Happy Women’s History Month—a time where we celebrate the achievements and honor the sacrifices of women past and present. Despite the gains that we’ve made, there’s still so much work to be done. That’s why the media that supports, shares, and uplifts the diversity of women’s voices is such a terrific gift, especially when we can revel in stories where ladies are complete badasses, books and TV that subvert harmful tropes, and stories that smash the patriarchy with strength, bravery, and determination.
This list is a starter kit of some of the best and brightest novels to help combat misogyny, toxic masculinity, and all that seeks to limit women.
Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
Streaming now on Netflix and available in paperback, Moxie is an empowering, fun, and important novel about a young girl starting a feminist revolution at her school. Fed up with the administration and inspired by her mom’s Riot Grrl past, Viv creates and distributes a zine to the girls in her high school, creating camaraderie among the class that was once divided by cliques and the sexist status quo.
We Are The Ashes, We Are The Fire by Joy McCullough
Joy McCullough’s debut, Blood Water Paint, a novel-in-verse about Artemisia Gentileschi is one of the most stunning books I’ve ever read. Her latest, We Are Ashes, We Are The Fire is timely, infuriating, and heartbreaking. This book is a hybrid of verse and prose and centers around a teenage girl on a quest for revenge after her sister’s rapist gets away with no prison time. She finds solace and inspiration in the words of a fifteenth-century French noblewoman, Marguerite de Bressieux, a legendary woman known as an avenging knight for rape victims.
We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry
Determined to win their finals, a Massachusetts high school field hockey team turns to witchcraft. Despite this supernatural premise, this book does a good job of tapping into what being a teenage girl is like. It’s inclusive, hilarious and wicked and set in the author’s hometown—a town with a connection to the Salem Witch Trials.
Mad, Bad & Dangerous To Know by Samira Ahmed
Samira Ahmed’s book is about unearthing women lost to history and giving voice to women who might not have had one. Teenage art historian, Khayyam, is in Paris and has become fascinated with a woman that Alexander Dumas mentioned in his correspondence. And two hundred years before, Leila is trapped with favored status in a harem and struggling to create a future for herself.
Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez
In her home in Argentina, Camila is hiding her true self. She is not just a dutiful daughter but La Furia, an incredible powerhouse of a soccer player with dreams of getting a scholarship to a North American university. But her parents don’t believe in her dreams. Soccer isn’t for girls like her, but her refusal to give up her dream and her journey is a truly incredible read.
The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore
Dealing with rape culture and trauma with aplomb and grace, The Mirror Season is an important inclusive novel that should be read and discussed. McLemore’s trademark magical realism adds a beautiful layer to a story about a difficult and horrible topic. Ciela’s and Lock’s friendship, though tenuous, is also something to behold and just another reason this book is a worthy of your time.
Jane Against the World: Roe V. Wade and The Fight for Reproductive Rights by Karen Blumenthal
This book is a must read, especially when reproductive rights are debated by politicians who want to undo the hard work and strides that have been made. Accessible and fascinating, Jane Against the World guides readers through the landmark case and the fight for reproductive rights while looking at why this matter is so debatable to some.
The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna
Namina Forna’s exciting debut is about a girl finding her place in a patriarchal dominated society, where women are only allowed to assimilate into the village if her blood is red. But when Deka is cut, her blood runs gold and she has to suffer for it. It isn’t until a strange woman shows up to rescue her that she is given the choice to remain and be killed or join the elite warriors, tasked with protecting the empire. As Deka learns of her abilities, she finds her place among all the other girls called monstrous by men afraid of their power.
All These Monsters by Amy Tintera
All These Monsters is a book about fighting back, standing up, and being badass as a team. Clara is ready to train to fight the monsters known as Scrabs; she needs the confidence that learning to protect herself will bring. She needs to learn to stand up for herself on the streets and at home. This book has it all: fantastic world-building, a lovely found family dynamic, romance, and a premise that’ll make you feel powerful.
The Social Graces by Renée Rosen
Author Kristin Beck wrote a blurb about The Social Graces, calling it a “fascinating look into the lives of women who created their own power in a world that granted them none.” This just so happens to be based on the real life Caroline Astor and Alva Vanderbilt whose feud fueled the society and gossip pages in the 19th century.
For more on what to read, visit our Books section.