What to read for Women’s History Month

Happy Women’s History Month!

Most of the women you are going to read about here may not be real, but they are certainly women worth celebrating. These women have encouraged me to love both reading and myself. They are protagonists who reveal the strongest and deepest truths about the female experience, written by women who are equally badass. With so many women on the list, I’m sure there is someone for everybody to connect with this month!


Illustration by Aimi Dickel

Sammy Keyes series:

I would be remiss not to start with Sammy. Wendelin Van Draanen wrote this series of 20 mystery books for middle-grade readers. You might be thinking, “why is Grace recommending kid books to me?” Let me just say, we have a lot to learn from children’s literature and a lot to learn from Sammy Keyes.

Sammy is a fast thinker, a go-getter and is spunky beyond belief. These books are well-woven mystery stories that will make you feel a certain fondness for your past self and help you remember what it was like to muddle your way through growing up as a girl. They are poignant and silly, and, honestly, I still want to be Sammy when I grow up.

“In the Time of the Butterflies”:

Anyone who knows me knows that I adore my sister, and so I consider any story about that special bond worth a read. The book “In the Time of the Butterflies” by Julia Alvarez is a particular favorite of mine and is actually historical fiction.

The book follows the four Mirabal sisters during the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic. It is about being equal parts strong and soft. The sisters are mesmerizing to follow as they grow  up among each other, yet entirely on their own.

These girls will get into your heart and inspire you long after you finish the book. I highly recommend.

Mary Oliver:

The lone real woman on my reading list, Mary Oliver is a poet I come back to over and over again. Her writing is focused on the great outdoors, and she paints pictures of nature like no other poet I have read.

Oliver has an eye for the small things, so if you need to take a moment this month to settle down and appreciate the miniscule details that make this world so wide and wonderful, Mary Oliver is your gal.

Her anthology “Devotions” features poems from almost all of her work and is a great place to start. You can even check it out from the Grace Peacore desk library if you need!

“Beloved”:

Everyone should read “Beloved” by Toni Morrison. Not only is Morrison herself an absolute master at writing, but the characters she brings to life in “Beloved” are inspiring and honest.

The protagonist Sethe especially emulates the devotion and strength of being a mother. She is determined and proud through the complicated history of her family during slavery.

We meet many other women along the way — Baby Suggs, Halle, Denver and Beloved, to name a few — whose stories are woven together by Morrison in the tenderest of ways.

She will make you think harder than ever before, pull at your heart strings and might even move you to tears.

“Mrs. Dalloway”:

Virginia Woolf is my favorite author, and “Mrs. Dalloway” — both the name of the book and the main character — is my favorite of her books.

This novel follows Clarissa Dalloway through a day in her life, and perfectly captures the ways in which women balance their inner monologue with the way they present themselves to the rest of society.

The book teaches you to embrace the frivolity of your daily loves and desires, as well as face the inevitable existentialism that comes with being alive. Woolf’s effortless writing will make you melt, and you may even learn some important lessons from Clarissa.

“The Handmaid’s Tale”:

Margaret Atwood is known widely as a feminist author, and her protagonist in this famous novel, Offred, is a particularly tenacious one.

Atwood imagines a futuristic world in which women are commodities that are utilized primarily for their childbearing abilities. Offred learns to navigate this horrific reality, and is able to find her own power within an oppressive society.

The book might make you nervous about the similarities between Atwood’s reality and our own, but will also help you recognize the incredible resiliency in the women around you.


There are a million women who did not make it on this list who I would love to recommend to you. I hope you always find female writers and protagonists who make you proud to be who you are, and help you process your way through womanhood’s strength and sensitivity. I wish you all a happy women’s history month, and happy happy reading!

peacor1@stolaf.edu