In our Badass Women of Tucson series, we ask about the last great book each lady read. Here's some of their picks. 

If you didn't know, some pretty badass women call Tucson home.

We like to feature these women periodically, spotlighting the ways they influence and inspire Tucson. We also like to ask them a string of random questions about their ice cream preferences, secret talents and morning routines.

In that rapid-fire survey, we also ask these ladies about the last great book they read. And after more than two years of writing our Badass Women of Tucson series, we have more than 20 book recommendations from local leading ladies.

We've listed their suggestions below, starting with our very first badass interviewed in the summer of 2016. Keep in mind that these books reflect favorite picks at a point in time, not all-time favorites. We've pulled from and linked to summaries from the Pima County Public Library catalog and Amazon.

Also, if you like reading local, check out our #ThisIsTucson Book Club on Facebook. 

Author: Rebecca Ryan

Summary: "'Live First, Work Second' helps you understand the next generation — your children, your employees, your volunteers, patrons and donors ... and your future leaders. The book summarizes the collective intelligence of over 20,000 interviews with members of the next generations, and presents the findings in an accessible, sometimes irreverent style, in which the reader becomes a co-conspirator in creating better places to live and work."

Read by: Cheryl Horvath, fire chief

Author: Alice Fulton

Summary: "In this eagerly awaited collection of new poems — her first in over a decade — Alice Fulton re-imagines the great lyric subjects — time, death, love —and imbues them with fresh urgency and depth. Barely Composed unveils the emotional devastation that follows trauma or grief — extreme states that threaten psyche and language with disintegration. With rare originality, the poems illuminate the deepest suffering and its aftermath of hyper-vigilance and numbness, the "formal feeling" described by Emily Dickinson. ..."

Read by: Melanie Cooley, administrator for the Tucson GLBT Chamber of Commerce

Author: Amanda Palmer

Summary: "Even while Amanda is both celebrated and attacked for her fearlessness in asking for help [in her artistic endeavors], she finds that there are important things she cannot ask for — as a musician, as a friend, and as a wife. She learns that she isn't alone in this — that so many people are afraid to ask for help, and it paralyzes their lives and relationships. In this ... book, she explores these barriers in her own life and in the lives of those around her, and discovers the emotional, philosophical, and practical aspects of the art of asking."

Read by: Kathryn Bertine, professional cyclist

Author: Paulo Coelho

Summary: "A fable about following one's dreams, listening to one's heart, and reading life's omens features dialogue between a boy and an unnamed being."

Read by: Sarah Al-jameel, interpreter

Author: Lindy West

Summary: "Presents a series of essays by the American writer and comedian, dealing with issues of body image, popular culture, feminism, and social justice."

Read by: Jes Baker, blogger and author

Author: Jane Shemilt

Summary: "Jenny is a successful family doctor, the mother of three great teenagers, married to a celebrated neurosurgeon. But when her youngest child, fifteen-year-old Naomi, doesn't come home after her school play, Jenny's seemingly ideal life begins to crumble. The authorities launch a nationwide search with no success. Naomi has vanished and her family is broken. As the months pass, the worst-case scenarios — kidnapping, murder — seem less plausible. The trail has gone cold. Yet, for a desperate Jenny, the search has barely begun."

Read by: Shirley Reilly, professional wheelchair racer

Author: Jenny Han

Summary: "Belly spends the summer she turns 16 at the beach just like every other summer of her life, but this time things are very different."

Read by: Taylor-Marie Peercy, judo fighter

Author: Marcel Proust

Summary: A seven-volume novel

Read by: T. VanHook, CEO Habitat for Humanity Tucson

Author: Francine Rivers

Summary: "Sold into a life of prostitution at a tender age, Angel has long since given up on love, but when Michael Hosea makes her his wife and sets up their home out west, Angel discovers a world of love and warmth."

Read by: Cynthia Magallanes, executive director and founder of Free Ever After

Author: Lisa Nichols

Summary: "The best-selling author and 'Steve Harvey Show' life coach teams up with the co-author of Jack Canfield's 'The Success Principles' to share personal experiences and outline steps for enabling personal, professional and financial success."

