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Get Inspired by These 10 Books about Amazing Women

by | March 4
Get Inspired by These 10 Books about Amazing Women | Notorious RBG The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon, Shana Knizhnik

March is Women’s History Month, a time to celebrate amazing women whose contributions, big and small, have made our world a better place, sometimes just by telling their stories. These are figures who have risen up against adversity, followed their passions, and/or made a difference, in one way or another. Here are ten biographies about women who spoke up, made changes, and worked hard to get where they got, and how they changed the world.

It’s obvious we’re craving these stories, considering how many of these women’s lives have inspired not just books (multiple books in some cases), but movies too!

If you’re as hyped for Women’s History Month as we are, then we highly suggest you check out these reads too!

The Last Black Unicorn

The Last Black Unicorn

by Tiffany Haddish

Humor can be used to help us connect with people, heal wounds, and even make light of our troubles. For comedian Tiffany Haddish, humor was a means of survival, from fending off her foster siblings with well-timed hilarity, to landing gigs to get her through school and onto a career as one of the brightest comedic stars of the 2000s. Tiffany’s account of her struggles and how she took each in stride with comedy is both touching and side-splitting. Her narrative is empowering and refreshing, showing us her story the way she wants to tell it—not tragic, but triumphant.

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A Private War

A Private War

by Marie Brenner

Often, women are pressured to lead traditional lives that keep them centered on home and family. Journalist Marie Colvin, however, built her world around battlefields and international borders. Her work as a foreign war correspondent, in which she broke down boundaries and reported from some of the most dangerous and hostile places in the world, is legendary. She died covering the Syrian Civil War, even when foreign journalists were not allowed inside the country. Her legacy lives on in A Private War, in which Brenner documents the last days and hours of Colvin’s life, along with her history as one of the most fearless journalists to date. Give it a read before checking out the movie of the same name that released in late 2018 and stars Rosamund Pike.

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Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures

by Margot Lee Shetterly

Tales of scientific progress are often about white men. Hidden Figures is a brilliant exception that highlights the crucial contributions of several black women to the NASA space program. Three such women featured in the book are Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson, who were “human computers” a.k.a. mathematicians who calculated flight paths for various missions and helped America become a contender in the infamous Space Race. There are also accounts about Christine Darden, who was the first African American woman to be promoted into the Senior Executive Service, and other black women who fought discrimination to help us explore the stars. Author Margot Lee Shetterly’s father worked with many of these women at NASA, likely helping her with a bird’s-eye account and giving each of these women a richer, more nuanced portrayal. A must for space and STEM-interested readers.

Top your reading off with the film adaptation starring three amazing actresses: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe!

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Notorious RBG

Notorious RBG

by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik

Let’s be real here. Can you name an accomplished woman who has remained a badass well into her eighties? There’s only one name that comes to mind for me: Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Supreme Court justice, acclaimed lawyer and teacher, and tireless advocate for the oppressed. And what better way to learn about the amazing life of this unique woman than through a book about a meme? If you missed out on the fad of the Notorious RBG, it is a combination of the portrait of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the iconic crown-look of rapper Notorious B.I.G. But don’t think that this book of the same name is frivolous—Irin Carmon details all the important moments, both personal and professional, of Bader Ginsburg’s life in an engaging way. It’s the perfect way to learn about this icon and appreciate her lifetime of hard work.

And because one can never know enough about RBG, you can next read Ruth Bader Ginsburg's autobiography, gift this book to the kid in your life, watch this brilliant biopic about her start as a lawyer (as portrayed by Felicity Jones), and view the documentary where you can hear from RBG herself.

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The Glass Castle

The Glass Castle

by Jeannette Walls

Homelessness is a problem many of us have seen, but few really know the truth of it. Jeannette Walls’s powerful memoir about growing up in poverty is a real eye-opener in this regard. With an alcoholic father and a mother who works on and off, it is up to Walls and her three siblings to keep everything in their lives running. Shuffled from city to city, and through different housing situations, Walls finds strength in education and working with her siblings to escape their parents for a better life. The book tackles the difficulties of loving your parents, but ultimately being unable to live with them or their self-destructive choices. A difficult lesson for Walls, but she turns it into an engaging recollection of a life few of us ever experience from the inside.

