12 Must Read Books About Love, Life & Being a Woman

If you follow me on Instagram it’s no secret that I love to read. Most of my weekend mornings are spent with my nose in a book.

Lately I’ve been devouring books like crazy because I haven’t been watching as much TV as usual. With the exception of the show House of Cards (which I recently watched marathon style on Netflix) and  my regular shows that I keep up with – HIMYM, Shameless, Californication, GIRLS and my guilty pleasure, Pretty Little Liars (which I shamelessly and regularly tweet about) -I’ve found the majority of TV uninspiring as of late. Instead, when it comes time to relax at the end of the day or on the weekends, I find myself reaching for a book. I’ve been reading like a fiend and have already finished my 10th book of 2013.

A couple of you have asked me for book recommendations, so I thought I would share with you guys a few of my favourite reads. Sticking with the theme of this blog, here are some of my favourite books about love, life and being a woman.

If you enjoy this blog, you might enjoy these books too.

1. I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley – Have you ever read a book where you just wanted to reach out to the author, hug them and ask “Um, can we be best friends?” This was exactly my reaction when I read Sloane Crosley’s collection of autobiographical essays a few summers ago. From her stories about growing up, to her thoughts on the game Oregon Trail, Sloane Crosley’s storytelling is witty, hilarious and achingly human. I really enjoyed her follow up book How Did You Get This Number which I also remember being really awesome.

2. Bossypants by Tina Fey – I debated whether to include this book on the list because I’m guessing many of you have already read it. Simply put, Tina Fey is awesome and hilarious. She also has some pretty insightful things to say about what it’s like being a woman in a creative industry. If for some reason you’ve been camping out in a Yurt in Siberia and somehow missed this one, read it. Read it now. Then thank me later when you’re laughing so hard you pee your (bossy)pants.

3. I Don’t Care About Your Band by Julie Klausner. I read this book right before my 30th birthday and fell in love with it because it encapsulated so many of the things I felt and experienced while dating in my 20’s. I’ve written about this book here and here, but I keep coming back to it because the stories are tragically hilarious (like the story about “Douche Ziggy” which has since become a lexicon in my own vocabulary) and so close to my own experiences that I could have written this book (& I kind of wish I had.)

4. Hope Dies Last: Lessons in Love by Eleni Zoe – “I wanted intimacy in capslock but I got it in parentheses”  This is another book that will remind you of the best and worst parts of dating. A self-confessed perpetual singleton, Eleni shares her tragicomic stories about love, sex, broken hearts and bruised egos as if she’s whispering her heart out to you over a girly dinner. The book is beautifully written. Eleni writes with such honesty, clarity and vulnerability that it’s likely you’ll want to shout out “Yes, I’ve been there. YES” as you read it in one sitting like I did. You can read the review I did of Eleni’s novel here and check out her blog here.

5. Loose Diamonds: …and other things I’ve lost (and found) along the way by Amy Ephron – In this collection of essays, Amy Ephron weaves together the most insightful, profound, and just plain funny stories of her life to form a tapestry of a woman’s experiences from childhood through young adulthood, marriage, divorce (and remarriage), and everything in between. Each story is told with perception, wit, candor and humor which makes them like these little sparkling, bites of joy that you just want to consume in greedy helpings. You can read my full review of the book here.

6. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling – Like Tina Fey’s Bossypants, it seems like almost every woman I know has read this book over the past year. Admittedly, I didn’t enjoy Kaling’s book as much as Bossypants, however it’s still worth a read. Mindy Kaling is hilarious, quirky and inspiring.

7. 32 Candles by Ernessa T. Carter – 32 Candles is the slightly twisted, utterly romantic, and deftly wry story of Davie Jones, a bullied ugly duckling from small town Mississippi who moves to Los Angeles to reinvent herself. A grown up fairytale with serious bite, this book has a little bit of everything – social commentary, a strong, smart, heroine, references to 1980’s John Hughes films and a swoon worthy love story.

8.This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz – Diaz is the author of one of my favourite books of all time, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. I’m slightly biased but I really, really loved this book. This collection of interwoven short stories starts out with a quote from another favourite author of mine, Sandra Cisneros: “Okay, we didn’t work, and all memories to tell you the truth aren’t good. But sometimes there were good times. Love was good. I loved your crooked sleep beside me and never dreamed afraid. There should be stars for great wars like ours” That kind of sums up what the book is about – it’s about love, in all it’s imperfect, beautiful, fucked up glory.

