A Women’s History Month Reading List
Enjoy a selection of great titles celebrating women’s history this month and every month.
A Black Women’s History of the United States by Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross (print only). From the first African women to arrive in what would become the United States to the Kamala Harris generation, this book upends the familiar American history taught in classrooms. “To know the story of the United States is to know this indispensable story.” -Ibram X. Kendri
The Daughters of Kobani: A Story of Rebellion, Courage and Justice by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon (print only). In 2014, an all-female militia faced off against ISIS in a little town in Syria called Kobani. From that beginning, the all-women units of the Kurdish militia went on to fight ISIS throughout Syria, gaining the respect of the U.S. military and showing the world that women can lead in war and also be equal in peace.
The Daughters of Yalta: The Churchills, Roosevelts, and Harrimans: A Story of Love and War by Catherine Grace Katz (print, eBook from Overdrive). In 1945, when Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin met at Yalta to divide up the world, three remarkable young women accompanied them – Sarah Churchill, Anna Roosevelt, and Kathleen Harriman, daughter of the U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union. This is exciting world history seen through the eyes of the women who were there.
The Equivalents: A Story of Art, Female Friendship and Liberation in the 1960’s by Maggie Doherty (print only). Poets Anne Sexton and Maxine Kumin, painter Barbara Swan, sculptor Mariana Pineda, and writer Tillie Olsen were all chosen for the first year of the Radcliffe Institute for Independent Study – established for women with a PhD or “the equivalent in artistic achievement.” These five artists formed life-long friendships; they called themselves “the equivalents.”
The Soul of a Woman by Isabel Allende. Allende’s memoir begins, “When I say I was a feminist in kindergarten, I am not exaggerating.” The daughter of a single mother with three children, Allende grew up in Chile as a fierce supporter of her mother’s struggle. Here the prize-winning author also recounts her own struggles along with her participation in the women’s movement.
Speak, Okinawa by Elizabeth Miki Brina. A young woman’s journey to understanding her complicated parents–her father a Vietnam veteran, her mother an Okinawan war bride. Brina had an all-American childhood in a New York suburb, and yet she always felt like an outsider. She knew almost nothing about Okinawa until adulthood, when she set out to understand her mother and learn about her mother’s heritage.
Speaking of Feminism: Today’s Activists on the Past, Present, and Future of the U.S. Women’s Movement by Rachel F. Seidman (print only). From the Women’s March to the #Me Too movement, feminism is alive and well in the 21st century. Here 25 contemporary feminist activists share their vision, their struggles, and the story of their lives.
Square Haunting: Five Writers in London Between the Wars by Francesca Wade (print only). In the early twentieth century, five extraordinary women lived in London’s Mecklenburgh Square: poet H. D., detective novelist Dorothy L. Sayers, classicist Jane Harrison, economic historian Eileen Power, and novelist Virginia Woolf. In her own way, each was searching for a way to live and work as an independent woman – in short, to have a room of her own.
Vanguard : How Black women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All by Martha S. Jones (print only). Although the women’s suffrage movement ended with the vote in 1920, Black women’s struggles for equality – and the vote — did not. The author shows how, from the very beginning of American history, Black women organized, sometimes in collaboration with white women and sometimes not, for political power and full equality.
Women’s liberation! Feminist Writings That Inspired a Revolution and Still Can, edited by Alix Kates Shulman & Honor Moore (print only). From Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique in 1963 to Susan Faludi’s Backlash in 1991, the women’s liberation movement was catalyzed by writing – about work, birth control, abortion, child care, gender, sexuality, identity, and especially race. A number of these selections highlight the important role Black women played in organizing the movement and articulating feminist goals.