Washington Area Women's Foundation

12 Empowering Reads by Women Authors

This Women’s History Month, The Women’s Foundation is excited to share with you twelve (12) of our staff’s favorite reads that celebrate the diverse voices and experiences of women.

Whether you’re looking for inspiration, knowledge, or simply a good read, these books are sure to leave a lasting impact.

Check them out below!

Assata: An Autobiography – Assata Shakur

This memoir follows the life of Assata Shakur, a former member of the Black Liberation Army who was falsely convicted of murder and eventually escaped to Cuba. Through her own words, Shakur provides a powerful account of her experiences with racism, police brutality, and political oppression, as well as her unyielding commitment to social justice.

Comrade Sisters: Women of the Black Panther Party – Stephen Shames and Ericka Huggins

This illuminating book explores the experiences of the women who were at the forefront of the Black Panther Party. Through interviews and photographs, Shames and Huggins provide a detailed portrait of the role that women played in the Party’s activism and the sacrifices they made to advance the cause of racial justice.

Daughters of the Dream: Eight Girls from Richmond Who Grew Up in the Civil Rights Era – Tamara Lucas Copeland

In this moving book, Copeland tells the stories of eight young women who came of age during the civil rights movement in Richmond, Virginia. Through their own narratives, Copeland highlights the resilience and courage of these girls in the face of racism and segregation.

Girl, Woman, Other – Bernadine Evaristo

This innovative novel tells the interconnected stories of twelve different women of color living in contemporary Britain. Through their diverse perspectives, the author explores themes of identity, gender, race, and sexuality, creating a nuanced and thought-provoking portrayal of modern life.

Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng

This bestselling novel follows the intertwined lives of two families in the idyllic suburb of Shaker Heights, Ohio. As secrets are revealed and tensions rise, Ng explores themes of motherhood, identity, and the weight of the past in shaping the present.

Moonrise Over New Jessup – Jamila Minnicks

As the winner of the 2021 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, this thought-provoking and enchanting novel is about a Black woman doing whatever it takes to protect all she loves at the beginning of the civil rights movement in Alabama.

Parable of the Sower – Octavia E. Butler

Set in a dystopian future where climate change and social breakdown have plunged America into chaos, this visionary novel follows the journey of a young woman named Lauren as she seeks to create a new religion that will help her survive and thrive in the harsh new world.

Perfectly You: Embracing the Power of Being Real – Mariana Atencio

In this much-needed book, which is part self-help and part autobiography, award-winning correspondent Mariana Atencio digs into what makes each of us special and the ways in which we can become a force for good in a broken world.

A Return to Love – Marianne Williamson

This powerful book is a call to surrender yourself to a higher power in the universe by rejecting your ego and embracing love. Williamson’s thought-provoking message shows us how to let go of the fears and resentments that suppress the love we all carry within us. Her practical steps will help you improve your relationships, career and overall happiness.

Thick: And Other Essays – Tressie McMillan Cottom

This book is a collection of essays “about how American culture treats black women”. Cottom centers her personal experience as a Southern black public intellectual, and writes on topics such as the loss of a child, sexual abuse, body image, and beauty politics.

Under the Skin: The Hidden Toll of Racism on American Lives and on the Health of Our Nation – Linda Villarosa

Through personal stories and rigorous research, Villarosa examines how racism affects everything from maternal mortality rates to chronic diseases, and argues that dismantling systemic racism is essential to creating a more just and equitable society. This eye-opening and thought-provoking book sheds light on the often-overlooked ways in which racism harms individuals and communities, and provides a powerful call to action for all those seeking to create a more equitable world.

The Vanishing Half – Brit Bennett

In this book Bennett tells the story of twin sisters who grow up in a small, Southern Black community in the 1950s, but who later take very different paths in life. One sister “passes” as white and begins a new life with a new identity, while the other remains in their hometown and becomes increasingly involved in the civil rights movement. Through the lives of these sisters and their families, Bennett explores themes of race, identity, and belonging, and shows how the choices we make can have profound and lasting consequences.