The best books on patriarchy

Who picked these books? Meet our 79 experts.

79 authors created a book list connected to the patriarchy, and here are their favorite patriarchy books.
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What type of patriarchy book?


Of Woman Born

By Adrienne Rich,

Book cover of Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution

Ann W. Duncan Author Of Sacred Pregnancy: Birth, Motherhood, and the Quest for Spiritual Community

From the list on exploring the spirituality of pregnancy and birth.

Who am I?

I became a mother while a graduate student. Bombarded by societal expectations and advice on pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood, I quickly combined this life experience with my scholarly interests and wrote a dissertation on Christian women and childbirth. I later began to explore expressions of religion and spirituality outside of traditional religion – a topic that found expression in my book Sacred Pregnancy. I am a professor of American Studies and Religion at Goucher College in Baltimore, MD and have a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from the University of Virginia. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I have!

Ann's book list on exploring the spirituality of pregnancy and birth

Discover why each book is one of Ann's favorite books.

Why did Ann love this book?

Though not directly engaging with religion and spirituality, this book by Adrienne Rich is a foundational text of third-wave feminism.

In this 1976 book, Rich discusses her own conflicted experience of motherhood as a window into the influence of patriarchy and politics on the institution of motherhood.

Seeing motherhood as a societal institution rather than just an identity, Rich uses her poet’s voice to describe how motherhood as an experience is always directly influenced by the societal pressures, norms, and expectations of the moment.

By Adrienne Rich,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Of Woman Born as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Of Woman Born, originally published in 1976, influential poet and feminist Adrienne Rich examines the patriarchic systems and political institutions that define motherhood. Exploring her own experience-as a woman, a poet, a feminist and a mother-she finds the act of mothering to be both determined by and distinct from the institution of motherhood as it is imposed on all women everywhere. A "powerful blend of research, theory, and self-reflection" (Sandra M. Gilbert, Paris Review), Of Woman Born revolutionised how women thought about motherhood and their own liberation. With a stirring new foreword from National Book Critics Circle Award-winning writer…

Red Sparrow

By Jason Matthews,

Book cover of Red Sparrow

Mark Pawlosky Author Of Friendly Fire

From the list on lovers of gripping suspense and espionage.

Who am I?

As a lifelong journalist, I’ve covered and have been drawn to tales of intrigue, con men, massive financial scams, domestic terrorists and international plots, and the investigators and authorities who pursue them.

Mark's book list on lovers of gripping suspense and espionage

Discover why each book is one of Mark's favorite books.

Why did Mark love this book?

Jason Matthews is the real deal, a 30-year-veteran of the CIA’s Operations Directorate and he gives the reader a ringside seat both into the Agency’s operations as well as Putin’s vast spy network and advanced training programs that recruits beautiful young woman to seduce and exterminate foreign assets.

This is one of the steamiest spy novels ever produced.

By Jason Matthews,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Red Sparrow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE MAJOR MOTION PICTURE starring Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton and Jeremy Irons.

Dominika Egorov, former prima ballerina, is sucked into the heart of Putin's Russia, the country she loved, as the twists and turns of a betrayal and counter-betrayal unravel.

American Nate Nash, idealistic and ambitious, handles the double agent, codenamed MARBLE, considered one of CIA's biggest assets. He needs to keep his identity secret for as long as the mole can keep supplying golden information.

Will Dominika be able to unmask MARBLE, or will the mission see her faith destroyed in the country she has always passionately defended?



By Jalal Al-Din Rumi,

Book cover of Rumi: The Path of Love

Wendy-O Matik Author Of Redefining Our Relationships: Guidelines for Responsible Open Relationships

From the list on to ignite the revolution and smash patriarchy.

Who am I?

As a rebellious woman who is passionate about words and the revolutionary force of books, I know the power of stories. Stories are the seeds that give life to your purpose. Stories give you a reason to fight the good fight, care about something bigger than yourself, and want to be a part of social justice and positive change. The daily grind can kick you down, but a good story can remind you that there's still time to rise up, speak truth to power, help others less fortunate, and commit to what you value most. The books that I’m recommending are meant to be your personal guide to what really matters most in life to you.

Wendy-O's book list on to ignite the revolution and smash patriarchy

Discover why each book is one of Wendy-O's favorite books.

Why did Wendy-O love this book?

