The best books about society

Who picked these books? Meet our 31 experts.

31 authors created a book list connected to society, and here are their favorite society books.
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What type of society book?


Red Heir

By Lisa Henry, Sarah Honey,

Book cover of Red Heir

Jane Buehler Author Of The Forest Bride

From the list on romance set in a lighthearted, cozy fantasy world.

Who am I?

I have always loved fantasy worlds and romantic stories, but in recent years I’ve found it harder to read stories with extreme violence or trauma. When I started writing fiction, I planned to write a fantasy romance with a kingdom and a battle, but I couldn’t do it—my characters organized a nonviolent revolution and formed a democratic system of governance instead. I reconsidered and decided to write what I call cozy fantasy romances. So many types of romance novels could be set in a fantasy world, such as an office romance or road trip comedy. I’ve been searching for these types of romance novels—fun, lighthearted romances set in a fantasy world—and am slowly finding them.

Jane's book list on romance set in a lighthearted, cozy fantasy world

Discover why each book is one of Jane's favorite books.

Why did Jane love this book?

This book made me laugh out loud so many times—it's the funniest fantasy I have ever read. An oddball crew breaks into the protagonist’s prison cell to rescue a prince, so the protagonist claims to be the prince and is rescued along with his cellmate.

The journey back to the prince’s country is a road trip comedy with a wacky cast... but amid all the crude jokes are real emotional moments and characters being kind to each other. The protagonist can’t stop himself from falling for the prince and grows as a person in the process. Nothing about the story ever gets too serious, and the bad bits happen quickly and without prolonged trauma. I loved everything about it.

By Lisa Henry, Sarah Honey,

Why should I read it?

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

Parental Mental Health

By Jane I. Honikman, Daniel B. Singley,

Book cover of Parental Mental Health: Factoring in Fathers

Shoshana S. Bennett Ph.D. Author Of Postpartum Depression for Dummies

From the list on for dads and dads-to-be.

Who am I?

After life-threatening postpartum depression in the 1980s, I became a pioneer of maternal mental health in the U.S. I’ve helped moms and moms-to-be finally receive the support they deserve. Between masters’ degrees, Ph.D., teaching credentials, and becoming licensed as a clinical psychologist, I wrote four books and enjoy interviews on radio and TV. Training health professionals and my clients to develop a wellness strategy for motherhood has been my life’s passion. A few years ago I realized that during this movement, dads’ experiences had been disregarded and minimized, and my mission then shifted to parental mental health. Dad’s worries and needs are important too.

Shoshana's book list on for dads and dads-to-be

Discover why each book is one of Shoshana's favorite books.

Why did Shoshana love this book?

This is an honest and very direct look at how our society should include men in the discussion of becoming new parents and illustrates many examples of how men have been left out until now. Dads’ mental health is considered carefully which is very important to my mission. This small yet excellent book offers a gender-equitable, whole family viewpoint of parental mental health and increases awareness about best practices in the care of fathers and fathers-to-be.  

By Jane I. Honikman, Daniel B. Singley,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Parental Mental Health as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The purpose of this book is to include men in the discussion about early parenthood, to foster a gender-equitable, whole family approach to parental mental health, and to increase awareness about best practices in the care for expectant and new fathers.


By Cecelia Ahern,

Book cover of Flawed

Marie-Hélène Lebeault Author Of The Ancestors' Key

From the list on YA SFF about utopian societies.

Who am I?

I’m an avid reader turned author. I’m a Canadian YA Speculative Fiction author who takes books along as I hike, cycle, and go to the beach. I love audiobooks! In the years leading up to writing my first novel, I must have read over three hundred books. My favorites were Young Adult Fantasy and Science Fiction. When I ran out of happy, positive, and wholesome books, I started writing them. I feel like I'm often called back to my favorites, and hope more authors will jump on the happy train! Now that the world has literally turned into a Dystopian Society, perhaps more authors will start writing about hope and change.

Marie-Hélène's book list on YA SFF about utopian societies

Discover why each book is one of Marie-Hélène's favorite books.

Why did Marie-Hélène love this book?

