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15 Books to Read to Celebrate International Women’s Day

Our reading list of 15 books to read this year to celebrate International Women's Day, including novels, memoirs, poems and essay collections

What are the best books to read in honor of International Women’s Day this year? Our correspondent Abbie Martin Greenbaum has curated a fiction and non-fiction reading list of 12 books to read this year to celebrate International Women’s Day, including novels, memoirs, poems and essay collections.

what’s the best reading list for International Women’s Day this year?

Happy International Women’s Day! We can’t wait to celebrate with you.

Our reading list of 15 books to read this year to celebrate International Women's Day, including novels, memoirs, poems and essay collections

Our reading list of 15 books to read this year to celebrate International Women’s Day.

And how better to celebrate than with some amazing books? We’ve made you the perfect reading list for this year’s big day, and it includes fiction and nonfiction, fantasy, memoirs, and more.

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Today we encourage you to spend some time basking in your own glow, and also to spend some time walking in the proverbial shoes of someone else –  a woman whose life looks nothing like yours.  There’s no one way to be a woman in today’s world, and as intersectional feminists, we want to honor every single one of you.

Our reading list of 15 books to read this year to celebrate International Women’s Day, including novels, memoirs, poems and essay collections.

15 books to celebrate International Women’s Day

Here’s our reading list of 15 books to read this year to celebrate International Women’s Day, including novels, memoirs, poems and essay collections. We hope you find some favorites and new discoveries among them.

1. Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall.

 

reading list international women's day

What does it mean to be a feminist? Kendall’s much-lauded 2020 release digs into this very question, unpacking the contradictions that are built into today’s feminist movement – particularly around the intersection of gender and race. It’s perfect reading for International Women’s Day. Her essays highlight issues that are faced by many women, and that too often go undiscussed in the conversation around women’s equality. We can’t think of a better book to recommend for this International Women’s Day.

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2. Dominicana by Angie Cruz.

 

reading international women's day

In Dominicana, Ana is fifteen years old when she leaves the Dominican Republic for New York City. She does not know what to expect, but what she finds is a set of never-ending challenges: a lonely life in a foreign city, and a troubled marriage with a much older man. She holds out hope that the rest of her family will be able to join her in the United States – but at what cost? This work of historical fiction will break your heart in the most unexpected ways, and you will find you never want to say goodbye to Ana’s story.

3. Our Work is Everywhere by Syan Rose and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha.

 

reading list for international women's day

Celebrate today by pre-ordering a copy of this much-anticipated graphic novel, which comes out on April 6th. This non-fiction work brings a symphony of voices to the page, and their many individual stories come together to tell a larger one: the story of queer and trans communities’ resistance over the last decade. The book is set to cover an enormous range of topics, all of them vital to women in 2021.

4. We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry.

 

reading international women's day

If you’re looking for a read that’s fun, zany, and memorable, we can’t think of anything better than We Ride Upon Sticks. Told in the first-person plural, Barry’s book features the collective voice of an all-girls high school hockey team – and the trouble they find when they play with some dark magic. This book will feel like summer in your pocket, offering a rare and warm-hearted look at women’s camaraderie.

5. If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha.

 

In If I Had Your Face, five young women live in the same apartment building in Seoul. Though they lead very different lives, each of them is governed in different ways by the enormous power of both money and beauty. If you’re looking for a fresh read that bites into some brutal truths about womanhood, and that tells the story of an unlikely friendship, you should make sure to grab this unforgettable debut.

6. The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow.

 

 

A work of historical fantasy that is set in Salem during the suffrage movement? Sign us up. Sisters Bella, Agnes, and Juniper are the kinds of heroines we love to follow, strong-willed and full of messy love for one another. Anyone who loves stories about family, about magic, or about women’s history will eat up this charming novel.

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7. A River of Royal Blood by Amanda Joy.

 

If we’ve gotten you in the mood for fantasy, don’t worry – we have an additional recommendation. You will fall in love with A River of Royal Blood, which is set in a fantasy world inspired by North Africa. We follow our indomitable protagonist Eva as she contends with the dangers of her inner-magic, and as she faces the event she’s been waiting for her whole life: a deathly duel for the throne, against her own sister. If you love strong female characters who are also full of complications and nuance, then this is the book for you.

8. Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters.

 

In Detransition, Baby, three women are drawn together by the events of a collapsed marriage and an unexpected pregnancy. In the book that is being hailed as one of the best new releases of 2021, Peters takes a deep dive into questions around motherhood, family, sex, and gender, making this the perfect choice for International Women’s Day.

9. Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West.