There can be no revolution without love. The 13th-century Persian poet, Sufi philosopher, and Muslim scholar Rumi is the best guide to put you on the road to an open heart and to keep you in constant connection with our shared humanity. He is the ultimate lover because his words lift off the page and teach you how to be vulnerable and courageous with your heart.

By Jalal Al-Din Rumi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Seven centuries after his death, the romantic poetry of Jelaluddin Rumi is presented here with 50 cards with a quotation from a Rumi poem on one side and a colour work of Middle Eastern Sufi or Islamic are on the other. The accompanying book has further illustrated selections and a life of Rumi.

The Worthy

By Anna K. Moss,

Book cover of The Worthy

Lucy A. McLaren Author Of Awakening

From the list on fantasy with a prominent feminist theme.

Who am I?

As a fantasy author and professional counsellor, I am incredibly passionate about topics which are relevant not only to mental health, but to us in contemporary society. Feminist themes such as those discussed in my book list comes under than umbrella—we deal with these in our day to day lives. I experience them personally and also see it within my counselling clients. I believe that being able to read about these issues within fantasy stories is really important to allow us to understand and process the difficult thoughts and feelings they can bring up within us.  

Lucy's book list on fantasy with a prominent feminist theme

Discover why each book is one of Lucy's favorite books.

Why did Lucy love this book?

A grimdark fantasy in the tone of Abercrombie, Moss’s The Worthy is a brilliant debut that explores a fractious sibling relationship between brother and sister Prince Barsten and Princess Ailith, both of whom are battling to become heir to the kingdom of Crell. Ailith herself is hiding her lover, Lady Avalon, at the same time as trying to protect the kingdom when it quite literally begins to tear itself apart due to a mysterious magical entity. The book explores issues of patriarchal oppression, historic abuse and trauma, sexuality and homophobia. Despite the grim world and morally grey characters, I found myself drawn into this story because of the important themes it considered. 

By Anna K. Moss,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Blood is thicker than water. Tell that to Prince Barsten, betrayed and abandoned on foreign soil. His sister is intent on claiming the throne and he’s intent on stealing it back. One of them might succeed, if it weren’t for a sacred creature infecting people with its emotions. Rage, fear, paranoia, despair. As their country collapses, the royal siblings must stay true to themselves or find out just how thick their blood really is.

Moss’s compelling debut novel dives into a desperate kingdom, full of intrigue, treachery and sapphic-longing. Fast-paced and awash with sinful characters and fetid settings, The Worthy…

Circle of Stones

By Judith Duerk,

Book cover of Circle of Stones: Woman's Journey to Herself

Anita Johnston Author Of Eating in the Light of the Moon: How Women Can Transform Their Relationship with Food Through Myths, Metaphors, and Storytelling

From the list on the archetypal feminine.

Who am I?

I’m a clinical psychologist who has specialized in women’s issues and disordered eating for over thirty years. Born on the island of Guam, I was raised in a matriarchal and multicultural household where storytelling was a means of transmitting important concepts, traditions, and values, and was a way to experience meaningful and joyful connections with others. Because I was raised by strong women and my indigenous ancestors were Chamorro, a matrilineal culture that honored the motherline, I have always been interested in the archetypal feminine rooted in these stories, although I didn’t discover the term until I began to study psychology.

Anita's book list on the archetypal feminine

Discover why each book is one of Anita's favorite books.

Why did Anita love this book?

I have read this book nearly a hundred times. Given that it is less than seventy pages long with sometimes only twenty-five words (or less) on a page, that may not seem like much of a feat. But the exquisite spacing between the words invites the reader to drop deep into the lost feminine, to pause, and to feel her essence. This book allows us to not only recognize what has been lost but also to repeatedly imagine how our lives might be different if we could fully experience and embrace the archetypal feminine.

By Judith Duerk,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Long ago before the patriarchal period, in many places on Earth, the Goddess was worshipped. Circle of Stones draws us into a meditative experience of the lost Feminine and creates a space for us to consider our present lives from the eyes of women's ancient culture and ritual. Incorporating the most ancient symbol of spirituality-the circle of stones-Duerk weaves stories, dreams, and visions of women to lead each reader into a personal yet archetypal journey, posing the reflective question, "How might your life have been different if . . ."

Complete with reading group guide.

