It’s official — March may just be the best month of the year. Not only is it a time dedicated to paying tribute to the amazing and powerful women in our lives with Women’s History Month, but it is also National Reading Month.
Many of history’s most notable literary works by women were written under male nom de plumes, or gender ambiguous pseudonyms that allowed female authors to publish their works without fear of judgment or prejudice. Even some of today’s most cherished authors, such as J.K. Rowling and Robyn Thurman, have employed nom de plumes during their career.
So, it’s only fitting that to pay recognition to both women and books, we’d supply you with this list of necessary reading, from a critical look at today’s feminist movement to the first-ever book by an Omani woman to be translated into English.
- “Celestial Bodies” by Jokha Alharthi
Groundbreaking for many reasons is the book “Celestial Bodies” by Jokha Alharthi, the first Omani woman to have a novel translated into English. The novel follows the drastically different lives of three sisters, also offering readers a glimpse into the rapidly changing society within Oman. It’s the first book translated from the Arabic to win the Man Booker International Prize.
- “Three Women” by Lisa Taddeo
This work of nonfiction by Lisa Taddeo is the riveting true story about the sex lives of three American women. Taddeo spent eight years following the stories of these women, resulting in what is being called the deepest nonfiction portrait of desire ever written.
- “Overground Railroad” by Candacy Taylor
Published from 1936 to 1966, the Green Book was hailed as the “black travel guide to America” during a time when it was very dangerous and difficult for African Americans to travel. Taylor’s “Overground Railroad” is the first book to explore the historical role and residual impact of the Green Book, retracing its history and setting out on her own cross-country trip to scout the nearly 5,000 locations named in the guide.
- “Hood Feminism” by Mikki Kendall
Kendall’s “Hood Feminism” takes a critical magnifying glass to mainstream feminism and what she believes to be its “glaring blind spot,” asserting that the goals of feminism today only seek to benefit the few. How can we stand in solidarity as a movement, Kendall asks, when there is the distinct likelihood that some women are oppressing others?
- “How Could She” by Lauren Mechling
“How Could She” is a dark comedy that investigates adult female friendships. The novel follows the story of three old friends, two who live seemingly glamorous lives in New York City and one, Geraldine, who is going through a breakup in Toronto. Geraldine then moves to NYC, and it isn’t long before the facade she once imagined about her friends’ lives begins to crack.
- “La Paloma Y La Ley” by Lisette Poole
This extremely visual book by photographer Lisette Poole follows two women, Marta and Liset, who left Cuba in May 2016 with no plan, just the name of a coyote — a human smuggler — scribbled on a piece of paper and a dream to make it to the US. They hoped to arrive before the imminent end of “wet foot, dry foot,” a policy that fast-tracked Cubans to asylum and permanent residency. “La Paloma Y La Ley” is an intimate, hard to fathom look into their 51-day journey through 13 countries, across 10 borders and six days in the Darien Gap — a roadless stretch of jungle between Colombia and Panama, trying to make it to the place where they can find the American dream.
- “The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World” by Melinda Gates
Melinda Gates, one of the most powerful women in the world and co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, shares lessons she's learned from the inspiring people she's met during her work and travels around the world in “The Moment of Lift.” Gates uses personal anecdotes, tells the stories of her heroes in the movement towards equality and illustrates her points with some pretty startling data.