Fierce Female Reads: 12 Nonfiction Books With Strong Female Leads


As part of Fierce Female Reads February, we are proud to share our list of nonfiction books with strong female leads. Find out what books made our list and what other bloggers are sharing for this month-long event.

As part of the Fierce Female Reads February, we are excited to add our list of nonfiction books with strong female leads.

While we love fiction books and admire fierce females like Katniss Everdeen or Elizabeth Bennett, we thought it would be fun to spotlight some inspiring nonfiction books by female authors. 

What do we mean by books with strong female leads? We want to share memoirs of women who have had to fight for themselves, biographies of independent women and even a motivational book that turns motivational books on their heads. 

Reading about what real women have faced and conquered in their lives gives us all courage to face our own challenges. As the song goes, “I Am Woman. Here Me Roar.”

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Nonfiction Books With Strong Female Leads

Warriors Don't Cry by Melba Pattillo Beals

Warriors Don’t Cry
by Melba Patillo Beals

We’ve all seen the pictures of Elizabeth Eckford being screamed at as she tries to attend her first day of school at Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. But did you realize how long it took to integrate? Melba Pattillo Beals tells her memories of being part of the Little Rock Nine: of her oppressing junior year protected at times by the 101st Airborne Division and at times left alone to face the horrors laid upon by the other students. Of all the books we’ve read, Warriors Don’t Cry will definitely make you angry at race relations in the 1950s and make you wonder about how we handle the same and similar issues today. Read more →


Wild by Cheryl Strayed

by Cheryl Strayed

Sometimes it takes doing something crazy, like hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, for you to truly put your life in order. By 22, Cheryl Strayed’s life felt out of control, so she decided to make a life-changing decision to hike the PCT. Her story (and the subsequent movie) have inspired many women to search to find themselves in similar fashion. So if your life, your job, or your friends are not what they ought to be, you’ll be inspired to reset your life to find your focus.


I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O'Farrell

I Am, I Am, I Am
by Maggie O’Farrell

We can’t begin to describe how incredible this book is. Instead of telling you her life story, Maggie O’Farrell gives you glimpses into her life through separate incidents where she brushed against death, which has occurred surprisingly often. From a childhood illness to near fatal accidents to miscarriage, O’Farrell give you such an intriguing look not just at how she has almost died, but more importantly how she has lived. If you are really looking to listen to books that move you, the outstanding narration of the audiobook makes it a great choice. Read more →


I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

I Am Malala
by Malala Yousafazai

Living in Pakistan as the Taliban took over her valley, Malala’s advocacy for women’s education led her to international recognition and to an assassination attempt by the Taliban. Her autobiography will inspire you to stand up for your beliefs because one ordinary girl can change the world.


I Know Why the Caged Birds Sing by Maya Angelou

I Know Why the Caged Birds Sing
by Maya Angelou

Poet Maya Angelou’s memoir of the early years of her life is touching and heartbreaking all at the same time. Growing up with her grandmother in a small Southern town, she details how affecting the segregation was as a young black girl, as well as the feeling of abandonment from her mother. Covering many hard topics – including her sexual assault at a young age – I Know Why the Caged Birds Sing makes my list of nonfiction books with strong female leads complete by detailing the life of such a fierce female.

Related: 14 Incredible Books That Make You Think Differently

Fierce Female Reads from Well-Known Names

The Only Pirate at the Party by Lindsey Stirling and Brooke S. Passey

The Only Pirate at the Party
by Lindsey Stirling and Brooke S. Passey

I have to say, I adore Lindsey Stirling. I knew her in college before she became famous, and she is just as fun and quirky in real life as she seems on tv. Many people would discount her from being included in nonfiction books with strong female leads because she didn’t overcome a horrible childhood like many others. But I found her memoir inspiring. Over and over again, she was told there was no market for a dancing violinist – so she went and made one. Combine that with her struggle against anorexia, and I feel you have one fierce female.


