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10 Good Books for Women - Great Reads

Updated on December 27, 2017
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Cynthia is a writer, artist, and teacher. She loves studying language, arts, and culture, and sharing that knowledge.

Summary and Introduction to the Red Tent

Ten Great Books That Will Feed Your Soul

1. Red Tent

Here’s a look at a woman’s difficult life in ancient times. The story is taken from Jacob and his four wives in the book of Genesis. But, that’s where the basis ends.

The author weaves a tale of how Dinah is the only daughter of Leah and Jacob. She lives a beautiful childhood in Mesopotamia and as she grows into a woman, she spends time learning the stories of the four wives, acquires the skills to become a midwife, and suffers the death of her husband at the hands of her brothers.

Dinah ends up in Egypt, pregnant and learning a new language. But, this does not stop her from leading an extraordinary life. This tale is truly one that looks at what women do in society dominated by men who tend toward aggression.

Movie Trailer

2. Snowflower and the Secret Fan

Lily and Snow Flower are seven when they become laotong, or “old sames” – friends who could communicate and mentor each other after they were off and married.

Their story begins in 19th century China, where women’s feet were still bound and societal expectations were quite strict. Women were in arranged marriages and often found themselves isolated and out of contact with others, especially if they lived in rural areas.

Lily and Snow Flower are able to learn a secret writing language, nu shu. This allowed them to communicate despite their isolation and wrote to each other on fans, or handkerchiefs in embroidered messages. The two women remain friends through famine, motherhood, and through many other trials of daily life.

When a misunderstanding arises, Lily and Snow Flower’s friendship begins to unravel. Will they make amends? Find out in this tale of triumph and tragedy, love and loss, friendship and heartache.

3. Mother Earth Father Sky

This book takes place in pre-historical times high in the northern hemisphere where the winters were harsh. The story focuses on Chagak, a valiant woman who comes of age in arduous circumstances.

While gathering berries, another tribe attacks hers and they are all burned and killed. The only survivors are Chagak and her little brother Pup.

After burying all of the members of her tribe, she attempts to find her grandfather’s tribe but instead finds an island and a man named Shuganan. There, Chagak’s little brother dies and Shuganan takes care of the grieving Chagak.

Not long after, a man of dubious character visits the island and takes Chagak by force; he gets her pregnant. Traumatized, Chagak vows to never marry. She gives birth to Samiq.

When she encounters another tribe, the chief Kayuq beckons her to take care of his son who was teetering on death because Kayuq’s wife and mother to his son passed away. He declares his love for Chagak. But will she marry him despite her vow?

This tale shows the purity of heart of a woman who endured life’s worst blows, but perseveres and triumphs in spite of her obstacles – an inspirational read in that sense. You won’t be able to put this book down.

4. Dance of the Dissident Daughter

By: Sue Monk Kidd

Also the author of The Secret Life of Bees, Kidd shares her life experiences as a Baptist preacher’s wife who begins to question her religion and her role in society.

She explores her spirituality in a way she had never dared: from a more feminine perspective. While she still roots her beliefs in the idea of Christianity, she forges ahead with a new kind of belief system. She learns to find sacredness in her surroundings and in herself.

This book follows Kidd on a spiritual awakening that awakens that side of all of us that is at once more tender, and more feminine. This journey is one of epic perseverance and acknowledging that we all need to embrace our femininity and be proud of it.

Movie Trailer

5. Education of Little Tree

By: Forrest Carter

This touching story begins with a boy who was orphaned at a young age. He goes to live with his grandparents. His grandfather is white and his grandmother is Cherokee.

They teach him about respecting nature, taking only what is needed and leaving the rest for Mother Nature to do with as she needs. Though this takes place during the Great Depression, Little Tree learns that all you need is love.

He learns that when white men come to his grandparents’ house demanding money and taxes, his grandfather can hold his own, inventing curious ways of avoiding the capitalist economic system. He further develops contempt for the white man when he is taken to an all-white school.

The school’s attempts to assimilate backfire but how does Little Tree handle it all? Find out in this glorious tale of love and loss, perseverance and a relentless love of life with a healthy dose of respect for nature.

