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Former first lady Michelle Obama walks on stage during a stop on her book tour for "Becoming," in Washington, Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

> The Listicles

10 Brilliant Books for International Women’s Day

From iconic influential texts to recently published classics-in-the-making, these books speak to the breadth of the female experience. / BY Athena McKenzie / March 5th, 2021

To celebrate International Women’s Day (March 8), we’re sharing books written by or about inspiring women. From iconic influential texts to recently published classics-in-the-making — including an activist’s memoir, a psychological thriller about motherhood and a satisfying collection of essays about anger — these books speak to the breadth of the female experience.

Obsessive Book Buyers: Zoomer editors have carefully curated our book coverage to ensure you find the perfect read. We may earn a commission on books you buy by clicking on the cover image. 

1Becoming Michelle Obama

This inspiring memoir by the former First Lady of the United States — which chronicles her journey from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her time spent at the White House — was a publishing sensation when it came out two years ago, selling more than 14 million copies worldwide, earning multiple awards and even winning a Grammy for its audio version. This month sees two new editions: a paperback with a new introduction by Michelle Obama, a letter from the author to her younger self, and a book club guide with 20 discussion questions and a 5-question Q&A; and a Young Readers edition adapted for children ages 10 and up.

2Recollections of My NonexistenceRebecca Solnit

While all books on Solnit’s backlist are worth reading for their well-articulated feminist perspective (especially Men Explain Things to Me) her latest recounts her formative years in 1980s San Francisco. Detailing the epidemic of violence against women around her, and the authority figures and police who routinely discounted the stories of girls and women — including her —  she shares her growth as a writer, feminist, activist and a public voice for women’s rights.

3Burn it Down: Women Writing About AngerLilly Dancyger

In this cathartic collection of essays, 22 writers explore how anger has shaped their lives in a society that trivializes this emotion in women. Dealing with a range of issues, from racism to being dismissed in the medical system, restrictive gender norms to sexual abuse, these essays argue that women’s anger often grows out of pain, trauma and injustice.

4I’m Afraid of MenVivek Shraya

Vivek Shraya’s memoir gives a trans perspective on the Me Too movement. In exploring how masculinity was imposed on her as a boy and continues to haunt her as a girl, Shraya delves into the cumulative damage caused by misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia. It’s also an informative read about how we might reimagine gender for the twenty-first century.

5The PushAshley Audrain

Motherhood is a theme often explored in books about women and feminism and The Push uses a fictional approach to dig into the darker side of the subject. A page-turner of a psychological thriller narrated by Blythe Connor, an aspiring writer who gave up her career to be a stay at home mom. While she is determined to be the loving mother she never had, Blythe doesn’t connect with her daughter at all, and becomes convinced something is dangerously wrong with her little girl.

6UntamedGlennan Doyle

Activist, speaker, and the author of the two previous best-selling memoirs Love Warrior and Carry On, Warrior, Doyle achieved stratospheric success with Untamed, boasting vocal fans such as Oprah, Adele and Elizabeth Gilbert. Building on Doyle’s previous memoirs, she shares her journey of self discovery as she divorces her husband and falls in love with a woman, Olympic soccer star Abby Wambach. Doyle’s compelling voice and the book’s empowering underlying message are at the root of its popularity: women need to “untame ourselves” and live free from societal confines and ideas about how we should live our lives, and learn to listen to and respect our inner voices.

7We Should All be FeministsChimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Based on Adichie’s TED talk of the same name, We Should All be Feminists draws on the author’s personal experience before looking to the broader world, to support her argument that we still need feminism — and why each and every person should be a feminist. She writes: “Some people ask: ‘Why the word feminist? Why not just say you are a believer in human rights, or something like that?’ Because that would be dishonest. Feminism is, of course, part of human rights in general—but to choose to use the vague expression human rights is to deny the specific and particular problem of gender. It would be a way of pretending that it was not women who have, for centuries, been excluded. It would be a way of denying that the problem of gender targets women.”

8Can You Hear Me Now? How I Found My Voice and Learned to Live with Passion and PurposeCelina Caesar-Chavannes

In her memoir, the former Member of Parliament for Whitby and Parliamentary Secretary to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau chronicles the racist attacks and political tokenism that lead to her not seeking reelection. As she writes, “This is not your typical leadership book where the person is placed in a situation and miraculously comes up with the right response for the wicked problem. This is the story of me falling in love, at last, with who I am, and finding my voice in the unlikeliest of places.”

9A Room of One’s OwnVirginia Woolf

Published in 1929, Woolf’s iconic essay is considered one of the foundational pieces of feminist writing. It argued against the established viewpoint of the time that women were inferior writers because of their gender. Pointing to the vast, systemic education and economic failures that stifled women writers, the piece is sadly still relevant and Woolf’s sharp wit still lands with a satisfying potency.

10The Soul of a WomanIsabel Allende

“When I say that I was a feminist in kindergarten, I am not exaggerating,” begins Isabel Allende in her new memoir. As a child, Allende watched her mother, abandoned by her husband, provide for her three small children without resources or voice. Determined to fight for a life her mother couldn’t have, Allende embraced the second wave of feminism in the 1960s. Her book  explores what the movement has achieved in the course of her lifetime and she hopes to “light the torches of our daughters and granddaughters with mine. They will have to live for us, as we lived for our mothers, and carry on with the work still left to be finished.”


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