100 books like Discriminating Sex

By Amy Sueyoshi,

Here are 100 books that Discriminating Sex fans have personally recommended if you like Discriminating Sex. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Polygamy: An Early American History

Rebecca L. Davis Author Of Public Confessions: The Religious Conversions That Changed American Politics

From my list on why sex matters to US history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I never set out to be a historian of sexuality, but the more I read, the more convinced I became of the centrality of sex to politics, culture, religion, and social change. I am fascinated by histories of sexuality in the making and shaping of individual identities and behaviors, and I’m also drawn to histories of other topics—politics, religion, enslavement, leisure—that also teach us something about the history of sex and sexuality. These interests drew me to the podcast Sexing History, where I edit the stories and help produce the episodes. I love to read widely to find histories of sex in unexpected places.

Rebecca's book list on why sex matters to US history

Rebecca L. Davis Why did Rebecca love this book?

Pearsall’s book is the sort that leaves a reader entertained, deeply informed, and unable to see the past the same way again. Polygamy, she shows, was at the center of the social and political systems of many Indigenous nations. As European soldiers and settlers attempted to trade with—or dominate—the people of these nations, they provoked violent reprisals. Opposition to monogamy drove Indigenous resistance movements. Europeans increasingly argued that their monogamous practices made them racially and religiously superior to the people they subordinated. The centrality of metaphors about monogamy and polygamy to American revolutionary political ideas is one of the book’s most enlightening—and entertaining—contributions in a book rich with surprises.

By Sarah M. S. Pearsall,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Polygamy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A groundbreaking examination of polygamy showing that monogamy was not the only form marriage took in early America

"A richly sourced, elegantly written, and strikingly original interdisciplinary study of the diverse practices of polygamy in American from ca.1500 to 1900."-John Witte Jr., Journal of Law and Religion

Today we tend to think of polygamy as an unnatural marital arrangement characteristic of fringe sects or uncivilized peoples. Historian Sarah Pearsall shows us that polygamy's surprising history encompasses numerous colonies, indigenous communities, and segments of the American nation. Polygamy-as well as the fight against it-illuminates many touchstones of American history: the Pueblo…


Book cover of Finding Charity's Folk: Enslaved and Free Black Women in Maryland

Rebecca L. Davis Author Of Public Confessions: The Religious Conversions That Changed American Politics

From my list on why sex matters to US history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I never set out to be a historian of sexuality, but the more I read, the more convinced I became of the centrality of sex to politics, culture, religion, and social change. I am fascinated by histories of sexuality in the making and shaping of individual identities and behaviors, and I’m also drawn to histories of other topics—politics, religion, enslavement, leisure—that also teach us something about the history of sex and sexuality. These interests drew me to the podcast Sexing History, where I edit the stories and help produce the episodes. I love to read widely to find histories of sex in unexpected places.

Rebecca's book list on why sex matters to US history

Rebecca L. Davis Why did Rebecca love this book?

What does it mean to be free—and how can you prove that you are? Millward’s utterly engrossing book demonstrates how significant Black women’s reproductive sexuality was to their pursuit of freedom. Following the formal end of US participation in the international slave trade in 1808, white enslavers placed unprecedented demands on enslaved Black women to bear more children. Because the laws defined the child according to the mother’s free or unfree status, enslaved women literally birthed the property of white enslavers. But what if a currently enslaved person proved that the womb from which they entered the world belonged to a free person? Millward shows how Black women and their descendants paved their own pathways to freedom.

By Jessica Millward,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Finding Charity's Folk as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Finding Charity's Folk highlights the experiences of enslaved Maryland women who negotiated for their own freedom, many of whom have been largely lost to historical records. Based on more than fifteen hundred manumission records and numerous manuscript documents from a diversity of archives, Jessica Millward skillfully brings together African American social and gender history to provide a new means of using biography as a historical genre.

Millward opens with a striking discussion about how researching the life of a single enslaved woman, Charity Folks, transforms our understanding of slavery and freedom in Revolutionary America. For African American women such as…


Book cover of The Straight State: Sexuality and Citizenship in Twentieth-Century America

Marian Lindberg Author Of Scandal on Plum Island: A Commander Becomes the Accused

From my list on power, gender politics, and stereotypes in America.

Why am I passionate about this?

