Women's History Month Recommended Booklist - Clifton Public Library List For Adult Readers


March is Women's History Month, a national celebration that started in 1981 when Congress passed Pub. L. 97-28 which authorized and requested the President to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as “Women’s History Week.” Since 1995, presidents have issued a series of annual proclamations designating the month of March as “Women’s History Month.” These proclamations celebrate the contributions women have made to the United States and recognize the specific achievements women have made over the course of American history in a variety of fields, from sports to science, from politics to literature.

The 2023 Presidential Proclamation declaring this March as Women’s History Month states that “This month, as we continue our work to advance gender equity and equality, let us celebrate the contributions of women throughout our history and honor the stories that have too often gone untold. Let us recognize that fundamental freedoms are interconnected: when opportunities for women are withheld, we all suffer; and when women’s lives are improved, we all gain. Let us strive to create a Nation where every woman and girl knows that her possibilities know no bounds in America.”

The Clifton Main Memorial Library has curated a Women’s History Month reading list for The Clifton Times, which features a wide range of books recommended for adult readers, selected by Supervising Librarian Pat John Ferro. These books serve as a reminder of the different ways that women have shaped the story of America, from how lipstick changed our views on femininity and female participation in public spaces, to how Title IX and the ERA have shaped the way women’s issues are seen in current politics, how NPR provided a space for women to change journalism, and how women’s anger has been a fuel for political action on many issues, including social justice and wars.

We have included a link to each book’s publisher with a brief summary from the publishers’ websites. You can stop by the Clifton Main Memorial Library (limited hours this weekend but a full reopening next week) to see their display and stop by either the Main Memorial Library or the Allwood Branch to pick up one of these titles. Patrons can also place holds on any of these books through PALS Plus.

1. The Red Menace: How Lipstick Changed The Face of America – Ilise S. Carter: Lipstick has served as both a witness and driver of history. From accompanying women to war, to providing women of color new business opportunities, and to the evolution of celebrity and mass media, lipstick has been along for our ride through history for over a century. Beauty journalist Ilise S. Carter suggests that it’s because the simple lipstick says a lot. The American love affair with lipstick is linked to every aspect of our experience of gender, from venturing into the working world, entertainment, running for the presidency, and now into the world of drag performers.

2. Secret History of Wonder Woman – Jill Lepore:  Jill Lepore argues that Wonder Woman is the missing link in the history of the struggle for women’s rights - beginning with the women’s suffrage campaigns of the early 1900s and ending with the troubled place of feminism a century later. Lepore, a Harvard historian and New Yorker staff writer, has uncovered an astonishing trove of documents, including the never-before-seen private papers of Wonder Woman’s creator, William Moulton Marston.

3. What’s the Score? 25 Years of Teaching Women’s Sports History – Bonnie J. Morris: Before 1972, women were virtually excluded from sports. A federal anti-discrimination law, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX), and another federal law, the Amateur Sports Act of 1978 (Amateur Sports Act), changed all that. Over the last 25 years, women have moved into sports as athletes, coaches, and sports media, reshaping the fields as they go. From corsets to segregated schoolyards to the WNBA, we find women athletes the world over conquering unique barriers to success. What's the Score? is not only an insider's look at sports education but also an engaging guide to turning points in women's sports history that everyone should know.

4. America’s Jewish Women – Pamela S. Nadell: Pamela S. Nadell weaves together the complex story of Jewish women in America—from colonial-era matriarch Grace Nathan and her great-granddaughter, poet Emma Lazarus, to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. This book focuses on the role of Jewish women in history, women who have been at the forefront of social, economic, and political causes for centuries. Nadell shows them fighting for suffrage, labor unions, civil rights, feminism, and religious rights—shaping a distinctly Jewish American identity.

5. Susan, Linda, Nina, & Cokie – Lisa Napoli: A group biography of four beloved women who fought sexism, covered decades of American news, and whose voices defined NPR. In the years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, women in the workplace still found themselves locked out of professions and limited to secretarial positions, but when National Public Radio opened in the 1970s and the door to serious journalism opened a crack, four remarkable women came to become news icons.

6. The Trouble with White Women: A Counterhistory of Feminism – Kyla Schuller: In The Trouble with White Women, Schuller brings to life the two-hundred-year counter-history of Black, Indigenous, Latina, poor, queer, and trans women pushing back against white feminists and uniting to dismantle systemic injustice. These feminist heroes such as Frances Harper, Harriet Jacobs, and Pauli Murray have created an anti-racist feminism for all.

7. A History of Women’s Boxing – Malissa Smith: A History of Women’s Boxing traces the sport back to the 1700s, through the 2012 Olympic Games, and up to the present. Women have fought for centuries both in and out of the ring to gain respect in a sport traditionally considered for men alone. The stories of these women are told for the first time in this comprehensive work dedicated to women’s boxing, featuring photographs, newspaper clippings, and anecdotes of the women in the ring as well as those who played important roles outside the ring, from spectators and judges to managers and trainers.

8. Divided We Stand: The Battle Over Women's Rights and Family Values That Polarized American Politics – Marjorie J. Spruill: In the early 1970s, an ascendant women's rights movement enjoyed strong support from both political parties and considerable success, but was soon challenged by a conservative women's movement formed in opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), led by Phyllis Schlafly, aka “the sweetheart of the silent majority.” The book explores how one of the toughest battlegrounds in the culture wars of the 1970s helped give rise to the Moral Majority and forever shifted the political landscape. Divided We Stand reveals how crucial women and women's issues have been in the shaping of today's political culture and how one of the toughest battlegrounds in the culture wars of the 1970s helped give rise to the Moral Majority and forever shifted the political landscape. The book and its thoughtful treatment of the characters is reflected in the Hulu series Mrs. America.

9. Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger – Rebecca Traister: In Good and Mad, Traister tracks the history of female anger as political fuel. Starting with the suffragettes marching on the White House to office workers leaving after Clarence Thomas was confirmed to the Supreme Court, Traister explores women’s anger. Anger at both men and other women, the anger between ideological allies and foes, the varied ways anger is received based on who’s expressing it, and the way women’s collective fury has transformed American politics.

10. Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History – Laurel T. Ulrich: We have all heard Ulrich’s famous quote, “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” Ulrich explains what the quote means by looking back at women of the past who challenged the way history was written. She ranges from the fifteenth-century writer Christine de Pizan, who wrote The Book of the City of Ladies, to the twentieth century’s Virginia Woolf, author of A Room of One’s Own. Ulrich updates their attempts to re-imagine female possibilities and looks at the women who didn’t try to make history but did.

This Women’s History Month, come to the Clifton Public Library and check out their recommendations and be inspired by the people and issues that have shaped, and continue to change, America.

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