A curated booklist by your favorite SPL librarians!
Feminist History and Theory | Historical Fiction | Nonfiction
Feminist History and Theory
|Data Feminism by Catherine D'Ignazio and Lauren F. Klein
Both accessible and practical, this book uses a feminist lens to uncover how power differentials can be challenged and changed through data science. It looks at everything from data ethics and justice to visual cultures, both insightful and incisive.
|The Feminist Bookstore Movement: Lesbian Antiracism and Feminist Accountability by Kristen Hogan
Covering the 1970s-1990s, Hogan resurfaced an often forgotten part of the women’s liberation movement - the rise and fall of the feminist bookstore network. Deeply researched and densely written, lesbians and women of color are the heart of this enlightening history.
|Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez
Feminist advocate Caroline Criado Perez sheds a harsh light on the painful realities born out of gender bias in data. When the default option is man, discrimination gets woven into everything from snow removal, to car manufacturing, to medical research, and it’s sure to make you look at everything in a new way.
|The Pain Gap: How Sexism and Racism in Healthcare Kill Women by Anushay Hossain
Giving birth in the richest country in the world should be easy, or so thought Anushay Hossain, who is originally from Bangladesh. However, after her life-threatening experience, she witnessed firsthand how women, and especially women of color are flagrantly overlooked in American healthcare, to the extent where many have even died.
|This Bridge Called my Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color edited by Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa
A foundational text on women of color feminism with writings by the likes of Audre Lorde, Cherríe Moraga, and Gloria Anzaldúa. Originally released in 1981, this collection of personal essays, criticisms, interviews, testimonials, poetry, and visual art is just as valuable today as it was over three decades ago.
|Unwell Women: Misdiagnosis and Myth in a Man-Made World by Elinor Cleghorn
Inspired by her personal experiences in the medical field while seeking relief for an undiagnosed autoimmune disease, Clegron expounds on the systemic and historical suffering and misdiagnosis of women at the hands of misogyny. An insightful and important look into the intersection of women and medicine.
|Women’s Liberation: Feminist Writings that Inspired a Revolution and Still Can edited by Alix Kates Shulman and Honor Moore
A historically significant volume on feminist thought, theory, and rhetoric. In chronological order from Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique (1963) to Susan Faludi’s Backlash (1991), this anthology prevails in highlighting lesser-known activists and groups while leaning into internal divisions in the feminist movement rather than ignoring them.
|By Her Own Design by Piper Huguley
An engaging fictionalized story of the true life of Ann Lowe, a Black woman and granddaughter of slaves who became a notable fashion designer after designing Jacqueline Bouvier’s wedding dress to marry John F. Kennedy. After the Kennedy wedding, Ann went on to become one the most famous designers of the twenties through the sixties, but has since been relatively forgotten.
|Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras
A young girl and a teenage maid form an unlikely friendship in this moving, authentic coming-of-age story. Set in violent 1990's Colombia, seven-year-old Chula and her younger sister Cassandra live in the safety of their gated Bogotá community, while kidnappings, car bombs, and assassinations await on the other side.
|The House of Impossible Beauties by Joseph Cassara
Following a group of young gay and transgender individuals through the New York drag scene of the 80s and 90s, this gritty, award-winning novel will pull at your heart strings. Angel and boyfriend Hector form the House of Xtravaganza, the first all-Latino house in the Harlem ball circuit. After Hector’s tragic death, Angel processes her grief as she recruits a new found family to the House.
|The Mountains Sing by Nguyẽ̂n Phan Qué̂ Mai
A lyrical and ominous historical fiction novel about four generations of a family in Vietnam, including the Japanese invasion and the Vietnam War. The women of the Trà̂n family experience numerous heartaches and tragedies as they attempt to survive multiple atrocities, but the spirit of love and resilience lives on in breathtaking moments of redemption and humanity.
|The Mystery of Mrs. Christie by Marie Benedict
In December 1926, England underwent its largest missing person search in history: the sudden disappearance of up-and-coming mystery author Agatha Christie who had recently learned of her husband’s infidelity. Eleven days after vanishing, Agatha reappears with no explanation besides amnesia. This page-turning fictionalization speculates on the truth behind the mystery.
|The Only Woman in the Room by Marie Benedict
Based on the real-life Hedy Kiesler, whose beauty and marriage to an Austrian arms dealer protected her from Nazi persecution despite being Jewish. After fleeing Vienna, she lands a new life as Hollywood star Hedy Lamarr. More than a beautiful face, Hedy’s genius holds key information to revolutionize military technology and global communication.
|She Rises by Kate Worsley
In 1740 Essex, Louise Fletcher leaps at the chance to work as a lady’s maid to a wealthy captain's spirited daughter in Harwich, where unexpected feelings blossom between the young women. Meanwhile, Louise’s brother Luke embarks on a perilous ocean voyage to return to his sweetheart. But life for the siblings reaches a dramatic climax when they unexpectedly meet.