Cult Girls

By Natalie Grand, Cassandre Bolan (illustrator), N. Scott Robinson (editor)

Book cover of Cult Girls

Vennie Kocsis Author Of Cult Child

From the list on children growing up in cults.

Who am I?

Because I was brought up in a cult, I'm determined to serve as a voice for children. I'm an advocate for assisting children born into cults or taken into them in finding their true identities outside of the indoctrination they received. It's important to me that there is a network of support available to those who want to learn how to lead a balanced life. As a post-cult adult, I went on to study creative writing and art at the University of Tennessee. I have a deep appreciation for poetry as a form of expression, and I recommend using it as a method to work through the complex range of feelings.

Vennie's book list on children growing up in cults

Discover why each book is one of Vennie's favorite books.

Why did Vennie love this book?

It was a brilliant decision on Natalie's part to create a graphic novel that lays out the many facets and layers that make up the dynamics of cults. It has been a pleasure for me to get to know Natalie. A former member of the Jehovah's Witnesses, she is now a dynamic and independent individual. This graphic novel explores a wide variety of aspects of the tactics used by Jehovah's Witnesses, including shunning, the reasons why cult family members will disavow non-cult family members, and a great deal more. This seemed to me to be an excellent option for storytelling geared for minds that have a tendency to gravitate toward visuals.

By Natalie Grand, Cassandre Bolan (illustrator), N. Scott Robinson (editor)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Cult Girls based on a true story, tells the story of Talia and her friends as they struggle with growing suspicions that their faith is a patriarchal religious cult. It's a story of tremendous courage and female empowerment as Talia as her friends successfully free themselves told through a feminist lens with cautionary humor. Read this first place BookFest award winning Girls and Women YA Graphic novel.

Book cover of The Confederacy as a Revolutionary Experience

William Barney Author Of Rebels in the Making: The Secession Crisis and the Birth of the Confederacy

From the list on an offbeat look at the Confederacy.

Who am I?

From a youth devouring the books of Bruce Catton to my formative years as a historian, I’ve been fascinated by the Civil War, especially the thinking and experiences of southerners who lived through the cataclysmic war years. In my teaching and writing, I’ve tried to focus on the lived experiences, the hopes and fears, of southerners who seemingly embraced secession and an independent Southern Confederacy in the expectation of a short, victorious war only to become disenchanted when the war they thought would come to pass turned into a long, bloody stalemate. The books I’ve listed share my passion for the war and open new and often unexpected windows into the Confederate experience.

William's book list on an offbeat look at the Confederacy

Discover why each book is one of William's favorite books.

Why did William love this book?

Here is the best introduction to how the Confederacy transformed itself into a mirror image of the South’s traditional portrayal as a static agricultural society based on states’ rights. To meet the demands of waging the Civil War, the Confederacy underwent rapid industrialization and urbanization directed by a strong centralized bureaucracy in Richmond. New and expanded roles opened up for southern women challenging the prerogatives of male patriarchy. How many of these changes would have become permanent had the Confederacy survived is an open question, but the Confederacy decidedly was not an extension of the Old South.

By Emory M. Thomas,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Confederacy as a Revolutionary Experience as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The purpose of this book is to show that the Confederacy not only enacted an external revolution (in terms of its war with the Union), but that it also experienced a very significant internal revolution. Provides an explaination of what things within Southern society were revolutionized and in what ways.

A Republic of Men

By Mark E. Kann,

Book cover of A Republic of Men: The American Founders, Gendered Language, and Patriarchal Politics

Rebecca DeWolf Author Of Gendered Citizenship: The Original Conflict over the Equal Rights Amendment, 1920-1963

From the list on how gender has shaped citizenship in the US.

Who am I?

I am a historian with a PhD in history from American University. My research has focused on the changing nature of U.S. citizenship after the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. In particular, my newly released book, Gendered Citizenship, sheds light on the competing civic ideologies embedded in the original conflict over the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) from the 1920s through the 1960s. My research has won recognition through several grants and fellowships and my writing has appeared in the Washington Post, History News Network, New America Weekly, Gender on the Ballot, and Frontiers

Rebecca's book list on how gender has shaped citizenship in the US

Discover why each book is one of Rebecca's favorite books.

Why did Rebecca love this book?