Movie Trailer

6. In the Time Of the Butterflies

By: Julia Alvarez

The author, Julia Alvarez paints a fictional story of the Mirabal sisters, whose story is based on historical fact. Set in the 1960s, this gripping tale includes perspectives of the four sisters that reveal aspects of the oppressive dictatorship of Trujillo.

Taking place in the Dominican Republic, an underground movement attempts to overthrow his regime. All the sisters and their husbands, except Dede, become active members in the move to overthrow Trujillo.

When authorities discover and arrest their husbands, the sisters visit them in prison. The story culminates with a fight for what's right, honest and decent. Will the sisters survive and successfully help overthrow the dictatorship?

Though it is a gut-wrenching tale, you will see the beauty in the way these women lived out their lives and how they came to be known nationally in the Dominican Republic as the “butterflies” or “las mariposas”. Their efforts to help topple a dictatorship elevated these women national hero status.

Movie Trailer

7. The Help

By: Kathryn Stockett

This incredible read is a poignant tale of love and loss in 1960s Mississippi. Three women – one white and two black – come together and form a movement of their own that will help redefine their roles in society and even their roles as women.

Skeeter, a recent college graduate, wants to become a writer. She weaves the stories and plights of black maids and how their white employers mistreat them. T

hough this book already has a movie made – it’s that good – many women will appreciate the eloquent and spot-on writing by Kathryn Sockett. A winding tale of triumph, these three women will enter your world and you will emerge the same, yet different, and for the better.

Movie Trailer

8. Atlas Shrugged

By: Ayn Rand

This book is an eerie insight into the problems and issues we all face in our society today. Though fictional, this novel delves into the stories of American Industry and what happens if industrial workers go on strike.

What makes this novel so compelling is the fact that the storyline essentially parallels the philosophical values of the author, Ayn Rand. Taggart, one of the main characters, faces the grim reality of life in a recession.

She will take on the problem of saving the country, make it her own, and find a solution, despite monumental obstacles.

Ayn Rand reinvents the spirit of humankind by asking the difficult questions: what if life as we know it ceased to exist and the "motor stopped running"?

9. The Truest Pleasure

By: Robert Morgan

Perhaps the author is truly in touch with the “feminine” because he tells this tale of a young couple in love in the early 20th century, but from the perspective of Ginny.

He weaves together a beautiful story of budding love that must endure the hardships of living on a farm, the death of a child, Ginny’s desire for Pentecostal salvation, and Tom’s intolerance of Ginny’s religious tendencies.

The marriage seems all but doomed to fail until one day, Ginny realizes her Truest Pleasure. This novel is at once a tragic love story with an ending that is sure to leave you pondering for days about your own Truest Pleasure.

Anyone that appreciates relationships or is in a relationship that is struggling needs to read this.

10. Poisonwood Bible

By: Barbara Kingsolver

Nathan Price, an Evangelical Baptist Preacher takes his family on a missionary trip to live in the Belgian Congo.

He takes his wife and four daughters, along with everything they think they need. What they don't know is that so many of the items they bring are not compatible with Africa: the seeds they brought die out, their style of religion is foreign to the inhabitants there, even where they live tests the limits of their cultural knowledge.

As the story unfolds, tragedies afflict the family. Their lives are completely transformed by their experiences in the Congo and as the family grows and changes, they will never return back to the United States quite the same.

This is a beautiful tale of hope, of good intentions lost, and a heart-wrenching saga of the triumphant feminine spirit. This is a must-read for Kingsolver fans and women from all walks of life.

Have You Read These?

Which Is Your Favorite?

See results

Author's Note (CC)

When I was compiling the books for this list, I had no idea that quite a few of them had been made into movies.

That just goes to show: amazing books get lots of readers and Hollywood pays attention.

I have read all of these books personally. They each have touched my life in different ways. I now walk with a wider world view, a bigger tolerance for all peoples on the planet, and a desire spread to the word about some incredible reads that may well change your life.

