When I went back and reviewed my reading list from 2023 I just couldn’t limit my non-fiction list to only a Top 5…so I expanded the list to a Top 10! Since I don’t want to overwhelm you with a ‘way-too-long’ list of amazing non-fiction, I’m going to create two book lists, so stay tuned for the next installment (List #2) coming out soon!
This first list will focus on Herstory and non-fiction about women, written by women. Women’s stories are frequently not represented or deemed worthy of telling in the historical canon but women have always played key roles in history and their stories are our stories. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I did! Read on my friends!
If you are interested in Viking lore/literature, archaeology, or science this book is for you! Brown utilizes scientific, archaeological, and literary evidence to re-create the lives of Viking women and paint a new picture of what it meant to be a woman during the Viking age. Very readable and just a little controversial (re-framing womanhood almost always is!) this book is a great read and makes you reassess what you think you know about the Viking age.
What does it mean to be a ‘hero?’ Maria Tatar investigates this question and other questions surrounding the nature of ‘heroine/hero’ throughout history and how narratives and ideologies of heroism have affected what is possible/not possible for women (and men). Tatar focuses on literary influences such as fairy tale, mythology, and cultural narratives while also addressing cinema/film and it’s influence on the modern era.
Kate Moore made Hannah’s Top 5 Non-Fiction list with her brilliant book, Radium Girls and I couldn’t write up a Top 5 list without including her newest book, The Woman They Could Not Silence. Moore documents the experience of Elizabeth Packard as she is incarcerated in an insane asylum, admitted by force by her husband who does not appreciate her independent ideas and actions. In the mid-19th century wives had few rights and little recourse against their husbands, this is a story of one woman who spoke out and change followed in her wake.
The stories of these ‘founding mothers’ are both commonplace and incredible. We all intuitively understand the profound impact our mothers have on our lives but rarely does that influence get acknowledged in the history books. Tubbs does an excellent job of telling the life stories of three women whose choices changed the landscape of race relations in America forever.
This is the intriguing and engrossing story of Eunice Hunton Carter (the grandmother of the author) and how her work as a New York City lawyer in the 1930’s and 40’s led to the conviction of the notorious Mafia boss, Lucky Luciano. She was brilliant, principled, disciplined, ambitious, and both conventional and a trailblazer! This is a great book about a real woman who faced sexism, racism, and social conventions that made being a black woman lawyer in New York City anything but ‘a walk in Central Park.’