I love Cecelia Ahern’s earlier books and this was her first YA duology. The second book is called Perfect. This society also praises beauty and perfection, but mistakes are punishable offenses with a serious consequence of being branded, literally, are Flawed. The book is chilling in so many ways, but what I loved about it is that making mistakes is an inherently ‘human’ thing to do. Older generations have been taught to avoid making mistakes at all costs, or at least never own up to them. The younger ones are learning that it’s all part of life and we should all have a little more compassion. We’re all doing the best we can with what we have.

By Cecelia Ahern,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In her breathtaking young adult debut, bestselling author Cecelia Ahern depicts a society in Flawed in which obedience is paramount and rebellion is punished. And where one young woman decides to take a stand that could cost her everything.

Celestine North lives a perfect life. She's a model daughter and sister, she's well-liked by her classmates and teachers, and she's dating the impossibly charming Art Crevan.

But then Celestine encounters a situation in which she makes an instinctive decision. She breaks a rule and now faces life-changing repercussions. She could be imprisoned. She could be branded. She could be found…

Success Through Manipulation

By Colin Christopher, Chris Simon (illustrator),

Book cover of Success Through Manipulation: Subconscious Reactions That Will Make Or Break You

Sandy Graham Author Of You Speak For Me Now

From the list on to influence human society.

Who am I?

Over the past decade, I’ve become very concerned with the direction authoritarianism is taking human society. It’s a global problem that now infects America, leaving us with a partisan divide we may not be able to bridge. My recommended books helped me understand the situation and how one might speak out against this negative force effectively. Convinced that bombarding readers with facts alone is useless, I chose to provide a novel that is interesting and captivates readers. My goal is to entice readers to press on to the end regardless of their political persuasion, in hopes that along the way some thought will be devoted to the issues raised.

Sandy's book list on to influence human society

Discover why each book is one of Sandy's favorite books.

Why did Sandy love this book?

Our future is determined by us, and our actions are determined by our thought processes. In other words, the future of human society can be influenced by manipulating group thought. Colin applies years of training and experience as a hypnotist to give us a view of how the human brain functions and how it can be manipulated.

He views it as two computing systems. A subconscious mind performing 40 million tasks/second deals only in the present, ignoring abstract things like “yesterday,” “don’t,” etc. The second conscious mind uses 40 tasks/second to control and program the first. It doesn’t exist in babies and develops during childhood. How that growth is managed determines its adult thought process and ultimately group thought. Colin provides insights on how it can be manipulated for good or bad results.

By Colin Christopher, Chris Simon (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

MANIPULATIONGet it, before it gets you! Do you realize you are being manipulated, or are you oblivious? Do you know who or what is manipulating you? Can you identify the manipulation? If you can identify it, can you do anything about it? How is manipulation affecting you? Can you change these effects? Can you use them to your advantage?Success through Manipulation delves deeply into how you think and how your mind reacts to your environment, friends, family, work, and much more.Learn how to stop reacting, become consciously aware and take control of your mind. Manipulate your thinking and become more…

The Midwich Cuckoos

By John Wyndham,

Book cover of The Midwich Cuckoos

Owen W. Knight Author Of The Visitors

From the list on accessible first contact sci-fi.

Who am I?

I'm the published author of five speculative fiction novels, which comment allegorically on the politics and morals of our present world. These books explore how we deal with the new, the strange, and the unexpected. How do we communicate with a foreign species and determine whether its intentions are friendly or hostile? The books I've chosen are allegories of the situations we face in modern life in our own world. We have a choice. Do we remain insular and protective, or should we be open, welcoming, and collaborative? We should seek solutions and not augment problems. We can all learn from these characters. My choices represent a benchmark against which to measure my own writing.

Owen's book list on accessible first contact sci-fi

Discover why each book is one of Owen's favorite books.

Why did Owen love this book?

I find The Midwich Cuckoos chilling as it describes how the survival instinct of an alien species overrides any attempt to cohabit with or integrate it. 

The story describes the consequences of the day a spacecraft lands and what happens during that day in which time stands still. Months later, every woman of childbearing age is confirmed as pregnant. The sixty-one resulting children bear no resemblance to their parents. They exhibit common physical characteristics and develop far faster than human children. They use their telepathic abilities to protect each other and control the minds of others. They react to perceived threats by killing and have no apparent empathy with their hosts.