Read by: Cecilia Arosemena, chef entrepreneur

Author: Helen Macdonald

Summary: "As a child Helen Macdonald was determined to become a falconer. She learned the arcane terminology and read all the classic books, including T.H. White's tortured masterpiece, The Goshawk, which describes White's struggle to train a hawk as a spiritual contest. When her father dies and she is knocked sideways by grief, she becomes obsessed with the idea of training her own goshawk. She buys Mabel ... on a Scottish quayside and takes her home to Cambridge. Then she fills the freezer with hawk food and unplugs the phone, ready to embark on the long, strange business of trying to train this wildest of animals."

Read by: Kathryn Ferguson, author, dancer and filmmaker. Ferguson died in April 2017 after an unexpected cancer diagnosis.

Author: Michelle Alexander

Summary: "Argues that the War on Drugs and policies that deny convicted felons equal access to employment, housing, education and public benefits create a permanent under-caste based largely on race. Reprint."

Read by: Donna Francis, bartender. Francis also read "Don Quixote" by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra.

Author: Gillian Flynn

Summary:  "On the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick's wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police immediately suspect Nick. Amy's friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn't true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they aren't his. And then there are the persistent calls on his mobile phone. So what did really did happen to Nick's beautiful wife?"

Read by: Timalee Nevels, professional Girl Scout and small business owner

Author: Bruce Springsteen

Summary: "Over the past seven years, Bruce Springsteen has privately devoted himself to writing the story of his life, bringing to these pages the same honesty, humor, and originality found in his songs. He describes growing up Catholic in Freehold, New Jersey, amid the poetry, danger, and darkness that fueled his imagination, leading up to the moment he refers to as 'The Big Bang': seeing Elvis Presley's debut on The Ed Sullivan Show. He vividly recounts his relentless drive to become a musician, his early days as a bar band king in Asbury Park, and the rise of the E Street Band. With disarming candor, he also tells for the first time the story of the personal struggles that inspired his best work, and shows us why the song 'Born to Run' reveals more than we previously realized."

Read by: Jenna Rutschman, marketing strategist 

Author: Phoebe Robinson

Summary: "A hilarious and affecting essay collection about race, gender, and pop culture from celebrated stand-up comedian and WNYC podcaster Phoebe Robinson. Being a Black woman in American means contending with old prejudices and fresh absurdities. Robinson uses her trademark wit to explore examine our cultural climate and skewer our biases with humor and heart."

Read by: Adiba Nelson, freelance writer and author

Author: Gillian Flynn

Summary: "After witnessing the murder of her mother and sisters, seven-year-old Libby Day testifies against her brother Ben, but twenty-five years later she tries to profit from her tragic history and admit that her story might not have been accurate."

Read by: Lola Torch, burlesque performer/producer

Author: John Kennedy Toole

Summary: "An obese New Orleans misanthrope who constantly rebukes society, Ignatius Reilly, gets a job at his mother's urging but ends up leading a worker's revolt."

Read by: Yekaterina (Katya) Karankevich, biker, activist

Author: Al Worden 

Summary: "The author describes his life, from his early years growing up on a farm to his years as an astronaut with NASA, including flying the Apollo 15 mission to the moon in 1971."

Read by: Czarina Salido, Girls Taking Up Space program director

Author: Sheryl Sandberg

Summary: "In 'Lean In', Sheryl Sandberg — Facebook COO and one of 'Fortune' magazine's most powerful women in business — looks at what women can do to help themselves, and make the small changes in their life that can effect change on a more universal scale. She draws on her own experiences working in some of the world's most successful businesses, as well as academic research, to find practical answers to the problems facing women in the workplace."

Read by: Burçin Mutlu-Pakdil, astrophysicist

Author: Peter Wohlleben

Summary: "Draws on up-to-date research and engaging forester stories to reveal how trees nurture each other and communicate, outlining the life cycles of "tree families" that support mutual growth, share nutrients, and contribute to a resilient ecosystem."

Read by: Samantha Schwann, underwater photographer

Author: Neil Gaiman

Summary: "Presents a rendering of the major Norse pantheon that traces the genesis of the legendary nine worlds and the exploits of its characters, illuminating the characters and natures of iconic figures Odin, Thor, and Loki."

Read by: Leah Allen, musician, entrepreneur

Author: Tara Westover

Summary: "Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her 'head-for-the-hills bag.' In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father's junkyard. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when one of Tara's older brothers became violent. As a way out, Tara began to educate herself, learning enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University. Her quest for knowledge would transform her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she'd traveled too far, if there was still a way home. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Tara Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education offers: the perspective to see one's life through new eyes, and the will to change it."

Read by: Bonnie Hurwitz, scientist