While other scholars have focused on how various definitions of womanhood influenced the formation of the United States’ political and legal systems, Mark Kann pays closer attention to how perceptions of manhood shaped the creation of the U.S. during the early republic. In A Republic of Men, Kann contends that the U.S.’s founders sought to establish a republic based on male authority and female subordination. During the early years of the republic, as Kann describes it, political and legal authorities connected white men to productivity and reason while linking all women to inherent weakness and dependency. I found Kann’s book especially helpful for understanding how American political and legal authorities sought to institutionalize rights and privilege for white men only. 

By Mark E. Kann,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

What role did manhood play in early American Politics? In A Republic of Men, Mark E. Kann argues that the American founders aspired to create a "republic of men" but feared that "disorderly men" threatened its birth, health, and longevity. Kann demonstrates how hegemonic norms of manhood-exemplified by "the Family Man," for instance--were deployed as a means of stigmatizing unworthy men, rewarding responsible men with citizenship, and empowering exceptional men with positions of leadership and authority, while excluding women from public life.
Kann suggests that the founders committed themselves in theory to the democratic proposition that all men were created…

The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium

By Alexander P. Kazhdan (editor),

Book cover of The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium

Warren Treadgold Author Of A History of the Byzantine State and Society

From the list on understanding the Byzantine empire.

Who am I?

I first became interested in Byzantium in high school, when I read Edward Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and I’ve been interested in Byzantine subjects ever since. I’ve traveled to almost every country that was once part of the Byzantine Empire, all around the Mediterranean seaboard. I’ve written ten books and many articles on Byzantine politics, Byzantine scholarship, Byzantine literature, the Byzantine economy, the Byzantine army, Byzantine religion, and Byzantine art (with my wife, a Byzantine art historian). It’s such an enormous field, spanning thirteen centuries, three continents, and Greek, Roman, Christian, and many other cultures, that there’s always something new, surprising, and marvelous to discover.

Warren's book list on understanding the Byzantine empire

Discover why each book is one of Warren's favorite books.

Why did Warren love this book?

If you want a comprehensive reference work on Byzantium, this is much the best, with short articles on every aspect of Byzantine civilization that you can think of and on many aspects that you wouldn’t have thought of. Kazhdan, who emigrated from Russia to America, was the most learned of recent Byzantinists and was interested in almost everything about his chosen field. Although a great many scholars contributed to this dictionary, Kazhdan’s point of view and profound erudition influenced almost every article. 

Anyone interested in Byzantium (and some readers who hadn’t realized that they would be interested) will spend hours looking through these three volumes and will consider those hours well spent.

By Alexander P. Kazhdan (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium is the most comprehensive dictionary available on Byzantine civilization. It features more than 5,000 entries written by an international group of eminent Byzantinists covering all aspects of life in the Byzantine world. Major entries treat such topics such as agriculture, art, literature, and politics, whilte shorter entries examine topics that relate to Byzantium, such as the history of Kiev and personalities of ancient
and biblical history. It is truly interdisciplinary with entries on patriarchy and emperors sitting alongside those on surgery and musical instruments. Each article is followed by a bibliography, and numerous maps, tables,…

Book cover of The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future

Esther Hertzog Author Of Patrons of Women: Literacy Projects and Gender Development in Rural Nepal

From the list on bureaucracy and state power.

Who am I?

My interest in bureaucratic power and its pervasive control grew out of my social and feminist activity no less than from my critical thinking about State institutions. Combining field research as a social anthropologist with my activism exposed me to the harmful implications of bureaucratic power. I delved into social and gender power relations in contexts like absorption centers with immigrants from Ethiopia, women's empowerment projects in "developing" countries, threatened motherhood in the welfare state, and others. My personal experience as an involved participant enabled me to better understand the ethnocentric and exploiting nature of international development projects, of Israeli "absorbing" agencies, and of child care policies. 

Esther's book list on bureaucracy and state power

Discover why each book is one of Esther's favorite books.

Why did Esther love this book?

I think that Riane Eisler's book is a must-read piece for feminists, historians, and social activists working for justice and equality.

The book offered me an original outlook on male dominance in human society over the ages. Learning that women had an immense impact on the emergence of the major religions was exhilarating. The historical descriptions of the evolution of patriarchy demonstrated how it was constructed through the marginalization and exclusion of women from leading positions and by the use of violence.

