20 Books About Women in History That You Won’t Be Able To Put Down

written by HAILEY BOUCHE

March is one of our favorite months here at The Everygirl for many reasons, Pisces season being one of them (duh!), but more importantly, it’s because it’s Women’s History Month. We don’t need a special month to be thankful to all of the women that came before us, but we sure will take any reason to celebrate them—especially for 31 days straight.

This year, we are honoring them by squeezing in as many ways as we can to learn more about their legacies and continue their efforts. This starts with keeping our beloved YA and romance novels on the shelves until next month and picking up a few books about women in history that are top-rated on Goodreads to read this month.

These books about women in history will educate you and inspire you, so we recommend reading as many as you can fit in this month (plus some!) to celebrate Women’s History:

Eleanor Herman
Off with Her Head: 3,000 Years of Demonizing Women in Power

There is a particular kind of rage that is usually reserved for women, especially women in power or vying for it. In a story that is shocking, eye-opening, and a powerful force for change, author Eleanor Herman uses humor and wit to explore the patterns that have been operating for more than three thousand years—and are still operating today—against powerful women across the globe, including Cleopatra, Marie Antoinette, Hillary Clinton, Kamala Harris, and more. Each chapter analyzes a tried-and-true misogynistic method to keep women down, culminating to an ending that encourages us to rip up what she calls the Misogynist's Handbook for good.

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April White
The Divorce Colony

This story gives a fascinating account of the daring 19th century women who moved to South Dakota to divorce their husbands and start living on their own terms. Writer and historian April White unveils the incredible social, political, and personal dramas that unfolded in Sioux Falls (the only city in the country where divorce by a woman was legal) and echoed around the country through the stories of four very different women all wanting to leave their marriages and start their own journeys towards freedom, regardless of the fact that it was an act demonized by society.

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Shelley Puhak
The Dark Queens: The Bloody Rivalry That Forged the Medieval World

This is a remarkable story of two trailblazing women in the Early Middle Ages who wielded immense power, only to be belittled for being such strong female figures. The two queens commanded armies, negotiated with kings, formed coalitions, and fought a civil war with innovation and skill, which laid out the foundations for what would one day turn into Charlemagne’s empire. Yet after their deaths, their stories were completely rewritten, and their names were left to be slandered and deemed as mythical legends. But, this book is here to tell their real journey and impact, and offer us proof that women in power can change the world.

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Martha S Jones
Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All

In the story we learn in our history classes, the suffrage crusade began in Seneca Falls in 1848 and ended with the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920. But this overwhelmingly white women's movement did not win the vote for most black women, and securing their rights required a movement of their own. This amazing novel tells the epic history of African American women's pursuit of political power from the earliest days of the republic to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and beyond, and how these profound activists transformed American history forever,

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Jennifer Wright
Madame Restell: The Life, Death, and Resurrection of Old New York's Most Fabulous, Fearless, and Infamous Abortionist

This novel tells the story of Madama Restell, a self-taught surgeon on the cutting-edge of health care who provided birth control, abortions, and medical assistance to thousands of women—rich and poor alike—in New York City. However, her rise to the top was at the time of the nationwide campaign to weaken women’s power by restricting their access to healthcare, undermining and halting her work through the beginnings of what we now know as the pro-life movement. Giving everything she did for women of the city the light it deserves, this is a must-read for anyone and everyone who believes that when it comes to women’s rights, women’s bodies, and women’s history, women should be controlling the narrative.

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Kate Moore
The Radium Girls

Radium was shining bright during the First World War and was claimed to be a "wonder" for all things beauty. When hundreds of girls get their hands on radium, they are only glowing for a short time before they fall ill. This story follows the bravery of women as they fight to change regulations, increase research, and ultimately, save lives.

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Margot Lee Shetterly
Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures tells the phenomenal true story of four black female mathematicians who went from teaching math in the South’s segregated schools to contributing the NASA calculations that fueled some of America’s greatest achievements in space.

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Hallie Rubenhold
The Five

Five women had absolutely nothing in common other than the year they were murdered: 1888. The person responsible was never identified, but the press made the made-up version of them famous. Author Hallie Rubenhold wrote this book to give Polly, Annie, Elisabeth, Catherine, and Mary Jane their own stories back.

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Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik
Notorious RBG

Ruth Bader Ginsburg—to know her is to love her. Ginsburg's family members, close friends, colleagues, and clerks help shape a never-before-told story of a remarkable women and her legacy.

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Sonia Purnell
A Woman of No Importance

Based on new research, Sonia Purnell is uncovering the life of Virginia Hall, the American spy who changed the course of World War II by revolutionizing secret warfare. At the time, she was seen as one of the most dangerous women in the world, but this story recounts her heroism and persistence that helped win the war.

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Helen Rappaport
The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicolas and Alexandra

The story of the four Romanov sisters (young royals of the early twentieth century) and their tragic death has been the only narrative told about them for decades, but this book offers a different take on their life. It captures the joy they experienced even though late Imperial Russia, World War I, and the Russian Revolution were unraveling around them.

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Stacy Schiff
The Witches: Salem, 1692

This nonfiction psychological thriller tells the story of the Salem Witch Trials in 1692 Massachusetts. Written by acclaimed historian Stacy Schiff, this story covers the mystery of the trials along with the role women played to shape the future republic.

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Denise Kiernan
The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II

Little was known about Oak Ridge, Tennessee and what so many people were doing there during World War II. The women employed there were not allowed to talk about their jobs, and they definitely weren't allowed to know why they were doing what they were doing until a bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. This story reviews their lives outside of work and how the effects of their work are still being felt today.

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Kate Moore
The Woman They Could Not Silence: One Woman, Her Incredible Fight for Freedom, and the Men Who Tried to Make Her Disappear

This nonfiction, best-selling book by Kate Moore tells the story of a forgotten women, Elizabeth Packard, and how she sparked change for women's rights. After her husband commits her to an insane asylum, even though she was completely sane, she decides to fight for her freedom and the freedom of the many women alongside her with the same story.

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Liza Mundy
Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers Who Helped Wine World War II

Liza Mundy brings to life the forgotten stories of the women who served as codebreakers during World War II. While the men got armed, these women learned the coding methods that ultimately shortened the war and created jobs for women moving forward.

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Judy Batalion
The Light of Days: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler’s Ghettos

A part of history that is not talked about nearly often enough is the resistance force that was formed against the Nazis by brave Jewish women in Poland. This book tells the powerful and inspiring story of their bravery, freedom, and friendship amongst the most dangerous odds.

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Rebecca Traister
All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation

In 2009, the median age of first marriages increased to 27, and Rebecca Traister decided to dig into how that affected, if at all, the sexual, economic, and emotional lives of woman everywhere. After conducting hundreds of interviews, Traister is sharing her results.

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Karen Abbott
Liar, Temptress, Solider, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War

By interviewing the spies' descendants and reviewing source material, Karen Abbott reveals the lives and dangerous adventures of four courageous women—a socialite, a farmgirl, an abolitionist, and a widow—who were spies during the Civil War.

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Caroline Fraser
Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder

The true story of Laura Ingalls Wilder, the author of the Little House on the Prairie, has never really been told until now, in this biography written by Caroline Fraser. With the help of unpublished manuscripts, letters, diaries, and public records, Fraser fills in the gaps of Wilder's life.

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Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross
A Black Women's History of the United States

Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross examine and celebrate the lives of Black women in history and how they have been instrumental in shaping the future. This book showcases the lives of enslaved women, religious leaders, artists, queer women, activists, and more to serve as a testament to their mark on history.

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