March is Women’s History Month and on the 8th we celebrate International Women’s Day. A great way to honor it is to read about extraordinary women and their accomplishments. Here are some books about phenomenal women that will surely inspire you.
Books That Celebrate Women
1. I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai
Malala Yousafzai is the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. In 2012, she spoke up for her right to an education and was shot by the Taliban. Luckily, she survived and has since become a source of inspiration and a champion for girls’ right to education.
2. “My Beloved World” by Sonia Sotomayor
Sonia Sotomayor is only the third woman to be a Supreme Court Justice and the first Hispanic woman to sit on the bench. Sonia Sotomayor’s life will surely inspire you. Overcoming poverty and adversity, Justice Sotomayor grew up in the projects in the Bronx, attended some of the most prestigious schools and now sits on the Highest Court of the land, making her the third woman to be a Supreme Court Justice and the first Hispanic woman to sit on the bench. This Puerto Rican has sure made her community proud… Can you say WEPA???
3. Women Heroes of World War II 26 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Resistance, and Rescue (Women of Action) by Kathryn Atwood
We often think about the heroes of World War II being those that fought with guns in their hands, and drove tanks or arrived in Normandy. We forget that there were many women who risked their lives by helping the Resistance, hiding Jewish children and foiling Nazi plans. This book is a compilation of those stories, courageous women who risked their lives during the War.
4. The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt by Eleanor Roosevelt
Eleanor Roosevelt was probably the First Lady of the United States who took on a very public role during her time at the White House. She often stood in for her husband, FDR, after he was crippled with polio. She worked in support of a minimum wage and the abolition of child labor. Eleanor was an advocate of civil rights and spoke against discrimination against minorities and was a champion of universal human rights.
5. Benazir Bhutto: Daughter of Destiny by Benazir Bhutto
Benazir Bhutto was the first woman elected to be prime minister in a Muslim country, Pakistan. She served for two terms and was assassinated during her political campaigning.
6. I, Rigoberta Menchu: An Indian Woman in Guatemala by Rigoberta Menchu
Rigoberta Menchu has spent her life advocating for the rights of indigenous people in Guatemala. She became involved in politics and has given a voice to voiceless people. Menchu has run for president of Guatemala twice, although unsuccessfully. She received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992 and the Prince of Asturias Prize in 1998. Rigoberta is also a UN Goodwill Ambassador.
7. Living History by Hillary Clinton
Hillary Rodham Clinton needs no introduction. Brilliant in law school, where she met her husband Bill Clinton, she became a champion of disadvantaged communities: children and women. She served as Senator for NY and was also Secretary of State. Many say she will be the Democratic presidential candidate in 2016, although others criticize her and her decision to use her private email address during her time as Secretary of State. You should also check out her book Hard Choices about her time in that role.
8. “This America of Ours: The Letters of Gabriela Mistral and Victoria Ocampo” by Gabriela Mistral
Gabriela Mistral was a Chilean poet, educator and journalist who was the first person in Latin America to win a Nobel prize. Victoria Ocampo was an Argentine essayist who founded a literary journal, Sur. Both women came from very different upbringings -one was poor and the other was wealthy- yet they developed a friendship that transcended social class. This book is a collection of their letters to each other. In it, they examine the intellectual and political issues of their time and discussed issues of identity, nationality and gender.
9. Manuela by Gregory Kauffman
They say that behind every great man, there is a great woman. That is exactly what Manuela Sáenz was for El Libertador de América, Simon Bolívar. Manuela Saenz was born in Quito, Ecuador and lived in Peru with her English merchant husband. She later left him and fell in love with Bolivar, whom she dedicated her life to. This book talks about that love story, but also about her contributions to the revolutions of the South American people. She was a strong woman who defied social mores of the time: she was a colonel in Bolivar’s army and even saved his life. The author of this book akins her to Evita Peron and calls her one of the most important women in South American history.
10. Obsessive Genius: The Inner World of Marie Curie By Barbara Goldsmith
I couldn’t write a list of extraordinary women and not include Marie Curie. Marie Curie was a Polish-born, French-naturalized physician accomplished so much! She was the first woman to receive a Nobel Peace Prize, the first person (and only woman) to win TWICE, was the first woman to teach at La Sorbonne in France, and also to be buried in Le Pantheon in Paris, reserved as a burial ground for very important French citizens. What I love the most about her story? She broke glass ceilings and is an excellent example of an immigrant who went to another country and made incredible contributions to her adopted country.
What books are your favorites?