13 Books to Read This Women’s History Month

Women’s History Month is a time to celebrate the women of both past and present who make a difference in our lives. It’s a time to champion the progress we’ve made, and to challenge ourselves to go further in the fight for safety, visibility, and equality for every woman.

With so much to celebrate, what better way to learn about women’s history than to check out a book by a woman author? We’ve selected 13 different books from our catalog to get you started on your Women’s History Month reads.

This display highlights books from across time, place, and culture that each share diverse perspectives and experiences of womanhood. Below, you’ll find classic, must-read novels like Mrs. Dalloway and The Bluest Eye alongside popular modern works like the New York Times Bestseller, Mexican Gothic. For the more academically inclined, we’ve selected essential feminist writings by Audre Lorde and bell hooks; and for those seeking a gripping story, we’ve got Cristina García’s Dreaming in Cuban and Radclyffe Hall’s once-banned lesbian novel, The Well of Loneliness. You’ll find everything from laugh-out-loud comics like Alison Bechdel’s jaunty Dykes to Watch Out For, to compelling dramas like The Color Purple by Alice Walker.

There is something for everyone this Women’s History Month!

Each book featured here can be checked out at Strozier Library or retrieved online through the FSU Libraries website. To search for more women’s books, browse our online catalog.


cover of Mrs. Dalloway, showing Dalloway applying makeup above a row of London houses, in front of which citizens are passing.

Mrs. Dalloway

by Virginia Woolf

“Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.” It’s one of the most famous opening lines in literature, that of Virginia Woolf’s beloved masterpiece of time, memory, and the city. In the wake of World War I and the 1918 flu pandemic, Clarissa Dalloway, elegant and vivacious, is preparing for a party and remembering those she once loved. In another part of London, Septimus Smith is suffering from shell-shock and on the brink of madness. Their days interweave and their lives converge as the party reaches its glittering climax. In a novel in which she perfects the interior monologue and recapitulates the life cycle in the hours of the day, from first light to the dark of night, Woolf achieves an uncanny simulacrum of consciousness, bringing past, present, and future together, and recording, impression by impression, minute by minute, the feel of life itself.

Image courtesy of Amazon.com. Description provided by Penguin Publishing Group.

did you know? image, featuring a women's rights symbol.

Did you know?

Virginia Woolf co-owned and operated a publishing company, The Hogarth Press, which published both her works and those of her contemporaries- authors like T.S. Eliot, Sigmund Freud, and E.M. Forster. As such, the Woolfs’ house became something of a cultural hub for London artists of the time.

feminism is for everybody cover, with a picture of two young women smiling.

Feminism is for Everybody

by bell hooks

bell hooks establishes what feminism is truly about through Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics. The book analytically explores feminism from an intelligent perspective, shining light on the successes and shortcomings of the feminist movement. Removing the strong sexual appetite from the topic of love, the author explores ways to end oppression and sexism. Consider the book a simple guide to understanding feminism.

Image courtesy of Amazon.com. Description provided by bell hooks Books.

The Bluest Eye cover

The Bluest Eye

by Toni Morrison

Pecola Breedlove, a young eleven-year-old black girl, prays every day for beauty. Mocked by other children for the dark skin, curly hair, and brown eyes that set her apart, she yearns for the blond hair and blue eyes that she believes will allow her to finally fit in. Yet as her dreams grow more fervent, her life slowly starts to disintegrate in the face of adversity and strife. A powerful examination of our obsession with beauty and conformity.

Image and description courtesy of Penguin Books.

did you know? image, featuring a women's rights symbol.

Did you know?

In the 1960s, Toni Morrison worked as one of the first Black fiction editors at Random House, where she gave voice to other Black authors such as Angela Davis and Gayl Jones by acquiring and editing their books. In 1993, she became the first Black recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature.

The cover of Mexican Gothic, featuring a woman in a dark red dress, clutching a bouquet of yellow flowers.