 

You may remember Shrill, the beloved 2017 memoir that spawned the equally beloved TV show. Well, if you never got around to reading it, now is your chance. West’s memoir is all about what it means to be a woman when women are expected to be small and quiet, and you are neither of those things. Funny, relatable, and infinitely readable, this is the kind of book that will educate you and entertain you at the same time.

10. Know My Name by Chanel Miller.

 

Chanel Miller came into the spotlight in the worst way imaginable: the victim of Brock Turner. She released an anonymous letter to the public after his jail sentencing of six months. Here she speaks on the subject of her trauma, reclaiming a narrative that for too long lived in the media’s hands. Miller’s words feel vital for this particular moment in society, and though challenging, this is a must-read.

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11. In the Dream House: A Memoir by Carmen Maria Machado.

 

There is a particular power in books that are beautifully written, but about horrible, painful topics. That’s In the Dream House. Author of the equally brilliant Her Body and Other Parties, Machado writes here on her own life, detailing in nonlinear passages her relationship with an abusive partner. Sections of this book will sear themselves into your brain. You’ll find yourself thinking about it months after you read it.

12. White Feminism by Koa Beck.

 

A continuation of a difficult conversation, Beck’s excellent new book dives into the commodification of feminism: how the word and movement have both changed over time. She takes the reader on a journey through history, traveling from the suffragettes all the way to the present day. She sheds light on communities that are too often ignored in the fight for equity and justice.

13. The Charmed Wife by Olga Grushin.

 

The Charmed Wife is a classic fractured fairy tale that’s the perfect way to wrap up our list of perfect books to read to feel the vibe of March. Forget about the Cinderella story that you’ve heard your entire life. Here, the Prince is a narcissist and the Princess is suffering from depression and anxiety disorder. After thirteen years of marriage she’s the mother of two and she’s done with a failed romance. With the help of a Witch, she’s ready to commit regicide.

It may sound grim (or Grimm?) but actually it’s not. The prose is lush and magic sparkles in the air throughout this journey. There are laugh-out-loud moments in vignettes about what becomes of the mice that turned into carriage horses on the night of the big ball. And in the end, it’s a satisfyingly modern take on an ancient fable – about what happens when a young women decides to stand up for herself in the kingdom of men.

14. His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie.

 

It’s hard to believe that His Only Wife is a debut novel – the author’s voice is incredibly assured, authentic and irresistible. We’re in Ghana, seeing life through the eyes of twenty-something Afi Tekple, a dutiful daughter and aspiring fashion designer living in a small village hours from Accra. Her mother, a widow, presses her into an arranged marriage with a man she knows of but has never met in order to secure her financial and social status. The groom is wealthy, handsome and well-mannered – but it turns out that he is in no way the Mr. Darcy that one might imagine (or hope).

Elikem is not present at their wedding – it’s literally a marriage by proxy. Once installed in a luxury apartment in Accra, Afi does more than what’s reasonable to be a “good wife.” But in the end, in a heartbreaking and achingly real manner, she realizes that she’s on her own in the world – a fatherless woman in a patriarchal and punitive society – and that it will never be enough for her to play the role of a rich man’s trophy wife.

15. The Smash-Up by Ali Benjamin.

 

Our reading list of 12 books to read this year to celebrate International Women's Day, including novels, memoirs, poems and essay collections.

To wrap up our reading list of books to read to honor the spirit of International Women’s Day, including novels, memoirs, poems and essay collections, with a book we just finished and loved.

We began reading The Smash-Up, a novel set in the week of the Senate confirmation hearings for Justice Kavanaugh, just when several staffers were coming forward with accusations about harassment in the office of the governor of New York. Which gave the already diamond-sharp prose and urgent conversation about the #MeToo movement, the Trump Administration, and the fate of women throughout history and mythology who have been abused by powerful men even more visceral power and bite.

Set in the Berkshires, this is a modern adaptation of the Edith Wharton short story Ethan Frome. This Ethan is a 40-something husband with a wife who is increasingly infuriated and a daughter who struggles with ADHD. A young woman moves in to help with child care. And all hell breaks loose. If you like your tales of comeuppance served blazing hot, this one’s for you.

Our reading list in honor of International Women’s Day

That’s our reading list of 12 books to read this year to celebrate International Women’s Day, including novels, memoirs, poems and essay collections. What’s at the top of your list, dear reader?

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This article contains affiliate links to products independently selected by our editors. As an Amazon Associate, Dandelion Chandelier receives a commission for qualifying purchases made through these links. 

Abbie Martin Greenbaum grew up in New York City and currently lives in Brooklyn, where she drinks a lot of coffee and matches roommates together for a living. At Oberlin College, she studied English and Cinema, which are still two of her favorite things, along with dessert and musical theater. She believes in magic.

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