Based on my experiences as a single parent and worker in traditionally male fields (journalism and law, back when newsrooms and law firms resembled men's clubs), I believe that each person contains both “feminine” and “masculine” behaviors and feelings. Yet socially constructed gender norms discourage people from exhibiting this full range of being. Ben Koehler’s troubling and tragic story presented a way to explore the origins of 20th-century American gender norms while trying to solve the mystery of Ben’s guilt or innocence. A bonus was the opportunity to write about Plum Island, an environmental treasure with a fascinating history that many people, including myself, are seeking to preserve and open to the public.

Marian's book list on power, gender politics, and stereotypes in America

Marian Lindberg Why did Marian love this book?

Men, did you know that too little body hair or too much talkativeness could keep you from being admitted to the United States in the early 1900s? The Straight State will have readers shaking their heads at the outrageous presumptions that immigration inspectors applied to keep “degenerates” out of the country. This was the first time that federal officials had both the interest and power to create policies against homosexuality, and they were crassly influenced by the eugenics movement and hostility to the poor. Canaday also shows how early welfare policies perpetuated gender stereotypes and discrimination against sexual “deviants,” favoring the married over the single. I learned so much! 

By Margot Canaday,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Straight State as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Straight State is the most expansive study of the federal regulation of homosexuality yet written. Unearthing startling new evidence from the National Archives, Margot Canaday shows how the state systematically came to penalize homosexuality, giving rise to a regime of second-class citizenship that sexual minorities still live under today. Canaday looks at three key arenas of government control--immigration, the military, and welfare--and demonstrates how federal enforcement of sexual norms emerged with the rise of the modern bureaucratic state. She begins at the turn of the twentieth century when the state first stumbled upon evidence of sex and gender nonconformity,…


Book cover of Aimee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of Christian America

Rebecca L. Davis Author Of Public Confessions: The Religious Conversions That Changed American Politics

From my list on why sex matters to US history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I never set out to be a historian of sexuality, but the more I read, the more convinced I became of the centrality of sex to politics, culture, religion, and social change. I am fascinated by histories of sexuality in the making and shaping of individual identities and behaviors, and I’m also drawn to histories of other topics—politics, religion, enslavement, leisure—that also teach us something about the history of sex and sexuality. These interests drew me to the podcast Sexing History, where I edit the stories and help produce the episodes. I love to read widely to find histories of sex in unexpected places.

Rebecca's book list on why sex matters to US history

Rebecca L. Davis Why did Rebecca love this book?

Aimee Semple McPherson lived a trailblazing life as the founder of the Four-Square Gospel Pentecostal church in Los Angeles, the first woman to own a US radio station, and a captivating, theatrical preacher. The beauty of Sutton’s book is the way he shows how McPherson’s sexual charisma—as well as her nearly career-ending sexual scandals—enabled her to define herself as the embodiment of Christian virtue. Wearing white and preaching with props and scenery worthy of a Hollywood set, McPherson used a show business savvy to portray conservative Christianity as the bedrock of Americanism.

By Matthew Avery Sutton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Aimee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of Christian America as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the Pilgrims who settled at Plymouth Rock to Christian Coalition canvassers working for George W. Bush, Americans have long sought to integrate faith with politics. Few have been as successful as Hollywood evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson.

During the years between the two world wars, McPherson was the most flamboyant and controversial minister in the United States. She built an enormously successful and innovative megachurch, established a mass media empire, and produced spellbinding theatrical sermons that rivaled Tinseltown's spectacular shows. As McPherson's power grew, she moved beyond religion into the realm of politics, launching a national crusade to fight the…


Book cover of China Dolls

Georgina Hickey Author Of Breaking the Gender Code: Women and Urban Public Space in the Twentieth-Century United States

From my list on women in the city.

Why am I passionate about this?

My day job is teaching U.S. history, particularly courses on urban history, social movements, and race and gender. It is women’s experiences in cities, however, that have driven much of my historical research and sparked my curiosity about how people understand–and shape–the world around them. Lots of people talk about what women need and what they should be doing, but fewer have been willing to hear what women have to say about their own lives and recognize their resiliency. I hope that this kind of listening to the past will help us build more inclusive cities in the future.

Georgina's book list on women in the city

Georgina Hickey Why did Georgina love this book?

In this book, Lisa See drops us into the lives of three young women of Asian descent who were fighting to make their way in a city and society that saw them as “dolls” rather than people. The friendship at the heart of the novel is compelling, but I am equally impressed by See’s historical research.

She weaves her fictional characters through real events, people, places, and cultures. I often shy away from “historical fiction” as a genre, cringing at the license some authors take with the history side of things, but See is an excellent social historian and storyteller. I loved this opportunity to visit World War II America, the entertainment industry, and, most especially, San Francisco’s Chinatown through the eyes of these women. 

