Since it was published last April, Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus has taken the book world by storm. The main character Elizabeth Zott is a chemist who refuses to let the men around her dictate how she lives her life. Her strength and smarts have resonated with readers as well as her insistence on pursuing her career on her own terms. These books contain stories about women who approach life in a similar manner and who strive to standout in their fields.

By Her Own Design by Piper Hughley

Based on a true story, By Her Own Design tells the tale of Ann Lowe, the Black woman who designed Jacqueline Kennedy’s bridal gown and bridesmaid dresses. In 1918 Tampa, 12-year-old Ann meets an older man who sweeps her off her feet. When things quickly turn rocky with him, Ann realizes that her dream of designing dresses may be gone forever. But Ann is saved when a prominent socialite offers her a job designing clothes for the wealthy Tampa crowd. In 1953, Ann’s shop is damaged which ruins the dresses she so carefully designed for the Kennedy wedding. With only two weeks left until the wedding, she and her seamstresses must work to have the dresses ready to go.

Cora’s Kitchen by Kimberly Garrett Brown

This epistolary novel set in 1928 Harlem stars Cora, a librarian at the 135th Street library, who longs to become an author. Langston Hughes is a library patron that has left for college, and one day she decides to write him a letter asking for advice on following her dream of writing. He writes back launching a correspondence that galvanizes Cora to pursue her literary ambitions. When Cora must take a leave of absence from the library to fill in for her cousin as a cook at a wealthy white woman’s home, Cora unexpectedly befriends the her employer Eleanor, and the two enter into an alliance that will help them step outside the roles and expectations society places on them.

Go as a River by Shelley Read

Go as a River is a debut set in rural Colorado that tells the story of one woman’s hardscrabble existence and how she learns to make her way in a man’s world. Seventeen-year-old Victoria Nash keeps her family’s household running while her father and brother tend the family’s peach farm in 1940s Iola, Colorado. When she meets a young Native American man on his way through Iola, the pair fall in love, but their relationship sets in motion a shocking chain of events that ultimately sends Victoria into the mountains and onto a new path.

Her Hidden Genius by Marie Benedict

Rosalind Franklin was a scientist whose role in deciphering the double helix structure of human DNA was co-opted by the men working with her, men who eventually won the Nobel Prize for DNA research. She began working in Parisian laboratories and then London universities as she sought to delve into physics and chemistry and then ultimately to uncover the mysteries of DNA. Benedict breaks down the science for the reader while bringing to life a woman whose incredible discoveries were hidden by the men around her.

The Invisible Miss Cust by Penny Haws

From an early age, Aleen Cust loved animals and dreamed of working with them when she was an adult. But few women in the 1800s pursued such a career, and Aleen’s family was very much against this pursuit. Eventually, she goes against the wishes of her aristocratic family and enrolls in the New Veterinary College in Edinburgh, where she encounters a variety of obstacles both from her family and her classmates that she must overcome. However, she perseveres to become the first female veterinary surgeon in both Ireland and Britain.

Miss Del Rio by Barbara Mujica

Miss Del Rio chronicles the life of famed Hollywood star Dolores Del Rio, whose life spanned a number of pivotal moments in history including the Mexican Revolution, the Jazz Age, Golden-Age Hollywood, and World War 2. Relayed through Mara, Dolores’ fictional hairdresser and close friend, the novel follows Dolores through a meteoric film career in Hollywood, despite intense racism directed her way, and an intense personal life which included numerous lovers and husbands, all amid the backdrop of wealth and privilege. When the war intensifies nativism in the United States and non-white stars are ostracized, Dolores finds she must return to Mexico to continue her career. Hollywood fans will enjoy the presence of other screen royalty including Marlene Dietrich and Orson Welles.

The Only Woman in the Room by Marie Benedict

The Only Woman in the Room recounts the long and accomplished life of Hedy Lamarr (born Hedwig Keisler), the Hollywood screen star from the 1940s and 1950s. Escaping her Nazi-affiliated husband in the dead of night, she arrives in Hollywood where she launches the acting career for which she is well known. Unable to forget the horrors she witnessed in Austria, she recruits a partner, George Antheil, and they quietly begin work on an invention that she hopes will help the United States win the war against Germany. While the U.S. Navy did not adopt their invention until the 1960s, their work eventually led to the creation of Bluetooth and ultimately WiFi and the cell phone, and she and Antheil were inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014.

 The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray

Belle de Costa Greene worked as J.P. Morgan’s personal librarian and curator of his private library housed in a townhouse off of East 36th Street before the collection became the Morgan Library and Museum. While she became an influential individual in the art world and one of the country’s most prominent librarians, she hid a devastating secret – she was a Black woman “passing” as a white woman and moreover was the daughter of the first Black graduate of Harvard. The Personal Librarian chronicles Belle’s life and legacy and what it was like to be torn between success and the desire to be herself.

The Surgeon’s Daughter by Audrey Blake

In 19th-century Bologna, Spain, Nora Beady is the only female medical student, which makes her an oddity; everyone takes her accomplishments for granted but finds fault with any mistake she makes. Then she meets the only female doctor on staff, Magdalena Morenco, and the two women begin working on perfecting a new surgery technique, the Caesarean section. But they meet stiff resistance from their male colleagues who not only denounce the procedure but also prevent their wives from having it, even in life-threatening conditions. When Nora is faced with the dilemma of providing the dangerous surgery to hopefully save a patient’s life, she must decide whether she is willing to risk failing and setting back the role of women in medicine as a result.

Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

In this dual timeline story, Civil Townsend hopes to make a difference in her community by working as a nurse at the Montgomery Family Planning Clinic in 1970s Alabama and serving those desperately in need of care. But when one of her first jobs involves putting 11 and 13-year-old girls on birth control when neither girl has even kissed a boy, Civil is compelled to fight this injustice. Years later, Dr. Townsend is ready to retire but these stories from her past refuse to stay hidden.