BONUS: Follow the book with a viewing of the film of the same name starring Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson, and Naomi Watts!

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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Movie Tie-In Edition)

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Movie Tie-In Edition)

by Rebecca Skloot

Sometimes, a woman’s legacy is one she never expects or lives to see. For Henrietta Lacks, her life-saving cells were a legacy she had no idea was hers. In fact, her immortal cells (i.e., cells that continue to divide indefinitely) were taken from her without her knowledge or consent, and were used to advance medicine. Her cells helped create the polio vaccine, uncover crucial aspects of cancer, and led to advances in in vitro fertilization and cloning. But even after all that, Lacks remains an unknown. Science writer Rebecca Skloot took on the challenge of resurrecting the life of this world-changing woman, while tying it to the history of medical experimentation on African Americans and the birth of bioethics. This book is a fascinating look at a woman without whom thousands would have died, but whose family only learned of her legacy (and the money made off it by others) twenty years after her death.

Watch the HBO film starring Oprah Winfrey and Rose Byrne!

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Fun Home

Fun Home

by Alison Bechdel

Cartoonist Alison Bechdel is likely most famous for “the Bechdel test,” which provides a tool for measuring female representation in a film or TV show. You know, the test to see if a piece of media has two women in it, who have a conversation with each other about something other than a man. But there is so much more to this artist, which she lets us get a peek at in her award-winning graphic memoir Fun Home.

Bechdel documents her life in Beech Creek, Pennsylvania, where she grew up at odds with her perfectionist funeral-director father, who constantly pushed femininity onto her—while she was slowly discovering her own sexual identity. It turns out that Bechdel’s father was a closeted homosexual who (she believed) killed himself when his wife asked for a divorce, evoking complicated feelings for the author. Mixing comedy and tragedy, Bechdel creates a narrative of coming into one’s own in the face of familial expectations and history, and the secrets kept from loved ones. An intriguing read for those who crave narratives about identity and family.

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Code Name: Lise

Code Name: Lise

by Larry Loftis

The history of women in the military goes back longer than most imagine, with ladies partaking in spy work and combat for several centuries. Odette Sansom, who fought in World War II, is just one of these many brave women. Odette’s story is one of romance, intrigue, and a cat-and-mouse chase with a German secret police sergeant that led to her internment in a concentration camp. Larry Loftis tells the harrowing tale of this woman who was willing to sacrifice everything for her country, who was tortured extensively by the Nazis, but never gave in. This true story is sure to enthrall readers with its adventures of espionage and the trials of fighting for freedom. Sansom’s courage is inspiring: doing what is right even in the face of great adversity.

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Persepolis

Persepolis

by Marjane Satrapi

Whether or not you learned about the Iranian Revolution in your history classes, there’s nothing like reading the personal account of a young woman who lived through it. Marjane Satrapi tells us about her life growing up in Iran and how she returned to it time and time again even as circumstances changed. She gives us both a look at a country in transition, and how a young woman came to deal with these changes. A deeply personal and moving graphic memoir, Satrapi weaves a world that is accessible to those for whom this is a first encounter. The story also dispels misconceptions of Iranian youth as being out of touch with other cultures and popular music and notions that Iran has always been a religious, insular state. A must read for any and all who love coming of age tales.

This incredible graphic novel inspired a (now) classic animated film of the same name!

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Year of Yes

Year of Yes

by Shonda Rhimes

Who doesn’t love Shonda Rhimes? This groundbreaking black showrunner has created some of the most-watched televisions shows of the 21st century, and she’s not slowing down one bit. But even powerful, successful women have their doubts and problems. For Rhimes, it was fear of being out in the spotlight. After a comment at a Thanksgiving dinner table—“You never say yes to anything”—she chose to make a change and spend a year saying yes. This memoir looks at all the good (and some bad) that came from that one decision to open herself up to the world. Year of Yes not only tells us of Rhimes’s growth, but also acts as an impetus for our own uncomfortable but crucial journeys, urging all who read it to take risks, make mistakes, and let yourself be vulnerable.

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A reporter by trade, Sara Roncero-Menendez is a lover of horror, sci-fi, and all things pop culture. From indies to classics to even the strangest genre pieces, all movies, TV shows, and books are fair game for a binge-fest. Follow her on Twitter @sararomenen or at her website, www.sara-roncero-menendez.com