10 Essential Books to Read for Women’s History Month

UPDATED: October 6, 2023
PUBLISHED: March 18, 2021
10 Essential Books to Read for Women’s History Month

Although we certainly don’t need an excuse to celebrate women’s stories, March (Women’s History Month) is the perfect time—and what better way than to dive into fantastic books written by and about women? Whether you’re hoping to be transported back into history, get lost behind powerful prose, or fancy a healthy dose of personal development, we’ve got a book for that.

Below is a collection of books to help celebrate the untold stories of the extraordinary women who came before us, cherish the friends and family who lift us up, and inspire you to keep pushing toward your most ambitious goals, this month and year-round. 

Fiction Books By and About Women

Girl, Woman, Other
  1. Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

Girl, Woman, Other follows the lives and struggles of 12 very different characters. Written in a structure that emulates a stream of consciousness, the novel immerses you into the minds of women—mostly Black and British—while they tell stories of their families, friends and lovers, and touches on themes of privilege, abuse, sexuality, education levels, social hierarchy and all it means to be a modern-day woman. +

Of Women and Salt
  1. Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia 

Available on March 31, 2021

Hot off the press, Of Women and Salt has been named the Most Anticipated Story of 2021 by TIME, Entertainment Weekly, and O, The Oprah Magazine, to name a few. In her debut novel, Garcia drops readers into the lives of Latinx women who emigrated from Cuba and shares an intimate look at the often complicated mother-daughter relationships by following three generations of Cuban women from Mexico to Miami. A tale weaved with pain, loss and strength, Of Women and Salt is a story of America’s most tangled, honest, human roots.

Poetry Books By and About Women

  1. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

A collection of poetry and prose, Milk and Honey takes readers on a relatable journey through pain and healing, touching on issues like abuse, love, loss and femininity. The collection is divided into four chapters that each focus on a different heartache and provides self-reflection to help find the sweetness in each of life’s seasons.  

Historical Fiction Books By and About Women

The Vanishing Half
  1. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

A novel you won’t be able to put down, The Vanishing Half takes readers back to 1950s America, following the lives of two identical twin sisters as they carve very different paths into the world. One sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, hiding her secret past from her white husband and daughter. The Vanishing Half examines how the past has lasting influence over our lives, and how our present choices can alter the generations who follow us.

Madame Presidentess
  1. Madame Presidentess by Nicole Evelina

Forty-eight years before women were granted the right to vote, one woman dared to run for President of the United States, yet her name has been virtually written out of the history books. Madame Presidentess follows the life of Victoria Woodhull, the daughter of a con-man and a religious zealot, and the journey that ultimately lead her to speak out and challenge the conventions of post-Civil War America to become the real-life first woman to run for president of the U.S. in 1872.

True Stories Based on Real Women

The Cat I Never Named: A True Story of Love, War, and Survival
  1. The Cat I Never Named: A True Story of Love, War, and Survival by Amra Sabic-El-Rayess with Laura L. Sullivan

A stunning memoir of a Muslim teen struggling to survive in the midst of the Bosnian genocide—and the stray cat who protected her family through it all. In 1992, Amra was a teen in Bihac, Bosnia, when the Serbian tanks rolled in, bringing her own city under siege. As the life she knew disappeared in an instant, a stray cat her family couldn’t afford to take care of followed her home. The Cat I Never Named is a harrowing account of a war-torn country and how one teen might have found a guardian spirit looking after her in the darkest of times.

  1. The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr. Malcolm X, James Baldwin Shaped a Nation by Anna Malaika Tubbs

Written by Anna Malaika Tubbs, Cambridge University Ph.D. candidate in Sociology, The Three Mothers is an in-depth look into how the extraordinary mothers of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and James Baldwin shaped a nation. Anna Malika Tubes details the overlooked and untold stories of Alberta King, Louise Little and Berdis Baldwin to acknowledge their rightful place in American history in this eye-opening celebration of Black women—and more specifically the power and resilience of Black mothers.

The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World
  1. The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World by Melinda Gates

Backed by her work in global philanthropy over the past 20 years, Melinda Gates writes about one thing she continues to witness across the globe: “If you want to lift society up, you need to stop keeping women down.” Melinda shares powerful and sometimes devastating conversations with women from all over the world and generously offers readers lessons she’s learned, with simple and effective ways they can get involved and make a difference. The Moment of Lift is an earnest call to action backed by data and shows how empowering women lifts up everyone. 

Women: The National Geographic Image Collection
  1. Women: The National Geographic Image Collection by National Geographic, with an introduction by Susan Goldberg

This powerful photography collection drawn from the celebrated National Geographic archive celebrates the lives of women from around the globe, from historic suffragettes to the haunting, green-eyed “Afghan girl.” This bold and inspiring book mines 130 years of photography to showcase 300-plus stunning images from more than 50 countries, each page offering compelling testimony about what it means to be female. Organized around chapter themes like grit, compassion, and joy, and accompanied by revelatory new interviews and portraits of contemporary trailblazers like Oprah Winfrey, Christiane Amanpour and others who are reshaping our world, this iconic collection provides definitive proof that the future is female.

Personal Development Books By Women

The Gift: 12 Lessons to Save Your Life
  1. The Gift: 12 Lessons to Save Your Life by Edith Eger

The Gift is a hands-on guide that gently encourages readers to examine the thoughts and behaviors that may be keeping them imprisoned in the past. Written by 93-year-old Holocaust survivor, and renowned psychologist, Dr. Edith Eger details how the worst prison she experienced was not the prison that Nazis put her in, but the one she created for herself; the prison within her own mind. With empathy, insight, and humor, she describes the 12 most imprisoning beliefs she has known—including fear, grief, anger, secrets, stress, guilt, shame, and avoidance—and the tools she discovered to face these universal challenges.

Photo by Andrii Kobryn/Shutterstock

Megan Nicole O’Neal is a writer with a passion for storytelling, traveling and whenever possible, mixing the two. The UCLA alum lives in Los Angeles; more specifically westside coffee shops with equally strong wifi and dark roasts. Connect with Megan on Twitter at @megan_n_onealor her website mnoneal.com.