List on books featured in picture: “White Feminism,” “Born a Crime,” Men who Hate Women,” “I’ll be the One,” “Rainbow History Class,” “Pageboy: A Memoir,” and “Nerd Adventures in Fandom.”

Seven books ()

Every month, Stars and Stripes Europe publishes a list of 10 books for you to read. We include a mix of genres revolving around a single theme (check out 10 books for the holiday season).

According to my Goodreads account, I have finished 33 books this year, and this list encompasses the top 30 percent. It does not include all the typical genres featured in our 10 books series; however, these are the ones that I can personally recommend.

1. “I’m Glad My Mom Died” by Jennette McCurdy (Memoir) (2022)

*Trigger Warning (TW): eating disorders, child abuse*

Many are familiar with McCurdy from her role as Sam Puckett on both “iCarly” and “Sam and Cat.” In her memoir, McCurdy shares about her reluctance to get into acting as a child, but also, the joy in appeasing her mother’s dreams. I enjoyed this book so much that I first read the book and then listened to the audiobook about six months later. I am normally not an audiobook fan, but hearing McCurdy tell her story brought another level to the experience of learning about her life.

2. “Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood” by Trevor Noah (Memoir) (Race) (2016)

*TW: domestic abuse, child abuse*

As you can see from the publication date, I was a little behind on the hype of this book, to say the least. However, I am so glad I read this fascinating book. Noah rose to fame as the host of the “The Daily Show,” but there is so much to his life before he became famous. He was born during the era of Apartheid in South Africa where it was literally illegal for him to exist because his mother is black, and his father is white. He shares stories from his childhood about catching several buses to go to church with his mother multiple days a week, struggling with an abusive stepfather, speaking multiple languages and more.

3. “Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body” by Roxanne Gay (Memoir) (LGTBQIA+) (Feminism) (2017)

*TW: eating disorders, sexual assault*

This is the book for anyone who has ever felt uncomfortable in their own skin. It’s a quick read; I read it on an eight-hour layover for a flight. Gay gets vulnerable when she talks about sitting in a doctor’s waiting room, hearing the pitch for gastric bypass surgery amongst people who are anywhere from tens to hundreds of pounds overweight. She discusses her anxieties about simply finding a place to sit as a very large woman. She takes the reader on a journey from her realization that she ate and got bigger to hide from others and the world to her modern life as a large, queer woman in America.

4. “White Feminism: From the Suffragettes to Influencers and Who They Leave Behind” by Koa Beck (Non-Fiction) (History) (Gender) (Feminism) (2021)

I learned about this book after reading Mikki Kendall’s “Hood Feminism” and wanted to learn more about the issues with mainstream feminism. Beck looks at the commercialization of feminism and views feminism through the lenses of race, economics, politics and more.

5. “I’ll be the One” by Lyla Lee (Young Adult) (Fiction) (LGBTQIA+) (2020)

I learned about this book researching “10 Books to read for Women’s History Month,” and the plot summary got my attention. Skye Shin is a bi-sexual, plus-sized singer and dancer who dreams of being the next K-Pop pop star. As a former fat teen cheerleader and dancer, I found myself cheering on Skye as she navigates an American Idol-style reality television competition.

6. “Huda F Are You” by Huda Fahmy (Fiction) (Graphic Novel) (Young Adult) (2021)

I first read Fahmy’s comics on her Instagram page, which brought me to her graphic novels based on her life as a Muslim teen in America. She moves from a town where she is the “hijabi girl,” to Dearborn, Michigan, a town with a large Muslim population. She now must figure out who she is aside from her culture and religion. She’s not a gamer or athlete; she is lost.

7. “Men Who Hate Women: From Incels to Pick-Up Artists: The Truth about Extreme Misogyny and How It Affects Us All ” by Laura Bates (Non-Fiction) (Sociology) (Feminism) (Politics) (2020)

People like to hide behind the anonymity of the internet. Sometimes it’s a harmless cat-ears filter; other times it’s behind a pictureless screenname spouting hate and threats in the comments sections. This book looks at the latter. From the female origins of the term “Incel,” to Reddit subgroups, men’s rights’ activists, male separatists and more, this book looks at the rise of these groups and their impact on culture and society.

8. “Rainbow History Class: Your Guide Through Queer and Trans History” by Hannah McElhinney (Non-Fiction) (History) (LGTBQIA+) (2023)

This book is a great world history lesson that includes tidbits that may have been left out during your school days. McElhinney “began class” on TikTok but decided to reach a wider audience with her book. Learn all about queer and trans icons, secret codes, activists and more.

9. “Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture” by Roxane Gay (Editor) (Non-Fiction) (Essays) (Feminism) (2018)

*TW: sexual assault*

While I recommend all of Gay’s non-fiction books, she only pens a couple of essays in this text. These essays, by a variety of authors, examine the world surrounding women through culture and personal stories. This is a powerful and raw read that really left me thinking after each essay.

10. “Nerd Adventures in Fandom from this Universe to the Multiverse” by Maya Phillips. (Essays) (Non-Fiction) (Pop Culture) (Fandom) (Memoir) (2022)

I flipped through this book when I was meandering around a Barnes and Noble on a visit to the U.S. this year and took it to the checkout counter as soon as I saw that Phillips wrote a chapter about my childhood hero, Sailor Moon. Through a series of essays about various fandoms from anime, movies, manga, comics and more, Phillips explores the themes of race, gender and religion.

Honorable Mentions: I re-read Sarah J. Maas’ “A Court of Rose and Thorns” series and Stephanie Meyer’s “Midnight Sun” this year and enjoyed catching things that I missed out on my first read-throughs. Other “new reads” that didn’t quite make the top 10 include Elliot Page’s “Pageboy” and “Queer Ukraine: An Anthology of LGBTQI+ Ukrainian Voices During Wartime” by the DVIJKA Collective.

*Disclaimer: Just because these are my favorite books of 2023, does not mean that the views and opinions reflect those of Stars and Stripes.

author picture
Tamala Malerk is a writer and editor with Stars and Stripes Europe. She has been with SSE since April 2022 writing articles all about travel, lifestyle, community news, military life and more. In May 2022, she earned her Ph.D. in History and promises it is much more relevant to this job than one might think.

The best stories from EUROPE, in your inbox

Sign up to receive travel tips, local event details, restaurant reviews, recipes, community news, and more every week from Stripes Europe.

Sign Up Now