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Mar 3, 2022

Celebrate Women’s History Month with Our Top 10 Book Recommendations

National Women’s History Month is here! Every March, the United States celebrates women’s contributions to culture, history, and society. The month-long commemoration originated with Women’s History Day in 1978, when hundreds of students in Sonoma, California held their own celebration for women.

Years later, the idea spread, and in 1980 the National Women’s History Alliance—along with President Jimmy Carter—declared the week of March 8th as National Women’s History Week. Eventually, the event expanded to encompass the whole month of March, thanks to the National Women’s History Project.

There's also International Women's Day on March 8th, which is celebrated around the world. (To echo our sentiment about Black History Month, we believe it’s important to highlight stories from marginalized communities, including women and nonbinary people, all year long.)

Why Do We Celebrate Women’s History Month?

Even though women have been key in the advancement of various industries throughout history, many of their contributions have been overlooked. Celebrating women helps us learn more about their role in the history of our country, amplify the voices of women and nonbinary people around us, and promote gender equality.

Diverse perspectives matter, and while we highlight stories that are often drowned out—especially those from Black women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ+ community—we can also focus on ways to work towards a more equitable future for all.

Of course, there are many ways to celebrate Women’s History Month. Our favorite? Yep, you guessed it: reading great books by female authors (or books with a strong female lead). We’ve learned some valuable lessons from the women we’ve featured so far.

What We’ve Learned from Books by Female Authors

Here are our top 10 book recommendations and takeaways from BookClub authors, arranged by topic. You'll find each one on our platform, complete with exclusive author interviews, reader discussions, and book Q&A. Just want the book list? We've got you covered—find it here.

> On Women in the Workplace

Right Within: How to Heal from Racial Trauma in the Workplace by Minda Harts

Part of our Keys to Success: Perseverance book club with Arlan Hamilton.

What we learned: In workplaces nationwide, women of color deal with microaggressions and invisible burdens on a daily basis. While this is an unacceptable and painful truth, it is possible to heal from racial trauma at work—and find ways to thrive.

Right Within offers strategies for women of color to speak up during racialized moments with managers and clients, work through past triggers, and reframe disappointments as opportunities for a new path forward.

“I took my biggest trauma and turned it into my greatest triumph. And if I can do it, you can do it, too.” -from our interview with Minda Harts

Why you should read it: Described by BookClub author/host Arlan Hamilton as the “anti-gaslighting” manual, Right Within is an essential self-help book for women of color. Warm, witty, and real, this book also offers a window into daily struggles that often go unnoticed, but deserve acknowledgement.

Brotopia by Emily Chang

What we learned: Silicon Valley is not, in fact, a fantasy land where millions of dollars grow on trees—especially for women in tech. Instead, it’s an aggressive, misogynistic “Brotopia” where men hold the cards and make the rules. Women have been shut out of the greatest wealth creation in history.

“Let’s pause for a second. The man who is one of the main architects of the culture of Silicon Valley in the last twenty years thinks giving women the right to vote has harmed democracy.” -Emily Chang

Why you should read it: Chang’s book is powerful, incisive, and revealing. You’ll learn how Silicon Valley became so sexist despite its utopian ideals, why bro culture endures, and how women are speaking up.

Chang also exposes the flawed logic in tech’s most common excuses, the biases coded into AI, internet troll culture, and more. Keep in mind, Brotopia isn’t just relevant if you're a woman in tech—its insights have unprecedented implications for all of us.

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

What we learned: Corporate America—specifically the publishing industry—is often rife with anti-Blackness. Based on the author’s personal experience working in publishing, The Other Black Girl explores the tensions and dynamics that develop when two Black women work in a white-dominated space—from excitement, hope, and intrigue to insecurity. When there’s a stark lack of diversity, people of color can be pitted against one another and unfairly compared.

“If we're not careful, 'diversity' might become an item people start checking off a list and nothing more—a shallow, shadowy thing with but one dimension.” -Zakiya Dalila Harris

Why you should read it: The Other Black Girl is a genre-bending delight. It’s satirical, sharp, and witty, with elements of Black horror that remind us of Jordan Peele’s films. Harris also offers an intimate, experiential slice of what it’s like to work in publishing—or any corporate, white-dominated field in the United States—as a Black woman.

Edge: Turning Adversity into Advantage by Laura Huang

Part of our Entrepreneurship book club with Barbara Corcoran.

What we learned: It is, in fact, possible to find your “edge.” Even when you feel like the odds are stacked against you. Rather than focusing on credentials and skill sets, Huang emphasizes our ability to shape others’ perceptions.

Instead of holding ourselves back or trying to fit a specific mold, we can confront our “shortcomings” and turn them into assets. With the right strategies, along with a healthy dose of self-awareness, we can use our most authentic selves to gain the upper hand.

“Be primed and prepared to delight when the opportunity comes. We have to be savvy in seizing chances and be unapologetic and confident in demonstrating who we are.” -Laura Huang

Why you should read it: Huang’s book combines extensive research with anecdotes from both everyday and noteworthy people (including BookClub author/book club host Arlan Hamilton). Practical and inspiring, Edge clearly outlines actionable steps we can all take to find our own unique edge.

Ask for More by Alexandra Carter

Part of our Entrepreneurship book club with Barbara Corcoran.

What we learned: You don’t have to be the loudest, most “assertive” person in the room to get what you want. The key to successful negotiation, Carter asserts, is asking the right questions, both of yourself and others. Keep your questions open-ended, and use them to steer your conversation and relationship with the other person.

