Women's Nonfiction

A Guide to Reading Interests

by Jessica Zellers


Gain a new understanding of and appreciation for nonfiction written by, for, and about women; and better serve your readers with this genre guide to some 600 of the best titles.

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Cover image for Women's Nonfiction

September 2009

Libraries Unlimited

Pages 442
Volumes 1
Size 7x10
Topics Reference and Information Services and Tools/Readers' Advisory and Leisure Reading
  Reference and Information Services and Tools/Arts and Humanities Literature Reference Tools

What is it that women want to know? As it turns out, a lot! Focusing on the reading interests of women, this guide maps and describes nonfiction that spans every Dewey category. What makes this body of literature unique is that it is written specifically for a female readership, and directly addresses women’s issues. The author annotates more than 600 titles, with hundreds of additional titles referenced as read-alikes.

Although women's fiction is widely treated as a reading interest and even a genre, until now its nonfiction counterpart has not been seriously considered outside of scholarly circles. Yet, there is a body of popular literature that specifically appeals to women. This is clearly evident in the collections of women's bookstores, which carry life stories, personal and spiritual growth collections, guides to health, wellness and beauty, and so on.

Zellers's guide is designed to help readers and librarians navigate the breadth of nonfiction to find popular titles about women and women's experiences. Annotating some 600 titles, with hundreds more referenced as read-alikes; it is a valuable in readers' advisory services, as well as a great source for creating displays and programs (particularly during Women's History month). It may also be a useful resource for women's studies programs.

Author Info

Jessica Zellers is a freelance public librarian and author, living in Asheville, NC.



"The annotations are engaging, insightful, often witty, and occasionally irreverent. Part of the Real Stories series (previous guides covered investigative reporting and biography), this accessible and unique readers’ advisory and collection development resource is recommended for public and academic libraries."—Booklist

"This book would find a welcome place in public libraries as well as universities."—ARBAonline

"Zellers (electronic resources, Williamsburg Regional Library, Virginia) offers a practical guide for librarians, booksellers, and general readers. While nonfiction, all the listed works contain narratives, either in book-length form or as a collection of mini-narratives, which are meant to be read for pleasure. The 632 titles are arranged alphabetically by author name within eight thematic sections — biography, autobiography, and memoirs; personal growth; health, wellness, and beauty; women's history; adventure and travel; feminism and activism; women at work; women and society — each further subdivided into subgenres. All entries include the author's name, the book title, publisher, publication date, number of pages, and ISBN, followed by a brief annotation highlighting key aspects of the text. Hundreds of additional titles are incorporated throughout as suggested nonfiction and fiction read-alikes for further reading. Indexed by title/author and subject."—Reference & Research Book News

"Women's Nonfiction fills a gap in the 'reader's advisory' literature. It will serve librarians well as an all-purpose referral tool when their own knowledge fails them in certain areas, such as finance, food, self-help, how-to, work-life balance, sports, sexual discrimination, relationships, and roller derby - to name a few."—Feminist Collections

"Librarians will find this a useful reference tool, but anyone interested in books by and about women will enjoy perusing Zellers’ guide."—Emerald Journal

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