When searching for something to read in honor of Women’s History Month, the options are seemingly endless. Where to begin—and which titles are part of the feminist canon? From meditations on gender roles to inspiring memoirs and fictional heroines squashing the patriarchy, we’ve put together a roundup of books that capture the female experience across genres, time periods, and subject matter. Whittling down this list from the scores of books written by, for, and about women of all gender expressions and their experiences was no easy feat—so we’ve included a few titles that are more than deserving of an honorable mention below. Read on to build up your to-be-read stack for the Women’s History Month (and every month onward).
“Reckoning” by V, formerly known as Eve Ensler
Playwright of “The Vagina Monologues,” V transports readers from the front lines of activism to the caverns of self-compassion as she teaches a master class in courage and comeuppance in this book of essays, prose, poetry, and diary entries.
“Parable of the Sower” by Octavia E. Butler
Before there was the The Last of Us, there was “Parable of the Sower.” In the first of Butler’s “Earthseed” fictional series, protagonist Lauren Olamina navigates the ruins of Los Angeles in a dystopian future, seeking purpose and survival in equal measure. What she discovers, ultimately, is bigger than herself.
“Girlhood” by Melissa Febos
In this book of essays, Febos dives deep and swims widely to examine the female experience, using her upbringing and life as a lens through which the beauty, pain, and confusion of girlhood can be viewed.
“Feminism Is for Everybody: Passionate Politics” by bell hooks
One of the preeminent books on feminism by one of the great social activists, bell hooks, this small but mighty read showcases sexism and subsequent injustices with proposed paths to reconcile such societal disparities.
“Crazy Brave” by Joy Harjo
The first indigenous woman to serve as U.S. Poet Laureate, Harjo recounts her journey to become a poet in this rich and vibrant memoir. Anchored in her family lineage and spirituality, Harjo shares the hardships and happy times that informed who she is today.
“Nevada” by Imogen Binnie
This isn’t a trans novel written to humor readers with catty banter or nightlife pyrotechnics. Maria, a trans woman living in mid-Aughts Manhattan, is at a crossroads—literally. Readers follow Maria as she speeds through intersections in the NYC grid before heading west to further broaden her self-exploration. Through Maria’s reflections, readers learn of the commonly misunderstood complexities that trans women face.
“The Wife” by Meg Wolitzer
Behind every great man is…a woman getting no credit? In this slip of a novel, Joan’s mega-famous author of a husband is equally reliant as he is neglectful. This is a story on sacrifice, marriage, and the clashing of gender norms in the most personal of relationships.
“Crying in H Mart: A Memoir” by Michelle Zauner
A relationship between mother and daughter can be as maddening as it is magnificent. Follow Zauner, better known by her musical moniker Japanese Breakfast, as she reflects on her mother’s terminal illness, her mother’s memory, and the lessons her mother bestowed upon her.
“Good for a Girl: A Woman Running in a Man’s World” by Lauren Fleshman
What does it take to compete at the top of a sport—especially as a female athlete? A former elite runner, Fleshman exposes the inequities within the sports industry while hailing a rallying cry to support young female athletes as they navigate a system not necessarily constructed to support them.
“The Love Songs of W.E.B. Dubois” by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers
A triumph of a debut, this epic novel spans generations of Ailey Pearl Garfield’s ancestors. As Ailey pursues a degree in history, she uncovers family ties much more tangled than previously known. With sections dedicated to Ailey’s ancestors, Jeffers transports readers into a sweeping legacy of family, terror, and love.
“Twice As Hard: The Stories of Black Women Who Fought to Become Physicians From the Civil War to the 21st Century” by Jasmine Brown
For a dose of inspiration and wonder, learn about the real Black female doctors who overcame adversity of all stripes to heal their patients and communities while paving the way for future generations of Black women doctors.
“Love, Pamela: A Memoir of Prose, Poetry, and Truth” by Pamela Anderson
Anderson debunks the “dumb blonde” myth once and for all in her new memoir. In a mix of narrative non-fiction and poetry, Anderson revisits her difficult childhood, assesses her unrelenting search for love, and reclaims her reputation after decades of being misunderstood.
Bonus Books (That Are So Much More Than Just “Bonus”)
“We Should All Be Feminists” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
“A Country You Can Leave” by Asale Angel-Ajani
“Weightless” by Evette Dionne
“Mom & Me & Mom” by Maya Angelou