International Women’s Day: Strong Stories from Strong Voices

In honor of International Women’s Day, we’re sharing some of our favorite new books of, by, and about women—and for all readers!

The Firsts:

The Inside Story of the Women Reshaping Congress

by Jennifer Steinhauer

In November 2018, the greatest number of women in American history entered Congress. Inspiring, controversial, talented, and rebellious. Now, award-winning New York Times reporter Jennifer Steinhauer gives you a behind-the-scenes look at this diverse group of trailblazers’ first year in the 116th Congress in her new book, The Firsts. In committee rooms, offices, and conversations on the run through the halls of the Capitol, she probed the question: Would Washington, with its hidebound traditions, change the changemakers, or would this Congress, which looked a little more like today’s America, truly be the start of something new?

Paper Bullets

Two Artists Who Risked Their Lives to Defy the Nazis

by Jeffrey H. Jackson

Longlisted for the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction, Paper Bullets is the first book to tell the history of an audacious anti-Nazi campaign undertaken by an unlikely pair: two French women, Lucy Schwob and Suzanne Malherbe, who drew on their skills as Parisian avant-garde artists to write and distribute “paper bullets”—wicked insults against Hitler, calls to rebel, and subversive fictional dialogues designed to demoralize Nazi troops occupying their adopted home on the British Channel Island of Jersey. Devising their own PSYOPS campaign, they slipped their notes into soldier’s pockets or tucked them inside newsstand magazines.

Hunted by the secret field police, Lucy and Suzanne were finally betrayed in 1944, when the Germans imprisoned them, and tried them in a court martial, sentencing them to death for their actions. Ultimately they survived, but even in jail, they continued to fight the Nazis by reaching out to other prisoners and spreading a message of hope.

His Only Wife

by Peace Adzo Medie

This witty and moving debut novel introduces us to Afi Tekple, a brave young woman traversing the minefield of modern life with its taboos and injustices in Ghana. Marrying Eli, a man she has never met, could change everything for her and her family. But Afi’s new life has strings attached.

“I love this book so much I turned the pages so fast . . . It’s all about the search for independence and being true to yourself and who you really are,” Reese Witherspoon said when announcing her selection of His Only Wife or Reese’s Book Club.


Teens around the World in Their Own Voices

by Masuma Ahuja

All around the world, girls are going to school, working, dreaming up big futures—they are soccer players and surfers, ballerinas and chess champions. Yet we know so little about their daily lives. We often hear about challenges and catastrophes in the news, and about exceptional girls who make headlines. But even though the health, education, and success of girls so often determines the future of a community, we don’t know more about what life is like for the ordinary girls, the ones living outside the headlines.

From the Americas to Europe to Africa to Asia to the South Pacific, the thirty teens from twenty-seven countries in Girlhood share their own stories of growing up through diary entries and photographs, and the girls’ stories are put in context with reporting and research that helps us understand the circumstances and communities they live in. This full-color, exuberantly designed volume is a portrait of ordinary girlhood around the world, and of the world, as seen through girls’ eyes.

The Mountains Sing

by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai

Deeply personal and stunningly moving, Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai’s #ownvoices novel, The Mountains Sing, has become an international bestseller and one of the most honored books of 2020 with recognition from the New York Times, NPR, Real Simple and many more. Pre-order the gorgeous, new paperback edition, which will be available wherever books are sold next week.

Set against the backdrop of the Việt Nam War, this multigenerational story is vivid, gripping, and steeped in the language and traditions of Việt Nam. The Mountains Sing brings to life the human costs of this conflict from the point of view of the Vietnamese people themselves, while showing us the true power of kindness and hope.

“For a girl who worked in rice fields, sold things on streets or at markets outside school hours, The Mountains Sing is a dream come true,” Quế Mai wrote.

A People’s History of Heaven

by Mathangi Subramanian

Longlisted for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, Mathangi Subramanian‘s novel tells a story of a graffiti artist, a transgender Christian, a blind dancer, and the queer daughter of a hijabi union leader who come together to wage war on the bulldozers that would bury their homes in a slum called Heaven in Bangalore, India.

“This is a book to give your little sister, your mother, your best friend, yourself, so together you can celebrate the strength of women and girls, the tenacity it takes to survive in a world that would rather have you disappear.” —Nylon

Mighty Justice: My Life in Civil Rights

by Dovey Johnson Roundtree and Katie McCabe

In this memoir, you’ll meet Dovey Johnson Roundtree—the groundbreaking civil rights attorney, soldier, and minister—the unforgettable trailblazer we should all know more about, a woman who “proved . . . a single individual can turn the tides of history,” as Michelle Obama said.

“Part moving memoir, part inspiration to resist, Mighty Justice is a must-read.” —Ms. magazine

Ordinary Girls

A Memoir

by Jaquira Díaz

Jaquira Díaz writes a fierce and eloquent memoir of her challenging girlhood and triumphant coming of age in Puerto Rico and Miami Beach. She maps a way out of despair toward love and hope to become her version of the girl she always wanted to be.

“I kept thinking about how this book might be the first time a queer Latina, a queer Afro-Latina, sees herself in a book, and how that would have been important to me growing up,” Jaquira said of her debut.


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