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Ten Books for Women's Equality Day
Read, reflect, and recharge your commitment to a more equal world.
August 26th is Women's Equality Day, which commemorates the adoption of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, granting women the right to vote. This day is a reminder of how long the fight for gender equality has been going on and how far we've come.
Today I'm sharing ten new titles that celebrate the pioneers, past and present, who have made significant contributions to women's rights and continue to inspire us. These books shed light on the untold stories of trailblazing women from different fields such as politics, science, art, and activism. They serve as a powerful reminder of the importance of recognizing and honoring the achievements of women throughout history.
Woman, Captain, Rebel: The Extraordinary True Story of a Daring Icelandic Sea Captain by Margaret Willson (1/31/23) Sourcebooks | A brave and beautiful historical narrative nonfiction book about Iceland's most famous female sea captain, who fought for women's rights and equality and solved one of the country's most famous robberies.
The Exceptions: Nancy Hopkins, MIT, and the Fight for Women in Science by Kate Zernike (2/28/23) Scribner | From the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who broke the story, The Exceptions chronicles groundbreaking science and a history-making fight for equal opportunity. It is the "excellent and infuriating" (The New York Times) story of how this group of determined, brilliant women used the power of the collective and the tools of science to inspire ongoing radical change.
Fearless Women: Feminist Patriots from Abigail Adams to Beyoncé by Elizabeth Cobbs (3/7/23) Belknap Press | Many of these women devoted their lives to the cause--some are famous—but most pressed their demands far from the spotlight, insisting on their right to vote, sit on a jury, control the timing of their pregnancies, enjoy equal partnerships, or earn a living. At every step, they faced fierce opposition. Elizabeth Cobbs gives voice to fearless women on both sides of the aisle, most of whom consider themselves patriots. Rich and poor, from all backgrounds and regions, they show that the women's movement has never been an exclusive club.
Flowers of Fire: The Inside Story of South Korea's Feminist Movement and What It Means for Women's Rights Worldwide by Hawon Jung (3/7/23) BenBella Books | Flowers of Fire takes the reader into the trenches of this fight for equality, following along as South Korean activists march on the streets, navigate public and private spaces where spycam porn crimes are rampant, and share tips and tricks with each other as they learn how to protect themselves from harassment and how to push authorities to act.
Undaunted: How Women Changed American Journalism by Brooke Kroeger (5/16/23) Knopf Publishing Group | Undaunted is a representative history of the American women who surmounted every impediment put in their way to do journalism's most valued work. From Margaret Fuller's improbable success to the highly paid reporters of the mid-nineteenth century to the breakthrough investigative triumphs of Nellie Bly, Ida Tarbell, and Ida B. Wells, Brooke Kroeger examines the lives of the best-remembered and long-forgotten women journalists.
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Mom Rage: The Everyday Crisis of Modern Motherhood by Minna Dubin (9/19/23) Seal Press | A frank, feminist examination of the hidden crisis of rage facing American mothers—and how we can fix it. Mothers aren't supposed to be angry. Still, Minna Dubin was an angry mom. She would find herself yelling at her child or exploding at her husband because she was exhausted from the arduous, thankless work of full-time parenting and feeling her career slip away. When Dubin pushed past her shame and talked with other mothers about how she was feeling, she realized that she was far from alone.
The Power of Days: A Story of Resilience, Dignity, and the Fight for Women's Equity by Celeste Mergens (10/3/23) BenBella Books | Written in short, evocative chapters, The Power of Days tells the story of Mergens's quest to rally a global response to elevate menstrual health, increase universal access to menstrual supplies, shatter stigma through education, and advocate for global policy change. Raised in poverty by a mentally ill parent, Mergens learned early on that building the life she wanted would take equal parts determination and humility, traits that led her to create the kinds of inclusive conversations and solutions she is known for around the globe.
The Feminist Killjoy Handbook: The Radical Potential of Getting in the Way by Sara Ahmed (10/3/23) Seal Press | In this book, feminist theorist Sara Ahmed shows how killing joy can be a radical world-making project. Presenting a sharp analysis of literature, film, and influential feminist works, and drawing on her own experiences as a queer feminist scholar-activist of color, Ahmed reveals the invaluable lessons of the feminist killjoy, from the importance of asking questions to the power of the eye roll.
She's a Badass: Women in Rock Shaping Feminism by Katherine Yeske Taylor (12/15/23) Backbeat Books | In She's a Badass, music journalist Katherine Yeske Taylor interviews twenty significant women in rock, devoting an entire chapter to each one, taking an in-depth look at the incredible talent, determination, and, often, humor they needed to succeed in their careers (and lives). Interviewees range from legendary artists through notable up-and-comers, including Ann Wilson (Heart), Gina Schock (The Go-Go's), Suzanne Vega, Amy Ray (Indigo Girls), Orianthi, Amanda Palmer, and more.
Housewife: Why Women Still Do It All and What to Do Instead by Lisa Selin Davis (3/5/24) Legacy Lit | Lisa Selin Davis, known for her smart, viral, feminist, and cultural takes, argues that the "breadwinner vs. homemaker" divide is a myth. She charts examples from prehistoric female hunters to working class housewives in the 1930s, from First Ladies to 21st century stay-at-home moms, on a search for answers to the problems of what is referred to as women's work and motherhood. Davis discovers that women have been sold a lie about what families should be. “Housewife” unveils the truth: interdependence, rather than independence, is the American way.
These books also highlight the ongoing challenges and barriers that women face in their pursuit of equality, reminding us that the fight is far from over. By amplifying the voices and stories of these remarkable women, we can inspire future generations to continue the fight for gender equality and create a more inclusive society for all.
Amidst the stories of women's rights and equality, which book from the list speaks to you personally, and why?
Looking to expand your knowledge on this subject? This is only a small selection of the nonfiction books that I've compiled on this subject; there are many more available that go into greater depth on women’s history.
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