Women's history is human history. But all too often, the lives of women get left out of school textbooks. To learn about some of the most influential women from the past, you have to seek it out yourself — and it's not always easy to find. With this in mind, we decided to make things a little easier by putting together a list of history books about women by women that will offer a much needed HERstory lesson.
These books cover feminist history, queer history, and every history in between. There are books about women who changed science forever (looking at you, Henrietta Lacks!). And collections of essays by Roxane Gay and political activist Angela Davis that grapple with pop culture's effect on social change.
Some of these books delve deep into the past, like the social history of female friendship that starts with the Bible. While others tackle more recent history, like Chanel Miller's Know My Name: A Memoir, which reckons with rape culture in the age of #MeToo. We bet that a lot of these books will introduce you to someone you've never heard of before. Don't worry, it's never too late to learn about the women who've been running this world and get inspired!
by Glennon Doyle
In this 2020 memoir, Doyle details the events that led to her breaking free from the expectations the world put on her and finally living the life she was meant to live.
The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks
by Rebecca Skloot
The 2010 book looks at how Henrietta Lacks' cervical cancer cells changed science forever and the ethical issues surrounding how they were taken from her.
Crown The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, $, available at Amazon
Know My Name: A Memoir
by Chanel Miller
Formerly known as Emily Doe," the victim in the Brock Turner rape case, Miller shared her story in this powerful 2019 memoir that is focused on survival.
Viking Press Know My Name: A Memoir, $, available at Amazon
Women, Culture & Politics
by Angela Y. Davis
This 1990 collection of essays and speeches from the political activist is focused on racial, sexual, and economic change.
Vintage Women, Culture & Politics, $, available at Amazon
The Social Sex: A History of Female Friendship
by Marilyn Yalom
Better understand the dynamics of your girl squad with help from this 2015 book that looks at why some female bonds just can't be broken.
Harper Perennial The Social Sex: A History of Female Friendship, $, available at Amazon
Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science — and the World
by Rachel Swaby
Get ready to become well-acquainted with these history-making female scientists that fill this 2015 collection.
Broadway Books Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science-and the World, $, available at Amazon
Florynce “Flo” Kennedy: The Life of a Black Feminist Radical
by Sherie M. Randolph
Become familiar with this cowboy hat-wearing leader of the Black Power and feminist movement in this well-researched 2015 bio that shows the effect she's had on the culture.
The University of North Carolina Press Florynce "Flo" Kennedy: The Life of a Black Feminist, $, available at Amazon
Mr. President, How Long Must We Wait?: Alice Paul, Woodrow Wilson, and the Fight for the Right to Vote
by Tina Cassidy
The contentious relationship between the leading suffragist and the president is on full display in this 2019 book, but it's really about Alice Paul's lifelong dedication to women's equality.
37 INK Mr. President, How Long Must We Wait?: Alice Paul, Woodrow Wilson, and the Fight for the Right to Vote, $, available at Amazon
Bad Feminists: Essays
by Roxane Gay
The 2014 essay collection that covers politics, pop culture, and modern feminism reads more like a manifesto on why it's always good to be a little bad.
Harper Perennial Bad Feminist: Essays, $, available at Amazon
Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America
by Lillian Faderman
Columbia University Press Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America, $, available at Amazon
The Firebrand and the First Lady: Portrait of a Friendship: Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Struggle for Social Justice
by Patricia Bell-Scott
The 2016 book introduces readers to a Pauli Murray, a black and queer lawyer who struck up a friendship with the first lady. Murray's life, which was dedicated to fighting for justice, only gets more interesting from there.
Vintage The Firebrand and the First Lady: Portrait of a Friendship: Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Struggle for Social Justice, $, available at Amazon
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