I don’t normally do these types of posts based on the books I’ve read, mainly because I am notoriously picky. I am awful at it! You should see how I react when I create my favorite books of the year. I always end up enjoying the overall post but making that list is always a hurdle. How are you with choosing your favorites? Does it cause you as much stress as me?
Despite this, I wanted to give you an array of books to check out in the future. I have five books for fiction and nonfiction readers. I wanted you to have a choice – I’d also like to say, you should at least try one of them because you might be surprised in the end.
Now that is done, let’s start on the nonfiction, shall we?
I am a HUGE fan of nonfiction, and oddly enough I enjoy reading about women the most. I love the story behind these legendary people, but I can also be very stubborn when it comes to reading nonfiction in general. Sometimes nonfiction can be a little boring, which is why I don’t have as many books as I’d like to! I tend to lose interest quickly, because I am so used to have an exciting story line that I just skim through it unfortunately. However, all of the books I’ve listed below were part of the lucky bunch because I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about these ladies, my sisters in history.
Women of Scotland by Helen Susan Swift
This is more of a reference book, as it goes through centuries of women living in Scotland. I actually did enjoy myself, it helped me tremendously to feel some pride for my Scottish roots, which is exactly why I bought it in the first place. I didn’t want to hear about William Wallace or Robert the Bruce, I wanted to know about my aunts and sisters instead. I wish there were books like this focusing on the women in every country. It would truly help other modern women like me, who we are and how we can grow out of society’s expectation of women in general.
One of my favorite women included in the book was Helen Gloag. She was a strong and independent woman, who unfortunately got caught and was sadly sold into slavery in Morocco, until she was presented to the sultan of that time and was made his wife, plus Empress of Morocco. Sadly, after her husband dies, she is removed from her position, she is banished and disappears completely. I thought her story was amazing, as she wasn’t necessarily forced into the marriage as she was allowed to do many things like write to her family in Scotland.
Anne Boleyn: 500 Years of Lies by Hayley Nolan
I am a royalist, and big supporter of Anne Boleyn–on my quest to find out why the late Queen Elizabeth II was labeled with those doubled I’s really compelled me to spend a chunk of my late teens and early twenties researching the first Queen Elizabeth and the rest of the Tudor dynasty.
Once I got my answers, I became a true fan (seems weird to use that here!) of her as a person. And after chickening out multiple times, I finally got my feet on this book last year and it was a very interesting read; everything I learned from 2008 to probably 2016, was basically up in the air because the author Hayley introduced new things that we wouldn’t normal associate with the medieval royals, like instead of Henry VIII being in love with Anne Boleyn and vice versa, you have reasons to believe he might’ve had a mental illness. She describes him being a sociopath, and it was so odd on how fast my point of view flipped because it does sound like a logical answer to his mood swings, he didn’t have any empathy for others, especially his family including his wives and daughters.
For me though, I enjoyed seeing Anne Boleyn as an innocent bystander, because she was. What a king wants, he’ll usually get it. If you said no to the king, you could be accused of treason. I don’t think Anne had a choice in this “love” fest. However, once she was made Queen, she didn’t just sit around with her ladies, she had a couple of jobs to do, and that was continuing of the progress of The Reformation and the care of her baby girl, the future Elizabeth I.
The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold
In 2020, I discovered this book, and early on I remembered wondering what the hell I had gotten myself into, because I knew it would be gruesome to hear about how each woman was killed, but it also opened a very small hole into their lives, and I think that was the hardest part for me.
Whenever I read books like this, I always feel awful mainly for the loss of the person and their families. I am an empath and so I tend to feel things harder, but I was interested in the reasons why these women were on the streets late at night, when they should have known there was a menacing person killing women in odd ways. I enjoyed their life stories and seeing some of their happy times with their families in the Victorian era, and that’s what I chose to focus my attention on.
999: The Extraordinary Young Women of the First Official Jewish Transport to Auschwitz by Heather Dune Macadam
Another similar book was one I had read a few months ago.
