The most recommended books on women of color

Who picked these books? Meet our 12 experts.

12 authors created a book list connected to women of color, and here are their favorite women of color books.
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Book cover of Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today's Feminism

Darien Gee Author Of Nonwhite and Woman: 131 Micro Essays on Being in the World

From my list on women of color finding their stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an author, editor, and woman of color, I celebrate stories that reflect a diversity of voices. Good storytelling allows us to catch a glimpse into lives that may be similar or different from ours, that champion what makes us unique while reminding us that we are not alone.  

Darien's book list on women of color finding their stories

Darien Gee Why did Darien love this book?

Originally published in 2002, Colonize This! brings together the voices of young women of color writing about their experiences of race and gender in America. The 2019 edition features essays by a new generation of feminists of color writing on issues such as police violence, transgender rights, and immigration. These fresh voices are intermixed with essays from the original 2002 publication, creating a poignant feminist dialogue.

By Daisy Hernández (editor), Bushra Rehman (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today's Feminism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It has been decades since women of color first turned feminism upside down, exposing the feminist movement as exclusive, white, and unaware of the concerns and issues of women of color from around the globe. Since then, key social movements have risen, including Black Lives Matter, transgender rights, and the activism of young undocumented students. Social media has also changed how feminism reaches young women of color, generating connections in all corners of the country. And yet we remain a country divided by race and gender.

Now, a new generation of outspoken women of color offer a much-needed fresh dimension…


Book cover of The Trouble with White Women: A Counterhistory of Feminism

Nancy A. Hewitt Author Of Radical Friend: Amy Kirby Post and Her Activist Worlds

From my list on racial politics and women’s activism in the US.

Why am I passionate about this?

In Rochester, New York, where I was raised, Susan Anthony and Frederick Douglass are local heroes. But in the late 1960s, I was drawn more to grassroots movements than charismatic leaders. Despite dropping out of college—twice—I completed a B.A. in 1974 and then pursued a PhD in History. My 1981 dissertation and first book focused on three networks of mainly white female activists in nineteenth-century Rochester. Of the dozens of women I studied, Amy Post most clearly epitomized the power of interracial, mixed-sex, and cross-class movements for social justice. After years of inserting Post in articles, textbooks, and websites, I finally published Radical Friend in hopes of inspiring scholars and activists to follow her lead. 

Nancy's book list on racial politics and women’s activism in the US

Nancy A. Hewitt Why did Nancy love this book?

Schuller’s book critiques the elitist and racist views of well-known white feminists from Elizabeth Cady Stanton to Sheryl Sandberg and highlights a counter-politics created by women of color and poor and trans women. The author explores as well white feminists who embraced the latter’s intersectional vision. Each chapter examines two contemporary feminists. I found the comparisons of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Frances E. W. Harper, Pauli Murray and Betty Friedan, and Harriet Beecher Stowe and Harriet Jacobs especially powerful. (The author’s discussion of Jacobs draws on letters she wrote to her friend and ally, Amy Post.) Schuller presents a powerful critique of one version of white feminism and an equally powerful vision of a racially-inclusive intersectional feminism. 

By Kyla Schuller,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An incisive history of self-serving white feminists and the inspiring women who’ve continually defied them

Women including Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Margaret Sanger, and Sheryl Sandberg are commonly celebrated as leaders of feminism. Yet they have fought for the few, not the many. As award-winning scholar Kyla Schuller argues, their white feminist politics dispossess the most marginalized to liberate themselves.

In The Trouble with White Women, Schuller brings to life the two-hundred-year counter history of Black, Indigenous, Latina, poor, queer, and trans women pushing back against white feminists and uniting to dismantle systemic injustice. These feminist heroes such as Frances Harper,…


Book cover of When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through: A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry

Darien Gee Author Of Nonwhite and Woman: 131 Micro Essays on Being in the World

From my list on women of color finding their stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an author, editor, and woman of color, I celebrate stories that reflect a diversity of voices. Good storytelling allows us to catch a glimpse into lives that may be similar or different from ours, that champion what makes us unique while reminding us that we are not alone.  

Darien's book list on women of color finding their stories

Darien Gee Why did Darien love this book?

