A Mighty Girl's top picks of e-books about extraordinary women that are available for under $5!
While staying at home to avoid the spread of the coronavirus, many adults are taking advantage of the extra time to catch up on their reading! But with many libraries and bookstores closed, it's not necessarily easy to get new titles to add to your "to read" pile. E-books are the perfect solution: they are quick to receive, so within minutes, you can be enjoying your next read!
To help fill your e-reader with new titles, we've put together a list of some of our favorite biographies, memoirs, and historical fiction for adult readers, all of which are available as e-books for under $5! From stories of daring spies to autobiographies from famous authors to books that explore the workings of the human mind, these titles are sure to pique your interest and encourage you to dive deeper into the fascinating stories of women that often go untold.
If you're looking for e-book titles for younger readers, visit our blog post 30 Free and Cheap Mighty Girl E-Books for Tweens.
Note: The prices listed below are for physical copies of each title. Please click the "Buy at Amazon" button to view the pricing for the Kindle/e-book edition. E-book prices are under $5 on Amazon.com as of April 13, 2020; prices may change with time and may differ on Amazon.ca or Amazon.co.uk.
Free and Cheap E-Books For Adult Readers
As Britain's war effort ramped up, 8 million women went to work... and 7,000 of them were chosen for a very secret duty at Bletchley Park. Although there had always been a few women in Bletchley's code breaking units, by the end of the war they would outnumber the men three to one. Their work was monotonous and meticulous, and the enormous, complex machines they used heralded today's computer age. In this book, Tessa Dunlop captures the stories of fifteen of the surviving Bletchley Girls. In their own voices, their stories seem very different, but they are united by their service to their country, which is only now coming to light. It's a unique portrait of the celebrated code breakers and their role in Britain's victory.
“The insane asylum on Blackwell's Island is a human rat-trap. It is easy to get in, but once there it is impossible to get out.” Ten Days in A Mad-House was written by Nellie Bly in 1887, after she lived, undercover, at a women's insane asylum at Blackwell's Island for ten days. During that time she saw first-hand both the abuse directed at patients, and how the doctors would admit nearly anyone — especially if she was poor and unwanted. This powerful work of investigative journalist is now available in this illustrated and annotated edition, a tribute to Bly's courageous advocacy on behalf of those who could not speak for themselves.
Debbie Moderow was 47 years old and a mother of two when she set out on the Iditarod in 2003 for the journey of a lifetime. To complete the grueling race, she would need determination, fearlessness, and a close connection with her dogs... and when her race ended, less than 200 miles from the finish line with dogs who refused to run, it was that connection with her dogs that she most feared she had lost. Two years later, however, after injuries, ferocious storms, flipped sleds, and more, she finally completed the race — her dogs and herself finally in harmony. This is a fascinating look at the little-understood sport of dog mushing and an intriguing examination of the relationship between humans and animals, as well as a testament to the power of determination and resiliency.
When Sarah Vallance suffered a traumatic brain injury, she thought she had lost everything: she was told that her cognitive skills and her personality would never be the same. Isolated at home, she struggled with her anger at losing the ability to do things she thought were simple — even reading and writing. But a chance conversation gave her hope that her brain could heal and relearn, and slowly, she was able to build a new life. Vallance provides a deeply personal look at life with TBI and the disabilities that can result from it, with equal parts hope for recovery and a reminder that accepting yourself as you are is the most powerful healing of all.
Virginia Hall's wealthy Baltimore friends who never have guessed what her future would bring. When World War II broke out, she saw the potential to serve despite her prosthetic leg, the result of a hunting accident. As an agent for the British Special Operations Executive, she was deployed in France and was so effective that the Gestapo offered a reward for "the most dangerous of all Allied spies." And when she was finally driven out by their pursuit, she joined the OOS and returned once again, killing 150 German soldiers and capturing 500 others. This thrilling biography of the little-known "Limping Lady" is a tribute to her determination and strength.
Zora Neale Hurston was a beloved folklorist, anthropologist, and novelist of the Harlem Renaissance — a personality both unique and compelling. Her stunning novels, including her most famous, Their Eyes Were Watching God, introduces readers to unexpected truths about the American South, while still telling deeply emotional tales that ring true no matter your time or background. In Dust Tracks on a Road, first published in 1942, she turned her poignant and funny writing to her own story, exploring her own past and her experiences as a black woman in the early 20th century. This Perennial Modern Classics edition also includes a forward by Maya Angelou, a biography by Valerie Boyd, and end notes featuring contemporary reviews of the original publication.