My work on the sex industry, indicating how the exploitation of women's sexuality served in establishing males' dominance was significantly influenced by this book. 

By Riane Eisler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Chalice and the Blade as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now with an updated epilogue celebrating the 30th anniversary of this groundbreaking and increasingly relevant book.

"May be the most significant work published in all our lifetimes." – LA Weekly

The Chalice and the Blade tells a new story of our cultural origins. It shows that warfare and the war of the sexes are neither divinely nor biologically ordained. It provides verification that a better future is possible—and is in fact firmly rooted in the haunting dramas of what happened in our past.

Unfollow Your Passion

By Terri Trespicio,

Book cover of Unfollow Your Passion: How to Create a Life That Matters to You

Ilise Benun Author Of The Creative Professional's Guide to Money: How to Think About It, How to Talk About it, How to Manage It

From the list on business books for creative professionals.

Who am I?

I have made it my business to teach basic business skills to creative professionals who should have learned them in school but, alas, did not because it’s not taught in school. This has for years perpetuated a “starving artist” mentality amongst creative professionals, who are naturally talented and could easily bring their creativity to the business side of their business, if only they knew how. That’s the mission I’m on with all of my work through

Ilise's book list on business books for creative professionals

Discover why each book is one of Ilise's favorite books.

Why did Ilise love this book?

Essential Skill #2 for Creatives: Practicality, not Passion

Creative professionals tend to be “passionate practitioners” but if you need to “love” every single aspect of your business, you won’t get very far. That’s why I love Terri’s book. It’s the funniest business book I’ve read! Part comic autobiography, part business handbook, Unfollow Your Passion provides practical, clear, and excellent advice. It also happens to be beautifully written, the stories so compelling and hysterical that you’ll learn the practical skills in spite of yourself. The message of this book – forget about passion – is so important, something I’ve espoused for years, but not nearly as eloquently and clearly as Terri has.

By Terri Trespicio,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One of the Best Feel-Good Books of 2021 by The Washington Post

A hilarious and honest not-quite-self-help book in the vein of Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies and I Used to Have a Plan.

Every person on the planet wants their life to mean something. The problem is that you've been told there's only one way to find that meaning.

In Unfollow Your Passion, Terri Trespicio-whose TEDx talk has more than six million views-questions everything you think you need: passion (fun, but fleeting), plans (flimsy at best), and a bucket list (eye roll), to name a few.

Instead, she shows…

Book cover of Shamans, Housewives, and Other Restless Spirits: Women in Korean Ritual Life

Deb Atwood Author Of Moonlight Dancer

From the list on to understand traditional Korean culture.

Who am I?

My kids tease me that I’m the family member (Nordic-European ancestry all the way) who first became fascinated with Korean culture despite their dad having been born in Busan. (Like me, my husband was raised on bologna and French’s mustard sandwiches, not bibimbap and kimchi). My research journey led me to travel to Korea multiple times. There, I discovered the remote island of Jindo, famous for delectable seaweed, the Jindo dog, a decisive battle in which Admiral Yi Sun-shin outwitted the Japanese, as well as a mysterious land bridge that parts the sea every year. I photographed the magnificent sunset overlooking Jindo and pictured my characters there. 

Deb's book list on to understand traditional Korean culture

Discover why each book is one of Deb's favorite books.

Why did Deb love this book?

Because I have a mudang (Korean shaman) in my novel, I wanted to research everything I could about the shamanic tradition. Among the many sources I read, this one stands out as both informative and approachable. Shamanism in Korea is an ancient religious form, yet the custom is still honored in modern Korea, and people consult mudangs for business or personal advice even today. Laurel Kendall, a cultural anthropologist, takes readers on a journey into the lives of these remarkable women as they consult with ghosts, dispatch malign spirits, and offer advice and comfort to families. I am a believer in the power of women, especially women who navigate a patriarchal society,    

By Laurel Kendall,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shamans, Housewives, and Other Restless Spirits as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This exceptionally well-written book is good reading, not only for specialists but also for beginning students interested in women, Korean culture, and shamanism.


By Tamora Pierce,

Book cover of Alanna

E. M. Leander Author Of Wren and the Tarnished Tiger

From the list on epic fantasy with adventure and romance.

Who am I?