As their aggressive and unpredictable behaviour accelerates, the villagers plot to kill them.

By John Wyndham,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A genre-defining tale of first contact by one of the twentieth century’s most brilliant—and neglected—science fiction and horror writers, whom Stephen King called “the best writer of science fiction that England has ever produced.”

“In my opinion, [John] Wyndham’s chef d’oeuvre . . . a graphic metaphor for the fear of unwanted pregnancies . . . I myself had a dream about a highly intelligent nonhuman baby after reading this book.”—Margaret Atwood, Slate

What if the women of a sleepy English village all became simultaneously pregnant, and the children, once born, possessed supernatural—and possibly alien—powers? 

A mysterious silver object appears…

Toronto in 1810

By Eric Wilfrid Hounsom,

Book cover of Toronto in 1810

Ann Birch Author Of A Daughter Rebels

From the list on brave women who dared to challenge the norms.

Who am I?

For a number of years, I was a historical interpreter at two of Toronto’s oldest and finest houses. While looking at the furniture, paintings, and below-stairs bells and open-hearth cooking in these upper-class mansions, I became immersed in the lives of the people who once lived in these places. I have always been interested in history, and I have a post-graduate degree in Canadian literature, but my schooling in history seemed confined to the Tudor period and Greek and Roman times. Working in Toronto’s fine homes led me to a deep understanding of the fascinating history we have right here on our doorstep!

Ann's book list on brave women who dared to challenge the norms

Discover why each book is one of Ann's favorite books.

Why did Ann love this book?

When you write historical novels, you have to place your characters in a certain real setting. Hounsom’s book let me step right onto the streets and into the houses of Toronto in 1810. As well as wonderful information on the way people lived at the time, Hounsom includes maps and drawings of Toronto and its important buildings. For example, I actually found a drawing of the house that my novel’s main character lived in.

By Eric Wilfrid Hounsom,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Toronto in 1810 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

When You Can, You Will

By Lynne Bernfield,

Book cover of When You Can, You Will

Jeff Davidson Author Of Simpler Living: A Back to Basics Guide to Cleaning, Furnishing, Storing, Decluttering, Streamlining, Organizing, and More

From the list on making your life simpler and healthier.

Who am I?

I hold the registered trademark as "The Work-Life Balance Expert®," and work with organizations that seek to enhance their productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. I've spoken to Fortune 50 companies such as IBM, Cardinal Health Group, Lockheed, American Express, the IRS, Wells Fargo, and Westinghouse. My books have been published in 19 languages and have been featured in 68 of the top 75 American newspapers, as well as Time Magazine and the Wall Street Journal. At heart, I'm a simpler living advocate. I believe in giving back to his community and am an active volunteer for Art Space in downtown Raleigh, the North Carolina Museum of Arts, and numerous other civic, social, and charitable groups.

Jeff's book list on making your life simpler and healthier

Discover why each book is one of Jeff's favorite books.

Why did Jeff love this book?

The subtitle to this insightful book is Why you Can't Always do What You Want to do.. and What to Do About It. The author says that in our instant soup society you're encouraged to do more, be more, have more, and achieve more. Technology enables us to accomplish more faster. No matter how quickly society moves, however, human beings still have to be ready before they can make certain changes. And really, you can't hurry change. You might have to try on the change several times before you're accustomed to the way it feels. Amazingly, even if you don't know you're ready to change, your subconscious will know.

Changes made the easy way are effortless. You often find yourself thinking, saying, and doing things that would have been unthinkable even the day before. Changes made the hard way can be difficult, unpleasant, and even frightening. You might feel as…

By Lynne Bernfield,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When You Can, You Will as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In today's society of instant gratification, success is supposed to be achieved by people who can immediately turn their lives around . . . without a second thought. Therapist Lynne Bernfield advocates a slower approach to change and assures that change can be the most rewarding part of life when it comes at the right time.


By Melanie Harlow,

Book cover of Tease

Alexa Rivers Author Of Let Me Love You

From the list on sizzling small town romance.

Who am I?