Edited by former Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, this poetry collection does not exclusively feature women, but we all need more poetry in our lives. This expansive collection of native voices spans from 17th century to the 20th, and is the most historically comprehensive collection of native poetry to date. When the Light of the World Was Subdued should be recommended reading everywhere.

By Joy Harjo (editor), LeAnne Howe (editor), Jennifer Elise Foerster (editor)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo gathers the work of more than 160 poets, representing nearly 100 indigenous nations, into one momentous volume. This landmark anthology celebrates the indigenous peoples of North America, the first poets of this country, whose literary traditions stretch back centuries.

Opening with a blessing from Pulitzer Prize winner N. Scott Momaday, the book contains powerful introductions from contributing editors who represent the five geographically organised sections. Each section begins with a poem from the massive libraries of oral literatures and closes with emerging poets, ranging from Eleazar, a seventeenth-century Native student at Harvard, to Jake…


Book cover of Prep, Push, Pivot: Essential Career Strategies for Underrepresented Women

Natalia I. Kucirkova Author Of Inspirational Women in Academia: Supporting Careers and Improving Minority Representation

From Natalia's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Professor Innovator Multilinguist Harp- and piano player

Natalia's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Natalia I. Kucirkova Why did Natalia love this book?

This book positions itself as an authoritative and guide and is filled with practical tools, strategies, and advice, delivered in a coaching and mentorship style.

Designed for training and mentoring sessions, it offers a refreshing perspective on female leadership. The author provides empowering tips to boost women's self-esteem and unleash their creativity. The writing is energising. Central to its guidance is the assertion: "If you don't promote yourself, no one else will"  a potentially tough but genuine truth. 

By Octavia Goredema,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Advance your career with this insightful playbook for underrepresented women

In Prep, Push, Pivot, award-winning career coach and author Octavia Goredema delivers an indispensable career coaching guide for women looking for a new job, dealing with job loss, pivoting to a new career, or returning to the workforce after an extended absence.

You'll discover practical strategies you can implement at crucial times during your career, ensuring your considerable talents and skills are used to their full potential. In this important book, you'll:

Discover your true worth, cement your career values, and carve out a realistic and aspirational career plan Learn…


Book cover of Writing the Range: Race, Class, and Culture in the Women's West

Lynn Downey Author Of Dudes Rush In

From my list on the women of the American West.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have loved the history of the West since I was a child, as my family has lived here for over a century. I devoured historical fiction about pioneer girls in grammar school (including the works of Laura Ingalls Wilder), and as I got into college, I expanded my reading universe to include books about women’s roles in the West, and the meaning of this region in overall American history. This concept is what drew me to study the cultural influence of dude ranching, where women have always been able to shine -- and where I placed the protagonist of my first novel.

Lynn's book list on the women of the American West

Lynn Downey Why did Lynn love this book?

This hefty tome is a comprehensive and valuable collection of articles about women who were bound by race and class, and who also defied the expectations of these categories. Native American, Latinx, Asian, and Black women fill this fascinating volume, with stories that span colonial New Mexico to modern-day Hollywood. If you need a reference work on women of color, this book is not only your starting point, but it also has an extensive bibliography for further reading.

By Elizabeth Jameson, Susan Armitage,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A valuable introduction to the rapidly changing field of western history, Writing the Range explains clearly how race, class, and culture are constructed and connected. The first section examines issues raised by more than a decade of multicultural western women's histories; following are six chronological sections spanning four centuries. Each section offers a short introduction connecting its essays and placing them in analytic and historical perspective. Clearly written and accessible, Writing the Range makes a major contribution to ethnic history, women's history, and interpretations of the American West.


Book cover of Cacicas: The Indigenous Women Leaders of Spanish America, 1492-1825

Susan Kellogg Author Of Weaving the Past: A History of Latin America's Indigenous Women from the Prehispanic Period to the Present

From my list on the history of Native women in Latin America.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up in a sheltered environment on Long Island, NY, I had little sense of a larger world, except for seeing images of the Vietnam War. Going to college in the early 70s and becoming an anthropology major, the world began to open up, yet I hadn't experienced life outside the U.S. until my mid-20s as a graduate student living in Mexico to do dissertation research. That experience and travels to Guatemala, Peru, Cuba, and Costa Rica helped me to see how diverse Latin America is, and how real poverty and suffering are as well. Coming into my own as a historian, teacher, and writer, my fascination with women’s voices, experiences, and activism only grew.