© 2012 Cynthia Calhoun


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    • JoanieMRuppel54 profile image

      Joanie Ruppel 5 months ago from Keller, Texas

      Looks like a great list. I have only read The Help and loved it. I recommend Follow the River by James Alexander Thom.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 6 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      I still think about The Poisonwood Bible once in a while. It stayed with me.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Esatchel - thank you! Yes, these are all my absolute favorites! :) I do hope you enjoy them. Have a great day!

    • esatchel profile image

      PDGreenwell 4 years ago from Kentucky

      Thanks for a great list to check out. I've heard of them all, but have only read one thus far.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      Bkirembu - thank you! I hope you enjoy and have a wonderful day!

    • bkirembu profile image

      Becky Kirembu 5 years ago

      Hmm ... interesting reads. I will definitely add this to my collection. Thanks :)

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      Neinahpets - thank yo for stopping by! I appreciate it. :)

    • Neinahpets profile image

      Stephanie 5 years ago from Canada

      Thank you cclitgirl for the great suggestions! Much appreciated.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      SRae - Thank you. :)

    • SRae profile image

      Shelia Wadsworth 5 years ago from Central Pennsylvania

      Great book suggestions!

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      LisaKoski - thank you for stopping by! I love all the books on this list...I could have listed more, but these were definitely the top of my list. :)

    • LisaKoski profile image

      Lisa 5 years ago from WA

      This makes for a great reading list. I've only read The Poisonwood Bible, The Help, and Atlas Shrugged. I will definitely be looking into a few other ones you've listed here. Thanks for sharing!

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      Meg Moon - that's awesome! I personally have read all of these and I can tell you they're those life-changing sorts of books, you know? Hehe. Thank you for stopping by!

    • Meg Moon profile image

      Meg Moon 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      I got excited thinking I was really well read- I was like The Red Tent- read that one- then I haven't read any of the others! Oh well I'll add them to my list- love stuff like this. Voted up and sharing!

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      Daisyjae - that's great! I hope you enjoy the others on this list. :) Have a great day!

    • daisyjae profile image

      daisyjae 5 years ago from Canada

      I have read three books on your list - will definitely look up the other seven. We have similar taste in books.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      Stephanie - hehe, that's right! Great minds DO think alike. :) I'm looking forward to reading that hub of yours, because "Snowflower and the Secret Fan" was definitely a "couldn't put it down" sort of book. :)

    • StephanieBCrosby profile image

      Stephanie Bradberry 5 years ago from New Jersey

      This is a great idea. It's nice to see a list that is designed for female readership. Of your list, I have only read "Snowflower and the Secret Fan." What is uncanny is that I just took a picture of my copy for an upcoming hub. Great minds think alike! I hope to get around to reading some books from this list.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      Kelleyward - awesome! These books, well, I think they heavily influenced my life. :) They're pretty profound. Thanks so much for your feedback. Have a great day!

    • profile image

      kelleyward 5 years ago

      I remember reading this one a while back. I still want to read Atlas Shrugged just got to find the time:) I love this list! Voted up and useful and shared! Kelley

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      Rebecca - thank you for stopping by and for your feedback. I'll have to try that book "One Day" - it sounds interesting. I love books that challenge your thinking and make you re-evaluate. Thanks for sharing that!

    • Rebecca2904 profile image

      Rebecca 5 years ago

      Great Hub! I particularly like the sound of 'Truest Pleasure' - I might have to give that one a read! One of my favourite books is One Day, the reputation of which has suffered quite a bit recently because of how terrible the movie was, but the book is truly wonderful. It made me question pretty much everything in my own life and as soon as I'd finished I felt almost like I'd lost a friend, and I just had to go back to the beginning and read it again.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      Haha, Julie. Mole, in Mexico it's pronounced mo-lay and it's a chocolate chili sauce invented by the Aztecs. When you're in Mexico, you HAVE to try the mole chicken. It sounds weird, but I bet you'll order mole chicken lots after that. :D

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 5 years ago from North-East UK

      What is mole? In the UK, it's a little creature who digs up our gardens - I could give 'em a miss in Mexico :o) Wine and tamales...yes please!

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      Julie - oh, now, a Mexico vacation sounds WONDERFUL!! Un poco de vino y aguacate y mole con tamales...ooh la la!

