March is Women’s History Month. The following 10 books are
written by women and exemplify what it has meant—and what it means—to be a
woman both in the past and now. These works are both thoughtful and engaging; if
you dig deep enough you may just see a glimpse of yourself in them.
Eat Pray Love is the
story of a young woman leaving behind the frills and adornments of modern day
American life and embarking on a journey to find herself. The journey takes her
from Italy to Bali, and paints a picture of what self-fulfillment looks like in
the tragedy of the post-Civil War United States. It is a story of trauma that
gives voice to the “sixty million and more” forcibly transported to the states
during the African Slave trade, related by a family of runaway slaves
struggling to survive as the Fugitive Slave Act goes into effect. The winner of
the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1988,
Beloved is enchanting and not only captures, but keeps your attention.
Tiny Beautiful Things
is a collection of Strayed’s work as “Dear Sugar,” her alias while she worked
for The Rumpus as an advice
columnist. The compilation is blunt and sincere, but it comes face-to-face with
the issues we as women face in relationships and other facets of everyday life.
The book is certainly brazen, but reveals how it is possible to adapt and
become stronger after facing adversity.
Behind the Beautiful
Forevers is a nonfiction novel that recounts the story of the corruption of
government and how it impacts members of society, providing an account of
desperation in the slums of Mumbai. This is definitely not a “feel-good” book,
but it is nonetheless important. Understanding foreign issues is an important component
to being socially aware.
I Know Why the Caged
Bird Sings is an autobiography of Maya Angelou’s early life. She
tells of life in a male-dominated society and what that meant for a young black
girl growing up in the south. The memoir is a reminder that our character
outweighs our circumstance. We are not simply the sum of what has happened to
us, but we are much more. It is a celebration of womanhood and all of the
vulnerability that comes along with it.
The Bell Jar is by
all accounts a classic, and for good reason. The story is of Esther Greenwood,
a young girl, struggling with change and the roles of womanhood. Esther soon
finds herself in the psych ward of a local hospital, dealing with the
expectations that have been placed on her life. It is a story of self-reliance,
coming of age, and the struggles women faced in in 1950s.
is the tale of 18-year-old Susanna, who has been recently committed to a
psychiatric facility. In flashbacks and vignettes, we get a glimpse of the
facility, the people she meets there, and the realities of sexism in the ’60s
and ’70s. It also tells of the failure of mental health theory in past decades.
Girl, Interrupted is a story of the
discrimination women once faced, and how far we have come.
Adrienne Rich is one of the most brilliant poets of the 20th
century. This collection by the late poet is full of imagery that paints
pictures of the gender and political struggles faced in the last half of the
1900s. Each poem is in itself an experience waiting to happen. It is definitely
a must-read for any poetry buff out there.
Here we have yet another collection. The Portable Dorothy Parker is an assemblage of poetry, essays,
journal entries, and stories by Dorothy Parker. To find all of Parker’s major works
in one book is certainly something special. The 20th century’s “most quotable
author” is witty and intelligent while expressing her take on the human
condition and the state of relationships in our society.
Feminism is for
Everybody is a common-sense introduction to feminism. Feminism has gotten a
bad rap since its inception, due to lack of understanding of the subject. The
book is an excellent and encouraging read for women. It explains the places
feminism has been in detail, yet remains readable and understandable for its
audience. It is, after all, Women’s History month. There is no better time to
read this one!
The Galleon is curated and managed by Christian Brothers University, a Memphis-based university founded in the Lasallian tradition (a sect within the Catholic faith). Part of our founding mission is to uphold respect for all persons-regardless of political, religious, or social beliefs. As an institution, we take no stand on political matters; to do so would undermine our commitment to intellectual inquiry and thoughtful response to events taking place in our World by members of the CBU community.