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Best Books to Read for International Women’s Day

February 28, 2024

Leading up to International Women’s Day, we asked Sophia vom Bauer Jackson, service manager at the Salt Spring Island Public Library, to make a list of contemporary female-focused books. This is her Top 5 (fiction and non-fiction) plus some extra recommendations (all titles, and many more, are available at the library).

Non-fiction

Eve – How the Female Body Drove 200 Million Years of Evolution (Cat Bohannon, 2023). A sweeping revision of human history and an urgent and necessary corrective for a world that has focused primarily on the male body for far too long. Picking up where Sapiens left off, Eve will completely change what you think you know about evolution and why Homo sapiens has become such a successful and dominant species.

Her Space, Her Time: How Trailblazing Women Scientists Decoded the Universe (Shohini Ghose, 2023). Award-winning quantum physicist Ghose brings together the stories of Women physicists and astronomers from around the world who have transformed science and society to celebrate their indelible scientific contributions.

Off With Her Head – Three Thousand Years of Demonizing Women in Power (Eleanor Herman, 2022). Exploring the history of misogyny against women with power, from Cleopatra to Kamala Harris.

On Our Best Behavior: The Seven Deadly Sins and the Price Women Pay to be Good (Elise Loehnen, 2023). A groundbreaking exploration of the ancient rules women unconsciously follow in order to be considered “good,” revealing how the Seven Deadly Sins still control and distort our lives. Loehnen shows a path toward a more balanced and spiritually complete way to live.

Unbroken – My Fight for Survival, Hope, and Justice for Indigenous Women and Girls (Angelas Sterritt, 2023). A remarkable work of memoir and investigative journalism focusing on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, written by an award-winning Gitxsan journalist who survived life on the streets against all odds.

Fiction

The Power (Naomi Alderman, 2017). A feminist and thought-provoking novel imagining a world where women develop the power to release electric jolts, changing the dynamics of gender and societal norms forever. 

When Women Were Dragons (Kelly Regan Barnhill, 2022). A fiery feminist tale, exploding notions of a woman’s place in the world, expanding minds about accepting others for who they really are.

Your Body Was Made For This (Debbie Bateman, 2023). Bateman’s stories look at the largely unexplored private world of a crucial stage in virtually every woman’s life. These stories are linked by their characters as well as the visceral themes of food, sex, exercise, beauty, and aging. The women in these stories want full authority over their bodies and their lives.

The Women’s March – A Novel of the 1913 Woman Suffrage Procession (Jennifer Chiaverini, 2021). A historical novel about the women’s suffrage movement inspired by three courageous women who bravely risked their lives and liberty in the fight to win the vote.

Lessons in Chemistry (Bonnie Garmut, 2022). Laugh-out-loud funny, shrewdly observant, a great cast of characters, Lessons in Chemistry is as original and vibrant as its protagonist, the chemist Elizabeth Zott.

Young Adult

I am a Feminist: Claiming the F-Word in Turbulent Times (Monique Polak, 2016). A YA book explaining what feminism is about and why it’s still relevant and important.

More non-fiction recommendations:

Blackie, Sharon (2022): Hagitude – Reimagining the Second Half of Life.

Butler, Judith (2023): Who Is Afraid of Gender.

Eilenberger, Wolfram (2023): The Visionaries: Arendt, Beauvoir, Rand, Weil, and the Power of Philosophy in Dark Times.

Frederici, Silvia (2018): Witches, Witch-Hunting, and Women.

Gipson, Ferren (2022): Women’s Work: From Feminine Arts to Feminist Art.

Gunter, Jen (2023): Blood – The Science, Medicine & Mythology of Menstruation.

Gunter, Jen (2021): Menopause Manifesto – Own Your Health with Facts and Feminism.

Knott, Helen (2023): Becoming a Matriarch – A Memoir. LaPointe, Sasha taqwšeblu (2023): Red Paint: The Ancestral Autobiography of a Coast Salish Punk.

McLachlin, Beverly (2019): Truth to be Told – The Story of My Life and My Fight for Equality.

Morin, Brandi (2022): Our Voice of Fire – A Memoir of a Warrior Rising.

Polak, Monique (2016): I am a Feminist: Claiming the F-Word in Turbulent Times.

Solnit, Rebecca (2017): The Mother of All Questions.

Wells, Karin (2023): More Than a Footnote: Canadian Women You Should Know.

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