Cultivating the Mind: Books Every Woman Should Read

Written by Ann Burns

March 10, 2021

When the Villains are Beautiful

I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! — Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice 

The sun is finally piercing through reminding us that warmer days are ahead! It’s not only time to start dreaming about beach vacations and pina colodas, but what warm weather reads will you be touting around?

I’ve compiled a list of 7 books that true game-changers for women. 


The Privilege of Being a Woman by Alice von Hildebrand 

“By living up to their calling, women will succeed in guaranteeing a proper recognition of the unique value of femininity and its crucial mission in the world.”

Alice von Hildebrand understands the gift of femininity better than most.  This tiny gem eloquently reminds women of their true calling to femininity and what that looks like. 

Subverted: How I Helped the Sexual Revolution Hijack the Women’s Movement by Sue Ellen Browder 

“Propaganda is very sophisticated; it’s half-truth, selected truth, and truth out of context.”

Subverted is one of the most thrilling non-fiction books you will read.  Sue Ellen Browder relates how she wrote for Cosmopolitan back in the 1960s, and details the (shocking!) lies she penned for the masses.  The pages of this book offer a mind-blowing glimpse into what really happened to America during the 60s and 70s.  Subverted articulates how the sexual revolution and the women’s movement, two separated ideologies, ultimately united over contraception and abortion.  If you are curious to learn more about 2nd wave feminism and how propaganda works, this book is for you. 

The Anti-Mary Exposed by Carrie Gress

“Women have always desired equality and respect, but our current culture isn’t seeking it through the grace of Mary; rather, the culture seeks this equality and respect through the vices of Machiavelli: rage, intimidation, tantrums, bullying, raw emotion, and absence of logic. …. The devil knows that all these marks of the anti-Mary—rage, indignation, vulgarity, and pride—short-circuit a woman’s greatest gifts: wisdom, prudence, patience, unflappable peace, intuition, her ability to weave together the fabric of society, and her capacity for a deep and fulfilling relationship with God.”

Carrie Gress’ exposé presents a modern look on the degradation womanhood has undergone.  She explains how women have become enticed by the goddess movement, taken to vulgarity, faux empowerment, promiscuity, and ultimately an abdication of their femininity.  She further reveals how this toxic “femininity” is actually demonic.  However, this book is not without hope, for Gress also provides the antidote: restoring Mary. Beautiful, insightful, and uplifting, The Anti-Mary Exposed should be bought and read by all. 

My Spirit Rejoices by Elisabeth Leseur 

“Why do we wait until tomorrow to do good? Why do we wait to be rich before giving? Is not the gift of ourselves better than money, and is there a day or even an hour in which we could not give a tear or a smile to someone who is suffering?”  

My Spirit Rejoices is the secret diary of Elisabeth Leseur, a book that is sure to bring peace, inspire, and generate a deeper love for God.  Leseur’ s diary is so powerful that after her death, her atheist husband discovered it, converted to Catholicism, and became a priest. Yes, it’s that amazing. 

Lessons from Madame Chic by Jennifer L. Scott

“Rejoice in every aspect of life—big or small. Let nothing pass you by. Appreciate everything—whether it is perceived as good or bad. You have the power to turn any experience into a pleasurable one. Challenge your preconceptions and luxuriate in the simple things of life.”

Jennifer Scott shares the amusing stories of when she lived in France with Madame Chic.  This book wonderfully encourages living meaningfully, elevating the everyday, and finding joy in the mundane. The book revisits (seemingly) antediluvian ideals and unearths their luster and joy. Witty and endearing, this book challenges you to transform the everyday “grind” into a source of beauty and intention. 

Your Blue Flame by Jennifer Fulwiler 

“I believe that God is the source of all love, and so I like to think that your blue flame is your unique way of sharing a little bit of God with the world.”

The incomparable Jennifer Fulwiler helps you discover your talents and inner passion in the way that only she can do in her latest book, Your Blue Flame.  She also provides you with the tools to overcome the hubbub and guilt that prevents you from sharing them. This book is a must read for all those who believe they were made for more. 

The End of the Affair by Graham Greene

“This is the record of hate far more than love.”

Okay, so my inner Lit Major couldn’t let this list go by without a work of literature. Ahem. Graham Greene is one of England’s great writers, up there with Waugh, Tolkien, Joyce, you name it.  He just doesn’t always get his due in today’s world. A travesty that I hope to amend. The End of the Affair is told through the eyes of Maurice Bendrix, as he tries to quench his obsessive desire for understanding in regards to the adulterous affair he had with Sarah Miles. This story of consuming love-hate-lust, brings him into a deeper battle with a God he does not believe in. 

Outstandingly written and excruciatingly profound, this is a book I have read more than once, and plan to read many, many more times. Plus, fun bonus, if you have audible you can listen to Colin Firth (aka Mr. Darcy) read it to you. That’s a treat! 

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