Say hello to our favorite literary genre: badass women.
Women’s History Month shines a light on the women who have pushed boundaries. And we can’t help but want to celebrate those women who like to cause a little trouble. Here you’ll find a list of books that stoke the fires in our rebel hearts. Books that call their readers to action. Stories that draw us into the questions that come with our sex. Inspiration for boundary-crossing, ceiling-shattering, rally-cry-garnering bad behavior of generations of rebel women who came before us, whose work we still endeavor to do, whose torches we still carry.
She the People by Jen Deaderick
Description: A sweeping, smart, and smart-ass graphic history of women’s ongoing quest for equality.
In March 2017, Nevada surprised the rest of America by suddenly ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment. Yes, that date is correct. Thirty-five years after the deadline had passed. Hey, better late than never, right? Then, lo and behold, a few months later, Illinois followed suit. Hurrah for the Land of Lincoln!
That left the ERA just one state short of the congressional minimum for ratification. One state–and a legacy of shame–are what stand between American women and full equality.
She the People takes on the campaign for change by offering a cheekily illustrated, sometimes sarcastic, and all-too-true account of women’s evolving rights and citizenship. It’s divided into twelve historical periods between 1776 and today. Journalist, historian, and activist, Jen Deaderick, takes readers on a walk down the ERA’s rocky road. She shows us what it took to become part of our Constitution by highlighting changes in the legal status of women alongside the significant cultural and social influences of the time, so women’s history is revealed as an integral part of U.S. history, and not a tangential sideline.
Clever and dynamic, She the People is informative, entertaining, and a vital reminder that women still aren’t fully accepted as equal citizens in America.
Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud by Anne Helen Petersen
Description: From celebrity gossip expert and BuzzFeed culture writer Anne Helen Petersen, a bold, accessible, and analytical look at how female celebrities are pushing society’s boundaries.
You know the type: the woman who won’t shut up, who’s too brazen, too opinionated—too much. Sometimes she’s the life of the party; other times she’s the center of gossip. She’s the unruly woman, and she’s one of the most provocative, powerful forms of womanhood today.
There have been unruly women for as long as there have been boundaries of what constitutes acceptable “feminine” behavior, but there’s evidence that she’s on the rise–more visible and less easily dismissed. In Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud, Anne Helen Petersen uses the lens of “unruliness” to explore the ascension of contemporary pop culture powerhouses, from Serena Williams to Kim Kardashian to Hillary Clinton. Petersen explores why the public loves to love (and hate) these controversial figures, each of who has been conceived as “too” something: too queer, too strong, too honest, too old, too pregnant, too shrill, too much. With its brisk, incisve analysis, Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud is a conversation-starting book on what makes and breaks famous women today.
A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
Description: Virginia Woolf’s landmark inquiry into women’s role in society.
In A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf imagines that Shakespeare had a sister—a sister equal to Shakespeare in talent, and equal in genius, but whose legacy is radically different. This imaginary woman never writes a word and dies by her own hand, her genius unexpressed. If only she had found the means to create, argues Woolf, she would have reached the same heights as her immortal sibling. In this classic essay, she takes on the establishment, using her gift of language to dissect the world around her and give voice to those who are without. Her message is a simple one: women must have a fixed income and a room of their own in order to have the freedom to create.
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Description: The Bell Jar chronicles the crack-up of Esther Greenwood: brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under — maybe for the last time. Sylvia Plath masterfully draws the reader into Esther’s breakdown with such intensity that Esther’s insanity. It becomes completely real and even as rational of an experience as going to the movies. Such deep penetration into the dark and harrowing corners of the psyche is an extraordinary accomplishment. The Bell Jar is a haunting American classic.
This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.
She is Fierce: Brave, Bold, and Beautiful Poems by Women by Ana Sampson
Description: A stunning book containing 150 bold, brave and beautiful poems by women – from classic, well loved poets to innovative and bold modern voices. These voices deserve to be heard. They are the voices of suffragettes, school girls, civil rights activists, aristocratic ladies, kitchen maids and more.
Collected by anthologist Ana Sampson She is Fierce: Brave, Bold and Beautiful Poems by Women contains an inclusive array of voices, from modern and contemporary poets. Immerse yourself in poems from Maya Angelou, Nikita Gill, Wendy Cope, Ysra Daley-Ward, Emily Bronte, Carol Ann Duffy, Fleur Adcock, Liz Berry, Jackie Kay, Hollie McNish, Imtiaz Dharker, Helen Dunmore, Emily Dickinson, Mary Oliver, Christina Rossetti, Margaret Atwood and Dorothy Parker, to name but a few!
Featuring short biographies of each poet, She is Fierce is a stunning collection and an essential addition to any bookshelf.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Description: Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets. Signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant. Due to an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable.
Offred can remember the days before, when she lived and made love with her husband Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge.
Funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing, The Handmaid’s Tale is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and literary tour de force.
The Women’s Suffrage Movement by Sally Roesch
Description: An intersectional anthology of works by the known and unknown women that shaped and established the suffrage movement, in time for the 2020 centennial of women’s right to vote, with a foreword by Gloria Steinem.
Comprised of historical texts spanning two centuries, The Women’s Suffrage Movement is a comprehensive and singular volume with a distinctive focus on incorporating race, class, and gender, and illuminating minority voices. This one-of-a-kind intersectional anthology features the writings of the most well-known suffragists, such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, alongside accounts of those often overlooked because of their race, from Native American women to African American suffragists like Ida B. Wells and the three Forten sisters. At a time of enormous political and social upheaval, there could be no more important book. The Women’s Suffrage Movement recognizes a group of exemplary women–in their own words–as they paved the way for future generations. The editor, Sally Roesch Wagner, is a pre-eminent scholar of the diverse backbone of the women’s suffrage movement, the founding director of the Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation, and serves on the New York State Women’s Suffrage Commission.
Voices of Powerful Women by Zoe Sallis
Description: A fantastically inspiring collection of interviews with 40 successful and empowering women, including Maya Angelou, Isabel Allende, Mary Robinson and Shami Chakrabati, exploring their challenges and achievements.
In this empowering book, 40 amazing women showcase how they’ve exerted an influence on others in many different ways. They discuss their work, their achievements, their hopes and their fears. It offers women everywhere inspiration and optimism for the future through their fascinating explanations of what they have achieved. It features politicians, environmentalists, humanitarians, entrepreneurs, musicians, artists, actors, world leaders and Nobel Peace Prize winners. The book encourages readers to believe that they can achieve their greatest ambitions and help change the world.
Voices of Powerful Women is structured around ten questions, with the 40 interviewees providing a pithy and insightful answer to each one. Topics range from influential early experiences, inspirations in life and most admired female figures. It also dips into causes of anger, greatest fears, how to change the world and advice for the younger generation.
Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez
Description: Data is fundamental to the modern world. From economic development, to healthcare. To education and public policy. We rely on numbers to allocate resources and make crucial decisions. So much data fails to take into account gender, because it treats men as the default and women as atypical. It points out the bias and discrimination that is baked into our systems. And women pay tremendous costs for this bias, in time, money, and often with their lives.
Celebrated feminist advocate Caroline Criado Perez investigates the shocking root cause of gender inequality and research in Invisible Women, diving into women’s lives at home, the workplace, the public square, the doctor’s office, and more. Invisible Women is built from studies all around the world with energy, wit, and sparkling intelligence. This is a groundbreaking, unforgettable exposé. It will completely change the way you look at the world.