Good Books for Men, by Women: A Non-Comprehensive Reading List

Good Books for Men, by Women: A Non-Comprehensive Reading List

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good books for men by women

By Megan Collins | Last Updated: Feb 14 2024 | 9 min read

I love a turkey sandwich. To me, it’s a no-brainer order at lunchtime, or when I’m home digging through the refrigerator for something to make. It’s a default for me in a way that roast beef or a tuna melt just isn’t. But a roast beef sandwich is delicious. And there’s times when a tuna melt absolutely hits the spot.

Men — usually cishet ones — are the turkey sandwich of our cultural discourse. If you consider yourself a modern, self-aware man, you’re probably vaguely aware of this. How men’s titles and accomplishments are the norm while women’s merit a qualifier (when Oppenheimer‘s Christopher Nolan is referred to as a director while Barbie‘s Greta Gerwig is pointedly called a female director, for instance). We don’t think about it; it’s just the way it is.

And it’s easy to move through life not noticing until something snaps you out of this way of thinking. This clip of Andy Murray correcting a reporter’s stats jumps to my mind:

This isn’t to drag men but simply to call attention to how, maybe you’ve been eating a lot of turkey sandwiches lately. Maybe it’s time for a BLT. Or a bánh mì.

A great place to start is your reading list.

Do you often read books by women? Do you ever intentionally read books by women?

Meaning, do you ever browse your local bookseller or Amazon’s best seller list (no judgment) with the goal of finding a book to read by a female author?

If you’re taking a peek at your own bookshelf right now and thinking, Shit, she’s talking about me, it’s okay! Our team compiled a list of books written by women that will help you be a more well-rounded reader… and won’t at all feel like woke media medicine — which is not a thing, but you get what I’m saying.

From heart-wrenching memoirs about losing your mom to thought-provoking fiction (about video games!), these diverse stories are in no way a comprehensive list, but they are a great place to start. Get ready to have your perspective challenged, your empathy expanded, and maybe even make you shed a manly tear. No shame in the Kleenex game!

Below, a non-comprehensive list of good books for men to read, by women:

crying in h mart book cover

Crying in H Mart, by Michelle Zauner

1. Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner: This gut punch of a memoir by the musician behind Japanese Breakfast isn’t just about grief and loss. It explores cultural divides and the powerful language of food. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll make a trip to your local Asian market in search of the perfect kimchi jjigae.

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, by Gabrielle Zevin

2. Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin: This book reminds me of one of my favorite pandemic streaming binges, Halt And Catch Fire. Friendship! Love! An evolving landscape of technology!

Yes, you’ll relive the nostalgic glow of early gaming, but you’ll also contemplate the future of connection in a digital age.

White Teeth, by Zadie Smith

3. White Teeth by Zadie Smith: Any of Smith’s novels are worth picking up off the shelf, but I have a fondness for the author’s debut novel. The London-based story tackles family, race, class, and religion with equal amounts wit, wisdom, and absurdity. You’ll be laughing one minute, pondering the complexities of identity the next, and ultimately questioning everything you thought you knew about “belonging.”

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, by Barbara Kingsolver

4. Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver: A slow story of going back to basics. The author documents her family’s year-long adventure of eating local, seasonal, and ethically sourced food. Kingsolver’s passionate and meticulously researched account will challenge your relationship with food, agriculture, and the environment. I love it because it brings into stark relief the usually invisible labor of women putting food on the table for their families.

Bonus points: you can impress your next date with your newfound knowledge of heirloom tomatoes and artisanal cheeses.

Just Kids, by Patti Smith

5. Just Kids by Patti Smith: There are plenty of rock star autobiographies out there by men who focus on the highs and lows of bedding groupies, doing drugs, and living large. This is not that story.

Instead, you’ll discover a front-row seat to the counterculture revolution in this poetic memoir by the legendary punk rock pioneer. You’ll tag along with Smith and her artistic soulmate, the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, as they navigate the gritty streets (and even grittier apartments) of 1970s New York City, chasing artistic dreams and forging an unforgettable bond.

Warning: you may develop a sudden urge to buy a leather jacket — if so, here’s your shopping guide.

the year of magical thinking book cover

The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion

6. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion: Looking to be emotionally wrecked? Probably not, but even guys need a good weep sesh every now and again. Didion’s raw and unflinching account of grief after the sudden death of her husband lays bare loss, resilience, and the power of language to navigate even the darkest moments. It’s a testament to human strength and writing through the good and the bad.

dolly alderton book cover

Everything I Know About Love, by Dolly Alderton

7. Everything I Know About Love: A Memoir by Dolly Alderton: Okay, fair warning, this is a real girl’s girl book. But hear me out! If you’re out there dating in your thirties or beyond, the sentiments Alderton captures in her thoughtful and hilarious essays is exactly what is going through the minds of the women you may find yourself on the other side of a Hinge first date from. Consider it research.

Alderton explores sex, relationships, and self-acceptance. It’s like real talk with your favorite work wife, only they’re a witty British writer who serves up hilarious and insightful life lessons on the reg.

britney spears book cover

The Woman in Me, by Britney Spears

8. The Woman in Me, Britney Spears: Don’t judge a book by its tabloid cover. This truly insane memoir from the pop icon will give you a newfound respect for Spears’ resilience and find yourself rooting on the #FreeBritney movement from your couch.

circe by madeline miller, list of good books for men to read by women

Circe, by Madeline Miller

9. Circe by Madeline Miller: Do you have a favorite Greek god? If so, you’re gonna love Circe.

This compelling reimagining of Greek mythology’s favorite sorceress flips the script on traditional narratives, with Miller painting a powerful portrait of female agency, resilience, and navigating the world with outsider status. 

body talk by katie sturino book cover

Body Talk, by Katie Sturino

10. Body Talk by Katie Sturino: Unrealistic beauty standards and toxic diet culture are a part of every woman’s daily life. Yes, really.

Get familiar with the antidote in Sturino’s witty and body-positive manifesto. The quick read is a good reminder to celebrate all body types and question societal expectations around weight (do you really need to get on the scale at your next doctor’s visit if doing so makes you feel like sh*t? no!). The book is a hilarious and necessary call to action for body acceptance that both men and women would do well to take up.

All this could be different book cover

All This Could Be Different, by Michelle Zauner

11. All This Could be Different, by Sarah Thankam Mathews: This novel, set in Milwaukee in the midst of the most recent recession, feels like a female answer to bro lit. Messy, unapologetic, and real.

Becoming by Michelle Obama, good books for men to read by women

Becoming, by Michelle Obama

12. Becoming by Michelle Obama: If you somehow missed Mrs. Obama’s record-shattering autobiography when it first came out, don’t worry. I’m sure your wife or mom or aunt has a dog-eared copy they can lend you.

Follow the former First Lady’s journey from Chicago’s South Side to the White House with insider stories aplenty. Her reflections on family, race, and public service offer valuable lessons for anyone navigating their own path in life.

I started Style Girlfriend to help guys look, feel, and act their best.