Susan's book list on the history of Native women in Latin America

Susan Kellogg Why did Susan love this book?

Cacicas were women who held high status, positions of political authority, and/or communally-significant economic or other responsibilities in colonial Spanish American native societies.

This book offers compelling portraits of how colonial women strategized to maneuver around patriarchal limitations of Spanish law, especially because they could not hold formal offices in the colonial governing hierarchy (though sometimes they actually did).

The individually-authored essays in this collection provide insightful portraits of individual women in a variety of circumstances across a wide range of geographic locations and types of communities across the Caribbean, Mesoamerica, and Central and South American societies.

The reader will feel she or he learns something about these women as people defending themselves, their families, and peoples.

By Margarita R. Ochoa (editor), Sara V. Guengerich (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The term cacica was a Spanish linguistic invention, a female counterpart to caciques, the Arawak word for male indigenous leaders in Spanish America. But the term's meaning was adapted and manipulated by natives, creating a new social stratum where it previously may not have existed. This book explores that transformation, a conscious construction and reshaping of identity from within.

Cacicas feature far and wide in the history of Spanish America, as female governors and tribute collectors and as relatives of ruling caciques - or their destitute widows. They played a crucial role in the establishment and success of Spanish rule,…


Book cover of The Memo: What Women of Color Need to Know to Secure a Seat at the Table

Shaynuh Sloane Author Of Jaded Choyce

From my list on women managing challenging professional experiences.

Why am I passionate about this?

When writing about the everyday challenges that women face within the workplace, I aim to express the events that occur before, during, and after the experience. Unpopular belief, life doesn’t go back to normal for most of us, as getting back to normal from any traumatic experience will leave you shielded. I found my voice through writing about my passion for enabling female empowerment. My path as a woman in leadership came from understanding the lack of consistent supportive resources, encouragement, and validation, amongst women in the workplace. Through my writing, I aim to creatively empower and encourage my readers to find their voice. 

Shaynuh's book list on women managing challenging professional experiences

Shaynuh Sloane Why did Shaynuh love this book?

This book empowered me during one of the most defining phases of my career in technology. Minda Harts' strategic blueprint on maneuvering the workplace as a woman of color provides guided insight that enables and prepares cognizance of professional politics. The Memo is by far the greatest playbook guiding women on the foundation within their professional atmosphere while navigating through their careers. 

By Minda Harts,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Memo is the much-needed career advice guide for women of colour specifically, finally ending the one-size-fits-all approach of business books that lump together women across races and overlook the unique barriers to success for women of colour.

In a charismatic and relatable voice, Minda Harts brings her entrepreneurial experience as CEO of The Memo to the page, as well as her past career life as a fundraising consultant to top colleges across the country. With wit and candour, Harts begins by acknowledging the "ugly truths" that keep women of colour from getting the proverbial seat at the table in…


Book cover of Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women?

Raphael Cohen-Almagor Author Of Just, Reasonable Multiculturalism: Liberalism, Culture and Coercion

From my list on multiculturalism and the role of culture in our lives.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm intrigued by boundaries and the relationships between different ideologies, or isms. In 1992, I joined the European Project at The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. This was a fascinating group of people from Israel, Palestine, and Germany who studied the connections between Europe and the Middle East. Then I opened a new field of studies that continues to engage me: multiculturalism. In my books and articles (most recent: The Republic, Secularism and Security: France versus the Burqa and the Niqab), I examine the extent to which democracy may interfere in the cultural affairs of minorities within democracy, how to find a balance between individual rights and group rights, and whether liberalism and multiculturalism are reconcilable. 

Raphael's book list on multiculturalism and the role of culture in our lives

Raphael Cohen-Almagor Why did Raphael love this book?