This was about the first bunch of women who were taken to Auschwitz in 1942. These were women between the ages of 17 to 50, from Poland, Slovak, Czech Republic, Hungary to the second concertation camp in Poland, called Auschwitz-Birkenau.
The author Heather had interviewed array of former inmates on their experiences inside the camp. What they were made to do every single day, rain or shine, hot or cold. They were also given very little food, and they were infected by diseases and tests by German doctors. It was hell on earth for these people.
Again, like the The Five, it was full of sadness obviously, but once the camp was liberated in 1945, many of the women made their way home to find their homes and remaining family members, unfortunately many were met with devasting results, but some didn’t lose all of their hope for a future. Survivors would marry other people who were in neighboring camps, and have families, but with this a lot of them wouldn’t talk about their stories at the hands of the Nazis. So, their children and grandchildren were left without knowing about their families before and after World War II ended.
Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Clifford Larson
Rosemary was the older sister of President John F. Kennedy and politicians Robert Kennedy and Ted Kennedy. Rosemary was born with her disability, as there was a complication when her mother Rose was in labor. I’ve heard many stories of newborns getting stuck and sometimes they can develop mental disabilities afterwards. Rosemary had been affected in some way, and she was learning slower than her siblings. I was struck with the fact that she could had autism, just with what Kate was able to share in the book.
Here was this fairly large, important family, chasing the dream to be a part of America’s greatness: working for the government. You learn quickly that she is a liability to the entire Kennedy “perfect” image, and she was sent off to various schools and her parents wanted to make the best of their situation. One of my favorite parts in the book is when Rose takes her older daughters: Rosemary, Kathleen and Eunice for dresses to wear for meeting the King George V and Queen Mary in 1938. I found this section particularly sweet because she seemed to enjoyed dancing and meeting the king and queen as well.
And then, her father Joe makes the decision for Rosemary to have a lobotomy. At this point in history, and medical practice, a lobotomy was supposed to be a godsend to families in similar situations, to gain back some normalcy and hopefully cure their children from any and all imperfections like a mental illness. This action creates havoc in any progress Rosemary was making in her life, as she was never the same again. The one thing I’d like to point out is that I believe Joe and Rose tried their best in raising Rosemary, but they were too obsessed with what could happen if anybody outside of their bubble knew about Rosemary as a person.
I love historical, biographical books, especially when the subject is about women. As someone who has never been able to fit in with other girls, I naturally crave the knowledge of these powerful females in history. Although it’s mostly fictional, some feelings and themes are in fact real, like, limited to no rights for women, slavery, becoming a refugee in another country, they all exist throughout our history, and it’s incredible to see these obscure women come to the front so that maybe we can learn something through the author’s words.
What Passes As Love by Trisha R. Thomas
Do you ever go looking for your next read and see something, read the blurb and decide to leave it be, but is haunted by it afterwards? What Passes as Love was that book for me in 2021. I remember looking at it and thinking it could be the one to draw me out of my mini slump, but I still vetoed it. It took me 12 hours to go back for it and I think I read the whole thing in less than a week. I was that devoted to Dahlia and her story.
Dahlia is a unique individual, as she is treated like a slave on a plantation but is able to live in her owner/father’s house with the rest of the family. Dahlia has endured a lot, and one day she makes a choice that she cannot go back on, and that’s running away from her home. She can get by with it because of the color of her skin, as she doesn’t particularly look most slaves, and this ruse works in her favor when she discovers two gentlemen making their way out of the city, but she is not safe with them. They can still hand her over to authorities, but she vows to never go back there again.
The Duchess by Danielle Steel
It still cracks me up that I was able to read not one, but TWO books while I was staying in a nursing home last October. It was a result of my dad needing to have surgery and my mom and I knew that if I had stayed at home in the days following the surgery, something bad would have happened, so we chose this opinion because it had worked in the past.