I grew up in a small rural town and I’ve always been a romantic at heart. I discovered small-town romance as a subgenre not long after I got my first kindle and I felt like I’d found my happy place. I binged dozens of them, some lighthearted or funny, others darker or suspenseful. I love visualizing the towns, getting to know the community members, and becoming so immersed in the worlds that picking up a new book in the series felt like coming home. Over the past few years, I’ve written approximately 20 small-town romance stories of various shapes and sizes and I have many more to come. 

Alexa's book list on sizzling small town romance

Discover why each book is one of Alexa's favorite books.

Why did Alexa love this book?

I relate to the characters in Tease so much. Hutton is a billionaire with social anxiety. People think he’s aloof, but in reality, he’s never sure what to say. As someone with mild social anxiety myself, I loved seeing my own experiences reflected in his struggles. Not to mention, he’s a sweet, good-hearted man. 

Felicity is the kind of heroine you can’t help but like. She’s a bit of a hot mess, but she’s endearing and tries really hard. She also has a habit of stress-cutting her hair. As someone who currently has bangs because I got stressed out earlier in the year and took a pair of scissors to my hair (never a good idea!), I felt both seen and called out by this character trait.

By Melanie Harlow,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

I didn’t mean to say I was engaged to a hot billionaire–it just slipped out.

In my defense, I’d had a really bad haircut, a really strong drink, and I was trying to save face in front of the Mean Girl at my high school reunion.

Lucky for me, I happen to know a hot billionaire. Hutton French and I have been friends forever, and even though big social gatherings are not his thing, I called him from the coat closet and begged him for a favor–show up and play my fake fiancé for the night.

Except that word of…

Book cover of Wolf Tower, Claidi Journals, Book I

A.H. Anderson Author Of In the Eye of the Crow

From the list on medieval fantasy that do their research.

Who am I?

Ever since I was little, I’ve been fascinated with various historical societies, but particularly that of medieval Europe. The ebb and flow of political strife as well as the gradual creeping advancement of technology in an era too-often deemed “the Dark Ages” sparked a passion in me that led me to pursue a degree in history. Prior to my studies, I had the opportunity to travel to Norway, where my love for the medieval era was ignited as my family toured the dipping green fjords and walked the burial mounds of kings long past. I aim now to tell their stories.

A.H.'s book list on medieval fantasy that do their research

Discover why each book is one of A.H.'s favorite books.

Why did A.H. love this book?

Tanith Lee’s Wolf Tower takes readers through a detailed medieval world.

The novel is filled with accurate and realistic descriptions, from the customs of medieval court to the harsh realities of life in feudal society. The unique yet historically grounded setting is brought to life through vivid prose.

Throughout the novel, Lee carefully weaves in medieval cultural details, giving readers a sense of the era’s customs, beliefs, and hierarchies. This is a book that captured me. I was completely immersed in the world Lee created and felt a cozy nostalgia for beloved fantasy books of the ‘90s.

By Tanith Lee,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Wolf Tower, Claidi Journals, Book I as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Cladi, a sixteen year old orphan, and handmaiden to cruel royal family, is looking for a chance at freedom, and thinks she's found it when she helps a hansome and mysterious prisoner escape, but uncovers a conspiracy plot in the process, and must act quickly to avert it. 25,000 first printing.

Natural History of Infectious Disease

By David O. White, Macfarlane Burnet,

Book cover of Natural History of Infectious Disease

John M. Barry Author Of The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History

From the list on disease and society.

Who am I?

John M. Barry was the only non-scientist ever to give the National Academies of Sciences Abel Wolman Distinguished Lecture, and he advised the Bush and Obama White Houses on pandemic preparedness and response. He is an award-winning and #1 New York Times best-selling author whose books have also involved him in policy making. The National Academies of Science named The Great Influenza the year’s outstanding book on science or medicine.

John's book list on disease and society

Discover why each book is one of John's favorite books.

Why did John love this book?

This provides the reader with the background to understand what happens when a pathogen invades both an individual and a society. It’s an absolutely brilliant book by a Nobel laureate scientist, one of my all-time favorites on any subject.