“The key to negotiation is transparency: getting and sharing the right information.” -Alexandra Carter

Ask for More includes ten essential questions to ask during negotiations: five for yourself (think: What problem do I need to solve? How am I feeling?), and five for the party you’re negotiating with (What do you need? What’s the first step?). These questions will help you become a much better negotiator, both personally and professionally.

Multipliers by Liz Wiseman

Part of our FranklinCovey book club with Scott Miller.

What we learned: There are two kinds of leaders. The first type drains intelligence, energy, and capability from the people around them. These are the idea killers, the energy sappers, the diminishers of talent and commitment.

On the other side of the spectrum are leaders who use their intelligence to amplify the capabilities of the people around them. These are the Multipliers. And the world needs more of them, especially now when leaders are expected to do more with less.

“Multipliers invoke each person’s unique intelligence and create an atmosphere of genius—innovation, productive effort, and collective intelligence.” -Liz Wiseman

Why you should read it: Analyzing data from more than 150 leaders, Wiseman identifies five disciplines that distinguish Multipliers from Diminishers. Practical tips, techniques, and illuminating case studies show you how to become a Multiplier, regardless of your experience level. Be a Multiplier, we say. The more, the better.

> On Systemic Racism & Sexism

The Pain Gap by Anushay Hossain

Part of our Critical Conversations book club with Nicole Ellis.

What we learned: It’s easy to assume that women’s healthcare in the United States is world-class, especially if you grow up elsewhere (like author Anushay Hossain, who came to America from Bangladesh).

There is, however, a crisis in women’s health in America. Hossain quickly realized this after enduring a traumatic, near-death experience giving birth in an American hospital. The Pain Gap explores how marginalized genders and people of color are regularly dismissed by systemic racism and sexism. With health crises like depression, domestic violence, and the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s critical that we share women’s stories and seek reform.

“Perhaps a little fury and confrontation are just what the doctor ordered.” -Anushay Hossain

Why you should read it: Hossain’s book sheds light on urgent issues facing women in America. It’s a powerful call to arms that encourages women to subvert the “hysteria complex” in order to revolutionize American healthcare. Instead of shaming and silencing women, “hysteria” can be repurposed to express rage, amplify voices, and demand change. (We agree that more confrontation is in order, not only from women and nonbinary people, but all marginalized groups and allies.)

White Feminism by Koa Beck

Part of our Critical Conversations book club with Nicole Ellis.

What we learned: What you know about feminism is probably wrong. Or, at least, it’s been heavily skewed and diluted. Koa Beck peels back the layers of “white feminism,” a specific approach to achieving gender equality that asks women and nonbinary people to aspire to white, middle to upper-class, cisgender heteronormativity to be seen.

It started with the suffragists, whose ideologies gave rise to the highly marketable “corporate feminism” we see today. Specific marginalized communities continue to struggle. Beck’s call-to-action is clear: We must work towards a new era of feminism that challenges power structures and champions real inclusivity by meeting marginalized genders where they are.

"White feminism is an ideology; it has completely different priorities, goals, and strategies for achieving gender equality: personalized autonomy, individual wealth, perpetual self-optimization, and supremacy." -Koa Beck

Why you should read it: White Feminism deftly combines historical research, contemporary cultural critique, and personal anecdotes. It’s eye-opening and will leave you with a deeper, more accurate understanding of the feminism movement, past and present.

> On Female Power & Rage

Animal by Lisa Taddeo

Part of our Belletrist book club with Emma Roberts and Karah Preiss.

What we learned: Animal by Lisa Taddeo (you might recognize her name from her highly acclaimed nonfiction book, Three Women) raises some important questions. How do our traumas shape our sense of self and interactions with the world around us? And why is it more “complicated” or “scandalous” when a woman expresses rage, or desire?

All too often, women can’t be fully honest about their desires, anger, or grief. Taddeo’s novel provides space for fuller self-expression that’s visceral and raw. If we can learn to be more vulnerable, and to use rage in ways that are productive (not violent), we can access a new kind of power—and also cultivate deeper empathy.

“Men were always putting their coats around my shoulders. They mark their territory that way. It’s better to freeze to death.” -Lisa Taddeo

Why you should read it: Intimate and thought-provoking, this book will linger with you long after the final page. You’ll also find yourself pondering big questions about trauma, sexual violence, and the creative—and destructive—power of female desire.

The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste

What we learned: What does it mean to be a woman at war? Set during Mussolini’s 1935 invasion of Ethiopia, Mengiste’s novel explores the first real conflict of World War II, shedding light on the women soldiers who were written out of history.

This kind of erasure happens all too often. Books like The Shadow King bring these women to life through vivid, complex depictions—and remind us to look for the stories that have been hidden.

“What is forged into memory tucks itself into bone and muscle. It will always be there and it will follow us to the grave.” -Maaza Mengiste

Why you should read it: One word for this book: unputdownable. It’s a lyrical, compelling mix of history (including the author’s own), research, and emotional complexity that examines the profound impact of war and violation—specifically their impact on women’s lives, minds, and bodies.

Get Started on that TBR Stack for Women's History Month & Beyond

We hope you enjoy these book recommendations for Women’s History Month! We’ve learned so much from our featured female authors and look forward to featuring more work from powerful women. Who are some of your favorites? Let us know @bookclubdotcom on Instagram or Twitter!