This is an excellent collection of essays. Susan Moller Okin and some other world's leading thinkers discuss the tensions between feminism and multiculturalism. This book served for me as a point of departure when I wrote my book. One of the major criticisms of multiculturalism is that it is bad for women. I examined whether this is necessarily the case, and whether it is possible to resolve the tensions between group rights and individual rights. Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women? raises serious concerns as many cultural rites are, indeed, harmful to women. They include polygamy, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, punishing women for being raped, differential access for men and women to health care and education, unequal rights of ownership, assembly, as well as political participation, and unequal vulnerability to violence. While as liberals we want to respect the customs of minority cultures, we also do not wish to…

By Susan Moller Okin, Joshua Cohen (editor), Matthew Howard (editor) , Martha C. Nussbaum (editor)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Polygamy, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, punishing women for being raped, differential access for men and women to health care and education, unequal rights of ownership, assembly, and political participation, unequal vulnerability to violence. These practices and conditions are standard in some parts of the world. Do demands for multiculturalism--and certain minority group rights in particular--make them more likely to continue and to spread to liberal democracies? Are there fundamental conflicts between our commitment to gender equity and our increasing desire to respect the customs of minority cultures or religions? In this book, the eminent feminist Susan Moller Okin and…


Book cover of Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines

Anna Malaika Tubbs Author Of The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation

From my list on Black motherhood.

Why am I passionate about this?

Anna Malaika Tubbs is the author of the critically acclaimed book The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of MLK Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation. She is also a Cambridge Ph.D. candidate in Sociology and a Bill and Melinda Gates Cambridge Scholar. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University with a BA in Anthropology, Anna received a Master’s from the University of Cambridge in Multidisciplinary Gender Studies. Outside of the academy, she is an educator and DEI consultant. She lives with her husband, Michael Tubbs, and their son Michael Malakai.

Anna's book list on Black motherhood

Anna Malaika Tubbs Why did Anna love this book?

This book powerfully expands our definition of mothers and the role of mothering and presents it as a path to transformation. You will leave this book with a radical new perspective of what mothering does for everyone in our society. It is anti-imperialist, inclusive, and as the title suggests - revolutionary. If everyone read this, we would all live in a better world!

By Alexis Pauline Gumbs (editor), China Martens (editor), Mai'a Williams (editor)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An anthology that gives access to the voices of mothers of color and marginalized mothers
 
Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Frontlines is an anthology that centers mothers of color and marginalized mothers’ voices—women who are in a world of necessary transformation. The challenges faced by movements working for antiviolence, anti-imperialist, and queer liberation, as well as racial, economic, reproductive, gender, and food justice are the same challenges that marginalized mothers face every day. Motivated to create spaces for this discourse because of the authors’ passionate belief in the power of a radical conversation about mothering, they have become the go-to…


Book cover of Against White Feminism: Notes on Disruption

Sara Shaban Author Of Iranian Feminism and Transnational Ethics in Media Discourse

From my list on proving Arab women can speak for themselves.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an Arab American woman who grew up in Nashville in an evangelical church, I’ve always maintained complex understandings of myself as both an Arab and a woman. My experiences coupled with my love for reading led me to become a journalist where I could explore stories about Arab women in hopes of learning more about myself. After 9/11, watching my family face racism and hate from a country we're so proud to be a part of, I wanted to change the narrative. I got a Ph.D. in Media Sociology from the University of Missouri and started writing critical analyses of media’s poor representation of Arab women and how we can help change the game.  

Sara's book list on proving Arab women can speak for themselves

Sara Shaban Why did Sara love this book?

This is hands down the best book on transnational feminism that I’ve ever read!

I have recommended this book to so many people that I’m planning on hosting a book club. Zakaria opens the book with her own experience attending a happy hour with a group of white women that ends on a particularly awkward note.

Zakaria is not only challenging white feminists, but she is also calling out all people who subscribe to white feminism and how it does more harm than good. What is white feminism you ask? Pick up this book and let Zakaria tell you. 

By Rafia Zakaria,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Upper-middle-class white women have long been heralded as "experts" on feminism. They have presided over multinational feminist organizations and written much of what we consider the feminist canon, espousing sexual liberation and satisfaction, LGBTQ inclusion, and racial solidarity, all while branding the language of the movement itself in whiteness and speaking over Black and Brown women in an effort to uphold privilege and perceived cultural superiority. An American Muslim woman, attorney, and political philosopher, Rafia Zakaria champions a reconstruction of feminism in Against White Feminism, centering women of color in this transformative overview and counter-manifesto to white feminism's global, long-standing…