Favorite Reads

submitted by Minnesota Women’s Press Under 30 team

“We Are Never Meeting in Real Life” by Samantha Irby
When I came across this book, I was drawn to Irby’s collection of essays by her sassy prose on topics ranging from reality television to mental illness in the Black community. As I delved deeper into her stories, I felt as if I was catching up with an old friend, and I found comfort in her heartfelt conclusions. I was, and still am, enamored with the confidence she has in her voice. Irby is fearlessly authentic when sharing her stories and her truth — a trait that I believe should be celebrated and shared.
— Alyssa Story

“The Round House” by Louise Erdrich
This will always be one of my favorite books. I read it along with a group of about 30 other women and non-binary folks in a class I took in college called “Women Writers.” The themes of abuse against women, crime, forgiveness and community were things that I could both relate to and learn from in a new context. Erdrich does a wonderful job of capturing both innocence and systematic sexism by telling the story through the lens of a child. — Kassidy Tarala

“Villette” by Charlotte Bronte
When I first read this book in middle school, I had just gone through a serious depressive episode. I was lonely and exhausted and I felt completely incapable of putting the experiences I had gone through into words. And then, in a novel written in the 19th century by a 4 foot, 10 inch Englishwoman, I found those words. The descriptions of isolation and depression in Villette felt impossibly true to me and made me feel understood in a way I didn’t know was possible. Its story of gradual healing gave me hope and its defiantly feminist ending gave me strength. No book has ever shown me more clearly the power of honest, brilliant storytelling to inform, inspire, and heal. — Siena Iwasaki Milbauer

“The Invention of Wings” by Sue Monk Kidd
This is my go-to book recommendation whenever someone asks me. It is well-researched historical fiction about the abolitionist and women’s rights movements as told by “Hetty” Handful Grimke and Sarah Grimke in alternating chapters. It is powerful, beautifully written, and really hard to put down — one of the few books I have read in a single sitting! — Ashlee Moser

“Whatever Happened to Interracial Love?” by Kathleen Collins
There are few books that have emotionally anchored me in the way that this book has. The voice of this revolutionary Black woman has influenced my writing in ways I am still exploring. These 16 stories stretch the boundaries of how we talk about the ordinary moments in our lives. “The Uncle” will stand out as my favorite — a young girl idolizes her uncle, but grows to understand his tragedy as he deteriorates. It starts off: “I had an uncle who cried himself to sleep.” The author died too young. I wonder if she, like me, sat with pen and paper, trying to understand how to radicalize and transform fleeting moments in the lives of those around her and give them the weight that they deserved. — Thet-Htar Thet