16 Must-Read Books for Women's History Month

Feb 27, 2024 10:04:00 AM / by Broadleaf Books


Women are expected to be many things to many people, often at the expense of self-care, mental health, and recognition. In honor of Women's History Month, we have compiled a list of books by women, for women, about women. Books that empower, challenge, inspire, and give us courage. Books that highlight passionate activists in history and vital advocates for justice today, on topics from spiritual living and personal growth to pressing social issues like purity culture, motherhood, climate care, ageism, and justice efforts. Through these books, explore the critical and complex roles women play in shaping the world.


Personal Growth


The Woman They Wanted

Shannon Harris

Publication date: August 29, 2023

Nothing in Shannon Harris's secular upbringing prepared her to enter the world of conservative Christianity. Soon her husband's bestselling book I Kissed Dating Goodbye helped inspire a national purity movement, and Shannon's identity became "pastor's wife." The Woman They Wanted recounts the remarkable story of her courtship with Joshua Harris, her grappling with conservative Christianity's patriarchy and narrow definition of womanhood, and her journey to break free and reclaim a more authentic version of herself.   

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Your Body Is a Revolution

Tara Teng

Publication date: May 16, 2023

Too many of us are living disconnected from our bodies, chasing a constantly moving target of "ideal," and accepting the societal narrative about which bodies are deserving of safety and protection. Your Body Is a Revolution is an invitation to reclaim what has been stolen from us, to embrace the wisdom our bodies long to share, and to fully inhabit our lives—perhaps for the first time. 

Read an excerpt here.

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This Book Won't Make You Happy

Niro Feliciano

Publication date: April 5, 2022

Happiness is fleeting. And what if you don't even need it to live a life of peace and purpose? In This Book Won't Make You Happy, therapist Niro Feliciano offers a path to something much more achievable and abundantly more satisfying: contentment. By incorporating eight simple postures rooted in cognitive behavioral science and mindfulness practices into our daily routines, we can move away from anxiety and toward balance and calm. Through these practices we will overcome obstacles that hold us back from living full, meaningful, contented lives.

Read an excerpt here.

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Radiant Rebellion

Karen Walrond

Publication date: October 17, 2023

Join Karen Walrond in this intriguing investigation into how we can reclaim aging, cultivate joy, and resist ageism. In Radiant Rebellion, Walrond helps us radiantly rebel against the fads and assumptions that hold us back, redefine the adventure of getting older, and create a shining future of expanded potential. We might even raise a little hell while we're at it!

Read an excerpt here.

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Revolutionary Women


The Mother Artist

Catherine Ricketts

Publication date: April 16, 2024

Few women artists feature prominently in the history of art, and even fewer who are mothers. Are motherhood and creativity at odds, or are other factors at play? The Mother Artist twines intimate meditations on motherhood with portraits of the work, lives, and studios of mother artists, placing us in the company of women from the past and the present who persevere in both art and caregiving.

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Unruly Saint Book Cover-jpg

Unruly Saint

D.L. Mayfield

Publication date: November 8, 2022

In 1933, in the shadow of the Great Depression, Dorothy Day started the most prominent Catholic radical movement in United States history, the Catholic Worker Movement, a storied organization with a lasting legacy of truth and justice. In Unruly Saint, activist, writer, and neighbor D. L. Mayfield brings a personal lens to Day's story. Through a combination of biography, observations on the current American landscape, and theological reflection, this is at once an achingly relevant account and an encouraging blueprint for people of faith in tumultuous times. 

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The Defiant Optimist

Durreen Shahnaz

Publication date: June 27, 2023

Global inequality is growing. Financial markets disenfranchise women, the 99 percent, and the planet itself. But what if we found the source of power and turned it inside out? What if we made the tools of the system available to all? In The Defiant Optimist, Durreen Shahnaz illuminates what investing in those excluded from networks of power and opportunity requires. From growing up with constrained life chances, to working as the first Bangladeshi woman on Wall Street, to becoming a global leader in impact investing, Shahnaz takes us on a mesmerizing trek of innovation, compassion, and enterprise. 

Read an excerpt here.

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Love Your Mother

Mallory McDuff

Publication date: April 11, 2023

From elder voices opposing the Dakota Pipeline to young people running for office to advocate for change, every day we see real-life stories about how women are making a collective difference on climate justice. Women are also disproportionately impacted by climate change and thus are critical to transforming society away from dependence on fossil fuels and toward renewable energy and environmental equity. Love Your Mother lifts up the stories of women of diverse ages, backgrounds, and vocations—one from each of the fifty US states—working toward a viable future. 