9. Your Voice in My Head: A Memoir by Emma Forrest – I didn’t think it was possible to write a funny and entertaining memoir about heartbreak, depression and therapy, however Emma Forrest has done just that. When she was spiraling out of control, Forrest found comfort in her effortlessly optimistic and wise therapist, Dr. R. However, when Dr. R passed away suddenly and her all consuming romantic relationship with a famous actor (Colin Farell) unraveled, Emma was forced to either sink or swim. Completely absorbing and moving, Your Voice in My Head  explores Forrest’s struggles with mania, breakdown, heartbreak and loss, but also touches on the beauty of love and healing.

10. Vida by Patricia Engel – From New York to Miami, Vida is a collection of short stories that follow a single narrator, Sabina, as she navigates her shifting identity as a daughter of the Colombian diaspora and struggles to find her place within and beyond the net of her strong, protective, but dysfunctional family. I loved the character of Sabina – she’s witty, whip smart and equal parts cautious & reckless.  Truthfully, I read this book two years ago so I don’t remember all the details of the story, just that I really loved it and want to read it again.

11. Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self  by Danielle Evans – The short stories in this awesome collection provide perspective on what it’s like to be young, female and African-American or mixed-race in modern-day America. Most of the protagonists in the stories are teen girls and young women who are dealing with issues of class, race, belonging and coming-of-age. I am so glad I decided to pick up this book up after reading about it in Oprah magazine. Although the issue of race is definitely at the forefront, Evans also captures universal truths about family, insecurities and being female in a really thoughtful, honest and at times humorous way.

12. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. The relationship that unfolds between the two characters in this book – Hazel and Augustus, two teenage cancer survivors – is one of my favourite love stories ever. If I could create a blueprint for the perfect book, I’d use this one as the prototype. This book tackles huge issues – life, death, love, family, cancer – while managing to be witty, hilarious, romantic and heartbreaking all at the same time. If you haven’t read it , do it, do it now. It’s that good.

So, what am I reading this week? I’m currently digging into Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar and absolutely loving it. I bought it on Friday afternoon and have been trying to read it slowly because it’s so freaking good and I want to make it last. My only regret is that I didn’t read this book a few weeks ago because I can already tell it deserves a place on the list above.

tiny-beautiful-things-cheryl-strayed

What are some of your favourite reads? 

  • Love this–have to read these. I’d like to add “My boyfriend wrote a book about me.” It’s hilarious!

    • skinny_dip

      Thanks Jessica! I’m going to add that one to my “to-read” list 🙂

  • K. Megan

    I am so excited about this list!!!! I am a huge fan of Dear Sugar, and ever since you instagramed that book, I’ve been itching to get my hands on a copy 🙂

    • skinny_dip

      Yay!!! The Dear Sugar book is really amazing. I have only read a few of her columns but loved each one so much, so now I get to read a bunch of her stuff in big greedy helpings. The book is really beautiful and well worth the read.

    • skinny_dip

      Oh Megan. You have to read the Dear Sugar book (although a lot of it is taken from her columns so if you’ve read them religiously it might not be as “new” to you as it was to me who has only read a handful) There’s so much good stuff in there that I’ve actually gone back and read certain chapters already even though I just finished the book.

  • I’ve read most of these and I’m writing down the others as I comment here. Great list! Tina Fey’s autobiography really surprised me – I love her and think she’s hilarious but I really wasn’t sure about the book… but it’s one of my favourites now. Dear Sugar is also a great one.

    • skinny_dip

      Thanks! I finished Dear Sugar recently & thought it was so, so good. I wasn’t sure how I’d like Bossypants either but I love Tina Fey so much that it was hard not to love.

  • I haven’t read most of these books (shame on me!), many have been on my “to-read” list for a while! I blame baby. & lack of sleep.

  • I haven’t read most of these books (shame on me!), many have been on my “to-read” list for a while! I blame baby. & lack of sleep.

    • skinny_dip

      I imagine new baby + lack of sleep isn’t really that conducive to reading! I’d recommend the Fey & Kaling books – they’re a super light read & easy to follow if you are sleep deprived 🙂

  • I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley is one of my favorite books! She is amazing. I definitely want to read several of these. Thanks for the recommendations!

    • skinny_dip

      You’re welcome!

      I love Sloane Crosley so much too. I actually thought of you when I read “Vida” because part of the story takes place in and around Pretty City. Let me know if you decide to read any of these! I’d love to hear what you think. I lent “Vida” and “before you suffocate your own fool self” to one of my besties and she loved both.

  • Laura

    Adding these to my ‘to read’ list stat!

    • skinny_dip

      Yay! Let me know which ones you end up reading!

  • Thanks for the recommendations! I’ve been looking for some new reading material lately.

    • skinny_dip

      You’re welcome! I hope you find a new favourite from this list 🙂