A mix of old and (relatively) new titles that highlight the much-needed woman’s perspective
It’s true that we’ve made significant strides to make sure women are seen, heard and valued in equal measure to men, but there’s no denying that there’s a lot of work left to be done. As we celebrate Women’s Month, it’s our chance to take a look at the wins that propel us forward as a society—but also the challenges that still stand in our path. In many ways, these are both accounted for when we take a look at literature by women.
Ahead, powerful, life-changing bodies of work by female authors and personalities that deserve a spot on your bookshelf this year.
by Bernardine Evaristo
A joint winner of the Man Booker Prize in 2019, Bernardine Evaristo’s novel, Girl, Woman, Other, stitches together the lives of 12 women, all of whom walk different paths and enjoy different views on things like love, justice, privilege and purpose. It’s here where Evaristo beautifully unravels the complexities of womanhood. Through her superbly written characters, she seeks to answer the question: “What does it mean to be a woman?”
by Emily Ratajkowski
Emily Ratajkowski is taking back her body. In her collection of essays in My Body, the model and entrepreneur lays it all bare: the seeds about beauty and sexuality planted in her mind as a young girl, the commodification of women’s bodies, the power shifts in her industry and beyond that still need to be made in order to protect women and truly see them as equal. These explorations are all seen through her unique lens: aspiring model-turned-overnight sensation and Blurred Lines girl—all grown up and ready to speak truth to power.
by Chanel Miller
It’s the story that rocked headlines across the world and rightfully turned sexual predator Brock Turner into a pariah. But this isn’t about him. Know My Name is the powerful testimony of Chanel Miller, the survivor of the attack. In her memoir, she weaves together the different facets of society that make it difficult for survivors to come forward, for survivors to feel believed, and for survivors to get justice. Amid gut-wrenching accounts of Miller dealing with her trauma, she also presents hope in the unlikeliest of ways. Know My Name is a must-read for both men and women, young and old.
by bell hooks
In her exploration of radical love, late author and activist bell hooks implores readers to first unlearn the unhealthy perceptions they have of love—and there is much, indeed, to unlearn. All About Love: New Visions questions the different types of loving instilled in us at a young age that are essentially wrongly motivated by things like narcissism or domination. In it, she ponders what it’s like to return to real love: “To return to love, to get the love we always wanted but never had, to have the love we want but are not prepared to give, we seek romantic relationships,” says hooks. ‘We believe these relationships, more than any other, will rescue and redeem us. True love does have the power to redeem but only if we are ready for redemption. Love saves us only if we want to be saved.”
by Michelle Obama
Who is former First Lady Michelle Obama? Becoming is the retelling of one woman’s inspiring journey, from Chicago to the White House, that lets readers peer into her world, through her own words. Its pages are filled with stories of both trials and triumphs, painting a picture of what it’s like for a black African-American woman to try and make a name for herself—all this before she marries the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama.
A captivating read divided into three sections (Becoming Me, Becoming Us, and Becoming More), it also gives readers a glimpse of the purpose that drove her as the First Lady, and what kept her grounded as she and her family closed out their chapter at the White House.
by Melissa Febos
In this collection of essays, author Melissa Febos takes readers down seven different journeys on the girlhood-to-womanhood pipeline. What’s it like to cross that threshold as a woman in the United States? Febos intelligently revisits all the warning signs girls are made aware of (whether subconsciously or deliberately); the weight of being a woman; the unfair disadvantages made to be accepted as a normal way of life; and how society instills ideas of shame, desire, and liberation in women that are far different than those instilled in men.
by Audre Lorde
A formidable feminist figure, Audre Lorde in the ‘70s and ‘80s made waves for making clear one thing: feminism should be intersectional at all costs…otherwise, it isn’t feminism. Sister Outsider, a collection of Lorde’s essays and speeches, calls for the empowerment of women, bringing particular focus to minority sectors. She illuminates: “Black and Third World people are expected to educate white people as to our humanity. Women are expected to educate men. Lesbians and gay men are expected to educate the heterosexual world. The oppressors maintain their position and evade their responsibility for their own actions. There is a constant drain of energy which might be better used in redefining ourselves and devising realistic scenarios for altering the present and constructing the future.”
by Michelle Zauner
Michelle Zauner, better known as indie artist Japanese Breakfast, captivated audiences with her raw, heartfelt article on The New Yorker. Here, she begins: “Ever since my mom died, I cry in H Mart.” With her gut-wrenching way of articulating the experiences of love and longing, and how food augments the gaps of the grieving process, Zauner was tapped to expand the article into a gorgeous, must-read memoir bursting with life while tackling loss.
Who do you turn to for book recommendations? Up next: The Best Of Booktube: 5 YouTube Creators for Book Lovers.