Florence Nightingale came from privilege: a wealthy family that fostered her intelligence, her curiosity, and her interest in helping others. But early on she showed a tendency to defy even her doting parents. She refused to marry a well-connected man, and then insisted on traveling to serve as a nurse during the Crimean war. She had success beyond what anyone could have imagined, become famous worldwide for both her dedication to her patients and for her nursing reforms. And then, at the age of 37, she suddenly retired to her bedroom, refusing to leave it for the majority of the rest of her life. This unique book explores the life of this pioneer of nursing and statistics in all of its complexity, creating a newly in-depth discussion of the Lady with the Lamp.
After being selected for pilot training by the Air National Guard, Mary Jennings “MJ” Hegar finished top of her class, served three tours in Afghanistan, and earned a Purple Heart and a Distinguished Flying Cross... but her hardest fight has been on home soil. Hegar was determined to end the US military’s Ground Combat Exclusion Policy, which prevents female armed service members from serving in official combat roles – even though they have done so unofficially for decades. In her book, Hegar takes a thrilling, humorous, and inspiring tour through her own life, showing how the same devotion to service that led her to join the military led her to fight for her fellow women in service.
When Susan Straight, a book nerd and future author, married Dwayne Sims, an African American basketball player, their new combined family bore the legacy of many indomitable women. On Sims' side, there were stories of women fleeing violence in post-slavery Tennessee or Jim Crow Mississippi — or in their own homes, from abusive husbands and fathers. On Straight's side, there were women from Switzerland, Canada, and Colorado who pushed for new futures in strange lands. In this social history, Straight explores how the legacies of these women have affected her own family — including her three daughters. This powerful and thoughtful book is a celebration of courageous women and the American dream.
13-year-old Lily Bailey was convinced that she was bad — her rogue thoughts had caused havoc and no penance would ever be enough. Unaware that she was in the grips of childhood obsessive compulsive disorder, she created a second personality inside herself to help drive the compulsions that she desperately hoped would quiet and order her thoughts. In this intimate and searing memoir, she describes how she struggled to "normalize" herself as a child, and the adult breakthrough that allowed her to understand herself as she never had before. This eye-opening look at OCD is also a testament to the resilience of a woman who refused to give up on herself.
Emmeline Pankhurst wanted the vote for women in England — and she wasn't satisfied to wait. in 1903, she founded the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), an all-women organization that declared they were ready for "deeds, not words" — which meant protests, physical confrontations with police officers, arrests, and hunger strikes. And when the government refused to consider the issue of women's suffrage, Pankhurst's tactics became even more radical, causing a schism in the women's rights movement and even in her own family. In her own words, Pankhurst describes her life and activism as the women who endorsed "the argument of the broken window pane" in the fight for the vote.
In this chatty series of essays, actress Lauren Graham takes a moment to share laugh-out-loud stories about her life and Hollywood career. She talks about what it means to "make it" in Hollywood and what it's like to be single when you're in the public eye. With funny observations about the problem of meeting guys at awards shows — "If you’re meeting someone for the first time after three hours of hair, makeup, and styling, you’ve already set the bar too high" — and what it's like to audition intensely for a role, she encourages everyone to laugh at the often absurd life of an actress. And for Gilmore Girls fans, she sits down for an epic marathon of the show, reflecting on what the show meant for her at the time and what it was like to pick up her fast-talking character nine years later.
As Japanese soldiers take young Jae-Hee and her sister away from their parents, their mother gives them an antique comb with an inlay of a two-headed dragon, swearing it will protect them. The girls are forced to become "comfort women" — sex slaves for the soldiers of the Imperial Army. By the time war ends, Jae-Hee is forced to flee while her sister lies dying. For years, she hides her story as she endures yet more tragedy: love found in North Korea, then lost when the communists drag her husband away; a new life in South Korea that turns to poverty when people learn her secret. Then Jae-Hee learns the true meaning of her mother's gift, still with her after all these years, and sets out for a remarkable reunion. This engrossing novel tells the story of the "comfort women" in a respectful and gripping fashion.
Pearl Witherington's story seems like it leaped out of a war movie: forced to leave her beloved country but never abandoning it, Witherington returned to France and became one of the greatest maquisard commanders of the war, whose troops regularly called her "Ma Mère" — Mother. From her courageous service during the war to her refusal to accept a civil award for her wartime service, this book captures Witherington's remarkable determination and grit in the face of all obstacles. By the time you're done reading, you'll not only agree with the author's assessment that Witherington deserved more recognition for her service... you'll also wonder why spy movies aren't as exciting as her real-life tale.
