The term “hot girl era” is frequently used across social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram. It has varying meanings and connotations, but the best definition of a “hot girl era” is an era of cultivating a life that honors yourself — it encourages you to do things you enjoy, to surround yourself with others who inspire you and to embrace a sense of self-confidence. It is important to note that being a hot girl has nothing to do with physical appearance or identity — it is a mindset that is achievable by anyone, regardless of gender. It only seems fitting to provide a reading list to kickstart a hot girl era to feed our brains with information that sheds light on new perspectives, ideas and ways of thinking.
1. “Becoming” by Michelle Obama
This is one of my favorite books, so I naturally associate it with a hot girl era. “Becoming” details the life of Michelle Obama, highlighting the struggles and triumphs of our former First Lady growing up as a Black woman in the U.S. This memoir will not only make you grow even fonder of Obama, but you will also emerge feeling empowered to chase after your dreams through a lens of “becoming” — which is striving, changing and growing. I read “Becoming” when I was a sophomore in high school, and it kick-started my interest in reading other works by strong women.
2. “Call Us What We Carry” by Amanda Gorman
After listening to “The Hill We Climb” at President Joe Biden’s inauguration in January 2021, I was absolutely captivated by Amanda Gorman’s sharp and powerful words. I jumped at the chance to purchase her latest collection of poems, published at the end of 2021. As you read, her voice will instill a sense of hope and purpose. I especially enjoy keeping this book next to my bed so I can pick it up if I have a moment of downtime — before bed, as I get ready for class or even during a homework break. Filling your spare time with powerful poetry is just one example of enjoying a hot girl era.
3. “Bad Feminist” by Roxanne Gay
I urge you to dive into this collection of essays seeking to understand what it means to be a feminist in an imperfect world. Roxanne Gay’s candid and captivating tone will establish a special layer of trust between the page and your mind. Coincidentally, “Bad Feminist” was on the reading list for my women and gender studies course, making it convenient to enjoy reading this book both for pleasure and to complete an assignment. After all, a hot girl era would not be complete without engaging with a more academic reading.
4. “Please Don’t Sit on my Bed in Your Outside Clothes” by Phoebe Robinson
I stumbled across this title in the University bookstore on a Sunday afternoon. I had just finished a really difficult exam, and I was searching for something to take my mind off of the anxiety rushing through my brain on the first floor of Clemons Library. I needed something to empower me to embrace my life — despite the dread attached to exams, deadlines and projects. As I opened the first page, this hilarious collection of essays instantly made me feel seen — Robinson began by recounting her COVID-19 quarantine experience, reminding me that if I made it through the height of the pandemic, I can make it through a difficult first semester, too.
5. “The Comfort Book” by Matt Haig
Even hot girls can feel sad, tired and overwhelmed. In fact, hot girls acknowledge their emotions and work through them. College — and life — can make it very easy to feel inadequate or that you should be doing more with your time. Finding a way to escape these feelings of doubt is vital. “The Comfort Book” feels like a warm embrace from your mom. Haig’s book includes a series of short messages, quotes and reminders that are designed to encourage and soothe readers. It is the ideal book to have on hand because even reading a single page will make you feel more at ease.
6. “Why Not Me?” by Mindy Kaling
Who doesn’t love Kelly Kapoor from “The Office?” Through this hilariously and cleverly written collection of personal essays, Mindy Kaling, the brilliant comedian behind Kelly Kapoor, tells readers more about her life — which epitomizes the definition of being a hot girl. As a college student, reading about her college adventures at Dartmouth — including her complicated relationship with Greek Life — was especially relevant and amusing.
7. “I Am Malala” by Malala Yousafzai
The powerful story of Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban for attending school, is bound to awaken your desire to elicit real change in the world. It also encourages self-reflection about the privilege of attending a university and highlights the dangers of restricting women from accessing education. Her memoir speaks to the need to use your voice to achieve justice for everyone — especially those who are marginalized.
8. “Do You Mind If I Cancel? (Things That Still Annoy Me)” by Gary Janetti
Everyone needs a laugh sometimes. This is where Gary Janetti comes into play. His collection of essays is certain to make you smile — just look at the subtitle. He carries the same sarcasm and brutally honest tone throughout his writing. Finding a way to make light of situations is essential to launching and sustaining a hot girl era. Also, check out his Instagram @garyjanetti for witty commentary on everything ranging from the pandemic to social interactions and the royal family.
9. “I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter” by Erika Sánchez
This young adult novel was a National Book Award Finalist and explores the difficulties of growing up in an immigrant family in the United States, defining your own identity and coming to terms with extreme loss and sadness. Sánchez’s work will have you rooting for the protagonist, Julia, and questioning your own experiences and existing beliefs. While this is a YA novel, people of any age can be moved by Julia’s experiences — similar to the way that a hot girl era is available to anyone and everyone.
10. “Conversations With RBG: Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Life, Love, Liberty, and Law” by Jeffrey Rosen
Who could be more inspirational and integral to a hot girl era than Ruth Bader Ginsburg? RBG embodies the definition of being a hot girl — fostering a dedication not only to one’s beliefs, but also to uplifting the rights of others. This book welcomes readers to gain valuable insight and life advice from a one-of-a-kind Supreme Court Justice who we miss dearly.
Enjoy empowering yourself through the experience of reading — it is simply what hot girls do.