By David O. White, Macfarlane Burnet,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Natural History of Infectious Disease as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Provides a biological inquiry into the causes and spread of infectious disease and its impact on human survival

Where The World Turns Wild

By Nicola Penfold,

Book cover of Where The World Turns Wild

Tamsin Winter Author Of Girl (in Real Life)

From the list on strong female protagonists.

Who am I?

Whatever story I’m telling, I try to write female characters who are smart, funny, kind, and ultimately empowering; characters that drive the narrative, not the other way around. It is really important for me that my female characters have agency – that they actively move the story forward, make decisions and step up. Those are the kind of stories I like to read too. The books on this list are some of my favourites and all contain strong female protagonists. I hope you enjoy.

Tamsin's book list on strong female protagonists

Discover why each book is one of Tamsin's favorite books.

Why did Tamsin love this book?

Where the World Turns Wild plays on one of my biggest fears about the future – a world without nature. Juniper and her little brother Bear live in a walled city where nature has been almost completely eradicated following the outbreak of a disease. What remains is a tightly controlled and terrifying society that they must escape. Juniper’s bravery and her capacity for survival are driven by the fierce, protective love she has for her little brother. This is an adventure story like no other and one I have returned to time and again.

By Nicola Penfold,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Animals, trees, flowers, our city forbids them all...
Juniper Greene lives in a walled city from which nature has been banished, following the outbreak of a deadly man-made disease many years earlier. While most people seem content to live in such a cage, she and her little brother Bear have always known about their resistance to the disease, and dream of escaping into the wild. To the one place humans have survived outside of cities. To where their mother is.
When scientists discover that the siblings provide the key to fighting the disease, the pair must flee for their lives.…

The Human Swarm

By Mark W. Moffett,

Book cover of The Human Swarm: How Our Societies Arise, Thrive, and Fall

Luke Heaton Author Of A Brief History of Mathematical Thought

From the list on grand, unifying ideas for how the world works.

Who am I?

I am a scientist and inventor, who has always been drawn to grand, overarching narratives, and unifying ideas. I have degrees in Mathematics and Architecture, a PhD in Biophysics, and spent 11 years studying fungal networks at the University of Oxford. I am currently working with the award-winning architect Ben Allen, to commercialize a patent for making POMB (poly-organic mycelium blend): a light-transmitting, thermally insulating, carbon-negative building material.

Luke's book list on grand, unifying ideas for how the world works

Discover why each book is one of Luke's favorite books.

Why did Luke love this book?

Moffett is a leading specialist on social insects, and the core of his penetrating insight is that we ought to clearly distinguish between collective behavior and social behavior. Our ability to see that one stranger belongs to our society, while another stranger does not, is utterly crucial, and Moffett speaks with authority when he claims that humans are the only animals where different societies merge over time. In particular, he correctly notes that time and time again there has been a fusion between human societies under the heel of a conquering force. By carefully considering our bee-like nature, as well as our chimp-like nature, The Human Swarm reveals how mankind has created sprawling civilizations of unrivalled complexity and provides some valuable insights into what it will take to sustain them.

By Mark W. Moffett,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A specialist on social insects writes about the origins and implications of our own vast social organisation, and the ways in which our ethnic and national distinctions mirror those of other animals.

In this paradigm-shattering book, biologist Mark W. Moffett draws on findings in psychology, sociology and anthropology to explain the social adaptations that bind societies. He explores how the tension between identity and anonymity defines how societies develop, function, and fail. In the vein of Guns, Germs, and Steel and Sapiens, The Human Swarm reveals how mankind created sprawling civilizations of unrivalled complexity - and what it will take…

Book cover of Breastfeeding Uncovered: Who Really Decides How We Feed Our Babies?

Gill Rapley Author Of Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide

From the list on western society’s obstacles to breastfeeding.

Who am I?

I got hooked on breastfeeding when, during my health visitor training, our class had a lecture from Drs. Penny and Andrew Stanway, who wrote the original Breast is Best. I breastfed my own children, became a breastfeeding counsellor and lactation consultant (IBCLC), and championed breastfeeding as a health visitor and midwife. I then worked for 14 years with the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative, teaching and supporting healthcare staff to improve standards of care for breastfeeding mothers and babies. Throughout, I gained a huge respect for babies’ abilities in relation to breastfeeding. This directly influenced my belief in their capacity to continue feeding themselves when they start solid food, which is my current focus.