|Sister Mother Warrior by Vanessa Riley
A richly detailed historical fiction novel based on the extraordinary true-life stories of two powerful women in the Haitian Revolution: first Empress of Haiti, Marie-Claire Bonheur, and West African-born warrior Gran Toya. Working together, Marie-Claire and Gran play a significant role in freeing Haiti and its people, one of the most successful enslaved uprisings in history.
|Sisters in Arms by Kaia Alderson
Among the first class of female army officers, and the first Black women to serve, the stakes couldn’t be higher for Grace Steele and Eliza Jones, members of the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps and the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion. With so many rooting for their failure, Grace and Eliza must join forces to succeed in this riveting novel inspired by true events.
|When Two Feathers Fell From the Sky by Margaret Verble
Set in 1926 Nashville, this compelling historical fiction novel follows the life of young, death-defying Cherokee horse-diver, Two Feathers, and her companions from the Glendale Park Zoo. Two and her best friend Hank, a fellow horse-lover from a prominent Black family, navigate life in segregated society and investigate mysterious occurrences at the zoo.
|A Black Women’s History of the United States by Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross
Emphasizing the many voices of Black women in American History – enslaved women, freedwomen, religious leaders, artists, queer women, activists, and women who lived outside the law – this significant historical text provides much needed representation of the lives and experiences of Black American women from the past four centuries.
|The Agitators: Three Friends Who Fought for Abolition and Women's Rights by Dorothy Wickenden
The fascinating true story of three women whose friendship and work spanned abolition, the Underground Railroad, the early women's rights movement, and the Civil War. Using richly detailed letters and page-turning narration, Wickenden animates the lives of Harriet Tubman, Martha Wright, and Frances Seward who were united by their common goals of suffrage and abolition.
|A Short History of Queer Women by Kirsty Loehr
An engaging and approachable survey of LGBTQ+ women and their refusal to accept patriarchal and heteronormative oppression as the standard quo. From exiled Greek poet Sappho to persecuted queer activist Li Tingting, this witty work is packed with vivid details of the lives of queer women written back into history where they belong.
|Baseline Shift: Untold Stories of Women in Graphic Design History edited by Briar Levit
These essays commemorate a diverse group of largely unacknowledged women in the history of graphic design. From a book designer getting her start in Harlem's Renaissance to drafters in Monotype's drawing office, these women helped form the industry of graphic design into the robust and growing field it is today.
|The Girls Who Stepped Out of Line: Untold Stories of the Women Who Changed the Course of World War II by Major General Mari K. Eder
Compelling and well-researched, this collective biography shares the stories of 15 little known women who played heroic roles in World War II both in and out of uniform.Written by retired United States Army Major General Mari K. Eder, this invaluable, eye-opening compilation will give readers a deep appreciation for these trailblazing ladies.
|New Women in the Old West: From Settlers to Suffragists, an Untold American Story by Winifred Gallagher
A gripping history of America’s West told through the perspective of the women who pioneered it, transforming the rest of the country in the process. From the Great Plains to the Pacific Ocean, these women were vital contributors to western expansion and their communities. Gallagher also sheds light on underprivileged and marginalized women at the time.
|The White Devil's Daughters: The Women Who Fought Slavery in San Francisco's Chinatown by Julia Flynn Siler
During the first century of Chinese immigration to the United States (1848-1943), the trafficking of young Asian girls flourished in San Francisco. On the edge of Chinatown sat the Occidental Mission Home, a safehouse for thousands of enslaved and vulnerable young Chinese women and girls. This is the story of those heroic survivors and the abolitionists who fought for them.
|Woman: The American History of an Idea by Lillian Faderman
From Puritan ideas of women and their role in society to the 1960’s sexual revolution, the #MeToo movement, women in politics, and the transgender movement, award-winning scholar Faderman offers a 400-year history of conflicts, victories, and defeats including often-overlooked battles of enslaved women and women leaders in tribal nations.
|The Women's History of the Modern World: How Radicals, Rebels, and Everywomen Revolutionized the Last 200 Years by Rosalind Miles
From the Enlightenment to the #MeToo movement, this sweeping work of remarkable women in the arts, sports, business, religion, and politics showcases the colossal progress made by women in the modern era. Featured are head of state Empress Cixi, STEM powerhouse Ada Lovelace, revolutionary Sojourner Truth, intellectual Simon de Beauvoir, and many more.
|The Women Who Changed Architecture edited by Jan Cigliano Hartman
Highlighting the legacy of 121 women in architecture, this outstanding academic work– with in-depth profiles and stunning images– is an essential read for anyone interested in the art and technique of designing and building. These interviews, essays, and biographical entries offer a comprehensive look at women in architecture around the world, from the nineteenth century to today.
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