STEM Girl Reads for Your Nerdy Heart Needs

What’s this? A post that isn’t a review? Yes, friends, I’m finally getting back on my blogging game, and thought I’d kick things off with a post that’s been lingering half-finished in my “drafts” folder for a while.

Like many others, I’ve read and really enjoyed some of Ali Hazelwood’s books. The Love Hypothesis was great; Love on the Brain was okay; and while I didn’t love Below Zero, the popularity of the STEMinist novellas further speaks to the budding popularity of Science Girl stories. Women in STEM don’t get nearly enough credit or page time in books–especially not in fictional stories where they’re defined by more than just their academic careers. To that end, I’ve put together a list here of a few stories starring STEM women. They span quite a few genres, and while some are quite popular, at least a couple are (hopefully) a little off the beaten path, and/or not advertised as starring women in science. Enjoy!

Adult Contemporary

Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade – though this book promotes its main character for being a plus-size fanfic writer, that’s just her biggest hobby. By day, she works as a geologist!

Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev – in this gender-swapped Pride and Prejudice retelling, the main character (the “Darcy,” if you will) is a highly talented surgeon.

Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers – this sapphic contemporary features an astronomer who just earned her PhD. Note that this book deals with, among other things, serious topics relating to mental health, racism, and sexism in academia, so be sure to check the trigger and content warnings.

Young Adult Contemporary

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon – the main character is an avid programmer at a summer camp for computer science students.

When the Stars Lead to You by Ronni Davis – the main character is a high school senior and aspiring astrophysicist, in the process of applying to college.

Hazel’s Theory of Evolution by Lisa Jenn Bigelow – okay, this one is more of an “upper middle grade” book, but I didn’t have a full MG section. The main character in this book is an avid fan of animal science who spends her time learning everything she can about animals of all kinds, often using her knowledge of animals to frame and understand the people around her.

Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley – this book’s protagonist is a chemistry/pre-med student in her first year of college. Interestingly, her scientific pursuits merge both western medicine and traditional indigenous medicine from her tribe.

Historical Fiction

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus – you had to know this one was going to show up on this list. This fantastic feminist story follows a brilliant chemist in the 1950s, fighting patriarchal nonsense for the right to work in a lab–and, later, teaching housewives basic chemistry through a cooking television show.

The Rose Code by Kate Quinn – the three main characters in this WWII novel all work at Bletchley Park, where women worked to as enigma codebreakers–in other words, as early computer programmers.

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee – this YA historical fiction book features an aroace aspiring doctor as the main character. She is one of my all-time favorites (and is featured on my first post about great books with ace representation). This book is a sequel/companion to The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, but it can also stand on its own.


Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire – one of the two main characters, Jack, is a sapphic general scientist with OCD and a knack for projects including reanimating the dead. She also makes appearances in several other Wayward Children books as a side character.

When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill – though the overarching story in this historical narrative is about female rage and patriarchal oppression (and also women literally turning into dragons), the main character is also a physicist. We see her evolve from a precocious child, inspired in part by her mathematically gifted mother, into an adult academic force to be reckoned with.

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant – this science horror is full of murderous mermaids, and many of the main characters in it are scientists, with specialties including acoustic marine biology, organic chemistry, and more. Bonus: this is a super diverse read, and the various scientist women fall into identities including bisexual, fat, and Deaf. We love to see diverse STEM leading ladies!

That’s all from me! This list is by no means comprehensive, and there are a few others I love that I didn’t list above (for instance, Cress by Marissa Meyer, since it is the third book in a series and can’t stand on its own). I’m curious to hear from you all, though–have you read any of the titles on this list? Any other STEM Girl books you’d recommend? Leave a comment and let me know!


2 thoughts on “STEM Girl Reads for Your Nerdy Heart Needs

  1. Leelynn @ Sometimes Leelynn Reads February 23, 2023 / 7:43 pm

    I don’t know why I forgot about Daunis being a STEM lady! This is an amazing list and I appreciate you compiling it. I’ve read a few of these and I’ll have to get my hands on more of them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kathryn February 28, 2023 / 9:16 pm

      Omg Leelynn it’s been ages!! Hope you’re doing well, and glad you liked the list. Daunis is a fantastic character–and I’m so looking forward to seeing what she’s up to in Warrior Girl Unearthed!


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