In honor of International Women’s Day, we’ve compiled a list of 50 books to help you celebrate the lives and achievements of women around the world. While we don’t agree with the opinions expressed in each and every one of these books, we are advocates for reading work that forces you to ruminate on your own thinking. Besides, isn’t it far more fun to debate with a well-researched book than with that not-so-researched-but-very-drunk person at the bar?
We’ve tried to gather books that you haven’t read before, so while we’re big fans of The Feminine Mystique, you won’t find it anywhere this list. Instead, you’ll find 50 books ranging in focus, but all related to the celebration and study of women.
1. Heroines by Kate Zambreno
Zambreno has created a truly unique project with Heroines: Party literary criticism, part memoir, she looks at the traditionally pathologized biographies of Jane Bowles, Jean Rhys, Zelda Fitzgerald and Vivienne Haigh-Wood Eliot. She critically examines how each was silenced and argues for an alternative canon including these “erased” women.
2. Art and Sexual Politics Edited by Thomas B. Hess and Elizabeth C. Baker
This difficult-to-find-but-worth-hunting-down 1973 anthology provides great essays from artists and writers, including the title piece from art historian Linda Nochlin. And don’t let the dated cover fool you: The ideas expressed here are just as relevant today as they were 41 years ago.
3. The Women by Hilton Als
This is just about everything. We don’t mean that in the colloquial “This cookie is, like, everything” way, either. Als’s book is a memoir, a sociopolitical manifesto, a piece of literary criticism and a psychological study. Like we said: just about everything. Als explores both racial and sexual stereotypes in this stunning series of essays, analyzing the women who would define his life, from his own mother to the mother of Malcolm X.