

Acclaimed by writers Toni Morrison and Maya Angelou, Paula Giddings’s When and Where I Enter is not only an eloquent testament to the unsung contributions of individual women to our nation, but to the collective activism which elevated the race and women’s movements that define our times. From Ida B. Wells to the first black Presidential candidate, Shirley Chisholm; from the anti-lynching movement to the struggle for suffrage and equal protection under the law; Giddings tells the stories of black women who…


The Woman at the Wheel

By Penny Haw,

Book cover of The Woman at the Wheel

Penny Haw Author Of The Invincible Miss Cust

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Storyteller Dog walker Dreamer Runner Reader

Penny's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Inspiring historical fiction based on the real life of Bertha Benz, whose husband built the first prototype automobile, which eventually evolved into the Mercedes-Benz marque.

"Unfortunately, only a girl again."

From a young age, Cäcilie Bertha Ringer is fascinated by her father's work as a master builder in Pforzheim, Germany. But those five words, which he wrote next to her name in the family Bible, haunt Bertha.

Years later, Bertha meets Carl Benz and falls in love—with him and his extraordinary dream of building a horseless carriage. Bertha has such faith in him that she invests her dowry in his plans, a dicey move since they alone believe in the machine. When Carl's partners threaten to withdraw their support, he's ready to cut ties. Bertha knows the decision would ruin everything. Ignoring the cynics, she takes matters into her own hands, secretly planning a scheme that will either hasten the family's passage to absolute derision or prove their genius. What Bertha doesn't know is that Carl is on the cusp of making a deal with their nemesis. She's not only risking her marriage and their life's work, but is also up against the patriarchy, Carl's own self-doubt, and the clock.

Like so many other women, Bertha lived largely in her husband's shadow, but her contributions are now celebrated in this inspiring story of perseverance, resilience, and love.

The Woman at the Wheel

By Penny Haw,

What is this book about?

Inspiring historical fiction based on the real life of Bertha Benz, whose husband built the first prototype automobile, which eventually evolved into the Mercedes-Benz marque.

"Unfortunately, only a girl again."

From a young age, Cacilie Bertha Ringer is fascinated by her father's work as a master builder in Pforzheim, Germany. But those five words, which he wrote next to her name in the family Bible, haunt Bertha.

Years later, Bertha meets Carl Benz and falls in love-with him and his extraordinary dream of building a horseless carriage. Bertha has such faith in him that she invests her dowry in his…


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Book cover of The Address

Susie Orman Schnall Author Of We Came Here to Shine

From my list on historical fiction set in NYC.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love being entertained while I read, but I equally love to learn something. That has led me to fall in love with the historical fiction genre, and is what also led me to write We Came Here to Shine and The Subway Girls. Part of being able to write good historical fiction is to learn from the masters in the genre. I am drawn to historical fiction that features ambitious women who were notable in their time for going against the strictures and conventions forced upon them, and I have chosen all of these books for you because they feature women like that. I hope you enjoy!

Susie's book list on historical fiction set in NYC

Susie Orman Schnall Why did Susie love this book?

Davis is well-known for basing her meticulously researched stories in famous NYC buildings and The Address, set at The Dakota, the famed apartment building on the Upper West Side, is no exception. It’s the story of Sara Smythe who comes from London to work for the Camden family upon the opening of The Dakota in the late 1800s. Her station rises along with opportunities, and her relationship with her employer becomes more complicated. Davis alternates this story with one set in the 1980s and masterfully connects the two in a way the reader will not have seen coming.

By Fiona Davis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Lions of Fifth Avenue comes the compelling national bestselling novel about the thin lines between love and loss, success and ruin, passion and madness, all hidden behind the walls of The Dakota—New York City’s most famous residence.

When a chance encounter with Theodore Camden, one of the architects of the grand New York apartment house the Dakota, leads to a job offer for Sara Smythe, her world is suddenly awash in possibility—no mean feat for a servant in 1884. The opportunity to move to America. The opportunity to be the female…


Book cover of The Show Girl

Susie Orman Schnall Author Of We Came Here to Shine

From my list on historical fiction set in NYC.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love being entertained while I read, but I equally love to learn something. That has led me to fall in love with the historical fiction genre, and is what also led me to write We Came Here to Shine and The Subway Girls. Part of being able to write good historical fiction is to learn from the masters in the genre. I am drawn to historical fiction that features ambitious women who were notable in their time for going against the strictures and conventions forced upon them, and I have chosen all of these books for you because they feature women like that. I hope you enjoy!

Susie's book list on historical fiction set in NYC

Susie Orman Schnall Why did Susie love this book?

The Show Girl is a delicious and entertaining exploration of the life of a 1920s Ziegfield girl with authentic period details and Harrison’s trademark ability to plunge the reader deep into the experiences of her characters. I loved being along for the ride as Olive navigated her relationships and friendships, followed her dreams, and pursued the glamorous life—with all its attendant ups and downs—of a show girl. The Show Girl is a fast-paced and engaging read that will leave readers giving a standing ovation to Olive and to all women who choose to live life on their own terms.

