Mindfulness | Recommended Reading for Women’s History Month

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March is Women’s History Month, and today is International Women’s Day! I’m sharing a wide variety of books, many I have read, some are on my want to read list of women of diverse faiths, cultures, and experiences. Books I have read are marked with an *, and they are broken up by Adult, Young Adult, and Children. There is something for everyone in this list, and it was so much longer but narrowed it down to these which is non-fiction. Enjoy & Happy Reading!

Adult

My Own Words, by Ruth Bader Ginsburg

If there is a more incredible woman to learn from…well, we can’t finish that sentence, because there isn’t. RBG has seen it all, and in this collection of essays on everything from her early career, being a woman, the law, and much more, she shares her wisdom with us.

Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype, by Clarissa Pinkola Estés

Within every woman there is a wild and natural creature, a powerful force, filled with good instincts, passionate creativity, and ageless knowing. Her name is Wild Woman, but she is an endangered species. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D., Jungian analyst and cantadora storyteller shows how women’s vitality can be restored through what she calls “psychic archeological digs” into the ruins of the female unconsious. Using multicultural myths, fairy tales, folk tales, and stories, Dr. Estes helps women reconnect with the healthy, instinctual, visionary attributes of the Wild Woman archetype.

Dr. Estes has created a new lexicon for describing the female psyche. Fertile and life-giving, it is a psychology of women in the truest sense, a knowing of the soul.

Sisters First: Stories from our wild and wonderful life, by Jenna Bush Hager

Born into a political dynasty, Jenna and Barbara Bush grew up in the public eye. As small children, they watched their grandfather become president; just twelve years later they stood by their father’s side when he took the same oath. They spent their college years being trailed by the Secret Service and chased by the paparazzi, with every teenage mistake making national headlines. But the tabloids didn’t tell the whole story of these two young women forging their own identities under extraordinary circumstances. In this book they take readers on a revealing, thoughtful, and deeply personal tour behind the scenes of their lives, with never-before-told stories about their family, their adventures, their loves and losses, and the special sisterly bond that fulfills them.

Remember the Ladies: Celebrating Those Who Fought for Freedom at the Ballot Box  by Angela Dodson

From the birth of our nation to the recent crushing defeat of the first female presidential candidate, this book highlights women’s impact on United States politics and government. It documents the fight for women’s right to vote, drawing on historic research, biographies of leaders, and such original sources as photos, line art, charts, graphs, documents, posters, ads, and buttons. It presents this often-forgotten struggle in an accessible, conversational, relevant manner for a wide audience.

Holding Our World Together: Ojibwe Women and the Survival of the Community by Brenda Child

Too often ignored or underemphasized in favor of their male warrior counterparts, Native American women have played a more central role in guiding their nations than has ever been understood. Many Native communities were, in fact, organized around women’s labor, the sanctity of mothers, and the wisdom of female elders. In this well-researched and deeply felt account of the Ojibwe of Lake Superior and the Mississippi River, Brenda J. Child details the ways in which women have shaped Native American life from the days of early trade with Europeans through the reservation era and beyond.

Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War by Liza Mundy

Recruited by the U.S. Army and Navy from small towns and elite colleges, more than ten thousand women served as codebreakers during World War II. While their brothers and boyfriends took up arms, these women moved to Washington and learned the meticulous work of code-breaking. Their efforts shortened the war, saved countless lives, and gave them access to careers previously denied to them. A strict vow of secrecy nearly erased their efforts from history; now, through dazzling research and interviews with surviving code girls, bestselling author Liza Mundy brings to life this riveting and vital story of American courage, service, and scientific accomplishment.

*Becoming by Michelle Obama

In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.

In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.

Dress like a Woman: Working Women and What they Wore, by by Vanessa Friedman, Abrams Books, Roxane Gay

Dress Like a Woman turns that question on its head by sharing a myriad of interpretations across history. The book includes more than 240 incredible photographs that illustrate how women’s roles have changed over the last century. The women pictured in this book inhabit a fascinating intersection of gender, fashion, politics, culture, class, nationality, and race. You’ll see some familiar faces, including trailblazers Shirley Chisholm, Amelia Earhart, Angela Davis, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Michelle Obama, but the majority of photographs are of ordinary working women from many backgrounds and professions. Pioneering scientists and mathematicians, leading civil rights and feminist activists, factory workers and lumberjacks, stay-at-home moms and domestic workers, and artists and musicians; all express their individual style and dress to get the job done.