She was born enslaved in 1797, but after she escaped she adopted a new name: Sojourner Truth. As Truth, she raised her voice against the horrors of slavery and in pursuit of women's right to vote. In this book, first published in 1850, Truth gives her own account of her life as a slave — including repeated separations from family — and then her work as a social reformer, traveling preacher, and activist as a free woman. This inspiring narrative is a powerful, first-hand look at one of the most important women of American history.
From the moment the German army invaded France in World War II, Nancy Wake was part of the resistance movement. By 1943, she was on the Gestapo’s most wanted list, nicknamed the White Mouse for how easily she evaded their traps. And when she was forced to flee France for safety in Britain, she immediately joined the British Special Operations Executive’s elite group of female agents, soon to be parachuted back into France to lead a 7,000 member branch of the Maquis fighting force. This thrilling true story of one of World War II’s most remarkable heroines will top any fictional spy story!
As a child, Waris Dirie, like many Somalian girls, was subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM); as an adult and a supermodel, she campaigned against the practice and founded the Desert Flower Foundation to help survivors of FGM and encourage parents to promise not to have their daughters cut. And yet, when Safa Nour was selected to play a young Dirie in a film, the 7-year-old wrote to her to express her fears that her parents would have her cut anyway. This story not only tells the story of how Dirie rescued Safa from going through the same trauma she did, but also how her Foundation is helping ensure that girls around the world can live free of fear of this brutal practice. To learn more about Dirie's journey from an oppressive life to the world stage, check out her biography Desert Flower.
Hedy Lamarr was known as a Hollywood star, "the most beautiful girl in the world." George Antheil was a pianist and composer called "the bad boy of music." But each of them had talents that the world didn't know about — unexpected gifts for science and engineering. And when they met in the midst of the second World War, when the American military was seeking new technologies that might save lives, they collaborated on a new radio technique called spread spectrum... a concept that became the foundation for mobile phones, wireless networks, and much more. This dual biography explores both Lamarr and Antheil's lives, as well as the story of the fight to make radio communication secure, and how their discovery continues to help us today.
Samuel Clemens, AKA Mark Twain, is best known as a novelist and humorist — but he considered this biography of Joan of Arc his greatest work. In this deeply researched book, Twain explores what is known about Joan's life and how her story has shaped history. Drawing from 12 years of research, including months scouring archives in France, he creates a unique depiction of this mythologized figure, as well as of the bishops and other religious officials who condemned her. Told with the flair of a masterful storyteller, this biography is a funny, serious, and stunning look at one of the Catholic Church's most famous figures.
What is it like to live a day with Asperger's Syndrome? For Samantha Craft, a former schoolteacher and the mother of three children, it means a world where everything seems important and nothing can be ignored, and where even a trip to the grocery store takes unbelievable focus and leaves her exhausted. In a series of 150 vignettes, Craft lets people in on the realities of her world as an autistic woman, from the funny — realizing that she's been wearing her sweater inside out all day, again — to the heartbreaking — being told she and her autistic son have "broken brains" after revealing her diagnosis to a professor. From childhood to middle age, Craft provides an insider's perspective on what it means to be from Planet Aspie.
Mende Nazer was 12 years old when raiders attacked her Nuba village, killing the adults and rounding the children up to sell as slaves. Mende found herself in the home of a wealthy family in Khartoum, Sudan, where she was called "Yebit," or "black slave," and subjected to horrific abuse. It wasn't until seven years after she was sold into slavery that she was sent to work for a diplomat in the United Kingdom and seized the opportunity for escape. In September 2000, she freed herself — and her story kicked off a firestorm in media around the world. In this powerful account, Mende uses her own story to shine a light on the destruction of her culture and the horrors of this modern-day slave trade.
Jhumki Basu knew that she wanted to be a teacher, and that she wanted to reach the students who were often ignored: girls, underprivileged kids, and minorities. As a professor at NYU, she fought for reform for science education, and conducted research into techniques that had worked during her own teaching experiences to prove that they would help kids achieve heights many thought impossible. Even when she was diagnosed with breast cancer at a painfully young age, she was determined to keep fighting for her students — and those around the world who needed advocacy. Written by her father after her death at age 31, this is a powerful tribute to an educator who was determined not to leave any child behind.