I’ve been in love with reading fantasy since I first learned how to read, and I’ve been writing stories almost as long. As an adult, writing has become my hobby, my passion, my creative outlet, and my escape. Fantasy provides what no other genre does – to quote G. K. Chesterton, “Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” I hope you enjoy all of the books on this list – they are full of adventure, romance, and, most importantly, magic. 

E. M.'s book list on epic fantasy with adventure and romance

Discover why each book is one of E. M.'s favorite books.

Why did E. M. love this book?

One of my all-time favorite fantasy novels, and the one that got me hooked on fantasy as a girl – Alanna is the ultimate scrappy heroine and I dreamed of being her when I was growing up.

Alanna has a black cat companion, which may or may not have influenced me to adopt a black cat as an adult.

At the time I read it, I’d never heard of a woman wanting to be a knight before – Alanna helped me realize that all glass ceilings can be shattered, and this remains one of the most re-read novels on my shelf. 

By Tamora Pierce,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Alanna as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From Tamora Pierce, the first book in the Song of the Lioness Quartet, honored with the Margaret A. Edwards Award.

“From now on I’m Alan of Trebond, the younger twin. I’ll be a knight.”

In a time when girls are forbidden to be warriors, Alanna of Trebond wants nothing more than to be a knight of the realm of Tortall. So she finds a way to switch places with her twin brother, Thom. Disguised as a boy, Alanna begins her training as a page at the palace of King Roald. But the road to knighthood, as she discovers, is not…

Book cover of The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image

Nancy Reyner Author Of Create Perfect Paintings: An Artist's Guide to Visual Thinking

From the list on for painters to stay creative.

Who am I?

When I was nine years old, I saved enough allowance money to buy a big box of oil pastels. I was mesmerized by its amazing display of gorgeous colors. Never could figure out why my girlfriends played with dolls when it was more exciting to paint. It wasn’t until high school, and time to apply to colleges that I made the decision to go to art school. Another key moment for me was after graduating from art school and landing in New York City. It was then that I made a brave decision to never waitress again, and instead do whatever it takes to stay in the arts. 

Nancy's book list on for painters to stay creative

Discover why each book is one of Nancy's favorite books.

Why did Nancy love this book?

In this book, Shlain reveals his unusual take on the power of images throughout history. His discussion using contemporary ideas about our creative right-brain side brings interesting connections between the Goddess, images, and feminine values. Shlain's earlier book, Art & Physics was very popular expressing his breakthrough theory, ad revealing an astonishing parallel with these two seemingly different topics. I find that books like this, not dedicated to learning specific painting techniques, end up being more helpful towards how I think as an artist. A good writer, it is easy to read and very inspiring.

By Leonard Shlain,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Alphabet Versus the Goddess as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This groundbreaking book proposes that the rise of alphabetic literacy reconfigured the human brain and brought about profound changes in history, religion, and gender relations. Making remarkable connections across brain function, myth, and anthropology, Dr. Shlain shows why pre-literate cultures were principally informed by holistic, right-brain modes that venerated the Goddess, images, and feminine values. Writing drove cultures toward linear left-brain thinking and this shift upset the balance between men and women, initiating the decline of the feminine and ushering in patriarchal rule. Examining the cultures of the Israelites, Greeks, Christians, and Muslims, Shlain reinterprets ancient myths and parables in…

Paternal Tyranny

By Arcangela Tarabotti, Letizia Panizza (translator),

Book cover of Paternal Tyranny

Kathleen Ann Gonzalez Author Of A Beautiful Woman in Venice

From the list on undaunted Italian women to inspire you.

Who am I?

Since 1996 when my first trip to Venice rearranged my interior life, I have been visiting the city and learning everything I can about it. Most of my reading led me to men’s history, but with some digging, I uncovered the stories of Venice’s inspired, undaunted, hardworking women. Their proto-feminism motivated me to share their stories with others in an attempt to redefine beauty. I’ve also created videos showing sites connected to these women’s lives, and I’ve written four books about Venetians, including extensive research into Giacomo Casanova and two anthologies celebrating Venetian life. Reading and writing about Venice helps me connect more deeply with my favorite city.

Kathleen's book list on undaunted Italian women to inspire you

Discover why each book is one of Kathleen's favorite books.

Why did Kathleen love this book?

