Sunday, March 09, 2014

What Are You Reading for Women’s History Month?

For the past few years in honor of Women's History Month, I’ve been reading a book covering women’s history or a biography of a famous woman during March. Last year I read Robert Massie's book Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman. In my review I noted that Robert Massie had written Elizabeth I of England used virginity and abstinence as prizes to tempt and manipulate powerful men. This was in contrast to Catherine the Great who had numerous lovers during her rein. I then suggested a biography on Elizabeth I would make an excellent companion read to Massie’s book.

As a result, I am choosing Alison Weir’s book The Life of Elizabeth Ias my read this year for women’s history month:

I discovered this book on Deb of Urban Moo-Cow’s list of her top ten non-fiction reads. She wrote:
I am an unabashed Anglophile. I have read so many books about Tudor-era England, both fiction and non-fiction, it is almost embarrassing. But Weir is special: an amazing writer and historian. You feel like you are reading a story, not a history book, yet every word is meticulously researched.

 Since this book is 488 pages long, I’ve decided not to select it for The Savvy Reader Book Club - book club selections are supposed to be 300 pages or less. Instead of selecting a book this month:

I am challenging you to read one book of your own choosing for Women’s History Month

If you need ideas here are a few books I recommend from my book archives:

This Little Light of Mine: The Life of Fannie Lou Hamer by Kay Mills:
In addition to being an excellent choice for Women’s History Month, this book provides a study of the civil rights movement, the history, culture and politics of Mississippi, and the economic programs and human rights Fannie Lou fought so tirelessly for.

When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present by Gail Collins:
This is a well-researched comprehensive history of what has happened in every realm of women’s lives from 1960 to the present including Hillary Clinton’s historic presidential campaign.

Coco Chanel: The Legend and The Life by Justine Picardie:
An informative biography of the famous fashion designer Coco Chanel. This is a rags-to-riches tale describing how Chanel made herself into a style legend and what she had to hide along the way in order to ascend to the top.

In the Name of Honor: A Memoir by Mukhtar Mai:
This is the story of Muktar Mai, a poor, uneducated peasant woman from the small village of Meerwala, Pakistan. Her life is turned upside down when she is gang-raped on the order of a council of elders as punishment for her brother’s alleged affair with a woman of a higher clan. Instead of committing suicide which is the cultural norm she decides to fight for justice.

Loving Frank: A Novel by Nancy Horan:
This book is a fictional account of the real life story of Frank Lloyd Wright’s affair with one of his clients, Mamah Borthwick Cheney in the early 1900’s. Mamah who lived life on her own terms provides a glimpse into what life was like for a woman who leaves her husband and children for another man prior to the women’s movement.

Mighty Be Our Powers by Leymeah Gbowee:
Leymah won the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize for helping to lead the women's protests that toppled Liberia's dictator. This book is her courageous story.

Marie Antoinette: The Journey by Antonia Fraser:
This book along with Caroline Weber’s Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution are both excellent biographies of Marie Antoinette’s life.

The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan:
This is Betty Friedan’s classic book that ignited the feminist movement. It can be a bit dry and repetitive at times, but is still a worthwhile read.

My Life in France by Julia Child:
This book which is based on the letters Julia Child and her husband Paul wrote to family and friends while living in Europe is a delightful read about a woman discovering her passion later in life.

For more book recommendations see these book lists from around the web:

Books and Bassets provides an interesting list.

The Book Wheel's 30 Inspiring Books For Women, By Women - I can't you believe I've only finished four of these.

The Invisible Mentor shares a list of classic books written by women. She is celebrating the month by reading 7 or 8.

What are you reading for women’s history month?


  1. Excellent challenge and books! I'm leaning (pun intended :-) )towards Sandberg's book for this challenge. I've been meaning to read it!

  2. I need to check out some of these books!

  3. Thanks for the recommendations. I would love to read about Catherine the Great, Julia child and Loving Frank.

  4. I absolutely adore Elizabeth Weir! She can weave historical facts and storytelling without mucking it up! She is such an amazing talent!


  5. Ha! Alison Weir not Elizabeth Weir. Whoops.

  6. Looks like we're in Spring Fling SITS Girls group together this week. Yippee! I already love your blog and love to share your posts :) Here's to a great week!


  7. I have always been fascinated by Elizabeth I since I was in 5th grade and did a school project about her life. :) I must read this book! Thanks for the suggestions.

  8. I'm afraid I've been reading lots of blogging and cookbooks. I love the idea of reading a book about women/a woman during women's history month.

  9. We are reading the Little House series as a family, and I've been reading Mary Queen of Scots. But I should be truthful and say I haven't picked it up lately... Life has been sooo busy, yes even to busy to read!!! now THAT'S a problem :-)!

  10. I'd definitely like to read and learn more about some of those women!