I was never into reading non-fiction when I was growing up. I much preferred to lose myself in a fantastical fiction novel, filled with adventure, mystery, and love. It’s only been in the last few years or so that I’ve really enjoyed reading female biographies by badass women. I remember the book that started it all.
After years of watching 30 Rock with Nathan (his favourite show for a while), I liked that Tina Fey created the show, wrote the show, cast the show, and generally built the show from the ground up. I didn’t watch SNL much but was familiar with some of her more popular sketches, and I was also a big fan of Mean Girls, so I thought I’d give Bossypants a try. So began my love of female biographies, and now I read them as often as I can! Here’s a list of my favourites:
Bossypants by Tina Fey
“Don’t waste your energy trying to educate or change opinions; go over, under, through, and opinions will change organically when you’re the boss. Or they won’t. Who cares? Do your thing, and don’t care if they like it.”
This book explores every aspect of Tina Fey’s rise to one of the current queens of comedy – youthful nerdiness, Saturday Night Live antics, creating 30 Rock, explorations of beauty, becoming a mother, her faults, her work ethic, and everything in between. It’s a no-bullshit, tell it like it is, self-deprecating, feminist book that will make you bust a gut and feel ready to take on the world, naysayers be damned.
Yes Please by Amy Poehler
“Because what else are we going to do? Say no? Say no to an opportunity that may be slightly out of our comfort zone? Quiet our voice because we are worried it is not perfect? I believe great people do things before they are ready.”
I adored Amy Poehler before I started this book. I’m a huge fan of the show Parks and Recreation, and her character Leslie Knope will always have a little place in my heart as a shining example of how to get what you want out of life while being an outstanding friend to those you love. That’s basically the vibe of this whole book!
Amy Poehler comes across as genuinely kind, endearing, and captivating, and you just can’t help but feel like you’d be the luckiest girl in the world to be besties with her! I loved this book to its core. I laughed, giggled, smirked, cried, and perhaps even snorted while reading this book. It reads openly and honestly, with a heavy dose of humour, which is just what I expected. It is seriously one of my most favourite female biographies of all time.
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling
“You should know I disagree with a lot of traditional advice. For instance, they say the best revenge is living well. I say it’s acid in the face—who will love them now?”
For a light and easy, girl next door kind of read full of amusing observations on romance, friendship, hollywood, body issues, and so much more, this is one of the best female biographies! It reads like a conversation that you’d have with Mindy in a coffee shop on a Saturday afternoon, casual, personal, light-hearted and super fun.
#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso
“Each time you make a good decision or do something nice or take care of yourself; each time you show up to work and work hard and do your best at everything you can do, you’re planting seeds for a life that you can only hope will grow beyond your wildest dreams. Take care of the little things—even the little things that you hate—and treat them as promises to your own future. Soon you’ll see that fortune favors the bold who get shit done.”
This book is sassy, irreverent, and crazy inspiring. How does one woman build a love of vintage clothing and zero bank loans into a wildly successful fashion business with over a million in the bank all by herself? For those boss ladies out there that have a dream and want to take the world by storm, this is Sophia Amoruso’s advice on how to make it happen.
Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
“Work hard, know your shit, show your shit, and then feel entitled. Listen to no one except the two smartest and kindest adults you know, and that doesn’t always mean your parents. If you do that, you will be fine.”
Since I loved Mindy’s first book so much, I immediately binge watched the entirety of The Mindy Project and fell in love a bit more. Nathan ended up watching it with me and we both found it really funny and really enjoyable. Mindy isn’t afraid to be herself and put herself out there, and her tongue-in-cheek humour shines through in her second book. This is a laugh-out-loud and relatable collection of essays about her anxieties, her quest for love, the quirks of Hollywood, and that time she met Bradley Cooper. It reads like that part during a sleepover with your best girlfriends when you start sharing your deepest secrets and you realize that you’re not alone!
It by Alexa Chung
“Boys say they don’t mind how you get your hair done. But then they leave you for someone with really great standard girl hair and the next thing you know you’re alone with a masculine crop crying into your granola.”
As one of my longtime fashion icons, I adore Alexa Chung and her offbeat, quirky, tomboyish sense of style. I received this book for Christmas a few years back, and I enjoyed every page. I read a negative review somewhere that equated this book to being ‘Alexa Chung’s tumblr’, and I think that’s why I liked it. It doesn’t read much like a traditional auto biography, rather it reads like a scrapbook of images and musings about where her style inspiration comes from. From equestrians to the Spice Girls to Wednesday Addams, Alexa Chung shares bits of insight about them all! If you love fashion, this is a great book to pick up.
Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham
“There is nothing gutsier to me than a person announcing that their story is one that deserves to be told, especially if that person is a woman. As hard as we have worked and as far as we have come, there are still so many forces conspiring to tell women that our concerns are petty, our opinions aren’t needed, that we lack the gravitas necessary for our stories to matter. That personal writing by women is no more than an exercise in vanity and that we should appreciate this new world for women, sit down, and shut up.”
Not going to lie, this book kind of took me aback, only because Lena Dunham is fiercely candid and painfully honest about every awkward encounter she has ever experienced, sexual or otherwise. At times I wanted to put the book down, but I can’t deny that it is an addicting read about the struggles of growing up and discovering who you are. Her descriptions of falling in love, feeling alone, proving yourself, and believing in yourself are hilarious and wise. Not for the faint of heart, this book is definitely an interesting experience!
There you have it! Some of my favourite female biographies. This year, I’ve got a few on my reading list already including Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson, and Year of Yes by Shonda Rhymes (because, Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal!!!). Have you read any female biographies by smart and inspiring women?