Marching Forward: A Women’s History Month Reading List
This Women’s History Month, we are reminded of how far we have come in improving women’s rights and equality, and how far we must go to ensure equality for all, especially across the gender spectrum and beyond traditional understandings of gender binaries.
This month’s reading list is a compilation of stories about and by women of numerous time periods and backgrounds, ranging from nonfiction accounts of individual lives, to sweeping histories and narratives, to collections of deeply felt poetry. As we mark the history of women’s contributions and achievements, we hope you’ll be inspired by this list to seek out even more stories of women’s perspectives and experiences.
The Unfinished Revolution tells the story of the global struggle to secure basic rights for women and girls in various countries. This book brings to light numerous women’s rights issues all across the world, particularly in the Middle East, and tries to offer new approaches to the problems affecting hundreds of millions of women.
March Forward Girl: From Young Warrior to Little Rock Nine is the childhood memoir of civil rights champion Melba Patillo Beals. Long before she was one of the Little Rock Nine, Beals began questioning the restrictions placed on her rights and allotted place in life as a young Black girl. March Forward Girl tells the story of Beals’s journey to becoming an acclaimed journalist, bestselling author, and recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal.
This international bestseller and modern classic tells the story of Pope Joan, the ninth-century woman who, as legend has it, became the only woman ever to become the pope. In this riveting tale, Cross paints a sweeping portrait of an indomitable heroine who rises above the restrictions of her time to wield unimaginable power—and the price she had to pay for her ambition.
Sula charts the complex and compelling relationship of childhood best friends Nel Wright and Sula Peace. From their close-knit girlhood days to their divergent journeys as women, Morrison creates an unforgettable portrait of what it means and costs to be a Black woman in the United States.
“I’m afraid of men because it was men who taught me fear,” Vivek Shraya’s memoir begins. In this startling and moving book, Shraya braids together elements of memoir and essay to explore the impact that misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia have had on her life. But with unflinching honesty and humor, Shraya also takes ownership over her history, experiences, and relationship to masculinity, ultimately offering a way out of the harm inflicted by traditional concepts of gender.
Fatimah Asghar’s debut poetry collection If They Come for Us portrays the experiences of being a young Pakistani Muslim woman in the current-day United States. Orphaned as a child, Asghar’s poems grapple with coming of age without parental guidance, seamlessly weaving history with her own understanding of identity, place, violence, and belonging. Through experimental forms, as well as lyrical and raw language, Asghar’s poems carve out a space for anguish, joy, vulnerability, and compassion to coexist.
A Black Women’s History of the United States is a revised history of America, from the point of view of a demographic that has been silenced and suppressed since the country’s origin. This book traces the history of the communities created by and for Black women, as well as the stories of the notable figures who upheld their own Black womanhood throughout their lives. By centering the Black women of the United States in the country’s history, a clear narrative of perseverance, strength, and love emerges, despite centuries of tragedy and violence.
While many of the books on this list document women’s history in a way that directly addresses real-world events, Tillie Walden’s On a Sunbeam looks far into the future to see what may become of our society in the deep reaches of space. Featuring a story with only one non-female character (a nonbinary engineer who chooses not to speak), the over-500-page graphic novel speaks to the possibilities of a new world, the timeless nature of communities that accept and understand one another’s hardships, and the countless ways that love propels us further into the unknown.
In 1987, Alegría created this wholly unique and emotionally affecting work, combining elements of poetry and fictional narrative with an autobiographical account of Latin American history that contains more emotion and honesty in its 164 pages than some other novels attempt in many more. Each vignette is suffused with an intricate, otherworldly beauty, and between the lines is a history worth deciphering.