The Western world is undeniably built for men. So not just on International Women’s Day, but every day of the year, we should actively seek ways to advocate for women. One of the easiest ways is reading more women writers, seeing more shows by women artists, watching more films by women—altogether listening to, celebrating and amplifying these voices. Here, we’ve gathered together a list of some of our favorite recent books by women authors and artists. Let it be a starting point for continued support.
Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead
Written by acclaimed author and activist Olga Tokarczuk and beautifully translated from Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones, Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead ($19) blends a whodunit murder mystery with William Blake’s poetry, astrology, nature, gender and power. The confounding and dazzling tale centers on Janina Duszejko—its 60-something protagonist—and portrays a small, rural Polish town, but expands far beyond; becoming a kind of fairytale about humans and their innate capacity for both kindness and cruelty. First published in 2009, the book was translated a decade later, the same year Tokarczuk won the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Black is the Body
Black is the Body: Stories From My Grandmother’s Time, My Mother’s Time, and Mine ($17) is a memoir, made up of several personal essays that meld together the experiences of author Emily Bernard’s family. From growing up black in the South to addressing interracial marriage, international adoption and motherhood, the book tells a tale of race in America—but it’s more than that. Anchored by a horrific violent crime that changed her life, Bernard shares complex and personal—but also always universal—stories in this moving book.
More than a collection of personal essays, Little Weirds ($14) by actress, comedian and author Jenny Slate, offers memoir-like intimacy and impossible-to-categorize insight. From moments of vulnerability to acts of eccentricity, Slate encourages readers not only to read but to play along as the planet goes about its strange business.
Hannah Starkey: Photographs 1997-2017
With pages and pages of photographer Hannah Starkey’s tender portraits of women, Hannah Starkey: Photographs 1997-2017 ($40) spans generations, backgrounds and intentions. Starkey’s photographs are personal but somehow distant, contemplative and cinematic, evocative and striking. This book is a thoughtful collection for those interested in exploring the concept of the female gaze. Price is in Pounds.
If They Come for Us: Poems
Fatimah Asghar encapsulates her experiences as a Pakistani and Muslim woman living in the USA in her glorious book of poems: If They Come for Us ($11). Asghar (also a co-creator of the award winning web-series Brown Girls) explores identity, race, sexuality, loss and violence through thoughtful and tender prose. Each piece seems to blossom. Inventive, powerful, and entirely beautiful, Asghar’s poems enthrall.
Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men
Written by feminist, activist and journalist Caroline Criado-Perez, Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men ($19) is a bleak but fascinating look at how our existences have been created around us. Exposing the ways that economics, healthcare, education and entire cities are at best biased and at worst discriminatory, due to data treating men as the norm and women and non-binary people as atypical. Based on hundreds of studies, the book explores how women are put at risk and discriminated against in ways we never see. From smartphones to crash-test dummies, transport, workplaces and more, the world is designed as a “one-size-fits-men” and Criado-Perez’s writing is essential reading for those who want to understand and change that.
Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future
Published to accompany the hugely successful, first major exhibition of the Hilma af Klint’s work in the US, Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future ($65) spans the artist’s career, parsing through decades of work dating back to 1906. This publication is incredibly comprehensive and includes various essays and notes to better explain one of the Western world’s first abstract artists. Beyond being a beautiful book, this tome reaffirms Klint’s significance and legacy long after her death.
I’m Afraid of Men
Musician/artist/writer Vivek Shraya’s book I’m Afraid of Men ($15) is a fascinating, emotionally fraught and deeply personal tome. Shraya traces the concept and issues surrounding the patriarchy—from her own gender performance as a child, to its consequences for people of color, and the ways in which many see masculinity as a synonym for misogyny, violence, homophobia and transphobia. Seeing through the eyes of a transgender woman of color—if only for a moment—will provoke reflection and change in readers.
Great (Women) Artists
With the work of 400+ artists from all over the world, Great Women Artists ($54) spans five centuries of glorious creations—from the Renaissance to Rococo, Surrealism, to street photography and beyond. While there are plenty of household names like Kara Walker, Barbara Kruger, Yayoi Kusama and Elaine de Koonig, hundreds of lesser-known artists are given the same amount of space in this comprehensive tome. Organized in alphabetical order, each artist (be it Anna Waser or Xiao Lu) is illustrated with an image of their work and a short introduction. A wonderful jumping off point for readers to begin exploring many of these artist’s careers, the book—by PHAIDON and in conjunction with Kering’s Women In Motion program—serves as a reminder that while oftentimes undervalued and underrepresented, there have been many, many great women artists.
Owner of Lincoln, Nebraska’s Goldenrod Pastries, baker Angela Garbacz’s first-ever cookbook, Perfectly Golden ($29) collects some of her beloved dairy- and gluten-free recipes (which can also be made with butter, all-purpose flour and other alternatives, if one so pleases). More than 100 photographs accompany the recipes—which range from her grandma’s famous peach coffee cake to lemon meringue pie and chewy almond cookies. Garbacz dedicates an entire section to “Frostings + Fillings + Extras,” too. Lessons from her mother and grandmother, as well as learnings from her community bakery, all found in this book, represent an inclusive philosophy that all bakers will benefit from.
Face It: A Memoir
An autobiography by punk icon Debbie Harry, Face It: A Memoir ($24) was crafted by Harry and music writer Sylvie Simmons. The fascinating tome is full of history, anecdotes and wild tales, but steers clear of being a full-on confessional—which perfectly suits Harry’s impeccably crafted Blondie persona. From her teenage years to moving to New York, meeting Chris Stein, her rise to fame and the creation of Blondie (the band and the character), nearly everything gets documented candidly alongside never-before-published photographs and artwork. Of course, there’s much more to Debbie Harry than Blondie, and plenty of that is explored within, too.
My Mexico City Kitchen: Recipes and Convictions
Restaurateur and chef at the beloved Contramar, Gabriela Cámara provides 150 recipes in My Mexico City Kitchen ($23) a bright, beautifully designed and photographed cookbook. With plenty of classics (including tacos and tamales, and her famous tuna tostadas), the book offers a contemporary take on Mexican food, with lots of vegetable- and seafood-focused dishes—from cold avocado soup to prawns with green rice.
Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion
A collection of her smart, adroit and beautifully written essays, Trick Mirror ($22) is Jia Tolentino’s first book—and essential reading. From workout culture to MDMA, capitalism and politics, social media and beyond, Tolentino navigates the current zeitgeist (with all its anxieties, burdens and joys) adeptly, thoughtfully and at times very humorously. These are nine essays that warrant repeat reads, shares and plenty of discussion.
Hero image courtesy of Hannah Starkey + Mack Books