12 Powerful Autobiographies and Memoirs About Badass Women

What better time than our current state of political affairs to celebrate the stories women write about themselves, tracking their fantastic lives on paper for us to read and draw inspiration from. So here’s to writing women everywhere, your voices deserve to shape history as much as they have done and more. Love, LD.


“Bossypants” by Tina Fey


This is probably an obvious choice but this book was fantastic. Tina Fey unflinchingly addresses those awkward thoughts that make everyone think, “Jeesh I’m probably the only person in the world that has these thoughts. Why am  I so weird. Ugh.” She is empowering without being preachy, and she can sing the praises of nerd-dom without making it feel unauthentic and gimmick-y while making you weirdly snort/breathe harder through your nose (because you’re reading in public since you can’t put the book down and can’t actually laugh out loud).


“Wishful Drinking” by Carrie Fisher


Whether you are a Star Wars fan or not, Wishful Drinking is absolutely worth a read. Carrie Fisher hilariously and self deprecatingly retells seemingly made up—though totally true—stories of her life from growing up as a daughter of famous parents Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, to wild, drug-fueled Hollywood parties in her teenage years, to her adventures during and after her time as America’s favorite intergalactic princess, Leia Organa. Later turned into a one woman show, “Wishful Drinking” is both funny and thoughtful. Though Fisher delves into her substance addiction and psychological issues, she does so with a perfect balance of lightness and seriousness. Truly laugh out loud funny, you’ll never look at Princess Leia the same again when you find out all about the girl behind the buns.


“Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?” by Mindy Kaling


The book that led to “The Mindy Project,” on Fox, “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me” rocketed Kaling to became a symbol for funny women everywhere. Full of humor and a honest look at herself, her childhood, and her rise to fame, Kaling’s biography is a look into one of the most entertaining women in Hollywood.


“Yoga Bitch: One Woman’s Quest to Conquer Skepticism, Cynicism, and Cigarettes on the Path to Enlightenment” by Suzanne Morrison


Suzanne Morrison’s memoir “Yoga Bitch” began as a play performed in New York and gained popularity through its humorous tale of a two-month yoga retreat. Morrison’s journey includes her battle with spirituality, her love of steak, and her future in romance. “Yoga Bitch” is a lighthearted, twenty-something, comedic tale perfect for the new spring season.


“My Salinger Year” by Joanna Rakoff


Joanna Rakoff recounts her first New York career as the assistant to J.D. Salinger’s publisher. Having stumbled upon this opportunity fresh out of graduate school where she studied English, Rakoff tells the story of her year working with the agency that almost published a new Salinger novel. This memoir involves the chaos that surrounds Salinger and gives an account of life after college.


“Comfort Me With Apples” by Ruth Reichl


Do you love food? If yes, then read this book. Follow Ruth Reichl as she goes from working at a co-op restaurant in 1970s Berkeley, to food critic for the Los Angeles Times; from a complacent marriage in a shared house to a torrid, food-filled affair in Paris. A beautiful look at the time period that will leave you drooling.


“The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls


You will not believe this is real life. Jeannette Walls grew up dirt-poor and transitory, with an alcoholic father and head-in-the-clouds mother, neither of whom could be bothered with details like going to work or feeding their children on a regular basis. Surprisingly, they were sure to provide plenty of love. Her father promises Jeannette this is all temporary, and keeps the blueprint for the glass castle they can all live in. Follow her journey through disillusionment with her father, and her eventual rise to a powerful journalist in a Park Avenue apartment, while her parents are homeless on the streets below.


“Angela Davis: An Autobiography” by Angela Davis


Angela Davis is a force to be reckoned with. Since her infamous imprisonment (for which she was acquitted), Davis has become an advocate for feminism, prison reform, and equality. This autobiography tells the story of her time as a fugitive, her imprisonment, and her sources of strength and inspiration.


“Lakota Woman” by Mary Crow Dog


Native American history is often ignored in public school classrooms, or presented in a sanitized light (think of all the kindergartners dressed up in paper shopping bags around Thanksgiving). Mary Crow Dog’s autobiography is a gripping account of the injustices leveled against Native Americans as well as her own role as a woman caught in a hostile and changing world. Her humor and frankness will keep you turning pages and hungering for more.


“Insecure At Last by Eve Ensler


If you enjoyed the Vagina Monologues, then Eve Ensler’s autobiography is a must-read. The book is divided into short essays that touch on moments of connection and epiphany Ensler has experienced throughout her world travels. The title, “Insecure At Last,” is a bold proposal that women stop searching for security and embrace the world in all its chaos. From Southeast Asia to prisons within the United States, Ensler has observed the empathy, grief, and hope that fuel her body of work.


“I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou


Maya Angelou’s autobiography should be essential reading for everyone. Not only does her memoir capture the experience of growing up as an African American in the South, but she also draws attention to issues that are too often omitted from personal accounts. Whether she’s describing what it was like to fret over her sexuality and misunderstand the definition of “lesbian” or to internalize normative beauty standards that considered her skin and hair unappealing, Angelou is fearlessly honest about her coming of age as a confident, talented woman who nonetheless experienced moments of self-doubt.


“Let’s Pretend This Never Happened” by Jenny Lawson aka The Bloggess


When I found this book in my house, my mom told me it was because my grandmother had refused to finish it after encountering the first f-bomb and insisted my mom sell it. Which is why I picked it up at once. Jenny Lawson is the queen of sarcasm; her sharp wit and equally sharp tongue transform the account of her eccentric childhood from a potentially cringe-worthy narrative to a “mostly true memoir” that makes it impossible not to laugh out loud. Through hyperbole and a healthy dosage of swear words, Lawson teaches us that there are some things just not worth outgrowing.




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