Women’s History Month 2022, A Reader’s Advisory

March is Women’s History Month — a time to remember and celebrate the contributions of women to American History.

Here’s a list of suggested books to read in honor of Women’s History Month from O’Fallon Public Library:

Taking Flight: from War Orphan to Star Ballerina by Michaela DePrince. Michaela DePrince lived the first few years of her live in war-torn Sierra Leone until she was adopted by an American Family. Now seventeen, she is one of the premiere ballerinas in the United States.

The Color of Water: a Black Man’s Tribute to his White Mother by James McBride. The author persuaded his mother to tell her story. Her story is of a rabbi’s daughter, born in Poland and raised in the South, who fled to Harlem, married a black man, founded a Baptist church, and put twelve children through college. It is a tribute to his remarkable, eccentric, determined mother, and an eloquent exploration of what family really means.

Desert Queen: the Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell, Adventurer, Adviser to Kings, Ally of Lawrence of Arabia by Janet Wallach. Reared in the comfortable and privileged world of the “eminent Victorians,” Gertrude Bell turned her back on convention and sought adventure in Arab lands. Traveling numerous times through the Syrian Desert and, at risk to her life, through the great Arabian desert of the Nejd – the last European to do so before the eruption of World War I – she wrote of her travels in widely acclaimed books. The trust she earned among the Arab sheiks and chieftains made her indispensable when war broke out; recruited by British intelligence, she played a crucial role in obtaining the loyalty of Arab leaders, and her connections and information provided the brain for T. E. Lawrence’s military brawn.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. With humor and levity, here Adichie offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century—one rooted in inclusion and awareness. She shines a light not only on blatant discrimination but also the more insidious, institutional behaviors that marginalize women around the world, in order to help readers of all walks of life better understand the often masked realities of sexual politics. Throughout, she draws extensively on her own experiences—in the U.S., in her native Nigeria, and abroad—offering an artfully nuanced explanation of why the gender divide is harmful to women and men, alike.

Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky. Highlights the lives and achievements of fifty famous women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, from the ancient world to the present. The author has also penned a book entitled, “Women in Art”, sharing the contributions of fifty creative women throughout history.

We are not Born Submissive: How Patriarchy Shapes Women’s Lives by Manon Garcia. In “We Are Not Born Submissive”, Garcia explains that the feminist agenda has many components but there are (at least) two of which are at the fore: shedding light on the oppression of women qua women, and fighting against this oppression. Studying female submissiveness, therefore, is a feminist undertaking in that it consists of hearing and taking seriously women’s experiences, of not presuming that they are victims, passive, or perverted. Garcia maintains it is not only possible but necessary to study female submissiveness without presupposing anything, typically or naturally feminine or anti-feminist in this submissiveness. Using the theoretical framework of the philosopher, Simone de Beauvoir and others, Garcia theorizes this fascinating dynamic in its full complexity.

Women Don’t Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide by Linda Babcock. By looking at the barriers holding women back and the social forces constraining them, “Women Don’t Ask” shows women how to reframe their interactions and more accurately evaluate their opportunities. It teaches them how to ask for what they want in ways that feel comfortable and possible, taking into account the impact of asking on their relationships. And it teaches all of us how to recognize the ways in which our institutions, child-rearing practices, and unspoken assumptions perpetuate inequalities — inequalities that are not only fundamentally unfair but also inefficient and economically unsound.

There She Was: the Secret History of Miss America by Amy Argetsinger. An editor for The Washington Post’s Style section offers a look back on the Miss America pageant as it approaches its 100th anniversary, spotlighting how it has survived decades of social and cultural change and redefined itself alongside evolving ideas of feminism.


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