By Lisa See,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked China Dolls as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “A fascinating portrait of life as a Chinese American woman in the 1930s and ’40s.”—The New York Times Book Review
 
“Superb . . . This emotional, informative and brilliant page-turner resonates with resilience and humanity.”—The Washington Post (One of the Best Books of the Year) 
 
San Francisco, 1938: A world’s fair is preparing to open on Treasure Island, a war is brewing overseas, and the city is alive with possibilities. Talented Grace, traditional Helen, and defiant Ruby, three young women from very different backgrounds, meet by chance at the exclusive and glamorous Forbidden City nightclub.…


Book cover of Noteworthy

Anna Hecker Author Of When the Beat Drops

From my list on YA about girls who literally rock.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was a painfully awkward teenager, two years younger than the rest of my class and a little too “extra” to fit in anywhere. I spent all of high school desperately seeking my weirdos—people who would accept me the way I was, rabid-puppy enthusiasm and all. One night I met a colorfully-dressed trio on the street who invited me to a loft party that changed my life. That night I fell in love with NYC’s underground party scene: the high-energy music, grimy locations, and most of all the people. I had found my weirdos. When the Beat Drops is my love letter to discovering your people and finding your scene. 

Anna's book list on YA about girls who literally rock

Anna Hecker Why did Anna love this book?

Noteworthy is a pitch-perfect novel set in the elite a capella group of a selective performing arts boarding school. Undistinguished Alto 2 Jordan Sun disguises herself as a guy to land a spot in the all-male Sharpshooters a capella group, only to realize she has to keep up the act for the remainder of her Junior and Senior years. Hijinks ensue as Jordan finds herself questioning her identity, her sexuality, and her place in the world. The writing in this book is crisp and funny, and I enjoyed learning a bit about how a capella works. Most of all, I enjoyed watching Jordan become more sure of herself even as her ruse starts to wear thin. This is a light-hearted read with some heavier discussions of race, class, gender, and sexuality deftly woven throughout. If you like voice-driven music books as much as I do, add Noteworthy to your list. 

By Riley Redgate,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Noteworthy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It's the start of Jordan Sun's junior year at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts. Unfortunately, she's an Alto 2, which-in the musical theatre world-is sort of like being a vulture in the wild: She has a spot in the ecosystem, but nobody's falling over themselves to express their appreciation. So it's no surprise when she gets shut out of the fall musical for the third year straight. But then the school gets a mass email: A spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, Kensington's elite a cappella octet. Worshiped . . . revered . . . all…


Book cover of China Men

Molly Patterson Author Of Rebellion

From my list on time-jumping with multiple protagonists.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved “big books,” novels that are described as sagas and chronicles yet whose primary focus is on singular, nuanced characters. I like seeing the ways that lives intersect and reflect each other across decades, and I enjoy being immersed in one world and then dropped, with the turn of a page, into another equally engrossing one. I am the author of the novel Rebellion as well as numerous short stories and essays. Raised in St. Louis, Missouri, I spent several years living in China and a year as the Writer-in-Residence at St. Albans School in Washington, D.C. I now live in Wisconsin, where I write and teach creative writing.

Molly's book list on time-jumping with multiple protagonists

Molly Patterson Why did Molly love this book?

I first read Maxine Hong Kingston in college, but I can’t remember if I was assigned China Men or The Woman Warrior (the more famous counterpoint to China Men). All I know is that whichever one I read, I loved it so much that I immediately sought out the companion piece, which I also loved. In China Men, Kingston weaves together fiction and nonfiction, history and myth, story and memory. Is it a novel? A tapestry? I’m not quite sure what to call it, and that’s part of what I love about the book. Brief interludes of two or three pages present a single scene; longer stories narrate entire sagas. I love that this volume covers so much literal ground but ultimately feels incredibly personal.

By Maxine Hong Kingston,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked China Men as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The author chronicles the lives of three generations of Chinese men in America, woven from memory, myth and fact. Here's a storyteller's tale of what they endured in a strange new land.


Book cover of Front Desk

Lisa Lewis Tyre Author Of Hope in the Holler

From my list on to help kids build empathy for those in need.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the author of two middle grade books, and I love writing about kids who may not have much materially but abound in heart and courage. I grew up in a small southern town and my childhood was just like that—low on income but full of love, hope, and friendship. I want kids to know that despite their circumstances there is hope for a better life. Like Wavie’s mom tells her in my book, Hope In The Holler, “You’ve got as much right to a good life as anybody. So go find it!”

