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45 Books About Women Who Changed The World

Stories about women who stood up, spoke out, struggled through, and soared.

  1. Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions Book Cover Picture
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    Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions

    A few years ago, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie received a letter from a dear friend from childhood, asking her how to raise her baby girl as a feminist. Dear Ijeawele is Adichie’s letter of response. Here are fifteen invaluable suggestions–compelling, direct, wryly funny, and perceptive–for how to empower a daughter to become a strong, independent woman.

  2. Women in Science Book Cover Picture
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    Women in Science

    Rachel Ignotofsky’s Women in Science highlights the contributions of fifty notable women to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) from the ancient to the modern world.

  3. Chasing Light Book Cover Picture
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    Chasing Light

    A collection of striking and intimate photographs of Michelle Obama—many never before seen—coupled with personal reflections and behind-the-scenes stories from Official White House Photographer Amanda Lucidon, presented in a deluxe format.

  4. Women, Culture, & Politics Book Cover Picture
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    Women, Culture, & Politics

    A collection of speeches and writings by political activist Angela Davis which address the political and social changes of the past decade as they are concerned with the struggle for racial, sexual, and economic equality.

  5. Warrior Queens Book Cover Picture
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    Warrior Queens

    In this panoramic work of history, Lady Antonia Fraser looks at women who led armies and empires: Cleopatra, Isabella of Spain, Jinga Mbandi, Margaret Thatcher, and Indira Gandhi, among others.

  6. The Second Sex Book Cover Picture
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    The Second Sex

    Simone de Beauvoir’s essential masterwork is a powerful analysis of the Western notion of “woman,” and a revolutionary exploration of inequality and otherness.

  7. Things I've Been Silent About Book Cover Picture
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    Things I’ve Been Silent About

    In this stunning personal story of growing up in Iran, Azar Nafisi shares her memories of living in thrall to a powerful and complex mother against the backdrop of a country’s political revolution.

  8. Half the Sky Book Cover Picture
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    Half the Sky

    With Pulitzer Prize winners Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn as our guides, we undertake an odyssey through Africa and Asia to meet the extraordinary women struggling there, among them a Cambodian teenager sold into sex slavery and an Ethiopian woman who suffered devastating injuries in childbirth. Drawing on the breadth of their combined reporting experience, Kristof and WuDunn depict our world with anger, sadness, clarity, and, ultimately, hope.

  9. A Woman in Charge Book Cover Picture
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    A Woman in Charge

    From Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Carl Bernstein, the nuanced, definitive biography of one of the most controversial and widely misunderstood figures of our time: the woman running a historic campaign as the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee—Hillary Rodham Clinton.

  10. Unbowed Book Cover Picture
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    Unbowed

    In Unbowed, Nobel Prize winner Wangari Maathai recounts her extraordinary journey from her childhood in rural Kenya to the world stage. When Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement in 1977, she began a vital poor people’s environmental movement, focused on the empowerment of women, that soon spread across Africa. Persevering through run-ins with the Kenyan government and personal losses, and jailed and beaten on numerous occasions, Maathai continued to fight tirelessly to save Kenya’s forests and to restore democracy to her beloved country.

  11. The Portable Nineteenth-Century African American Women Writers Book Cover Picture
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    The Portable Nineteenth-Century African American Women Writers

    The Portable Nineteenth-Century African American Women Writers is the most comprehensive anthology of its kind: an extraordinary range of voices offering the expressions of African American women in print before, during, and after the Civil War.

  12. Who Cooked the Last Supper? Book Cover Picture
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    Who Cooked the Last Supper?

  13. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman Book Cover Picture
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    A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

    Writing in an age when the call for the rights of man had brought revolution to America and France, Mary Wollstonecraft produced her own declaration of female independence in 1792. Passionate and forthright, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman attacked the prevailing view of docile, decorative femininity, and instead laid out the principles of emancipation: an equal education for girls and boys, an end to prejudice, and for women to become defined by their profession, not their partner.

  14. Michelle Obama Book Cover Picture
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    Michelle Obama

    From the lessons she learned in Chicago to the messages she shares as one of the most recognizable women in the world, the story of this First Lady is the story of America. Michelle Obama: A Life is a fresh and compelling view of a woman of unique achievement and purpose.

  15. My Beloved World Book Cover Picture
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    My Beloved World

    The first Hispanic and third woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor has become an instant American icon. Now, with a candor and intimacy never undertaken by a sitting Justice, she recounts her life from a Bronx housing project to the federal bench, a journey that offers an inspiring testament to her own extraordinary determination and the power of believing in oneself.

  16. Enchantress of Numbers Book Cover Picture
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    Enchantress of Numbers

    Author Jennifer Chiaverini illuminates the fascinating life of Ada Byron King, Countess of Lovelace—Lord Byron’s daughter, the world’s first computer programmer, and a woman whose exceptional contributions to science and technology have been too long unsung.