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Social Issues


We Refuse to Be Silent

Angela P. Dodson

Publication date: April 30, 2024

The women have something to say. In this powerful and needed collection, editor Angela P. Dodson brings together the voices of more than thirty-five accomplished women writers on the topic of violence and injustice against Black men. Each lends her voice to shine a new light on the injustices and dangers Black men face daily, and how women feel about the vulnerability of our sons, husbands, brothers, fathers, uncles, friends, and other males we care about as they navigate a world that often stereotypes and targets them. 

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Black Women, Ivory Tower

Jasmine L. Harris

Publication date: January 16, 2024

Black women are heading to college in record numbers, and more and more Black women are teaching in higher education. But the very structure of higher education ensures that we're still treated as guests, outsiders to the institutional family—outnumbered and unwelcome. In Black Women, Ivory Tower, Dr. Jasmine Harris shares her own experiences attempting to be a Vassar girl and reckoning with a lack of legacy and agency. Moving beyond the "data points," Dr. Harris examines the day-to-day impacts on Black women as individuals, the longer-term consequences to our professional lives, and the generational costs to our entire families.

Read an excerpt here.

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It's Not about the Wine

Celeste Yvonne

Publication date: September 12, 2023

Alcohol isn't going to fix the systemic lack of support for mothers. Mommy Wine Culture is a symptom of a larger issue: the mental load of motherhood and a systemic lack of support for moms. Mixing research, cultural references, interviews, and the author's sobriety story, It's Not about the Wine reveals what's really plaguing mothers and offers tangible tips for evaluating your relationship to alcohol and lightening your load.

Read an excerpt here.

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Social Justice for the Sensitive Soul

Dorcas Cheng-Tozun

Publication date: June 20, 2023

Social justice work, we often assume, is raised voices and raised fists. But what does social justice work look like for those of us who don't feel comfortable battling in the trenches? Alongside inspiring, real-life examples of highly sensitive world-changers, Social Justice for the Sensitive Soul expands the possibilities of how to have a positive social impact, affirming the particular gifts and talents that sensitive souls offer to a hurting world.

Read an interview here.

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Spiritual Living 


My Divine Natural Hair

Shelia Burlock, Sylvia Burlock, Melissa Burlock

Publication date: March 26, 2024

Learn how to love and care for your natural hair spiritually and practically. Uplifting and authentic, My Divine Natural Hair helps Black women embrace the God-created beauty of natural hair through inspirational readings and salon chair guidance on how to heal, consistently care for, and grow their coils.

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Walking the Way of Harriet Tubman

Therese Taylor-Stinson

Publication date: February 14, 2023

Harriet Tubman, freedom fighter and leader in the Underground Railroad, is one of the most significant figures in US history. In Walking the Way of Harriet Tubman, Therese Taylor-Stinson introduces Harriet, a woman born into slavery whose unwavering faith and practices in spirituality and contemplation carried her through insufferable abuse and hardship to become a leader for her people. As the luminous significance of Harriet Tubman's spiritual life is revealed, so too is the path to our own spiritual truth, advocacy, and racial justice as we follow in her footsteps.

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BL in my grandmothers house

In My Grandmother's House

Yolanda Pierce

Publication date: February 7, 2023

A grandmother's theology carries wisdom strong enough for future generations. In the pages of In My Grandmother's House, now in paperback, public theologian Yolanda Pierce builds an everyday womanist theology rooted in liberating scriptures, stories from the Black church, and truths from Black women's lives. The Divine has been showing up at the kitchen tables of Black women for a long time. It's time to get to know that God.

Read an excerpt here.

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Practice the Pause

Caroline Oakes

Publication date: January 24, 2023

These days, many of us live in a state of overreactive fight-or-flight response and chronic stress. But new developments in brain science have recently proven that an intentional practice of pausing for a few minutes actually rewires our brain in ways that make us calmer, less reactive, and better able to see the bigger picture. In Practice the Pause, spiritual director and writer Caroline Oakes explores how a seven-second pause practice can move us beyond the fight-or-flight responses of our ego in our daily lives and actually equip us to cultivate the common good in the world.

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