Gill's book list on western society’s obstacles to breastfeeding

Discover why each book is one of Gill's favorite books.

Why did Gill love this book?

Amy nails the many aspects of today’s UK society that make breastfeeding so difficult for mothers and their babies. She looks at the myriad subtle – and not-so-subtle – ways in which breastfeeding is discussed and presented, so that it comes across as something laudable in theory but unrealistic and undesirable in practice: great if you can do it, but keep it to yourself and don’t frighten the horses. She also explores the many, seemingly unrelated, notions we have about how babies should be cared for, such as where and for how long they should sleep, which are quite simply incompatible with what babies really need, and with helping breastfeeding to work. Never mind pressurising women to breastfeed – how about we just support them to do it!

By Amy Brown,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Across the world mothers are urged to breastfeed, but in Western society many find this a difficult task. Those who stop can feel demoralised and unsure as to why such a desired, encouraged and biologically normal behaviour can appear so challenging in reality. Breastfeeding Uncovered examines why this continues to happen, revealing how complex social and cultural messages work against new mothers, damaging the normal physiology of breastfeeding and making it seem unmanageable. Dr Brown removes the focus from the mother and instead urges society to rethink its attitude towards breastfeeding and mothering and instead to support, encourage and protect…


By Sherryl Jordan,

Book cover of Rocco

Fleur Beale Author Of Juno of Taris

From the list on young people trapped by draconian rules.

Who am I?

I’m a writer from Aotearoa New Zealand and I’ve always been drawn to stories of struggle, especially where a character fights against outside control. I started writing for the high school students I was teaching and got hooked on the YA genre. I love it partly because it crosses all genres – I can write about a 14-year-old girl trying to live in a repressive religious cult but I can also write about a 15-year-old boy who’s a champion kart driver. Karting at top level takes enormous skill as I discovered, but it also has room for dirty tricks.

Fleur's book list on young people trapped by draconian rules

Discover why each book is one of Fleur's favorite books.

Why did Fleur love this book?

I loved this book when it came out in 1990 and I still love it. Rocco has disturbing dreams of being in a primitive, cave-dwelling society then shockingly the dreams become reality. He must learn to live with the people who struggle to survive in a harsh landscape. He learns to hunt with primitive weapons just as he must learn how to live with the people he’s found himself amongst. But why has he ended up here? There’s something amiss with this life and the wise woman seems to hold the key but she won’t tell him. When he finds himself back home recovering from bubonic plague he has to find the answer.

Rocco is a book I wished I’d written! The story is fascinating with its well-researched depiction of surviving in a harsh environment without modern technology or tools. Also, the plot is clever – how is it that…

By Sherryl Jordan,

Why should I read it?

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

Women of Ideas

By Dale Spender,

Book cover of Women of Ideas: And What Men Have Done to Them

Chris Wind Author Of This is what happens

From the list on what it's like being female in a sexist society.

Who am I?

I started keeping a journal when I was fifteen. Ten years later, I had the raw material for Fugue, a portrait of the artist as a young woman (I had read Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man) that ends in celebration, rather than suicide (I had also recently read Plath's The Belljar). It did not get published. Thirty years later, I had so little, far too little, to celebrate.  The portrait had become one of relentless frustration and persistent failure, despite my continued effort ... so much effort ... And so I wrote This is what happens, dedicating it to all the passionate, hard-working, competent women — it's not you. 

Chris' book list on what it's like being female in a sexist society

Discover why each book is one of Chris' favorite books.

Why did Chris love this book?

Feminist theorist Dale Spender wrote, in Women of Ideas and What Men Have Done to Them, “We need to know how women disappear….”  Although she spoke of women who disappear from the historical record, all too many women seem to disappear from any sort of public life as soon as they leave high school: so many shine there, but once they graduate, they become invisible. What happens?  

Marriage and kids is an inadequate answer because married-with-kids straight-A boys are visible.  Everywhere. Even the straight-B boys are out there. So what happens?

This is what happens.

