Broadly Picks: 9 Must-Read Books by Women
Feminista Jones, Fatimah Asghar, Virgie Tovar, and other women you need on your bookshelf—today and every day.
While women make up over half of readers in the United States, books by women do not receive even close to half of the attention as those by men—not in book reviews by your favorite publications nor in prestigious literary awards. Between 2000 and 2015, not a single book by a woman from the point of view of a woman won a Pulitzer.
Data, scholars, and common sense tell us that this isn't because men are simply better writers, but rather because of a deeply ingrained gender bias that's present in the publishing industry, the media, the hearts of fancy book reviewers, and readers across the world. Changing this requires deliberate actions from within each of these categories, but today we can start with the latter.
Whether you like to curl up with a bound paper book, pull out your kindle on a crowded train, or have Alexa read to you while you hold a plank, here are nine books we hope you're inspired to read this International Women's Day, alongside excerpts, essays, or interviews from their authors that we've published in the past year.
Magical Negro by Morgan Parker
Magical Negro, published earlier this month by Tin House, is actually Parker’s third collection of poetry, following Other People’s Comforts Keep Me Up At Night and There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé . It continues a dialogue started by those predecessors—one about selfhood in the wake of a harsh history. Parker’s poetry seamlessly intertwines moments of intimate introspection, euphoria, desire, and sorrow with reflections on the psychological and spiritual legacy of Black America: the displacement caused by the transatlantic slave trade, the harm of racial discrimination, the systemic erasure of Black narratives, and the resilience of a people who—despite everything—continue to survive.
Reclaiming Our Space by Feminista Jones
"When we were conceiving the idea for this book, I was like well how do I make this like relevant to right now? We were coming up to the 40th anniversary of the Combahee River Collective Statement (1977). A lot of people don't know who was involved in it. They talk about Audre Lorde. They talk about Chirlane McCray. But, a lot of people don't know how they came together and put this revolutionary document together where they were like Black women deserve blank. They ain't talking about Black men. They ain't talking about white women. We are saying that Black women specifically deserve X, and they were a queer collective, which is already radical in itself. These were brilliant minds, academics coming together again, radical in itself, and they're coming together as Black women in one space, and they are bringing knowledge and gender."
Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism by Kristen R. Ghodsee
Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism aims to show that capitalism is bad for women—at work, at home, and in the bedroom—and argues that we could all do with injecting a little bit more socialism into our lives. “If done properly,” Ghodsee writes, “socialism leads to economic independence, better labor conditions, better work/family balance, and yes, even better sex.”
Revolting Prostitutes by Juno Mac and Molly Smith
The bravery and resilience of sex workers has played a part in many liberation struggles. In the 1950s, prostitutes were part of the Mau Mau uprising that led to Kenya’s liberation from British colonial rule. In the 1960s and 1970s they were part of the riots at Compton’s Cafeteria in San Francisco and the Stonewall Inn in New York that kickstarted the LGBTQ liberation movement in the United States. In times of rapid social change, working class sex workers are often at the heart of the action. As sex worker activist Margo St. James has put it, "it takes about two minutes to politicize a hooker."
Everything’s Trash, But It’s Okay by Phoebe Robinson
In her trademark ultra-chill style, Phoebe Robinson rants about interracial dating, the whiteness of Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop newsletter and paying off $65,000 in student loans. As a follow up to her first bestselling title You Can’t Touch My Hair and Other Things I Still Have to Explain, Robinson’s comedy is really for everyone. She is gearing up to record the next 2 Dope Queens at King’s Theatre in Brooklyn next month, but the 34-year-old took some time to speak to us about her British boyfriend, her fanbase, and why there’s more to life than selfies.
Pure by Linda Kay Klein
After realizing she couldn't be the woman the church wanted her to be, Linda Kay Klein left the evangelical community in the early 2000s. It was at that point, when she began considering having sex, that the symptoms started. “It began when I took the possibility of having sex and put it on the table,” Klein tells Broadly. “From that point on, sometimes it was my boyfriend and I being sexual that would make me have these breakdowns where I was in tears, scratching myself until I bled and ending up on the corner of the bed crying.”
If They Come For Us by Fatimah Asghar
Fatimah Asghar may be best known as the co-creator of the web series Brown Girls, which followed the lives of two queer, brown women with refreshing honesty. But she’s also a celebrated performing poet who has just released her first full collection of poetry, If They Come For Us . In it, Asghar uses the India-Pakistan partition as both historical and personal material with which to mine her family’s history and question the myth of national identity. With loaded reflections on growing up in the US as a Muslim and an orphan, she also vividly articulates the sometimes fragmented nature of diasporic existence.
You Have the Right to Remain Fat by Virgie Tovar
Author and activist Virgie Tovar grew up as a fat girl believing that her body was something to be fixed. Ever since she overcame that lie, she's been working to make sure that others don't believe it, either. Today, she's an expert at deconstructing the toxicity of diet culture, teaching people how to unlearn fatphobia, and fighting moral judgements associated with food. In her new book, You Have the Right to Remain Fat she does all that with refreshing criticality and resonant personal reflections.
Motherhood by Sheila Heiti
Motherhood has Sheila Heti’s signature intellect, wit, and observation. It’s also the only book of its kind that examines motherhood without a baby present. The unnamed narrator is a writer who lives in Toronto with her boyfriend (who has a daughter from a previous relationship, and considers parenthood “the biggest scam of all time,” but respects her choice to do it or not), and is surrounded by friends who all seem preoccupied with when they’ll have kids—if they don’t already—and advising the narrator about what she should do.