By Nicola Harrison,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

It's 1927 when Olive McCormick moves from Minneapolis to New York City determined to become a star in the Ziegfeld Follies. Extremely talented as a singer and dancer, it takes every bit of perseverance to finally make it on stage. And once she does, all the glamour and excitement is everything she imagined and more-even worth all the sacrifices she has had to make along the way.

Then she meets Archie Carmichael. Handsome, wealthy-the only man she's ever met who seems to accept her modern ways-her independent nature and passion for success. But once she accepts his proposal of marriage…


Book cover of The Two-Family House

Vered Hazanchuk Author Of Life As An Almost

From my list on to make you wish you joined that book club.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love book club. If I could make it a requirement for everyone in the universe to give it a try, I would. I was an English major in college, so that feeling of ending an amazing story and needing someone to discuss it with never fully went away. All book club books should be thought-provoking, but the best add that intricate and wholehearted understanding, I think, that only literature can. Why do the characters you least understood or felt a kinship with suddenly have your heart, what do they want, need, feel, think? I hope these novels help you better understand. The who and what are beside the point. 

Vered's book list on to make you wish you joined that book club

Vered Hazanchuk Why did Vered love this book?

This book has everything a book club could ask for. Characters that you love, even when maybe you shouldn’t. Relationships that seem both familiar and endlessly fascinating. An epic dilemma that resonates and flourishes until the very end. It’ll definitely have you wondering, what would I do? At the end of the day, that question is all you really need for a lively book club discussion. 

By Lynda Cohen Loigman,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Two-Family House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Brooklyn, 1947: in the midst of a blizzard, in a two-family brownstone, two babies are born minutes apart to two women. They are sisters by marriage with an impenetrable bond forged before and during that dramatic night; but as the years progress, small cracks start to appear and their once deep friendship begins to unravel. No one knows why, and no one can stop it. One misguided choice; one moment of tragedy. Heartbreak wars with happiness and almost but not quite wins.


Book cover of Miss Benson's Beetle

Penny Haw Author Of The Woman at the Wheel

From my list on historical fiction on women who follow their dreams.

Why am I passionate about this?

My maternal grandmother was an unconventional woman and a feminist in every way that matters. Although she was raised according to Victorian norms when girls were expected to remain in patriarchal shadows, she was fiercely independent. She was my hero and encouraged me to forge my own future. She also nurtured in me a love of reading and writing, which led to me becoming a journalist and author. My grandmother and I shared a great love of animals. It’s no coincidence that my debut historical fiction, The Invincible Miss Cust is based on the true story of Britain and Ireland’s first female veterinary surgeon. I’m intrigued by strong, interesting women driven to follow their dreams.   

Penny's book list on historical fiction on women who follow their dreams

Penny Haw Why did Penny love this book?

Reading should be fun, and this is fun! Margery Benson is a woman after my own heart. She’s impulsive, stubborn, and independent.

I cheered her on as she gave up her frustrating job and boring life in England to go on an expedition to the other side of the world in search of a beetle, which may or may not be a myth. Along with her lively assistant, Enid Pretty, Miss Benson encounters some hair-raising challenges that compel her to break rules and discover a new self.

Miss Benson’s Beetle is a rollicking adventure story, which explores what it is to be an unconventional woman. It’s full of unexpected turns but is also a gentle study of a friendship that flouts convention. Everyone needs friends like Miss Benson and Enid.

By Rachel Joyce,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Miss Benson's Beetle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE WILBUR SMITH ADVENTURE WRITING PRIZE | BEST PUBLISHED NOVEL
WOMAN & HOME BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR and A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

'The perfect escape novel for our troubled times.' PATRICK GALE

It is 1950. In a devastating moment of clarity, Margery Benson abandons her dead-end job and advertises for an assistant to accompany her on an expedition. She is going to travel to the other side of the world to search for a beetle that may or may not exist.
Enid Pretty, in her unlikely pink travel suit, is not the companion Margery had in…


Book cover of The Rose Code

Bruce Stachenfeld Author Of Faythe of North Hinkapee: The Saga of a Young Woman’s Quest for Justice and Love in Colonial America

From my list on irrepressible, exciting and heroic female lead characters that you will never forget.

Why am I passionate about this?

I made up Faythe of North Hinkapee by being a jerk! I was ranting about how bad a "best seller" book I had read was. My wife looked at me and said, "So, could you write a bestseller?" I was challenged, and then, somehow, this book just tumbled out. It was about a girl in Colonial Timesher family burned as witchesvowing vengeance and how she gets it. My wife looked at me and said: “My God, that could be a bestseller!’ My kids also loved the story. For about twenty years, I planned to write it, and after a ton of work, I finally finished.

Bruce's book list on irrepressible, exciting and heroic female lead characters that you will never forget

Bruce Stachenfeld Why did Bruce love this book?

