Women’s History Month has come to an end, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to stop celebrating great women. One way to recognize both the amazing accomplishments of women and the many setbacks women have faced throughout history is through reading about them.
1. “Pride & Prejudice” by Jane Austen
Jane Austen wrote the often adapted “Pride & Prejudice,” “Sense & Sensibility” and many other novels. Originally published anonymously, the works gained recognition among readers and scholars in the 20th century. Austen's plots often explore the dependence of women on marriage in the pursuit of favorable social standing and economic security during that time but she made many stubborn female characters who battle social norms in some way throughout her novels.
The novel follows the character development of Elizabeth Bennet, the dynamic protagonist of the book who learns about the repercussions of hasty judgments and comes to appreciate the difference between superficial goodness and actual goodness. The novel has a love story between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy where they start off with a distaste for each other, but witty remarks lead to romantic gestures.
2. “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott
“Little Women” is a coming-of-age novel originally published in two volumes in 1868 and 1869 that focuses on the relationships between the four March sisters as they grow up and approach different paths in life from marriage, careers, and motherhood. It is loosely based on the lives of the author and her three sisters.
3. “We Should All be Feminists” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
“We Should All Be Feminists” is a book-length essay by the Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The book focuses on the definition of feminism for the 21st century. The author argues about the use of the word “feminist” as some people feel it has a negative connotation associated with it.
4. “Phenomenal Woman: Four Poems Celebrating Women” by Maya Angelou
The poems in this short volume were published in several of Angelou's previous collections. "Phenomenal Woman," "Still I Rise" and "Our Grandmothers” appeared in “And Still I Rise” and "Weekend Glory" appeared in “Shaker, Why Don't You Sing?”
The volume was published a year after “The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou” was published, Angelou's first collection of poetry, and two years after she read her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" at President Bill Clinton's inauguration.
5. “My Own Words” by Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her biographers Mary Hartnett and Wendy W. Williams
Ruth Bader Ginsburg was an inspiration to many women as she was the second woman to become a Supreme Court justice. She represented a huge step for women in the U.S. until she passed away from cancer at the age of 87 last September. She remains a significant role model to many women.
The book is a collection of Ginsburg's speeches and writings dating back to the eighth grade.
6. “Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own” by Kate Bolick
Kate Bolick uses her own life experiences to discuss why she and so many other women remain unmarried despite marriage being a social norm. The author creates a book that is part memoir and part cultural exploration focused on being independent.
7. “Hidden Figures” by Margot Lee Shetterly
The story takes place from the 1930s’ to 1960s’, a time of racism and gender inequality. The biographical text follows the lives of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson, three mathematicians who worked as computers (then a job description) at NASA during the space race. They overcame discrimination at NASA, both as women and as African Americans.
Debra Murray can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @debramurrayy