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 5 years ago from North-East UK

      Great list - might take some of these on vacation to Mexico with me in September, thanks :o)

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      Lady_E - thanks for stopping by! I hope you enjoy them. These are some of my all-time favorites. :)

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 5 years ago from London, UK

      Thanks for sharing this. I hope to add them to my Collection on Interesting Collection.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      Kelly - kindred spirit! Ha! If you liked Kingsolver's books, you will love Red Tent. In the Time of the Butterflies is a wonderful read, but tragic. Have a box of kleenex ready as you get toward the end. Hehe.

      Thanks for comin' by! You are a gem and I'm so glad to know you here on HP. :) Hubhugs!

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Hey we have a lot in common in our libraries!

      I want to check out Red Tent and In the Time of Butterflies though - I have not read them.

      The Help was one of my favs and Poisonwood Bible is about my all time favorite book. I love Kingsolver and have read almost everything by her. Sue Monk Kidd is great as well!! Terrific list.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      Jcevans - You hit upon two of my favorites! The Poisonwood Bible was one of those books that I just had to talk about with friends. When I read the Help, it inspired me to be more of a writer. That's why they're on this list: they have the potential to change the way you think. Thanks so much for stopping by! Many thanks to you. :)

    • jcevans2009 profile image

      Judith C Evans 5 years ago from Boise, ID

      Great list! I loved The Help and The Poisonwood Bible, and I will have to put the others on my "to read" list.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      uNicQue - I liked Atlas Shrugged, but I have to admit The Help was riveting. Thanks for stopping by and for your feedback. :)

    • uNicQue profile image

      Nicole Quaste 5 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      This is a great hub. I plan on reading all of these at some point now! Atlas Shrugged is an amazing novel, as is The Help, but the others I have not read. Thanks for this. Voted up!

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      diplorging - Sure! Thanks for your feedback. It's really interesting to see what people like and what they'd rather not read. Fun! Cheers.

    • diplorging profile image

      diplorging 5 years ago from Serbia

      Thanks for the ideas. I have only read two of these books, and I like The Rend Tent a lot, but I didn't like Poisonwood Bible

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 6 years ago from Western NC

      Vinaya - I think you're right. Great to see you, friend! Thanks so much for coming by and commenting. You're truly wonderful and supportive and such an asset for the HP community. Hubhugs!

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 6 years ago from Western NC

      Hehe, Linda, I actually read a lot of these when I was working at a bookstore back in college and they all just "stuck" with me. I just HAD to get the word out. Hehe. But, Grisham, Connelly, etc. all have validity in the literary world: Grisham wrote his books on the train on the way to his office as a lawyer! Can you believe that? Soo cool! :)

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 6 years ago from Nepal

      I think men will also love Atlas Shrugged.

      I will think about these books when I bye books for my female friends.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 6 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Hmmm...I haven't read any of these books. I looked for Grisham, Connelly, Coben or Jackie Collins, but found none! Thanks for the list of tips!:)

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 6 years ago from Western NC

      tarajeyaram - great to see you! Thanks for stopping by. :) You'll love the Red Tent. I found it so riveting and I definitely couldn't put it down. (HUGS)

    • tarajeyaram profile image

      tarajeyaram 6 years ago from Wonderland

      Great list cclitgirl. I haven't read much of these books. I sure will read Red Tent. Thanks for sharing. Voting up.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 6 years ago from Western NC

      htodd - great to see you! Thanks for stopping by and reading. I hope you like these! Let me know which ones are your favorites after reading. :)

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 6 years ago from Western NC

      jenniferg78 - In the Time of the Butterflies is/was one of my all-time favorite books. I read it in Spanish and in English. Me being a bibliophile, I generally am partial to the books vs. the movies because they so often have to leave wonderful details out. Plus I love how my imagination paints the whole story in my head. The movies are good, for sure, but I always like to at least read the book before seeing the movie so I can come up with scenes/characters/opinions/conclusions myself. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I'm really glad you liked one of my all-time favorites!