With essays by renowned fashion writer Vanessa Friedman and New York Times bestselling author Roxane Gay, Dress Like a Woman offers a comprehensive look at the role of gender and clothing in the workplace—and proves that there’s no single way to dress like a woman.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they’d weigh more than 50 million metric tons—as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions.

Yet Henrietta Lacks remains virtually unknown, buried in an unmarked grave.

Now Rebecca Skloot takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells; from Henrietta’s small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia — a land of wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo — to East Baltimore today, where her children and grandchildren live and struggle with the legacy of her cells.

Over the decade it took to uncover this story, Rebecca became enmeshed in the lives of the Lacks family—especially Henrietta’s daughter Deborah, who was devastated to learn about her mother’s cells. She was consumed with questions: Had scientists cloned her mother? Did it hurt her when researchers infected her cells with viruses and shot them into space? What happened to her sister, Elsie, who died in a mental institution at the age of fifteen? And if her mother was so important to medicine, why couldn’t her children afford health insurance?

Intimate in feeling, astonishing in scope, and impossible to put down, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks captures the beauty and drama of scientific discovery, as well as its human consequences.

The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women who helped Win Wold War 2, by Denise Kiernan

The Tennessee town of Oak Ridge was created from scratch in 1942. One of the Manhattan Project’s secret cities, it didn’t appear on any maps until 1949, and yet at the height of World War II it was using more electricity than New York City and was home to more than 75,000 people, many of them young women recruited from small towns across the South. Their jobs were shrouded in mystery, but they were buoyed by a sense of shared purpose, close friendships—and a surplus of handsome scientists and Army men!

But against this vibrant wartime backdrop, a darker story was unfolding. The penalty for talking about their work—even the most innocuous details—was job loss and eviction. One woman was recruited to spy on her coworkers. They all knew something big was happening at Oak Ridge, but few could piece together the true nature of their work until the bomb “Little Boy” was dropped over Hiroshima, Japan, and the secret was out. The shocking revelation: the residents of Oak Ridge were enriching uranium for the atomic bomb.

Though the young women originally believed they would leave Oak Ridge after the war, many met husbands there, made lifelong friends, and still call the seventy-year-old town home. The reverberations from their work there—work they didn’t fully understand at the time—are still being felt today. In The Girls of Atomic City, Denise Kiernan traces the astonishing story of these unsung WWII workers through interviews with dozens of surviving women and other Oak Ridge residents. Like The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, this is history and science made fresh and vibrant—a beautifully told, deeply researched story that unfolds in a suspenseful and exciting way.

The Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women Write, by ia Faqir, Amina Jama, Chimene Suleyman, Aliyah Hasinah Holder, Kamila Shamsie, Imtiaz Dharker, Triska Hamid, Nafeesa Hamid, Ahdaf Soueif, Seema Begum, Leila Aboulela (Goodreads Author), Shazea Quraishi, Shaista Aziz, Miss L, Aisha Mirza (Goodreads Author), Hibaq Osman, Azra Tabassum, Selma Dabbagh, Asma Elbadawi, Samira Shackle, Hanan Al-Shaykh

From established literary heavyweights to emerging spoken word artists, the writers in this ground-breaking collection blow away the narrow image of the ‘Muslim Woman’.

Hear from users of Islamic Tinder, a disenchanted Maulana working as a TV chat show host and a plastic surgeon blackmailed by MI6. Follow the career of an actress with Middle-Eastern heritage whose dreams of playing a ghostbuster spiral into repeat castings as a jihadi bride. Among stories of honour killings and ill-fated love in besieged locations, we also find heart-warming connections and powerful challenges to the status quo.

From Algiers to Brighton, these stories transcend time and place revealing just how varied the search for belonging can be.

Between them the writers in this anthology have been short- or long-listed for four Orange Prizes, two Man Booker Prizes and won countless other awards. Alongside renowned authors are emerging voices published here for the first time.