I managed to find both Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie and The Duchess by Danielle Steel and I thoroughly enjoyed each of these books, but The Duchess was definitely my favorite as it discusses a woman who was raised as a daughter of a duke, but after her father passed away, she is basically ousted by her older half-brother and as a young woman in the Regency era, there were not a lot of opportunities for her. She didn’t know how to be anything, and that was the point to this opposition. However, she finds a job as a nanny, but it’s what happens after leaving them that things take a sudden turn and becomes a madam at a luxury brothel in France. This was one of two twists to the story that I did NOT see coming but enjoyed nonetheless!
Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone
Women are assuming to be modest, meek and obedient; it has been passed down through the generations of what the perfect women is to be, but sometimes we don’t like staying in love with all of these rules, and once that happens, we are called names like crazy. Husbands, brothers, fathers and sons have put their own mothers, sisters in asylums because of their ericaite behaviors.
Victoria Helen Stone’s “Jane Doe” is a modern way of seeing a sociopath as a woman. We are not immune to this condition as many would believe, and honestly, I seriously wonder how long we’ve suffered through it in history. This was the main reason why I wanted to include it into this post.
I have never been interested in suspense thrillers, until I found this book and I’ve been hooked ever since. My mom was very proud of me because I was discovering how good these types of books are, but honestly, I adored the character, Jane. She was so lifelike, and I now find that quality terrifying! Anyways, if you’d like to look inside the mind of a woman, better yet a mentally unstable woman, this is the book for you. However, I need to mention I wasn’t really into the second “Problem Child” but it might for others as Jane is searching for her long-lost niece and they find out they have something else in common than their blood.
Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga
I love to watch a lot of Muslim YouTubers like Leena Snoubar of With Love, Leena and her sisters Amanda and Loren. I also like to watch Jaserah from SimplyJaserah and Saima her channel hasn’t been very active lately, but I love watching her past videos too!
Today, is the start of Ramadan, so if you are Islam out there, Ramadan Mubarek! For those of you who do not know, it is a holiday that celebrates fasting and prayers to Allah or God. As someone that enjoys learning about cultures and history, being interested in Ramadan and Eid shouldn’t surprise me or anyone close to me.
Last year I wanted to dictate myself to at least one book that discusses Islam in general, and as I was searching on Kindle Unlimited, I found this little gem and I was so happy. This is a children’s book written in verse about a young girl who has to leave her home and family in Syria, before the war actually started there in 2011. Jude and her mother make it to her uncle’s American home, with her aunt and cousin and she goes to school and live her life in this alien world, and it is very heartbreaking, but it also shows us how children are resilient in their environments.
I know it isn’t about history like Jane Doe, but families have been immigrating to other places all around the world for centuries, so it isn’t a new thing we’re doing, but you get to see the life of a young Syrian girl who would have loved to stay at home, but her parents secretly knew for her safety, it needed to be done and it makes you remember Anne Frank and her life in hiding in Amerstdam in 1942. The reason has never changed, just the people and circumstances.
Queen Boudicca by Melanie Karsak
I talk about Melanie Karsak a lot, but I truly love her books and the characters she creates for her fans. This is a series I don’t normally talk about, even though I actually enjoyed it. I haven’t read the second book yet but I’m hoping to before or after the third and final book comes out this summer.
This follows a young Boudicca before she becomes one of the legendary Queens of ancient Britain. I have heard of Boudicca before, but I didn’t want to know much going into it. I like to start off with a clean slate you know. There are a lot of characters in Princess Boudicca’s life and they are massive and strange, but nothing I haven’t heard before. My favorites were the head priestess Don and healer Ulla. For some odd reason I pictured Yelena of the Northuldra people in Frozen II as Don and I feel she quite fits her as she is a stern and noble woman while Gramma in Moana, was for Ulla because she had that mischief attitude about her.
I’m sorry I wasn’t able to get this list out for you sooner, but you have two weeks before the month ends, and I think you’ll find something on my list to inspire you after the month ends. I believe we should celebrate women every day of the year because there’s a lot that we do, and it’s nice to feel proud of who you are on a regular basis, right?
How d you celebrate Women’s History Month? What kind of books would you recommend for this post? Give me your top three in the comments!