Books to Celebrate Women’s History Month
March is Women’s History Month, and this woman-owned-and-staffed indie bookstore is celebrating in our usual style: By reading, reading, and reading. We’d love for you to join us, so we’ve collected a list of some recent staff favorites that celebrate women and their stories. Some of these stories are true; others are fiction. Some are historical; others contemporary. Each of them provides a glimpse into the lives of inspiring women and girls, throughout time, and across the world. We’ve included all ages in our list, as well as reviews from our merry band of booksellers. So whether you’re looking for yourself, for a friend, or for the young readers in your life, you’ll find just the right thing. Read on!
Amah Faraway by Margaret Chiu Greanias; illustrated by Tracy Subisak
Kylie and her mother fly to Taipei to see Kylie's Amah (grandmother). Kylie and Amah visit online each week, but everything seems so different in person. As Kylie becomes more used to being in Taiwan, she finds her favorite things among Amah's activities. A lovely book about connection for children with relatives who live far away, either in the US or elsewhere.
Fly by Brittany J. Thurman; illustrated by Anna Cunha
A sweetly told story of a young girl, Africa, who enters a double-dutch contest although she has no experience. While struggling to get the right moves, she draws on the knowledge from her grandma, a past double-dutch champ, and gets inspired from her friends and classmates. Africa's determination shines and you will be jumping for joy at this delightful, artfully designed story.
Courage by Freshta Tori Jan
This is the author's story of her life as a child in Afghanistan as the Taliban were coming back into power over the past dozen years. As a member of the Hazzari minority, Freshta and her family were persecuted by both the Taliban and other Afghanis, suffering both mental and physical abuse. Simply told, but with vivid descriptions of her experiences, this story reveals a personal side to what we have been hearing about in world news.
Solimar: The Sword of the Monarchs by Pam Munoz Ryan
Strong, spirited Solimar is soon to be crowned Princess of San Gregorio in Mexico, although she would rather be ruler than princess. Although forbidden to do so, she goes to greet the first wave of monarch butterflies on their annual migration. Solimar quickly realizes the butterflies have chosen her as their protector and bestowed the dubious gift of telling the near future.
A few days later, the avaricious king from the neighboring realm invades San Gregorio while the king and prince are away, holding the court and villagers hostage. Fortunately, Solimar manages to escape, but it is up to her to save the lives of her family, the subjects, her kingdom, and the monarchs from destruction.
— Jennifer G.
Ages 13 & Up
Call Me Athena: Girl from Detroit by Colby Cedar Smith
This is the story of Mary, an American-born daughter of Greek and French immigrants living in Detroit in the 1930s, who yearns for something more than the arranged marriage and conventional life her parents have in mind for her. Mary’s story is intertwined with a series of flashbacks to her mother’s earlier life in Northern France and her father’s earlier life in Greece, and how WWI eventually led them to each other. Written beautifully in verse, the language paints a vivid picture of the sights, sounds, and tastes of life in depression-era Detroit, Greece, and France in the early 1900s, and the battlefields and hospitals of WWI. The fact that the novel is loosely based on the author’s paternal grandmother makes it all the more wonderful.
An Emotion of Great Delight by Tahereh Mafi
In 2003, even after the post-9/11 scrutiny of her culture, Shadi still wears a hijab, which makes her a target as a Muslim-American at her high school. Recently abandoned by her best friend, Zahra, and struggling with intense family problems, this bright, caring young lady is barely existing. When she continues to cross paths with Ali, Zahra’s older brother, pressure in her world increases. Can Shadi, which translates to joy, maintain a head-down approach to life? Will her family’s issues overwhelm her? Beautifully written and tightly emotional, you will be pulled into this book. Highly recommended.
The Wonders by Elena Medel
What does feminism mean for working women? And how different are attitudes of 70-year olds and 30-year olds? In Spain? Maria was born in 1949 in Franco's Spain, was pregnant at 16, and left her newborn daughter with her mother and moved to Madrid to find work as a cleaner and personal caretaker, jobs she has been doing for well over 50 years. A second story line follows Alicia, born in 1985 to a middle class family, whose fortunes went south when her father committed suicide, forcing Alicia and her mother to find jobs to make ends meet. We follow the two women through their lives as they try to reconcile their commitment to the ideals of feminism and the realities of having to earn money to live. Alicia is Maria's granddaughter, though the two have never met until their paths cross briefly at the 2018 Women's March in Madrid. This is a realistic discussion of the lives of working women in Spain, their relationships with men, their desires for independence, and their attitudes about having children.
Honor by Thrity Umrigar
Umrigar's story of two women in today's India shows how the collision of cultural and religious values and the complexities of traditional social and political structures can wreak havoc on the human heart. Meena is a young woman from a Hindu village who defied family and community when she married a Muslim only to see him killed by her own brothers. Smita, an Indian American journalist, who left India 20 years ago, finds herself covering Meena's story for the press, following the trial of Meena's brothers. The longer she stays in India, the more she is drawn to the people she meets while having to face some of the demons from her childhood in Mumbai. From different social backgrounds, both Smita and Meena have to decide what they are willing to risk for love. It's an intriguing and thought-provoking look at the contradictions of modern India
The Tobacco Wives by Adele Myers
During the mid-1940s in North Carolina, young Maddie Sykes tries to find her way after being left with her aunt in a town where tobacco rules. As a talented seamstress, Maddie consults with many of the high society women while preparing their gowns for the numerous balls and festive season. While the fabric and dresses are bright and colorful, so are the array of characters on display. Historical women's issues take front and center as many jobs that were being held by women during the war begin to be unfairly pushed aside for the men that have returned. Being so young, Maddie's limited view of possibilities is opened and she experiences her first love. Maddie also discovers a letter with damning evidence about the tobacco industry. Will anyone believe her if she reveals this information? The Tobacco Wives is stitched together perfectly. A delightful read!
Read Dangerously by Azar Nafisi
An Iranian-American, who lived through the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Nafisi writes with passion about the role of literature in the lives of writers and readers. Because of her personal experiences in Iran, she is particularly attuned to a society's need to balance its responses and reactions to authoritarian political tendencies with questions and attempts through the written word to minimize unreasonable controls. Writing essays in the form of letters to her dead father, she cites examples from Plato and Socrates to Salman Rushdie, Ray Bradbury, Margaret Atwood, Zora Neal Hurston, James Baldwin, David Grossman, and others to illustrate the ways literature uses imagination to reveal truth and to make people understand that the world is not just black and white. As she did in Reading Lolita in Tehran, she provides both literary analysis of and inspiring insights from the works she discusses. Possibly the most memorable quotation comes from Zora Neale Hurston: "No, I don't weep for the world. I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife."
All In by Billie Jean King
Now in her late 70s, Billie Jean King looks back on her life in this candid chronicle of her experiences from childhood to superstar status to outspoken supporter of equality for women in sports. She really does go all in, including details of her physical and emotional struggles, her relationships, her sexuality, her many business ventures, and her campaigns for pay equity for women's professional sports. The writing style is conversational and personal, making this a fascinating story of a driven life and a good history of women's issues in the last half century. Recommended.
I Came All This Way to Meet You by Jami Attenberg
In this collection of essays, Attenberg reflects on her life experiences, her career as an author, and creativity, much of it through the lens of travel. She looks at jobs she's had, choices she's had to make and the experiences — challenging and joyous — that have made her the writer she is today. Her frankness will move readers as they reflect on the routes they have taken in their own lives.