Best Books of Essays by Women
Need a good laugh?
Books of essays are fantastic if you're on vacation. They are easy to pick up, enjoy a hilarious short story about someone's life, and put back down again. Books of essays are also fantastic if you're not on vacation. If you're bored at home and have already binged the entire offerings of Netflix, Hulu, and HBOMax, essays are the next best form of media. They're like the television episode of books: a character (author) will get into a wacky situation, learn a valuable life lesson, and end up fine (well, I mean, fine enough to finish writing their book) when it's done.
These books of essays are written by television writers, comedians, actors, children of actors, and art critics. They are all on their way to taking the pop culture world by storm. Some, like The Witches are Coming author Lindy West, have already had their comical and charismatic lives made into television shows. Some, like Wow, No Thank You writer Samantha Irby, are just about to. Like movies, it's better to read the book first!
For book lovers and non-readers alike, essay collections are the optimal reading material. They make you feel like you know the author like a friend, and they prove that women are not alone in even the most awkward of experiences. Here are 13 books of essays guaranteed to make you laugh, cringe, and feel seen!
We choose to partner with Bookshop.org to provide you with the following links, so that you’ll be supporting local bookstores with your purchase. Please note if you decide to purchase through our affiliate links we may receive a small portion of the profit.
1. I Want to Be Where the Normal People Are by Rachel Bloom
You may recognize Rachel Bloom from her hit musical television show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. She writes about her experience growing up as a dorky theater kid, trying and failing to get to Broadway, and ending up on TV instead. I Want to be Where the Normal People Are offers a sweet catharsis as Bloom finally (hypothetically) stands up to her bullies, and finds her prince-charming husband after kissing far too many toads. The dynamic book is as binge-able as her TV show!
2. She Memes Well by Quinta Brunson
Quinta Brunson went viral from funny videos she made on Instagram and BuzzFeed. Her face became synonymous with hundreds of reaction gifs because she's just that funny. In She Memes Well, Brunson navigates her instantaneous Internet fame and unique position as an Internet meme. She deals with newfound fame with wit and irony, but also with depression and insecurities. Brunson handles it all with humor, heart, and honesty.
3. The Wreckage of My Presence by Casey Wilson
SNL alum Casey Wilson is extremely talented: she's written two movies, starred in sitcoms, directed a film, and—of course—hosts a podcast. Somehow she's also managed to write a poignant book of essays filled with funny wisdom on being a wife, mother, actress, and human being with flaws. You will definitely relate to Wilson, who loves to eat in bed and takes too much self-help advice, as she relays stories of family, identity, and womanhood.
4. Broken (In the Best Possible Way) by Jenny Lawson
Blogger Jenny Lawson runs the popular site The Bloggress, where she focuses her laser-sharp humor on the topic of mental health. It's one of the funniest books about depression, where you'll be surprised to read her thoughts on Shark Tank and the post office. Lawson finds herself in the most darkly comical situations, and you'll be hooked as she details them with authenticity and self-awareness.
5. Wow, No Thank You by Samatha Irby
Also the creator of a successful blog, Samantha Irby writes honestly about how she fails the "self-care" movement. She's just happy if she remembers to moisturize. Irby holds nothing back, invites you into her messy life, and makes you wish it was yours! She describes her idyllic life in the Midwest, full of quirky friends and her health-conscious wife, who try to force the city girl out of her. It's not a total success. She often reminisces about the decaying apartments and flakey roommates of her single life. Irby seems to have an endless treasure trove of laugh-out-loud moments. Wow, No Thank You will leave you wanting more!
6. Dear Girls by Ali Wong
Ali Wong once did a standup special 8-months pregnant. Now her two daughters are ready for life advice, and instead of telling them directly, Wong was kind enough to share it with the world. Even if you're not the daughter of a trailblazing Asian comedian, Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets & Advice for Living Your Best Life, will ring true for any woman trying to thrive in a male-dominated society.
7. Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh
Solutions and Other Problems author Allie Brosh channels her experiences not just into words, but into drawings! This book of essays contains 1,6000 original pieces of art and relatable stories about seeing the world from an unusual perspective. Her illustrations will have you laughing like a kid reading a comic book, but with adult topics like existential crises, the weirdness of modern life, and annoying neighbors. Brosh is a one-of-a-kind writer and artist.
8. Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies by Tara Schuster
A vice president at Comedy Central, Tara Schuster appeared to be the picture of success. Deep down, however, she was a wreck: she was depressed and anxious and didn't know how to love herself in spite of her outer achievements. Schuster wrote the masterfully titled Buy Yourself the Fcking Lilies: And Other Rituals to Fix Your Life, from Someone Who's Been There* for herself first. She learns what it takes to practice self-love, and translates her findings into practical, hysterically funny advice.
9. Little Weirds by Jenny Slate
A stand-up comedian and actress, Jenny Slate is known for her hilarious larger-than-life characters and shape-shifting voice. Her writing style is even more unique—she manages to reinvent the world around her with a strange and singular perspective on life. Slate will have you questioning what it means to be alive, then have you giggling at yourself with newfound aliveness. Slate's writing is dreamy, hopeful, and a little weird! She warned you!
10. The Witches are Coming by Lindy West
With her bestselling memoir of the same name becoming a critically-acclaimed television show, Lindy West became a foremost feminist writer. Only she could tackle something as dark and daunting as the #MeToo movement with the lightest, brightest wit and humor. You'll find yourself laughing hysterically as she uncovers the misogyny, propaganda, and prejudice that keeps women from finding justice. If that sounds impossible, West makes it possible in the consummate criticism of The Witches are Coming.
11. I Like to Watch by Emily Nussbaum
New Yorker television critic Emily Nussbaum loves television more than anyone. If you love shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Office, and Jane the Virgin, Nussbaum can tell you why. Her collection of reviews and profiles in I Like to Watch are full of intelligent insight as to why we are all obsessed with our favorite television characters, episodes, and story arcs. She believes that television reviews should be as funny and as engrossing as the shows themselves, and the proof is in her impressive—and entertaining—body of work.
12. No One Asked for This by Cazzie David
Apologies to No One Asked for This author Cazzie David for including her in this book list, because she's embarrassed by everything. The self-aware daughter of an environmentalist and a television producer, David was raised to be afraid: climate change, germs, plastic, fame, break-ins, dying, and dancing alone in her bedroom. She is afraid of them all. Using the psychological exam she received at age 12 as a guide, David explores what it feels like to think everything's going wrong when nothing is. Her privileged life is a blessing, but her mind is a curse. Laugh along as she tries, desperately, not to care about anything.
[Click here to buy No One Asked for This!]https://bookshop.org/books/no-one-asked-for-this-essays-9780358197027/9780358197027)
13. Funny Weather by Olivia Laing
Funny Weather: Art in an Emergency is a collection of art criticism and profiles of artists as they grapple with art in the 21st century. Critic Olivia Laing is an observant, whimsical writer who even includes love letters to her favorite dead rockstars, as well as investigations into her own life and womanhood. The inspiring collection will remind you that all art has value, and connect you to witty, whip-smart analysis in the world of fine art.
We Want to Hear From You
Have any of these books of essays sparked your interest?