Reinvinting the Enemy’s Language: Contemporary Native Women’s Writings of North America, by Joy Harjo (editor), Gloria Bird (editor), Beth Cuthand (editor), Valerie Martinez (editor), Patricia Blanco (editor)

This long-awaited anthology celebrates the experience of Native American women and is at once an important contribution to our literature and an historical document. It is the most comprehensive anthology of its kind to collect poetry, fiction, prayer, and memoir from Native American women. Over eighty writers are represented from nearly fifty nations, including such nationally known writers as Louise Erdrich, Linda Hogan, Leslie Marmon Silko, Lee Maracle, Janet Campbell Hale, and Luci Tapahonso; others — Wilma Mankiller, Winona LaDuke, and Bea Medicine — who are known primarily for their contributions to tribal communities; and some who are published here for the first time in this landmark volume.

What God is Honored Here?: Writings on Miscarriage & Infant Loss by and for Native Women and Women of Color, by Shannon Gibney (Editor), Kao Kalia Yang

What God Is Honored Here? is the first book of its kind—and urgently necessary. This is a literary collection of voices of Indigenous women and women of color who have undergone miscarriage and infant loss, experiences that disproportionately affect women who have often been cast toward the margins in the United States of America.

From the story of dashed cultural expectations in an interracial marriage to poems that speak of loss across generations, from harrowing accounts of misdiagnoses, ectopic pregnancies, and late-term stillbirths to the poignant chronicles of miscarriages and mysterious infant deaths, What God Is Honored Here? brings women together to speak to one another about the traumas and tragedies of womanhood. In its heartbreaking beauty, this book offers an integral perspective on how culture and religion, spirit and body, unite in the reproductive lives of women of color and Indigenous women as they bear witness to loss, search for what is not there, and claim for themselves and others their fundamental humanity. Powerfully and with brutal honesty, they write about what it means to reclaim life in the face of death.

Editors Shannon Gibney and Kao Kalia Yang acknowledge “who we had been could not have prepared us for who we would become in the wake of these words,” yet the writings collected here offer insight, comfort, and, finally, hope for all those who, like the women gathered here, have found grief a lonely place.

*Art of Feminism: Images that shaped the fight for equality, 1857-2017, by Helena Reckitt (Editor), Lucinda Gosling (Goodreads Author), Hilary Robinson, Amy Tobin, Xabier Arakistain (Foreword), Maria Balshaw (Preface)

Art and feminism: Once again, women are on the march. And since its inception in the 19th century, the women’s movement has harnessed the power of images to transmit messages of social change and equality to the world.

A comprehensive international survey of feminist art: From highlighting the posters of the Suffrage Atelier, through the radical art of Judy Chicago and Carrie Mae Weems, to the cutting-edge work of Sethembile Msezane and Andrea Bowers, The Art of Feminism traces the way feminists have shaped visual arts and media throughout history.

Feminism and art history: Featuring more than 350 works of art, illustration, photography, performance, and graphic design-along with essays examining the legacy of the radical canon-this rich volume showcases the vibrancy of the feminist aesthetic over the last 150 years.

Young Adult

*I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai, Christina Lamb

I come from a country that was created at midnight. When I almost died it was just after midday.

When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.

On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive.

Instead, Malala’s miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

I Am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls’ education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Tales of Extraordinary Women, by Elena Favilli, Francesca Cavallo

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls is a children’s book packed with 100 bedtime stories about the life of 100 extraordinary women from the past and the present, illustrated by 60 female artists from all over the world. This book inspires girls with the stories of great women, from Elizabeth I to Serena Williams.

*Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson

Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.

Women in Sports: 50 fearless athletes who play to win, Rachel Ignotofsky

Women in Sports highlights notable women’s contributions to competitive athletics to inspire readers young and old. Keeping girls interested in sports has never been more important: research suggests that girls who play sports get better grades and have higher self-esteem–but girls are six times more likely to quit playing sports than boys and are unlikely to see female athlete role models in the media. A fascinating collection full of striking, singular art, Women in Sports features 50 profiles and illustrated portraits of women athletes from the 1800s to today including trailblazers, Olympians, and record-breakers in more than 40 different sports. The book also contains infographics about relevant topics such as muscle anatomy, a timeline of women’s participation in sports, statistics about women in athletics, and influential female teams.

*Women in Science: 50 fearless Pioneers who changed the World, Rachel Ignotofsky

Women in Science highlights the contributions of fifty notable women to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) from the ancient to the modern world. Full of striking, singular art, this collection also contains infographics about relevant topics such as lab equipment, rates of women currently working in STEM fields, and an illustrated scientific glossary. The women profiled include well-known figures like primatologist Jane Goodall, as well as lesser-known pioneers such as Katherine Johnson, the African-American physicist and mathematician who calculated the trajectory of the 1969 Apollo 11 mission to the moon.

*Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott

Generations of readers young and old, male and female, have fallen in love with the March sisters of Louisa May Alcott’s most popular and enduring novel, Little Women. Here are talented tomboy and author-to-be Jo, tragically frail Beth, beautiful Meg, and romantic, spoiled Amy, united in their devotion to each other and their struggles to survive in New England during the Civil War.

It is no secret that Alcott based Little Women on her own early life. While her father, the freethinking reformer and abolitionist Bronson Alcott, hobnobbed with such eminent male authors as Emerson, Thoreau, and Hawthorne, Louisa supported herself and her sisters with “woman’s work,” including sewing, doing laundry, and acting as a domestic servant. But she soon discovered she could make more money writing. Little Women brought her lasting fame and fortune, and far from being the “girl’s book” her publisher requested, it explores such timeless themes as love and death, war and peace, the conflict between personal ambition and family responsibilities, and the clash of cultures between Europe and America.

Dead Feminists: Historic Heroines in Living Color, by Chandler O’Leary, Jessica Spring, Jill Lepore (Foreword)

This gorgeously illustrated letterpress-inspired book combines feminist history with a vision for a better future. Based on the beloved Dead Feminists letterpress poster series, this illuminating look at 27 women who ve changed the world features a foreword by Jill Lepore, author of The Secret History of Wonder Woman. Intricate and beautiful broadside art takes center stage in this richly visual book that ties inspiring women and the challenges they faced to today s most important issues. The book revisits the original posters plus adds new art, archival photographs, and ephemera to tell the stories of feminists such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Gwendolyn Brooks, Rachel Carson, and more. Dead Feminists takes feminist inspiration to a new level of artistry and shows how ordinary and extraordinary women have made a difference throughout history (and how you can too).

Children’s

Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed, illustrated by Stasia Burrington

When young Mae Jemison is asked by her teacher what she wants to be when she grows up, African American Mae tells her mostly white classmates that she wants to be an astronaut, a dream that her parents wholeheartedly support.

Grace Hooper: Queen of Computer Code by Laurie Wllmark

“If you’ve got a good idea, and you know it’s going to work, go ahead and do it.”

The picture book biography of Grace Hopper—the boundary-breaking woman who revolutionized computer science.

Who was Grace Hopper? A software tester, workplace jester, cherished mentor, ace inventor, avid reader, naval leader— AND rule breaker, chance taker, and troublemaker. Grace Hopper coined the term “computer bug” and taught computers to “speak English,” and throughout her life succeeded in doing what no one had ever done before. Delighting in difficult ideas and in defying expectations, the insatiably curious Hopper truly is “Amazing Grace” . . . and a role model for science- and math-minded girls and boys.

She Persisted, by Chelsea Clinton

Like mother, like daughter! Chelsea’s picture book about women throughout history who have persisted during difficult times is inspiring and informative. Learn the stories of women such as Ruby Bridges, who triumphed during the Civil Rights Movement; Helen Keller, who owned her identity as a disabled woman and refused to let others define her abilities; Oprah Winfrey, media mogul and the first black female billionaire, and more!

Feminist Baby! by Loryn Brantz

Meet the irrepressible Feminist Baby! She’s funny, fearless, and wants to make as much noise as possible. Readers of all ages will love this smart, refreshing board book that explores feminism in an accessible way.

A is for Awesome: 23 Iconic Women Who Changed the World by Eva Chen, illustrated by Derek Desierto

Why stick with plain old A, B, C when you can have Amelia (Earhart), Malala, Tina (Turner), Ruth (Bader Ginsburg), all the way to eXtraordinary You–and the Zillion of adventures you will go on? Instagram superstar Eva Chen, author of Juno Valentine and the Magical Shoes, is back with an alphabet board book depicting feminist icons in A Is for Awesome: 23 Iconic Women Who Changed the World, featuring spirited illustrations by Derek Desierto.

Amelia to Zora: Twenty-Six Women Who Changed the World

by Cynthia Chin-Lee, Megan Halsey (Illustrator), Sean Addy (Illustrator)

Twenty-six amazing women; twenty-six amazing stories. From Amelia Earhart, pilot and adventurer, to Zora Neale Hurston, writer and anthropologist, learn about the hardships and triumphs that inspired each woman to change the world around her. Detailed collages and illustrations draw from various events in the women’s lives.

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