March is National Women’s History Month — a time to tell, listen to and empathize with the stories of women who paved the way for others. One way to do so is through books that can inspire meaningful conversations among girlfriends, mothers, grandmothers and daughters.
The following selections of fiction, adult nonfiction and children’s nonfiction—chosen by Capital Area District Libraries’ staff—bring a fresh viewpoint to both historic events and contemporary life.
These books can all be found in print, eBook or audiobook at cadl.org/catalog.
‘Carolina Built’ by Kianna Alexander
Celebrate Black joy and achievement with the story of Josephine N. Leary, a real-life formerly enslaved woman turned Carolina real estate magnate.
‘The Paris Bookseller’ by Kerri Maher
This work of historical fiction features American Sylvia Beach, who opened the original Shakespeare and Company bookstore in 1919 Paris.
‘The Matrix’ by Lauren Groff
Nominated for the National Book Award and Carnegie Medal, Groff’s novel explores a possible life of poet Marie of France in a 12th Century abbey — including not only the violence of the times, but the passion, faith, power and creativity of women.
‘Sisters in Arms’ by Kaia Alderson
This story follows two women who form a rocky friendship after joining the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps’ all African American 6888th Central Postal Division, then follows them through their service in Europe during WWII.
‘Of Women and Salt’ by Gabriela Garcia
This slim but powerful novel looks at the effects of trauma, addiction and immigration on a group of women from two families over multiple generations.
‘Civil Rights Queen: Constance Baker Motley and the Struggle for Equality’ by Tomiko Brown-Nagin
Harvard Law Professor Brown-Nagin tells the story of trailblazing lawyer, judge, politician, and civil rights legend Constance Baker Motley, from her early work at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund to her service as the nation’s first Black woman to be appointed as a federal judge.
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‘Let’s Get Physical: How Women Discovered Exercise and Reshaped the World’ by Danielle Friedman
This entertaining and informative work focuses on the evolution of the women’s fitness movement, profiling pioneers of women’s exercise from the 1960s to the present.
‘Taste Makers: Seven Immigrant Women Who Revolutionized Food in America by Mayukh Sen
An award-winning food writer and NYU journalism instructor explores immigration, identity, gender and race through the lives of the seven women.
‘All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days: The True Story of the American Woman at the Heart of the German Resistance to Hitler’ by Rebecca Donner
Donner conducted archival research to tell the gripping and tragic story of her own great-great-aunt, who traveled to Germany as a graduate student, then became a leader of the underground resistance movement until her arrest and execution 10 years later.
‘Collective Wisdom: Lessons, Inspiration, and Advice from Women over 50’ edited by Grace Bonney
The author of “In the Company of Women” inspires with another beautiful book about women’s lives, focusing on intergenerational connectedness, community and wisdom told through photographs and interviews with over 100 women.
‘Come Fly the World: The Jet-Age Story of the Women of Pan Am’ by Julia Cooke
Journalist Julia Cooke takes us back to the 1960s and 1970s, bringing the era and its history to life through the lives and stories of three Pan Am stewardesses.
‘Born Hungry Julia Child Becomes “The French Chef”’ by Alex Prud’Homme
This biography about an exuberant crafter of food shines a light on the memory of Julia Child, who taught the world to love French food.
‘Breaking Through the Clouds: The Sometimes Turbulent Life of Meteorologist Joanne Simpson’ by Sandra Nickel
This picture book biography details the life of Joanne Simpson, who was inspired as a child to study the weather and became the first woman to receive a doctorate in meteorology.
‘Fall Down Seven Times, Stand Up Eight: Patsy Takemoto Mink and The Fight For Title IX’ by Jen Bryant
Mink was the first woman of color elected to congress. This picture book biography stresses her Japanese cultural heritage and fierce commitment to enacting Title IX legislation.
‘Girl Athlete: Powerful Stories From Game-Changing Women’ by Joan Niesen
Forty athletes are featured in this collection of amazing competitors who define drive, grit and record-breaking girl power.
‘Lady Icarus: Balloonmania and the Brief, Bold Life of Sophie Blanchard’ by Deborah Noyes
This spellbinding middle grade biography highlights Sophie Blanchard and the world of hot air ballooning and pyrotechnic shows in 1800s France.
Recommendations were submitted by Capital Area District Libraries staff, compiled here by LSJ news assistant Veronica Bolanos. Contact her at VBolanos@lsj.com or 517.267.0460. Follow her on Twitter at @BVeronica19.