I don’t think it has to be said that you should be reading books, and books by women, every month of the year. But, since March is Women’s History Month, you have an excuse to check out a few titles by some of our greatest female writers.
Below, you’ll find 6 suggestions for books written by women to crack open this month–I could have added about ten dozen more, but decided to list some of my recent faves (meaning past year) instead.
by Roxane Gay
Bad Feminist is a collection of sharp, hilarious, and insightful essays on the state of feminism today and Gay’s evolution as a woman of color. In her writing you can tell that she is growing to understand herself, our society, and calls to action all the ways we could do better. She literally touches on almost every subject in pop-culture and the media, so it’s extremely relatable and easy to read. I highly suggest following Roxane Gay on Twitter as she is one of the best at cultural observers of our generation.
Sidenote: I gave Rebecca this book to borrow and she left it a bus stop in Pilsen. She realized this while on her way home (up north) and returned to the bus stop to pick up the book. Rebecca rules. ❤
Reading Lolita in Tehran
by Azar Nafisi
For two years, Azar Nafisi gathered seven of her most dedicated female students in the Islamic Republic of Iran to read banned Western literature. The book gives us a glimpse of women’s lives in revolutionary Iran as her students came from different backgrounds—some were very conservative and religious, others were progressive, while others had spent time in jail. The book explores the resilience of oppression, the power of literature, and an unbreakable sisterhood.
By Toni Morrison
PSA: If you haven’t read Beloved get reading. Like, right now. If you haven’t read Beloved since high school, read it now. The book takes place in the years after the Civil War and is about a woman named Sethe who escaped slavery with her children. Due to Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, Sethe kills her youngest baby girl rather than having her recaptured and returned to the plantation that they escaped. Many years later a ghost woman, named Beloved begins to haunt Sethe. The ghost is believed to be the baby girl. Due to guilt Sethe begins loving and spoiling Beloved, however Beloved’s presence becomes tiring and defeating to Sethe. The book is one of most beautiful and haunting pieces of literature. Its themes include mother and daughter relationships, religion, and the psychological impacts of slavery.
Year of Magical Thinking
By Joan Didion
In this memoir Didion writes about her life after the sudden death of her husband, which she describes in the first few pages and about their daughter, Quintana Roo Dunne who becomes deathly ill. While sick and unconscious Dunne misses her father’s death. Dunne eventually recovers, but later dies of pancreatitis. The book reflects a lot on mourning and death. Much of the book was written while Didion was visiting her daughter in the hospital. Didion passed away shortly after completing this book
Woman Hollering Creek
By Sandra Cisneros
This short story follows Cleofilas, a young woman who moves from Mexico to Texas for marriage. In a very short time, her dreams of living in America happily are destroyed when her husband turns out to be abusive and a cheater. Close to where Cleofilas there is a river called Woman Hollering. Because of her experiences, she believes that the only time a woman hollers is when they’re angry or sad. As her life gets darker and more abusive, she begins to relate to the mourning that she sees in the river. Two women end up rescuing Cleofilas from her situation and on her way out of Texas and immediately Cleofilas feels joy.There are more aspects to this story-such as displacement after a woman leaves her abuser, oppression, La Llorona, and motherhood. This is a story that could be read over and over again.
Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza
A self-described “chicana dyke-feminist, tejana patlache poet, writer, and cultural theorist,” Gloria Anzaldúa was born in the 1940’s in south Texas. Her parents were sharecroppers and she experienced different forms of oppression throughout her life that would eventually shape her Chicana feminist views. Originally released in 1987, the book was a pioneering influence to postcolonial feminism. It introduced new Chicana feminist concepts to academia at a time when few feminists of color were being published. Borderlands/La Frontera isn’t always the easiest read. The first half is made up of some of her essays that are both historical and personal. The last half is a collection of her poetry. The book is written in English, Spanish, as well as Spanglish, this is done on purpose to share the experiences she has in life where language was a barrier.