    • htodd profile image

      htodd 6 years ago from United States

      Wow! These are really interesting books .. Thanks

    • jenniferg78 profile image

      jenniferg78 6 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      I have read a few of these but one of my favorites (which no one seems to have commented on :/) is In the Time Of the Butterflies. It did such a great job taking the reader into a different world. At least for me, it was a topic I knew far to little about. Highly recommended.

      Great hub- I have also added a few to my "must read" list.

      I noticed you said you didn't know so many of these were movies- neither did I! What do you think of the movies vs the books?

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 6 years ago from Western NC

      Aw, wow, Nell- you GOTTA read Little Tree. It's one of the most touching stories I've ever read. I read it in 12th grade in high school - 1997 - and I still remember with intense acuity how much that book touched me. :)

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 6 years ago from England

      Hi, I read this list with interest, I never usually read these sort of books but Little Tree definitely is a must read, thanks for the great list, cheers nell

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 6 years ago from Western NC

      Deborah - I am such a Kingsolver fan. I love the memoirs as well as the fiction - which is unusual. I usually like one or the other in an author. I hope you like the other recommendations. :)

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 6 years ago from Iowa

      I love Barbara Kingsolver, so I picked Poisonwood Bible (my favorite of hers is Animal Dreams), but I also enjoyed the Help and the Red Tent. I haven't read the others, but will put them on my list. Thanks for the recommendations!

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 6 years ago from Western NC

      Kris - great to see you! Yes, yes, and as you read, check back and let me know how you liked these. It's always fun to see different reactions to what people read - especially as writers. :D

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 6 years ago from Indiana

      Interesting hub - I've not read all of these but now have a few to add to me "to read" list. Thanks for the review!

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 6 years ago from Western NC

      phdast7 - thank you for your valuable and insightful comments. This are GREAT summer reads. After I made this list, I had to back to the library and check out "The Help" and "Atlas Shrugged" again. :) HubHugs!

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      What an eclectic and fabulous list. I have read The Red Tent, Atlas Shrugged (many, many years ago), The Help, and the Poisonwood Bible. Your list has convinced me I should read the other six...maybe this summer. :) SHARING

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I've never heard of these books, except Atlas Shrugged, much less read them. But what did you expect from a man ;) I think I'll start with number one, since history interests me, and work my way down. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 6 years ago from Western NC

      Om - great to see you! Thanks for stopping by! I love to find a really good book. If you find a good one let me know - perhaps I'll add it here. :)

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago

      They all sound very interesting. I've read "Education of Little Tree" and loved it! I'm going to read "Snowflower and the Secret Fan" at some point. There are so many books on my "to-read" list right now. Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful hub. :)

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 6 years ago from Western NC

      theclevercat - woohoo! I'm glad I could offer some good suggestions. :) Thanks for stopping by and for the votes.

    • theclevercat profile image

      Rachel Vega 6 years ago from Massachusetts

      I love Atlas Shrugged and The Red Tent. The others are going into my pile! Thanks. Voted up and useful.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 6 years ago from Western NC

      dkm27 - thanks for stopping by and commenting. :) I'm so glad you like them, too. Hehe, I do hope you find that "follow" button - if not for me, for all the people whose hubs you will enjoy when they publish new ones. :D

    • dkm27 profile image

      dkm27 6 years ago from Chicago

      Oh, this is a great list. I have read most of them, and they are fabulous. Snowflower and the Secret Fan is an amazing read. The Help is wonderful. I loved the Poisonwood Bible. You have offered some new ones, so many thanks to you! Where is that "follow" button. Why can I not find that thing most of the time. Newbies are so bothersome!

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 6 years ago from Western NC

      Scribenet - I'm so glad you could find something here! I'm always on the lookout for really good books. :)

    • Scribenet profile image

      Scribenet 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I have just found some new books to enjoy! Thank you! It is always good to have a stockpile of good reading on hand!

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 6 years ago from Western NC

      Haha, shea, I love how different books can evoke different reactions in readers. Kingsolver = one of my all-time favorite authors. Thanks for stopping by! :)

    • shea duane profile image

      shea duane 6 years ago from new jersey

      Great hub, but I must say I hated 'Atlas Shrugged' Loved 'The Red Tent' and anything by Kingsolver.


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