  17. The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage Book Cover Picture
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    The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage

    The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage by Sydney Padua presents a rollicking alternate reality in which Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage do build the Difference Engine and then use it to build runaway economic models, battle the scourge of spelling errors, explore the wilder realms of mathematics, and, of course, fight crime—for the sake of both London and science.

  18. Anne Frank Book Cover Picture
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    Anne Frank

    The Diary of a Young Girl is the record of two years in the life of a remarkable Jewish girl whose triumphant humanity in the face of unfathomable deprivation and fear has made the book one of the most enduring documents of our time.

  19. Who Is Sonia Sotomayor? Book Cover Picture
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    Who Is Sonia Sotomayor?

    The truly inspiring story of the first Latina Supreme Court Justice, formatted for middle grade readers.

  20. She Persisted Book Cover Picture
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    She Persisted

    Chelsea Clinton introduces tiny feminists, mini activists and little kids who are ready to take on the world to thirteen inspirational women who never took no for an answer, and who always, inevitably and without fail, persisted.

  21. Rad Women Worldwide Book Cover Picture
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    Rad Women Worldwide

    Kate Schatz’s Rad Women Worldwide tells fresh, engaging, and amazing tales of perseverance and radical success by pairing well-researched and riveting biographies with powerful and expressive cut-paper portraits. The book features an array of diverse figures from 430 BCE to 2016, spanning 31 countries around the world, from Hatshepsut (the great female king who ruled Egypt peacefully for two decades) and Malala Yousafzi (the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize) to Poly Styrene (legendary teenage punk and lead singer of X-Ray Spex) and Liv Arnesen and Ann Bancroft (polar explorers and the first women to cross Antarctica).

  22. The Firebrand and the First Lady Book Cover Picture
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    The Firebrand and the First Lady

    A finalist for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction, and longlisted for the National Book Award, Patricia Bell-Scott’s The Firebrand and the First Lady is the riveting history, two decades in the making, of how a brilliant writer-turned-activist and the first lady of the United States forged an enduring friendship that helped to alter the course of race and racism in America.

  23. Invisible No More Book Cover Picture
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    Invisible No More

    A timely examination from Andrea Ritchie of the ways Black women, Indigenous women, and other women of color are uniquely affected by racial profiling, police brutality, and immigration enforcement.

  24. Secret Lives of the First Ladies Book Cover Picture
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    Secret Lives of the First Ladies

    Whether she’s a leading lady, loyal spouse, or lightning rod for scandal, the First Lady of the United States has always been in the spotlight—and in 2017 that was truer than ever. This revised and expanded edition from Quirk’s best-selling Secret Lives series features outrageous and uncensored profiles of the women of the White House, from Martha Washington to Melania Trump.

  25. The Glass Universe Book Cover Picture
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    The Glass Universe

  26. Headstrong Book Cover Picture
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    Headstrong

  27. The Richest Woman in America Book Cover Picture
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    The Richest Woman in America

    No woman in the Gilded Age made as much money as Hetty Green, America’s first female tycoon. A strong woman who forged her own path, she was worth at least $100 million by the end of her life in 1916—equal to about $2.5 billion today.

  28. Coming to My Senses Book Cover Picture
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    Coming to My Senses

    The New York Times bestselling and critically acclaimed memoir from cultural icon and culinary standard bearer Alice Waters recalls the circuitous road and tumultuous times leading to the opening of what is arguably America’s most influential restaurant.

  29. Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman Book Cover Picture
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    Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman

    The Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Peter the Great, Nicholas and Alexandra, and The Romanovs returns with another masterpiece of narrative biography, the extraordinary story of an obscure German princess who became one of the most remarkable, powerful, and captivating women in history.

  30. It's Your World Book Cover Picture
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    It’s Your World

    First daughter turned activist and mother Chelsea Clinton shows kids how they can make a difference in their world. Filled with charts, photos, and lots of input from real kids, this is sure to inspire young readers.

  31. The Collected Autobiographies of Maya Angelou Book Cover Picture
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    The Collected Autobiographies of Maya Angelou

  32. My Life on the Road Book Cover Picture
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    My Life on the Road

    Gloria Steinem—writer, activist, organizer, and inspiring leader—now tells a story she has never told before, a candid account of her life as a traveler, a listener, and a catalyst for change.

  33. Eleanor Roosevelt, Volume 3 Book Cover Picture
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    Eleanor Roosevelt, Volume 3

    Historians, politicians, critics, and readers everywhere have praised Blanche Wiesen Cook’s biography of Eleanor Roosevelt as the essential portrait of a woman who towers over the twentieth century. The third and final volume takes us through World War II, FDR’s death, the founding of the UN, and Eleanor Roosevelt’s death in 1962. It follows the arc of war and the evolution of a marriage, as the first lady realized the cost of maintaining her principles even as the country and her husband were not prepared to adopt them.

  34. Eyes on the Street Book Cover Picture
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    Eyes on the Street

    Jane Jacobs was a phenomenal woman who wrote seven groundbreaking books, saved neighborhoods, stopped expressways, was arrested twice, and engaged in thousands of impassioned debates—all of which she won. Robert Kanigel’s revelatory portrait of Jacobs, based on new sources and interviews, brings to life the child who challenged her third-grade teacher; the high school poet; the mother who raised three children; the journalist who honed her skills at Architectural Forum and Fortune before writing her most famous book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities; and the activist who helped lead a successful protest against Robert Moses’s proposed expressway through her beloved Greenwich Village.

  35. Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World Book Cover Picture
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    Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World

    A founding text of transnational feminism. For twenty-five years, Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World has been an essential primer on the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century history of women’s movements in Asia and the Middle East. In this engaging and well-researched survey, Kumari Jayawardena presents feminism as it originated in the Third World, erupting from the specific struggles of women fighting against colonial power, for education or the vote, for safety, and against poverty and inequality.

  36. A Singular Woman Book Cover Picture
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    A Singular Woman

    Barack Obama has written extensively about his father but credited his mother for “what is best in me.” Still, little is known about this fiercely independent, spirited woman who raised the man who became the first biracial president of the United States. This book is that story. In A Singular Woman, award-winning New York Times reporter Janny Scott tells the story of this unique woman, Stanley Ann Dunham, who broke many of the rules of her time, and shows how her fierce example helped influence the future president-and can serve as an inspiration to us all.

  37. Know Your Power Book Cover Picture
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    Know Your Power

      When Nancy Pelosi became the first woman Speaker of the House, she made history. Now she continues to inspire women everywhere in this thought-provoking collection of wise words-her own and those of the important people who played pivotal roles in her journey. In this compelling book, she encourages mothers and grandmothers, daughters and granddaughters to never lose faith, to speak out and make their voices heard, to focus on what matters most and to follow their dreams wherever they may lead.

  38. Clementine Book Cover Picture
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    Clementine

    A long over-due tribute to the extraordinary woman who was Winston Churchill’s closest confident, fiercest critic and shrewdest political advisor that captures the intimate dynamic of one of history’s most fateful marriages, as seen on The Crown.

  39. The Life of Elizabeth I Book Cover Picture
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    The Life of Elizabeth I

    Perhaps the most influential sovereign England has ever known, Queen Elizabeth I remained an extremely private person throughout her reign, keeping her own counsel and sharing secrets with no one–not even her closest, most trusted advisers. Now, in this brilliantly researched, fascinating new book, acclaimed biographer Alison Weir shares provocative new interpretations and fresh insights on this enigmatic figure.

  40. Queens of the Conquest Book Cover Picture
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    Queens of the Conquest

    In the first volume of an exciting new series, bestselling author Alison Weir brings the dramatic reigns of England’s medieval queens to life. The lives of England’s medieval queens were packed with incident—love, intrigue, betrayal, adultery, and warfare—but their stories have been largely obscured by centuries of myth and omission. Now esteemed biographer Alison Weir provides a fresh perspective and restores these women to their rightful place in history.

  41. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Book Cover Picture
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    The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

    Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they’d weigh more than 50 million metric tons—as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta Lacks remains virtually unknown, buried in an unmarked grave. Now Rebecca Skloot takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells; from Henrietta’s small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia—a land of wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo—to East Baltimore today, where her children and grandchildren live and struggle with the legacy of her cells.

  42. Elizabeth the Queen Book Cover Picture
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    Elizabeth the Queen

    From the moment of her ascension to the throne in 1952 at the age of twenty-five, Queen Elizabeth II has been the object of unparalleled scrutiny. But through the fog of glamour and gossip, how well do we really know the world’s most famous monarch? Drawing on numerous interviews and never-before-revealed documents, acclaimed biographer Sally Bedell Smith pulls back the curtain to show in intimate detail the public and private lives of Queen Elizabeth II, who has led her country and Commonwealth through the wars and upheavals of the last sixty years with unparalleled composure, intelligence, and grace.

  43. Wonder Women Book Cover Picture
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    Wonder Women

  44. Hillary Book Cover Picture
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    Hillary

    In this beautiful and empowering picture-book biography of presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Times bestselling author Winter and award-winning illustrator Colón illuminate her distinguished life and career. This stunning project follows Clinton from her early years as an outspoken student at Wellesley College and Yale Law School to marrying Bill Clinton and raising daughter Chelsea, to becoming First Lady of the United States and then a U.S. Senator and Secretary of State.

  45. Romantic Outlaws Book Cover Picture
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    Romantic Outlaws

    This groundbreaking dual biography brings to life a pioneering English feminist and the daughter she never knew. Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley have each been the subject of numerous biographies, yet no one has ever examined their lives in one book—until now. In Romantic Outlaws, Charlotte Gordon reunites the trailblazing author who wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Womanand the Romantic visionary who gave the world Frankenstein—two courageous women who should have shared their lives, but instead shared a powerful literary and feminist legacy.

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