Sometimes reading eighteenth-century writing can be tedious due to the differing norms and expectations of writing. But Archangela Tarabotti’s essays burn the page.

Her anger is incandescent. She became a cloistered nun without a calling and lived her years trying to make a life of letters. Though she had a couple patrons—men—who brought her books and helped publish her works, she was at their mercy and was later nearly silenced by them. She rails against fathers, priests, and powerful nobles who limit women’s choices and voices. I have never forgotten her anger at injustice.

By Arcangela Tarabotti, Letizia Panizza (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Sharp-witted and sharp-tongued, Arcangela Tarabotti (1604-52) yearned to be formally educated and enjoy an independent life in Venetian literary circles. But instead, at sixteen, her father forced her into a Benedictine convent. To protest her confinement, Tarabotti composed polemical works exposing the many injustices perpetrated against women of her day.

Paternal Tyranny, the first of these works, is a fiery but carefully argued manifesto against the oppression of women by the Venetian patriarchy. Denouncing key misogynist texts of the era, Tarabotti shows how despicable it was for Venice, a republic that prided itself on its political liberties, to deprive its…

On Call

By June Jordan,

Book cover of On Call: Political Essays

Arlene Voski Avakian Author Of Lion Woman's Legacy: An Armenian-American Memoir

From the list on social consciousness in historical contexts.

Who am I?

I was an angry girl, railing against the difference between the expectations and restrictions on me and my younger brother. I was also the child of survivors and victims of the Armenian genocide, and I grew up in 1950 when my immigrant family didn’t fit the representations of “Americans” as they were then depicted. And I was white. I wanted to change myself, the world and learn why there was so much injustice in the U.S. I went back to school at UMass, got connected to faculty in the Afro-American Studies Department, and joined the group that was creating the Women’s Studies Program. I am still learning and trying to change the world.  

Arlene's book list on social consciousness in historical contexts

Discover why each book is one of Arlene's favorite books.

Why did Arlene love this book?

A poet, playwright, essayist, teacher, and activist, Jordan had more than 25 published works, including seven books of essays. 

As a feminist and women’s studies teacher and scholar who was focused on bringing race into the center of my activism and analysis, I learned so much from June Jordan. 
On Call, includes essays that explored intersectionality years before Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term and theorized the overlapping social constructions of race, class, and gender. 

The topics of the 18 essays are wide-ranging, from patriarchy, to Black English, to the enslaved 18th-century poet Phillis Wheatley, and a hilarious short essay on the election of Ronald Reagan written in Black English.  I taught “Report from the Bahamas” in almost all of my courses. 

Like all of her essays, it is written with a poet’s sensibility. Every word matters.  

By June Jordan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Book of political essays by a great Feminist.

Book cover of The New Don't Blame Mother: Mending the Mother-Daughter Relationship

Rosjke Hasseldine Author Of The Mother-Daughter Puzzle: A New Generational Understanding of the Mother-Daughter Relationship

From the list on to read about the mother-daughter relationship.

Who am I?

My passion started as a personal quest in my twenties, struggling with my relationship with my own mother. When my daughter was born, I knew that I could not repeat the difficult dynamics between my mother and I. What started as a personal quest to understand the underlying dynamics between mothers and daughters quickly grew into a professional quest. Today, I have worked as a mother-daughter therapist with thousands of mothers and daughters of all ages and from different countries and cultures and have developed the Mother-Daughter Attachment® model that helps therapists and mothers and daughters uncover the hidden dynamics in their relationship and create a roadmap for change.

Rosjke's book list on to read about the mother-daughter relationship

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Why did Rosjke love this book?

Mothers are too often blamed for their children’s and adult daughters’ problems. I regard Paula Caplan’s book as the quintessential text on understanding how patriarchy blames mothers and how mother-blaming harms mothers, women, and the mother-daughter relationship. Paula exposes the myths surrounding motherhood – revealing that there is no such thing as a “perfect mother.” 

By Paula Caplan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The New Don't Blame Mother as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

First Published in 2000. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.

Work Like a Woman

By Mary Portas,

Book cover of Work Like a Woman

Han-Son Lee Author Of You’re Going to Be a Dad!

From the list on modern day fatherhood.

Who am I?

