The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

IVES: Books by women to celebrate Women’s History Month

Photo by Zach Bukowski
“I Am Malala” by Christina Lamb and Malala Yousafzai was released in 2013.

The other day I was skimming my bookshelf and was struck by the fact that very few female writers made the cut. Up until that moment, I had been proud of my collection. It has all the classics many of us were made to read in high school, the likes of “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens and “The Merchant of Venice” by Shakespeare. And it has plenty of modern gems too, the kinds of books snobs like me enjoy working into conversations such as “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates and “The Sympathizer” by Viet Thanh Nguyen.

While these books unquestionably have value, I was dismayed when I realized that they were all written by men, about men. I had to ask myself, what was I, a young woman who advocates for female representation, doing with a bookshelf dominated by men?

I was being a hypocrite.

So, in honor of Women’s History Month, here’s a short list of wonderful books written by women, about women. If you take a look at your own bookshelf and find a similar problem to my own, hopefully this list will help you remedy it.

Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has produced all sorts of amazing content, from her TEDx Talk “We Should All be Feminists” to her novel 2013 “Americanah,” one of my personal favorites. “Americanah” chronicles the experiences of Ifemelu, a Nigerian girl who immigrates to the United States after graduating primary school. Ifemelu grapples with culture shock, racism, xenophobia, financial desperation and a variety of other hardships before returning home. In that time, she also comes to appreciate who she is and where she came from. In this story, Adichie masterfully captures certain aspects of the American immigrant experience, as well as the Nigerian experience. “Americanah” is a rich story cloaked in social dilemmas and purposefully rooted in the mundane. Once you pick it up, you won’t be able to put it down.

The Beautiful, Renée Ahdieh

Vampires are back in this 2019 bestselling young adult novel by Renée Ahdieh. The story is set in the late 19th century and follows Celine Rousseau, a French immigrant in America fleeing her home country with a terrible secret. She crosses the Atlantic and finds herself in New Orleans. Immediately, she is drawn to the city’s beautiful darkness and hidden magic. Not to mention a dark, handsome stranger. “The Beautiful” celebrates womanhood while not-so-subtly sprinkling in some social issues like systemic racism and consent. If you like this one, you won’t have any choice but to read the next in the series, “The Damned.” The third book, “The Righteous,” won’t be released until Nov. 9. So, I hope you like cliffhangers.

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, Christina Lamb and Malala Yousafzai

Released in 2013, “I Am Malala” is page turner in its own right. It is a moving piece on the life and fight of Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist for women’s education. The youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, Malala went toe-to-toe with the Taliban, speaking out at 11 years of age when no one else would and almost losing her life in the process. After miraculously surviving a point-blank shot to the head at age 15, she goes on to become a global symbol of peace and gender equality. The book chronicles Malala’s activism leading up to the attempt on her life, as well as the implications of her survival for herself, her family, her country and the world. Read “I Am Malala” and hear the story from her perspective as she goes from speaking out in the Swat Valley of Pakistan to speaking up at the UN headquarters in New York, it’s worth it.

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

I just couldn’t help myself. Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” is a classic love story that capitalizes on one of the world’s favorite tropes: enemies to lovers. It tells the story of Elizabeth Bennet, a clever bookworm born in 19th century England, as she catches the eye of a pretentious and disgustingly rich gentleman. Weaved throughout “Pride and Prejudice” is a variety of issues women of this time faced, such as familial expectations, social stratification and legal and social inequality. If you find you enjoy the book, there are about a million film and show adaptations you can binge afterwards, including the 2005 movie starring Keira Knightly and the 1995 BBC TV mini-series starring Jennifer Ehle.

Educated, Tara Westover

“Educated” is a beautifully crafted memoir released in 2018 that tells the story of Tara Westover’s life as she overcomes the oppression of her patriarchal household. Westover was born the youngest of seven children. Her mother was an unlicensed midwife and her father was a devout Mormon committed to preparing his family for the impending Y2K apocalypse. Paranoid that the federal government was not to be trusted, her father refused to let her or her siblings attend school or even get birth certificates. “Educated” tells Westover’s story as she leaves her abusive home and goes to college. She eventually goes on to get a PhD in history from Cambridge, but not before realizing just how ignorant her home education had left her. Westover’s skillfully written memoir will immerse you in her struggles and passions as she begins to learn more about the world and where she fits into it.

This brief list is just a taste of the options out there for anyone interested in diversifying their bookshelf, which is something I would recommend to all. It can never hurt to expose yourself to new perspectives. After all, you are what you read.

This story was written by Charlotte Ives. She can be reached at [email protected].

Story continues below advertisement
Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Marquette Wire Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *