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46 Books About Women Who Changed The World

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

  1. 1

    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.

    Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions Book Cover Picture
  2. 2

    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.

    Women in Science Book Cover Picture
  3. 3

    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.

    Chasing Light Book Cover Picture
  4. 4

    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.

    Women, Culture & Politics Book Cover Picture
  5. 5

    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.

    Warrior Queens Book Cover Picture
  6. 6

    Off the Sidelines

    Off the Sidelines is a playbook for women who want to step up, whether in Congress or the boardroom or the local PTA. Kirsten Gillibrand lays bare the highs and lows of being a young (pregnant!) woman in Congress, and the joys and sacrifices every working mother shares.

    Off the Sidelines Book Cover Picture
  7. 7

    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.

    The Second Sex Book Cover Picture
  8. 8

    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.

    Things I've Been Silent About Book Cover Picture
  9. 9

    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.

    Half the Sky Book Cover Picture
  10. 10

    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.

    A Woman in Charge Book Cover Picture
  11. 11

    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.

    Unbowed Book Cover Picture
  12. 12

    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.

    The Portable Nineteenth-Century African American Women Writers Book Cover Picture
  13. 13

    Who Cooked the Last Supper?

    Who Cooked the Last Supper? Book Cover Picture
  14. 14

    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.

    A Vindication of the Rights of Woman Book Cover Picture
  15. 15

    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.

    Michelle Obama Book Cover Picture
  16. 16

    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.

    My Beloved World Book Cover Picture
  17. 17

    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.

    Enchantress of Numbers Book Cover Picture
  18. 18

    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.

    The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage Book Cover Picture
  19. 19

    The Diary of a Young Girl

    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.

    The Diary of a Young Girl Book Cover Picture
  20. 20

    Who Is Sonia Sotomayor?

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

    Who Is Sonia Sotomayor? Book Cover Picture
  21. 21

    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.

    She Persisted Book Cover Picture
  22. 22

    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).

    Rad Women Worldwide Book Cover Picture
  23. 23

    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.

    The Firebrand and the First Lady Book Cover Picture
  24. 24

    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.

    Invisible No More Book Cover Picture
  25. 25

    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.

    Secret Lives of the First Ladies Book Cover Picture
  26. 26

    The Glass Universe

    The Glass Universe Book Cover Picture
  27. 27

    Headstrong

    Headstrong Book Cover Picture
  28. 28

    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.

    The Richest Woman in America Book Cover Picture
  29. 29

    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.

    Coming to My Senses Book Cover Picture
  30. 30

    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.

    Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman Book Cover Picture
  31. 31

    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.

    It's Your World Book Cover Picture
  32. 32

    The Collected Autobiographies of Maya Angelou

    The Collected Autobiographies of Maya Angelou Book Cover Picture
  33. 33

    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.

    My Life on the Road Book Cover Picture
  34. 34

    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.

    Eleanor Roosevelt, Volume 3 Book Cover Picture
  35. 35

    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.

    Eyes on the Street Book Cover Picture
  36. 36

    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.

    Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World Book Cover Picture
  37. 37

    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.

    A Singular Woman Book Cover Picture
  38. 38

    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.

    Know Your Power Book Cover Picture
  39. 39

    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.

    Clementine Book Cover Picture
  40. 40

    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.

    The Life of Elizabeth I Book Cover Picture
  41. 41

    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.

    Queens of the Conquest Book Cover Picture
  42. 42

    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.

    The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Book Cover Picture
  43. 43

    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.

    Elizabeth the Queen Book Cover Picture
  44. 44

    Wonder Women

    Wonder Women Book Cover Picture
  45. 45

    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.

    Hillary Book Cover Picture
  46. 46

    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.

    Romantic Outlaws Book Cover Picture

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