By Dale Spender,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Book by Spender, Dale

Talking to Strangers

By Malcolm Gladwell,

Book cover of Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don't Know

Ian D. Brooks Author Of Intention: Building Capabilities to Transform Your Story

From the list on personal development books.

Who am I?

I have a passion for helping people realize being better through sharing my thoughts and experiences to guide them on their path. My curiosity of understanding “why people do what they do?” started when I was 13. The search for this questions evolving answer led me on an educational, career, and personal journey that authored a unique perspective to move people forward. Working with people for over 25 years through clinical therapy, personal coaching, and now through my company Rhodes Smith Consulting, I see patterns in the struggle to transform. Books offer me new perspectives or reinforce old ones in expanding my knowledge and helping people master their own intentions. Enjoy!

Ian's book list on personal development books

Discover why each book is one of Ian's favorite books.

Why did Ian love this book?

How well do we know someone? Malcom Gladwell asks readers to explore biases in a way that begins to question the personal interactions we have each day. Using examples based on prejudice, assumption, fear, false trust, and preconceived notion, the book exposes the nature of human connection and an internal battle we face when interacting with or judging others. Our unconscious actions are built from survival instinct and previous experiences that become exposed when we meet someone new or cannot reconcile someone’s actions with whom we thought they were. This inability to understand others impacts how we navigate our lives and decern perceived threats that often result in wrong actions being taken. This book begs us to look deeper into the assumptions we carry within ourselves when Talking to Strangers.

By Malcolm Gladwell,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Talking to Strangers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Brought to you by Penguin.

The highly anticipated new book from Malcom Gladwell, host of the chart-topping podcast Revisionist History.

With original archival interviews and musical scoring, this enhanced audiobook edition of Talking to Strangers brings Gladwell's renowned storytelling to life in his unparalleled narrating style.

The routine traffic stop that ends in tragedy. The spy who spends years undetected at the highest levels of the Pentagon. The false conviction of Amanda Knox. Why do we so often get other people wrong? Why is it so hard to detect a lie, read a face or judge a stranger's motives?



By Catherine Gayle,

Book cover of Wallflower

Stephen W. Bartlett Author Of The Bridal Prospectus

From the list on romance without sappy character introspection.

Who am I?

I like to write more than I like to read, but when I do read, I want to learn about other places and times besides my own. Since my own novels are contemporary fiction, it makes sense that historical fiction is my favorite category to read. Likewise, my interest in romance isn’t from unrequited love, but rather, a desire to explore the difficulties of choosing a life partner in our complicated world. (Even my detective novels contain romance!) But I don’t like sappy introspective thought processes, a variation of teen angst, and most readers of historical romance have this same aversion. So none of my recommendations will be that way. 

Stephen's book list on romance without sappy character introspection

Discover why each book is one of Stephen's favorite books.

Why did Stephen love this book?

Oh yes. It’s another romance novel set in the Regency period. The Regency, only nine years in length, has spawned more romance novels than any other time in England’s history. So what’s so special about this one? Well, neither the girl nor the guy wants to get married but circumstances conspire to throw them together. I found their conversations to be spirited, meaning original and adversarial. It is delightful how they begin to genuinely like each other and lose their disdain for the institution of marriage. There are some lessons here for our modern days. 

By Catherine Gayle,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The choice between adhering to a long-held pact and finally accepting love could prove Lady Tabitha Shelton’s unhinging. She is plump, plain, pleasant . . . and thoroughly unappealing to any of the men of the ton—apart from fortune hunters. A self-appointed wallflower, she has every intention of remaining one. Tabitha made a vow of spinsterhood with her cousins when they were girls, and she refuses to go back on her word. So far, she’s proven herself quite adept at warding off the blasted fortune hunters’ pursuits.

Noah deLancie, Marquess of Devonport, would prefer to marry for love and companionship—he’s…


By Rollo Carpenter,

Book cover of Versality

Ariadne Tampion Author Of Automatic Lover

From the list on sci-fi on how advanced AI fits into human society.

Who am I?

I first became fascinated by artificial intelligence as a teenage Asimov fan being taught BASIC programming by my uncle. It then became the first professional interest I returned to as I emerged from the consuming process of caring for very young children and the voluntary work that went with it, which broadened my horizons. I was quick to see, and eager to explore further, parallels between the socialisation of young humans and what might be possible for machine minds.