I loved this book!

Three women, all different, all with amazing characters, decoding Nazi transmissions during WWII. I loved the women as their characters developed. And I admit I was chilled and fearful as to how it would turn out since the beginning (almost) tells you the end, but definitely not quite. So, I was on the edge of my seat from beginning to end.

Not a book I would want to start reading before a work deadline since I would probably be up all night and blow the deadline.

By Kate Quinn,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked The Rose Code as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Huntress and The Alice Network returns with another heart-stopping World War II story of three female code breakers at Bletchley Park and the spy they must root out after the war is over.

1940. As England prepares to fight the Nazis, three very different women answer the call to mysterious country estate Bletchley Park, where the best minds in Britain train to break German military codes. Vivacious debutante Osla is the girl who has everything-beauty, wealth, and the dashing Prince Philip of Greece sending her roses-but she burns to…


Book cover of Great Circle

Penny Haw Author Of The Woman at the Wheel

From my list on historical fiction on women who follow their dreams.

Why am I passionate about this?

My maternal grandmother was an unconventional woman and a feminist in every way that matters. Although she was raised according to Victorian norms when girls were expected to remain in patriarchal shadows, she was fiercely independent. She was my hero and encouraged me to forge my own future. She also nurtured in me a love of reading and writing, which led to me becoming a journalist and author. My grandmother and I shared a great love of animals. It’s no coincidence that my debut historical fiction, The Invincible Miss Cust is based on the true story of Britain and Ireland’s first female veterinary surgeon. I’m intrigued by strong, interesting women driven to follow their dreams.   

Penny's book list on historical fiction on women who follow their dreams

Penny Haw Why did Penny love this book?

Great Circle tells the story of Marian Graves who, born in 1914, falls in love with flight at a young age and, despite difficult circumstances, is determined to chart her own course in life as one of the world’s earliest female aviators.

I loved Marian’s passion for planes and flying and her determination to circumnavigate the world by flying over the North and South Poles. It’s an epic novel, which weaves in the present-day story of actor, Hadley Baxter who is cast to play Marian in a film about her disappearance in Antarctica.

I thoroughly enjoyed following the lives of the two very driven, liberated, and adventurous women, and was particularly fascinated—sometimes gobsmacked—by the history of female aviation. 

By Maggie Shipstead,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A TODAY SHOW #ReadWithJenna BOOK CLUB PICK • The unforgettable story of a daredevil female aviator determined to chart her own course in life, at any cost: an “epic trip—through Prohibition and World War II, from Montana to London to present-day Hollywood—and you’ll relish every minute” (People).

After being rescued as infants from a sinking ocean liner in 1914, Marian and Jamie Graves are raised by their dissolute uncle in Missoula, Montana. There--after encountering a pair of barnstorming pilots passing through town in beat-up biplanes--Marian commences her lifelong love affair with flight. At fourteen she…


Book cover of The Grimkes: The Legacy of Slavery in an American Family

Kathleen Stone Author Of They Called Us Girls: Stories of Female Ambition from Suffrage to Mad Men

From my list on family biographies with regional history as a role.

Why am I passionate about this?

I read (and write) biography as much for history as for an individual life story. It’s a way of getting a personalized look at an historical period. When the book is a family biography, the history is amplified by different family members' perspectives, almost like a kaleidoscope, and it stretches over generations, allowing the historical story to blossom over time. The genre also opens a window into the ethos that animated this unique group of individuals who are bound together by blood. Whether it's a desire for wealth or power, the zeal for a cause, or the need to survive adversity, I found it in these family stories.  

Kathleen's book list on family biographies with regional history as a role

Kathleen Stone Why did Kathleen love this book?

We all know of Sarah and Angelina Grimké, sisters who, before the Civil War, left their South Carolina home and became well-known abolitionists in the North.

But the family also included their brother Henry, a brutal, slave-holding man, his three children by Nancy Weston, an enslaved woman in his household, and their descendants. Two brothers became part of the post-Civil War Black elite and one descendant, Angelina Weld Grimké, made a name for herself as a poet during the Harlem Renaissance.

In addition to reexamining the legacy of Sarah and Angelina, author Kerri Greenidge reminds readers how families were formed under the sword of slavery and that recovery from its wounds is incomplete, even today. 

By Kerri K. Greenidge,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Sarah and Angelina Grimke-the Grimke sisters-are revered figures in American history, famous for rejecting their privileged lives on a plantation in South Carolina to become firebrand activists in the North. Their antislavery pamphlets, among the most influential of the antebellum era, are still read today. Yet retellings of their epic story have long obscured their Black relatives. In The Grimkes, award-winning historian Kerri Greenidge presents a parallel narrative, indeed a long-overdue corrective, shifting the focus from the white abolitionist sisters to the Black Grimkes and deepening our understanding of the long struggle for racial and gender equality.

That the Grimke…


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