Six must-read books for Women’s History Month

Learn more about intersectional feminism, from gender equality to healing

A collage of six book covers against a white background
Add these titles to your October reading list. Image: Gudrun Wai-Gunnarsson / The Peak

By: Victoria Lopatka, Staff Writer

  1. Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall
Image courtesy of Viking Books

In Hood Feminism, author Mikki Kendall connects “race, class, sexual orientation, and ability” with gender inequality, pointing out modern feminism’s overlooking of women’s basic needs. Kendall suggests mainstream feminism is steeped in privilege, forgetting many women who struggle with food insecurity, making a living wage, and more. Such oversights lead to further marginalization of already-oppressed demographics. This book of essays is recommended for those seeking to make their feminism more intersectional and explore their own privilege — even when that exploration becomes a little uncomfortable.

2. Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own by Kate Bolick

Image courtesy of Crown Publications

Historically, marriage has been at the centre of a woman’s life. Author Kate Bolick draws on trailblazers including Neith Boyce, Maeve Brennan, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman, whose work can serve as inspiration for women seeking to challenge society’s conventional path of “settling down.” Bolick also shares her own experiences, exploring why women may choose to remain happily single, especially in modern times. She encourages readers to see their lives as their “own to savour,” and pursue what makes them happy, regardless of conventionality.

3. Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good by adrienne maree brown

Image courtesy of AK Press

Author adrienne maree brown, and contributors like Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Cara Page, and Sonya Renee Taylor, believe in “a politics of healing and happiness that explodes the dour myth that changing the world is just another form of work.” Pleasure Activism asserts we all need and deserve pleasure in our lives, including in our activism. This book of essays, interviews, and poetry involves discussions of sex work, disability, money, and more. In the chapter on money, Brown fights against the perception that women aren’t supposed to enjoy or demand money. She questions why, even in liberal spaces, women are shamed for being proud of their income. While readers might not resonate with every chapter, Pleasure Activism offers something for everyone.

4. My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Mary Hartnett, and Wendy Williams

Image courtesy of Simon & Schuster

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, former Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court, is considered a feminist hero. Known to be “a prolific writer and public speaker,” Justice Ginsburg and her authorized biographers share thoughts on gender equality, the law, and being Jewish, among other topics. It is important to note this is not a memoir, but rather a collection of essays, speeches, and reflections. My Own Words is a great read for both fans of Justice Ginsburg and those looking to learn a little more about the Supreme Court and the experiences of an American judge and justice.

5. Ugly Differences: Queer Female Sexuality in the Underground by Yetta Howard

Image courtesy of University of Illinois Press

What does the word “ugly” mean to you? Author Yetta Howard unpacks society’s associations of ugliness with the “non-white, non-male, and non-heterosexual.” Further, Howard challenges the view that ugliness is a negative trait, which “is fundamental to the cultural formations of queer female sexuality.” Ideas from filmmaker Slava Tsukerman, American author Sapphire, comic book author Roberta Gregory, and more are shared. This book will challenge how readers think and feel about “ugliness.”

6. Freedom Is an Inside Job: Owning Our Darkness and Our Light to Heal Ourselves and the World by Zainab Salbi

Image courtesy of Sounds True

Author Zainab Salbi suggests changing the world starts within us. With honesty and openness, Salbi shares her own healing journey, including the evaluation of “values, actions, and goals.” This is a must-read for those involved in activism seeking to self-reflect and grow into the best version of themselves. It’s refreshing to hear an activist share not only accomplishments, but regrets and missteps as well. Because of these missteps, readers will likely be able to relate to Salbi’s raw sharings and feelings throughout Freedom is an Inside Job.

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