I’m the founder of DaddiLife—the leading online platform that focusses on modern day dads, who are becoming more equalised in their day to day parenting. We’ve covered a range of different areas from early stage post partum and mental health for dads, through to new research projects on dads at work and young fathers. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt over my time as a father myself is that there’s no such thing as perfect parenting, but there are lots of insights that can challenge our fatherly approaches for the better, both at home and at work.

Han-son's book list on modern day fatherhood

Discover why each book is one of Han-son's favorite books.

Why did Han-son love this book?

This is more than a book—it’s an incredible call to change, and in many ways the other side of the coin for the advice for working dads. 

Mary Portas has a strong insight here—that the patriarchy has driven much of what we see, hear, and feel as ‘the world’ today, and that to start to change that, we all need to lean much more into traditionally ‘feminine’ qualities such as cooperation, collaboration, and more to start to live humanities fuller potential. 

I saw Mary speak after getting this book, and it was a double whammy of incredible change. It’s one of the most inspiring books I’ve read in an awfully long time.

By Mary Portas,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Work Like a Woman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'There aren't many books that can claim to change your life, but this one will.' Clare Balding

'A force for good, for change. This book will make you change the way you think. Mary is my hero.' Scarlett Curtis, author of Feminists Don't Wear Pink

Are you ready to be your best self at work?

Packed with advice, tips and decades of business experience from Mary Portas, this is a book for every one of us: whatever level you are, wherever you work.

It's about calling time on alpha culture and helping every one of us to be happier, more…

Beyond Shame

By Kit Rocha,

Book cover of Beyond Shame

Rebecca Hefner Author Of A Paradox of Fates

From the list on for fellow science dorks.

Who am I?

I volunteered at my local library in small-town North Carolina from a very young age. One day I picked up Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, cementing my love of science. Sagan’s explanation that we’re all just a speck on the pale blue dot called Earth spoke to me and made me curious to know more. I begged my parents to let me go to Space Camp in Alabama and I went to North Carolina Governor’s School for Physics. I didn’t pursue a scientific career but I always retained my love of science. When I finally became an author in my 40s, I knew I would someday write a sci-fi time travel romance—eventually, A Paradox of Fates was born.

Rebecca's book list on for fellow science dorks

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Why did Rebecca love this book?

The first book in this series takes us on a thrilling ride in a post-apocalyptic world. The romance is steamy, so if that’s not your thing, no worries, but I love a good spicy romance so I thoroughly enjoyed this entire series. Rocha does a great job of balancing the sci-fi elements along with the romance, satisfying my love of both science and romance!

By Kit Rocha,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Book One in the Beyond Series (New Cover!)

All Noelle Cunningham has ever wanted was a life beyond--beyond her stifling role as a prim and proper councilman’s daughter, and beyond the walls of the patriarchal city of Eden, the only remnants of safety in a world destroyed by solar storms decades earlier. But when she’s banished for violating the prohibition against immorality, she’s unprepared for the lawless world outside the city’s walls.

The sectors surrounding Eden house those abandoned to fend for themselves--men like Jasper McCray, bootlegger and cage fighter. Jas clawed his way up from nothing to stand at…

Book cover of The School for Good Mothers

Nicole Hackett Author Of The Perfect Ones

From the list on the non-Instagrammable parts of motherhood.

Who am I?

When I was pregnant for the first time, I knew exactly the sort of mother I was going to be. I had read all the articles, bookmarked all the tastefully filtered Instagram posts. But then I had my son, and I realized almost immediately how little I knew. It turns out that while those tender Instagram moments do happen (and they truly are magic), there are just as many moments that can only be described as: WTF? My novel, The Perfect Ones, goes deep behind the screens of two Instagram influencers and their messy, conflicting, and fundamentally human feelings on motherhood. Here are five more books about the parts that don’t make the Instagram grid.

Nicole's book list on the non-Instagrammable parts of motherhood

Discover why each book is one of Nicole's favorite books.

Why did Nicole love this book?

The School for Good Mothers follows Frida, a Chinese immigrant to the US, after a “very bad day” that lands her at a state-run facility for bad mothers.

As a mom, I found much of this book difficult to read. (I’m not usually a crier, but this one got me.) And yet, despite this (or maybe because of it), it is one of my favorite books of the past few years. It forces you to consider what makes a “good mother” and whether we have created a standard that no woman can live up to.

By Jessamine Chan,

Why should I read it?

5 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?


'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…