Mexican Gothic

by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region. Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Image and description courtesy of Penguin Books.

Cover of Bechdel's Dykes to Watch Out For, featuring the many characters of her comics talking, arguing, laughing, and answering the phone.

The Essential Dykes to Watch Our For

by Alison Bechdel

Settle in to this wittily illustrated soap opera (Bechdel calls it “half op-ed column and half endless serialized Victorian novel”) of the lives, loves, and politics of Mo, Lois, Sydney, Sparrow, Ginger, Stuart, Clarice, and the rest of the cast of cult-fav characters. Most of them are lesbians, living in a midsize American city that may or may not be Minneapolis. Bechdel’s brilliantly imagined countercultural band of friends—academics, social workers, bookstore clerks—fall in and out of love, negotiate friendships, raise children, switch careers, and cope with aging parents. Bechdel fuses high and low culture—from foreign policy to domestic routine, hot sex to postmodern theory—in a serial graphic narrative “suitable for humanists of all persuasions.”

Image courtesy of Amazon.com. Description provided by HarperCollins.

The Color Purple book cover featuring two women embracing

The Color Purple

by Alice Walker

A powerful cultural touchstone of modern American literature, The Color Purple depicts the lives of African American women in early twentieth-century rural Georgia. Separated as girls, sisters Celie and Nettie sustain their loyalty to and hope in each other across time, distance and silence. Through a series of letters spanning twenty years, first from Celie to God, then the sisters to each other despite the unknown, the novel draws readers into its rich and memorable portrayals of Celie, Nettie, Shug Avery and Sofia and their experience. The Color Purple broke the silence around domestic and sexual abuse, narrating the lives of women through their pain and struggle, companionship and growth, resilience and bravery. Deeply compassionate and beautifully imagined, Alice Walker’s epic carries readers on a spirit-affirming journey towards redemption and love.

Image and description courtesy of Penguin Books.

did you know? image, featuring a women's rights symbol.

Did you know?

Alice Walker participated in the historic March on Washington at which Dr. Martin Luther King gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. In 1966, she moved to Mississippi to help local African Americans register to vote and much of her life was devoted to the fight for civil rights.

cover for My Home as I Remember, featuring a drawn, orange figure in front of a geometric background

My Home as I Remember: A Collection of Essays

edited by Lee Maracle and Sandra Laronde

My Home As I Remember describes literary and artistic achievements of First Nations, Inuit and Metis women across Canada and the United States, including contributions from New Zealand and Mexico. Their voices and creative expression of identity and place are richly varied, reflecting the depth of the culturally diverse energy found on these continents. Over 60 writers and visual artists are represented from nearly 25 nations, including writers such as Lee Maracle, Chrystos and Louise Bernice Halfe, and visual artists Joane Cardinal-Schubert, Teresa Marshall, Kenojuak Ashevak, Doreen Jensen and Shelley Niro; and some who are published for the first time in this landmark volume. Lee Maracle is the author of numerous books, including Ravensong. Sandra Laronde, writer/actor, is Executive Director of Native Women in the Arts.

Image courtesy of Amazon.com. Description provided by Dundurn Press.

dreaming in cuban cover, featuring the top half of a woman's head. she peers out through blue eyes, her hair blonde and decorated with a pink flower.

Dreaming in Cuban

by Cristina García

Cristina García’s acclaimed book is the haunting, bittersweet story of a family experiencing a country’s revolution and the revelations that follow. The lives of Celia del Pino and her husband, daughters, and grandchildren mirror the magical realism of Cuba itself, a landscape of beauty and poverty, idealism and corruption. Dreaming in Cuban is “a work that possesses both the intimacy of a Chekov story and the hallucinatory magic of a novel by Gabriel García Márquez” (The New York Times). In celebration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the novel’s original publication, this edition features a new introduction by the author.

Image and Description courtesy of Penguin Books.

cover of The Well of Loneliness, featuring the back of a woman's head.