Lisa's book list on to help kids build empathy for those in need

Lisa Lewis Tyre Why did Lisa love this book?

This is a fantastic book about the hardships many immigrants face, from being taken advantage of by their employers, to language barriers, and of course, racism. What I loved about this book is its portrayal of community. Growing up poor, I know that it’s often those with nothing who give the most. Kids will cheer for Mia as she works the front desk, helps those around her, and stands up to injustice.

By Kelly Yang,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Front Desk as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Four starred reviews and over ten best-of-year lists!* "Many readers will recognize themselves or their neighbors in these pages." -- Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Winner of the Asian / Pacific American Award for Children's Literature!* "Many readers will recognize themselves or their neighbors in these pages." -- Kirkus Reviews, starred reviewMia Tang has a lot of secrets.Number 1: She lives in a motel, not a big house. Every day, while her immigrant parents clean the rooms, ten-year-old Mia manages the front desk of the Calivista Motel and tends to its guests.Number 2: Her parents hide immigrants. And if the mean…


Book cover of The School for Good Mothers

Nicole Trope Author Of The Family Across the Street

From my list on helping you explore the darker side of suburbia.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been a writer for almost as long as I have been a reader, and I have always been attracted to the darker side of ordinary life. I write psychological suspense thrillers, always featuring a family in crisis. I am fascinated by what happens behind closed doors and what the headlines do not tell you about a situation. Most people love a good secret exposed, and I am no different. I look at those around me and wonder, ‘What are you hiding?’ because everyone is hiding something. And I want to know what it is.

Nicole's book list on helping you explore the darker side of suburbia

Nicole Trope Why did Nicole love this book?

I loved this dystopian novel about what can happen to a mother having one bad day when the government and a world gone slightly mad get involved.

I struggled to feel sympathy for Freida, wanting to always put myself in the category of ‘I would never do that,’ but the more I read, the easier it became to identify with someone whose whole life was upended by a single mistake. The terrifying interference of a bureaucracy kept me glued to the pages.

By Jessamine Chan,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The School for Good Mothers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
AN OBAMA'S 2022 SUMMER READING PICK

'A taut and propulsive take on the cult of motherhood and the notion of what makes a good mother. Destined to be feminist classic - it kept me up at night' PANDORA SYKES
'A haunting tale of identity and motherhood - as devastating as it is imaginative' AFUA HIRSCH
'Incredibly clever, funny and pertinent to the world we're living in at the moment' DAISY JOHNSON

'We have your daughter'

Frida Liu is a struggling mother. She remembers taking Harriet from her cot and changing her nappy. She remembers…


Book cover of The Hundred Secret Senses

Lisa Boyle Author Of Signed, A Paddy

From my list on badass women (that do not take place during WWII).

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been a history lover, but often find myself thinking about the untold stories. The people who were not writing the history books or commanding armies or ruling countries. I’ve always been more inspired by everyday people, especially women, who fought daily battles we know very little about. I find myself seeking out their stories. I love to imagine these women’s lives. What motivated them, what frightened them, what angered them. That’s what I’m most passionate about. Finding and telling their stories.

Lisa's book list on badass women (that do not take place during WWII)

Lisa Boyle Why did Lisa love this book?

Amy Tan is a master at telling stories that explore the complex dynamics of family relationships.

I’ve read a lot of her books, but The Hundred Secret Senses is my favorite because I adore Kwan, the main character’s half-sister from China. Kwan has a special secret that she can see and speak to ghosts, but Olivia always dismisses her as a little crazy and only pretends to believe her stories.

I love this book because it made me laugh out loud on multiple occasions and because it was so relatable.

We all have family members that we both love and can’t stand at the same time. This book goes back and forth between the 1990s and the 1800s.

If you love books about sisters, you need to read this one!

By Amy Tan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Hundred Secret Senses as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Stunning reissue of an international bestseller, from the author of 'The Joy Luck Club' and 'The Bonesetter's Daughter'.

Olivia Yee is only five years old when Kwan, her older sister from China, comes to live with the family and turns her life upside down, bombarding her day and night with ghostly stories of strange ancestors from the world of Yin. Olivia just wants to lead a normal American life.

For the next thirty years, Olivia endures visits from Kwan and her ghosts, who appear in the living world to offer advice on everything from restaurants to Olivia's failed marriage. But…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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