Ariadne's book list on sci-fi on how advanced AI fits into human society

Discover why each book is one of Ariadne's favorite books.

Why did Ariadne love this book?

This novel was written by programmer Rollo Carpenter, for whose Loebner Prize winning chatbot ‘Joan’ I developed a character, to help himself through the covid pandemic. And it is indeed one of the most delightful, optimistic stories I have ever read. Humanity rebuilds a world almost destroyed by climate change with cooperation and sharing evocative of the idealistic early days of the internet. That cooperation and sharing then extend to artificial and extra-terrestrial intelligences. I loved the gently-drawn characters whilst the frequent surprises ensured I kept turning the pages.

By Rollo Carpenter,

Why should I read it?

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

Evil Woman

By Julie Mulhern,

Book cover of Evil Woman

Judy Alter Author Of Saving Irene: A Culinary Mystery

From the list on outrageous cozy mysteries.

Who am I?

I am a lifelong fan of cozy mysteries, starting with Nancy Drew. Although I have written primarily about women of the 19th-century American West, I always longed to write mysteries. The Irene in Chicago Culinary Mysteries is my fourth series but the first outrageous one. The books combine my love of all things culinary (I’ve even written cookbooks) and my love of Chicago, my hometown. What makes them outrageous? Irene’s diva-like deceptions and Henny’s snarky commentary.

Judy's book list on outrageous cozy mysteries

Discover why each book is one of Judy's favorite books.

Why did Judy love this book?

In this fourteenth book in the Country Club Murders series, Ellison Russell returns from a long honeymoon to find an older woman has been murdered in her bed. With a new husband, her mother in the hospital (targeted by the murderer?), her difficult sister as a houseguest, one too many animals, and a full social calendar, Ellison can’t catch a break. Ellison is smart and funny, and she’s found herself a new, inappropriate, and wonderful husband. The spoof of the 1980s country club society is spot on.

By Julie Mulhern,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When Ellison Russell Jones returns from her honeymoon, she’s ready for a restful summer.

But while she was away, an older woman was murdered in her bed. And the police have questions only Ellison and her friends can answer.

She gets to be a sleuth. A real one! But with a new husband, her mother in the hospital (targeted by the murderer?), her sister as a house guest, one too many animals, and a full social calendar, Ellison can’t catch a break, much less a killer.

She’d better focus, or she may be the next victim.

The Scars That Bind Us

By Michele Notaro,

Book cover of The Scars That Bind Us

J.L. Gribble Author Of Steel Victory

From the list on blending fantasy and alternate history.

Who am I?

With a graduate degree in Writing Popular Fiction (seriously, someone gave me a degree for writing an urban fantasy book), I know that genres are nothing more than marketing terms that tell bookstores which shelves to put the books on. As an author, combining genres and subverting their topes allows me to stretch their potential and tell fresh stories that might not find an easy home on a single shelf, so it’s also important for me to read and support those making the same attempts. Stories that adhere to strict reader expectations will always find a home, but I’ve always had way more fun exploring the other possibilities.

J.L.'s book list on blending fantasy and alternate history

Discover why each book is one of J.L.'s favorite books.

Why did J.L. love this book?

It seems logical that the few people with magic could openly rule in contemporary human society, which means it’s even more interesting with the opposite is true. I can easily imagine Mags and Cosmo in an entirely different setting and never crossing paths. In this world, however, the non-magical majority have oppressed the smaller populations of magi and shifters, pitting them against each other and giving them few options in life despite their significant personal power. Notaro provides plenty of engrossing story in this book while also giving readers just enough information about how this world came to be to leave me wanting more of the future and past.

By Michele Notaro,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Sometimes the worst scars are the ones you can’t see.

World War III broke out 130 years ago when humans found out that my people—magi—and shifters were real. They’ve been imprisoning and enslaving our two species since. But now humans need our help protecting the world from the strange monsters they let cross the veil between realms.

Eighteen years ago, my world changed. Suddenly I was allowed freedoms I’d never had before, but I was still at the Non-Human Specialties Operations’ beck and call. Which is how I found myself on a team with my best friend, five shifters, and…