Bossypants by Tina Fey

by Tina Fey

If you are looking for humorous books with strong female leads, Bossypants should be at the top of your list. Comedian Tina Fey’s memoir shows she is a perfect example of a fierce female – a woman who knows what she wants, is willing to admit her faults, and is determined to show everyone that women can be just as good at comedy as any man.


Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Life by Jane Sherron De Hart

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Life
by Jane Sherron De Hart

Respected throughout the law profession for her jurisprudence and consistent legal theory, Ruth Bader Ginsburg has recently taken on almost a cult following. Jane De Hart recounts Ginsburg’s life from childhood to law professor to Supreme Court Justice. Ginsburg made a life of creating opportunities where they hadn’t existed, striking a balance between having an exceptional career and family, and fighting gender discrimination.

Related: 10 Inspiring Books For Work-At-Home Moms

A Few More on My To-Read List

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

Hidden Figures
by Margot Lee Shetterly

Can I admit that neither of us have read this book or watched the movie? Telling of the true story of NASA’s African-American female mathematicians, this book should be right up my alley, since I studied mathematics in college. Segregated from their white colleagues, these fierce women used pencil and paper to calculate the physics needed to launch men to the moon. I’ve heard complaints that the writing is dry but the characters are fascinating. Can’t wait to find out for myself.


Well-Read Black Girl by Glory Edim

Well-Read Black Girl
by Glory Edim

Glory Edim, founder of the popular book club Well-Read Black Girl, has compiled this motivating collection of essays from black female authors. With such big names as Jesmyn Ward (Sing, Unburied, Sing), N. K. Jemisin (The Fifth Season), Tayari Jones (An American Marriage) among others, you won’t find any better nonfiction books with strong female leads anywhere. Telling of how they found themselves in literature, these fierce females will inspire you to remember the value of a story.


Rage Becomes Her by Sonaya Chemaly

Rage Becomes Her
by Soraya Chemaly

Topping the list of recent nonfiction feminist books is Rage Becomes Her. Chemaly takes the self-help genre and turns it on its head by declaring that our rage is good. She believes that we can harness our rage and use it to change the world. We haven’t read this book yet, but we are excited to give it a try.


You are a Badass by Jen Sincero

You are a Badass
by Jen Sincero

Confession: I don’t swear. Like at all. I never have and probably never will. Books about being an independent woman are all the rage right now, and regardless of my refusal to swear, I have to admit that I am curious to read this book with a title I won’t even say aloud. Jen Sincero has hit it big with her inspiring nonfiction books teaching you to stop doubting yourself and start reaching for the life you really want. One worry I have is that the story will be long on mind mantra and short on substance.

Fierce Female Reads: 12 Nonfiction Books With Strong Female Leads

Fierce Female Reads February

Forgot love, this February is all about fierce females. 

This month, we have teamed up with a number of fellow book bloggers to present a whole slew of blog posts on Fierce Female Reads. If you loved our list of nonfiction books with strong female leads, be sure to check out these other posts throughout the book community!

What books with strong female leads have inspired you?

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  • Reply Gayathri March 17, 2019 at 12:26 am

    This is an awesome list. I am gonna have to dial up my non fictional reads this year and I will be taking recs from here.

  • Reply CJ | A Well-Read Tart March 19, 2019 at 6:07 pm

    I haven’t read WILD, but I did watch the movie and loved it. I definitely thought it was empowering — for a woman to go on a hike alone?? In the wilderness?? SO DANGEROUS. But, she did it, survived, and learned a lot about herself along the way. RESPECT.

    I’ve also watched HIDDEN FIGURES (but not read the book), and it was fantastic. What an inspiring story!! Great pics for this list.

  • Reply nadia August 26, 2019 at 4:45 am

    The White Mouse is an amazing story of Nancy Wake who was the Allies’ most decorated servicewoman of WWII, and the Gestapo’s most-wanted person. They code-named her ‘The White Mouse’ because of her ability to elude capture. She became a saboteur, organiser and Resistance fighter who led an army of 7,000 Maquis troops in guerrilla warfare to sabotage the Nazis. Absolutely amazing woman.

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