The Well of Loneliness

by Radclyffe Hall

The Well of Loneliness tells the story of tomboyish Stephen, who hunts, wears trousers and cuts her hair short – and who gradually comes to realise that she is attracted to women. Charting her romantic and professional adventures during the First World War and beyond, the novel provoked a furore on first publication in 1928 for its lesbian heroine and led to a notorious legal trial for obscenity. Hall herself, however, saw the book as a pioneer work and today it is recognised as a landmark work of gay fiction.

Image courtesy of Amazon.com. Description provided by Penguin Books.

did you know? image, featuring a women's rights symbol.

Did you know?

Because of the book’s queer themes, Radclyffe Halle was put on trial for obscenity. She lost her case; the book was banned; and all copies were ordered to be destroyed. Still, The Well of Loneliness survives as one of the most important lesbian texts of the 20th century.

fairest cover, featuring a rainbow-gradient background with a closed eye with long eyelashes.

Fairest: A Memoir

by Meredith Talusan

Fairest is a memoir about a precocious boy with albinism, a “sun child” from a rural Philippine village, who would grow up to become a woman in America. Coping with the strain of parental neglect and the elusive promise of U.S. citizenship, Talusan found comfort from her devoted grandmother, a grounding force as she was treated by others with special preference or public curiosity. As an immigrant to the United States, Talusan came to be perceived as white, and further access to elite circles of privilege but required Talusan to navigate through the complex spheres of race, class, sexuality, and queerness. Questioning the boundaries of gender, Talusan realized she did not want to be confined to a prescribed role as a man, and transitioned to become a woman, despite the risk of losing a man she deeply loved. Throughout her journey, Talusan shares poignant and powerful episodes of desirability and love that will remind readers of works such as Call Me By Your Name and Giovanni’s Room.

Image and description courtesy of Penguin Books.

Passing cover with a fragmented image of a woman.

Passing

by Nella Larsen

Clare Kendry is living on the edge. Light-skinned, elegant, and ambitious, she is married to a racist white man unaware of her African American heritage, and has severed all ties to her past after deciding to “pass” as a white woman. Clare’s childhood friend, Irene Redfield, just as light-skinned, has chosen to remain within the African American community, and is simultaneously allured and repelled by Clare’s risky decision to engage in racial masquerade for personal and societal gain. After frequenting African American-centric gatherings together in Harlem, Clare’s interest in Irene turns into a homoerotic longing for Irene’s black identity that she abandoned and can never embrace again, and she is forced to grapple with her decision to pass for white in a way that is both tragic and telling.

Image and description courtesy of Penguin Books.

minor feelings cover, with the title engulfed in flames.

Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning

by Cathy Park Hong

Poet and essayist Cathy Park Hong fearlessly and provocatively blends memoir, cultural criticism, and history to expose fresh truths about racialized consciousness in America. Part memoir and part cultural criticism, this collection is vulnerable, humorous, and provocative—and its relentless and riveting pursuit of vital questions around family and friendship, art and politics, identity and individuality, will change the way you think about our world.

Image and description courtesy of Penguin Books.

Sister Outsider cover, featuring a drawing of Audre Lorde.

Sister Outsider

by Audre Lorde

In this charged collection of fifteen essays and speeches, Lorde takes on sexism, racism, ageism, homophobia, and class, and propounds social difference as a vehicle for action and change. Her prose is incisive, unflinching, and lyrical, reflecting struggle but ultimately offering messages of hope. This commemorative edition includes a new foreword by Lorde-scholar and poet Cheryl Clarke, who celebrates the ways in which Lorde’s philosophies resonate more than twenty years after they were first published. These landmark writings are, in Lorde’s own words, a call to “never close our eyes to the terror, to the chaos which is Black which is creative which is female which is dark which is rejected which is messy which is . . . ”

Image and description courtesy of Penguin Books.


This blog post was created by Lila Rush-Hickey, Student Engagement Assistant for FSU Libraries. She is a third-year Literature, Media and Culture major at FSU.

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