Must-Read Books to Celebrate International Women’s Day

Reading: Must-Read Books to Celebrate International Women’s Day

Book Lists

Must-Read Books to Celebrate International Women’s Day

From American feminist Margaret Fuller to American icon and fashion stylist Lyn Slater, these books highlight badass women who should be celebrated

By Robin Kall

It’s International Women’s Day 2024, and to ring in this important occasion we’re dipping into the wealth of literature that shines a light on the often overlooked powerful stories of women who boldly and bravely paved the way for others. The wide array of experiences in this curated selection highlight the struggles — and triumphs — of women across decades seeking equality and inclusion. This mighty must-read list offers captivating journeys into the diverse and inspiring lives of some very phenomenal women.

Finding Margaret Fuller ($30, by Allison Pataki) 

This historical novel details the brief life of Fuller, a feminist journalist who — alongside Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Louisa May Alcott — was at the center of America’s 19th century Transcendentalist movement. Unlike the others, though, Fuller flew under the radar and yet was widely regarded as the best-read person of her time, even becoming the first woman allowed to use the library at Harvard University. A fierce women’s rights advocate, she was not one to play by the rules and often challenged societal norms and sparked movements. Her 1845 book, Woman in the Nineteenth Century, urges and encourages women to be educated and independent, and is often thought of as the nation’s first feminist work. As the first female foreign news correspondent writing for Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune, Fuller mingled with luminaries such as  Frederic Chopin, Walt Whitman, George Sand in Europe, and sparked scandal in Rome. Fuller’s journey evolves into passion, romance, and revolution — a fierce adventurer rewriting history on her terms. And we are here for all of it.

One Way Back ($29, by Christine Blasey Ford)

This memoir tells the riveting true story that held the nation in its grips. On September 27, 2018, Christine Blasey Ford testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, recounting an alleged 1980s sexual assault by Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh at a high school party. Here, Ford shares the intricate journey leading to her testimony, detailing months spent delicately divulging information to the right channels while shielding her family from potential backlash. Drawing parallels to surfing, she illustrates the perilous venture into unknown waters, knowing there’s only one way back to shore. This memoir delves into the lead-up, aftermath, and ongoing navigation through the storm, offering a nuanced, page-turning account of a scientist, surfer, mother, patriot, and unexpected whistleblower. Ford’s narrative underscores the profound impact of one individual challenging the status quo and more than surviving the aftermath it sets off.

Acts Of Forgiveness ($28, by Maura Cheeks)

The trope of digging up the past and at what cost is woven throughout this novel by debut author Maura Cheeks. H
ow much of their lineage is one family willing to uncover for a shot at the nation’s first federal reparations program? As the country awaits the fate of the first Forgiveness Act under its (finally!) first female president, ambitious and hard-working single mother Willie Revel sees it as a chance at redemption. Juggling her own profession, family, and a struggling construction company, she contemplates the bill’s potential to save their home and her father’s life’s work. To qualify for monetary reparations, she must trace the Revels’ lineage to slavery, but her family isn’t all on board. Acts of Forgiveness delves into the complexities of family and forgiveness, and the weight of success achieved against the odds, questioning how history shapes our identities and what leaving a legacy truly entails.

Becoming Madam Secretary  ($29, by Stephanie Dray)

Stephanie Dray’s latest historical fiction introduces Frances Perkins, an American heroine on a mission with a desire for change. Raised on revolutionary tales, Frances immerses herself in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen by conducting a survey on malnutrition among the children in the tenements. While in NYC she meets lawyer Franklin D. Roosevelt, and in 1933 Roosevelt appoints Perkins to be his Secretary of Labor, making history as the first woman in the US President’s Cabinet. In this gripping saga of sacrifice and ambition, Perkins juggles public service, marriage, and motherhood in a male-dominated arena during the Great Depression. During her tenure, Perkins created the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and helped shape history with her work on policies for social security and labor unions.
Dray’s narrative unveils the transformative impact of a whip-smart woman who defied all societal norms.

Madwoman  ($29, by Chelsea Bieker)

is a book you’re going to want to put on your September reading list and it is available for pre-order now! I love when a novel includes so many twisty lies it’s impossible to keep anything straight, but with the expert storytelling of Bieker, this book flows effortlessly. I
just finished this fast-paced unputdownable novel about motherhood, loss, and generational trauma where the indomitable strength of women takes center stage. The story tells the tale of Clove, who has spun quite a narrative in order to have the kind of life she yearns for, after growing up with one that is the exact opposite. Crafting a picturesque life with a caring husband and joyful children, battling buried anxieties, she clings to supplements and gratitude meditations to navigate the rollercoaster of stability. Everything takes a turn when a letter from a California women’s prison shatters her carefully constructed facade. The narrative seamlessly shuttles between present-day Portland and Clove’s challenging Waikiki upbringing, bringing forth the pivotal day that sculpted her very existence.

The Storm We Made ($27, by Vanessa Chan)

In the heart of 1945 Malaya (now Malaysia, where the author was raised), this novel unfolds a mesmerizing tale of Cecily Alcantara, an ordinary housewife thrust into an espionage network. As her family teeters on the edge of destruction — her son missing, her daughter at risk — Cecily grapples with the haunting consequences of her past. With a war now escalating, Cecily needs to navigate the complexities of morality to safeguard her family. I am looking forward to reading this debut novel, which is being hailed as a riveting saga that delves into the intricacies of survival, morality, and the tenacity of women in the face of adversity.

Anita de Monte Laughs Last ($28.99, by Xochitl Gonzalez)

In this brand new novel (just out this week!), it’s 1985, and the art world is mourning the tragic death of Cuban-born, New York City–based rising star Anita de Monte. Sound familiar? It should, because this novel is based on the real-life tragedy of Ana Mendieta
. Fast-forward to 1998, and Anita’s once-echoed name is now a distant memory. Enter Raquel, a third-year Ivy leaguer and art history student, navigating a realm dominated by privilege and predetermined paths. As a minority, Raquel feels the weight of working twice as hard for equal opportunities. I haven’t read this book yet, but I read the author’s debut novel Olga Dies Dreaming, which was fabulous! Exploring the intertwined tales of Anita and Raquel, this book deftly probes power dynamics and poses crucial questions about remembrance and exclusion (especially of women) in the elite world.

How To Be Old: Lessons In Living Boldly From The Accidental Icon
($28, by Lyn Slater)

Lyn Slater, PhD, cultural influencer and Insta
gram sensation known as Accidental Icon, shares her vivacious journey in How To Be Old, a personal memoir promoting bold living at any age. Slater is a first-time author at age 70. Launching her fashion blog at 61 years old, she became a symbol of breaking stereotypes, flaunting gray hair, wrinkles, and a profound self-acceptance. The memoir unfolds over a decade, revealing the glamorous and turbulent chapters of Accidental Icon. Slater’s story is a beacon of hopeful reinvention, urging a shift from ageist standards to inclusive empowerment. Rejecting societal norms, she champions the idea that every life phase — including old age — invites rebellion, reinvention, connection, and creativity. A true modern-day inspiration. 

Robin Kall is a literary influencer who over the past two decades has built a devoted and passionate following. In addition to her radio talk show, Robin has hosted countless “can’t miss” author events including “Summer With Robin” and “Evening With Authors.” She lives in Rhode Island with her husband and their corgi, Benny. Follow Robin on X @robinkallInstagram, or Facebook. Read more book lists by Robin.


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