Favorites of 2012: Women’s History & Women’s Studies

This one goes out to Gerda Lerner.

I devote a lot of my nonfiction reading to women’s history and women’s studies — in fact, that’s all I feature on this blog during Women’s History Month — so rather than lump these books in with the rest of my nonfiction favorites, I always like to feature them on their own list. Everything here is in alphabetical order.

Feminism FOR REAL ed. by Jessica Yee (2011)

This anthology aims to take feminism out of the “academic industrial complex.” The writers, many of whom are Native American, struggle with what feminism means within the context of colonization, and raises important questions about the relevance of “academic feminism” to real life.

Book cover: Girls Like Us by Rachel LloydGirls Like Us by Rachel Lloyd (2011)

GEMS founder Rachel Lloyd uses her own experiences as a teenager as an entry point into a sobering look at modern-day sex trafficking in the United States. Each chapter is devoted to each stage of the cycle in which teens are trapped an exploited. It’s an important book. Read my review here.

Helen Keller by Dorothy Herrmann (1999)Helen Keller: A Life by Dorothy Herrmann

This is a fascinating biography that takes readers far beyond The Miracle Worker and creates a fuller portrait of Helen Keller, who had a whirlwind life. It also looks at her codependent relationship with Annie Sullivan, who carefully cultivated Keller’s myth but also knew how to manipulate her pupil even as an adult. Read my review here.

Book cover: Juliette Gordon Low by Stacy A. CorderyJuliette Gordon Low by Stacy A. Cordery (2012)

This is an engaging biography about the founder of the Girl Scouts. Low was a Southern belle who was raised to value philanthropy, and to see how she funneled that into the creation of her beloved Girl Scouts is endlessly entertaining. This woman seriously had enough adventures to last several lifetimes! Read my review here

Book cover: Queen of Fashion by Caroline WeberQueen of Fashion by Caroline Weber (2006)

This is a biography of sorts about Marie Antoinette, with a focus on the clothing she wore and the messages they conveyed. So much of her iconic imagery lies in her decadence and frivolity, but she was also a master at using her clothes to send political messages and manipulate public opinion. It’s fascinating. Read my review here

Hot and Heavy ed. by Virgie Tovar (2012)

This is a fat-positive anthology that focuses on three areas: life, love, and fashion. Some essays are serious and/or painful to read, but the book balanced nicely with a lot of fun essays that encourage celebrating the body your in. I loved the inclusion of so many perspectives. Everyone should read it.

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