In honor of Women’s History Month, I’d like to highlight a few different books that celebrate women and their experiences and achievements. In our patriarchal society, the contributions of women are often overlooked and their experiences are given less credence. That’s why hearing these stories is incredibly important.
It’s also important to hear a variety of stories. The negative effects of the patriarchy are exacerbated for women of color and/or those who identify as LGBTQ+, so I have tried to include a variety of titles that amplify those experiences as well.
Below are ten books you should read to celebrate Women’s History Month:
Bygone Badass Broads: 52 Forgotten Women Who Changed the World, by Mackenzi Lee
I’m obsessed with these “coffee table” anthologies that cover a wide variety of women from history, so I was delighted to find one I’d never seen before! Bygone Badass Broads includes 52 different women from around the world and how their contributions have shaped the world.
The illustrations, by Petra Eriksson, feature beautiful and brilliant colors – so lovely. Plus, because there are 52 different women featured, you could read about one woman each week and be covered until next Women’s History Month!
Nobody Told Me: Poetry and Parenthood, by Hollie McNish
Motherhood is fraught with contradiction in our culture: It is simultaneously accepted as a requirement for womanhood while also largely ignored in terms of the variety of experiences and identities it encompasses.
Nobody Told Me is a beautiful collection of poems from Hollie McNish (you can see some of her work here) that addresses that gap in the literature. She captures the complexity of motherhood and of the relationships that we have with our own mothers. If you enjoyed watching Lady Bird because of its raw and honest portrayal of a mother-daughter relationship, you should check out this book.
My Body Is a Book of Rules, by Elissa Washuta
A memoir recounting author Elissa Washuta’s transition from college to adulthood, My Body Is a Book of Rules will likely resonate with many of you as it deals with this difficult transitional stage of life.
Washuta’s writings are incredibly unique and varied in their forms, including pieces like a memory told in the format of a Law & Order SVU script, or comparing her mental health highs and lows to Britney Spears and Kurt Cobain’s own struggles. Her writing tackles mental illness, sexual trauma, and her American Indian identity seamlessly, reflecting the breadth of the human experience.
She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders, by Jennifer Finney Boylan
Jennifer Boylan is an English and Creative Writing professor at my school and everyone I know who has had a class with her has raved about her. Her memoir, She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders, details her gender transition and how that journey has impacted the relationships in her life.
Her journey exposes the nuances of gender in our society and, through her humor and wit, is still universally approachable in Boylan’s desire to find her place in the world. She’s Not There is considered one of the most important pieces of trans literature and is especially important to read for Women’s History Month given the need to amplify trans voices in a world that is primarily devoted to the cis-gender experience.
Once again, I struggled to keep this list brief, so I had to include a few additional titles, some fiction, some historical, in case you’re still looking for that perfect title to celebrate women’s history month!
- For fans of the movie Suffragette, try A Short History of Women: A Novel, by Kate Walbert.
- For daughters and future mothers, check out The Mothers: A Novel, by Brit Bennett.
- For fans of satire and murder mysteries (an intriguing combination, to be sure), try The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty: A Novel, by Amanda Filipacchi.
- For fans of Grace & Frankie, try I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman, by Nora Ephron, the writer behind Sleepless in Seattle, When Harry Met Sally, and more.
- For fans of ancient history, try The Woman Who Would Be King: Hatshepsut’s Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt by Kara Cooney.
- For activists and followers of current events, try The Underground Girls of Kabul: In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan, by Jenny Nordberg.
What do you think?
How do you celebrate Women’s History Month? What are some books you’ve read that capture the diverse and vibrant experiences of women? Let us know in the comments below!