Books About Women

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!

 

Untamed

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


This deep dive into lesbian culture is a must-read for anyone looking to be a queer history scholar.

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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