Read Books! Non Fiction

Behind the Beautiful Forevers. Pulitzer Prize winner Katherine Boo tells dramatic and sometimes heartbreaking stories of families striving toward a better life while existing in the Mumbai slums that are hidden behind billboards promise that kitchen tiles that stay “beautiful forever.” Researched over three years, her nonfiction writing is as compelling as fiction. (Behind the Beautiful Forevers, Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity, Katherine Boo, Random House, 2012)

Mighty Be Our Powers. During Liberia’s civil war, Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee brought the country’s women together into a coalition of Christian and Muslim women who led the nation to peace. This is her inspiring memoir. (Mighty Be Our Powers, How Sisterhood, Prayer and Sex Changed a Nation At War, Leymah Gbowee, Beast Books, 2011)

Vital Voices. Author Alyse Nelson, President/CEO of the nonprofit organization, Vital Voices, describes her 17-year journey that started at the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. She shares inspiring stories of women leaders who are changing the world. (Vital Voices, The Power of Women Leading Change Around the World, Alyse Nelson, Jossey-Bass, 2012)

Playing By Their Rules. In April 2001, a girls’ football program began in Kilifi, Kenya—a radical project meant to tackle issues like school dropouts, teen pregnancies and gender inequity. Today 3,000 girls play football avidly every Saturday. Sarah Forde, their coach, tells the girls’ stories. (Playing By Their Rules, Coastal Teenage Girls in Kenya on Life, Love and Football, Sarah Forde, CreateSpace, 2009)

The Green Belt Movement. Nobel Peace Prize Winner Wangari Maathai started citizen forestry in 1976, a women’s conservation movement intended to replenish Kenya’s forests. The Green Belt Movement that grew from that project has improved the environment, education, economics, and lives. (The Green Belt Movement, Sharing the Approach and the Experience, Wangari Maathai, Lantern Books, 2006)  

Catalyst’s Research Reports are unique resources for companies. Titles include:Passport to Opportunity: US Women in Global Business; Women in Leadership, A European Business Perspective; Breaking Barriers, Women in Management in the UK. Catalyst also looks at issues related to women on US corporate Boards as well as women in management in law, finance, science, sales and high tech. (Catalyst Reports Cuba Diaries, An American Housewife in Havana, Isadora Tattlin, Broadway Books, 2002)

Familes As We Are. UN Consultant, Peace Corps Regional Director and journalist Perdita Huston spent over four years interviewing generations of families of all socioeconomic backgrounds in Bangladesh, Egypt, China, Thailand, Japan, Brazil, Uganda, Mali, Jordan, El Salvador and the United States. Besides traditional families, Hustons includes prostitutes who live together to provide childcare, and street children who band together for protection. Her interviews describe the profound issues that face families everywhere: imbalance of wealth, changing communities, gender inequality, childhood, environment, health, and education. (Families as We Are, Perdita Huston, Feminist Press, 2001)

Looking for Lovedu, A Woman’s Journey Through Africa documents American feminist Ann Jones’ drive from Morocco to South Africa to visit the legendary Lovedu, a tribe dedicated to “feminine” ideals, ruled by a great rainmaking queen. Exasperated by her mud-mired vehicle and crotchety traveling companion, Jones’ expedition exemplifies the polar opposite of Lovedu tribal values (compromise, cooperation, toleration and peace). You can’t help cheering her on. (Looking for Lovedu, A Woman’s Journey Through Africa, Ann Jones, Vintage Departures Division of Random House, 2001)

Safety and Security for Women Who Travel has valuable advice on how to stay centered in all situations, to enjoy the pleasures, not the pitfalls, of travel. The collection covers how to spot scam artists, choose safe travel companions, dress safely, employ trustworthy guides, and suggests things to pack (“pack rubber doorstops.”) The book was published in 1998 so does not address post - 2001 travel. (Safety and Security for Women Who Travel, Sheila Swan, Travelers Tales, 1998)

Women Travel, First-hand Accounts from More Than 60 Countries. Stories range from Sarah Beattie working to weld wheelchairs in Afghanistan —to Louisa Waugh’s drunken revelries and wild gallops across the steppes of Outer Mongolia. Includes a useful bibliography with reviews of women travel writers’ anthologies and books. (Women Travel, First-hand Accounts From More than 60 Countries, edited by Natania Jansz, Miranda Davies, Emma Drew and Lori McDougall, Rough Guide, 1999)

Journey of One’s Own is a women’s travel classic. The first edition (1992) got lots of press; 68,000 copies sold; a third edition came out in 2003. Thalia Zepatos offers advice to women she hopes will follow in her footsteps. She traveled by camel across the Thar Desert, hitchhiked along the Malay Peninsula, or trekked the high country of Nepal. She sees the "global sisterhood” as a positive, ready-made opportunity for women to interact in all cultures. Her practical suggestions include how to bargain and communicate without language. (Journey of One’s Own, Thalia Zepatos, The Eighth Mountain Press, 2003)

Female Buddhas, Women of Enlightenment in Tibetan Mystical Art. The role of the feminine is strong in Tibetan sacred art , in sharp contrast to most other Buddhist countries. Color illustrations are accompanied by stories, legends, mantras and mandalas. (Female Buddhas, Women of Enlightenment in Tibetan Mystical Art, Glen Mullin with Jeff Watt, 2003, Clear Light Publishers.)

The Futures of Women, Scenarios for The 21st Century. The “official version of the future” promises that women are gliding toward equality. But the facts suggest that true equality may never happen. This fascinating book outlines four possible scenarios (backlash; equality; status quo; sexual separatism) By understanding the trends, women can shape the future they want for themselves and their children. (The Futures of Women: Scenarios for the 21st Century, Pamela McCorduck and Nancy Ramsey, 1997, Warner Books)

The Essential Feminist Reader is the first anthology to include the full scope of feminist history. Prizewinning historian Estelle Freedman has selected five centuries of material from around the globe, including short works of fiction, drama, and political manifestos. Her cogent Introduction assesses the challenges facing feminism today. (The Essential Feminist Reader, Estelle Freedman, Modern Library Classics, September 18, 2007)

When I Was a Puerto Rican. In a triumphant coming of age novel, Esmeralda Santiago writes lyrically about being a girl in rural Puerto Rico, then about being a bewildered, transplanted teenager in New York City. This is the first of her three-part memoir, the newest sequel, The Turkish Lover, was published in 2004. (When I was a Puerto Rican, Esmeralda Santiago, Vintage, 1994)

Expat, Women’s True Tales of Life Abroad, is an anthology of essays by 21 American women who lived (permanently or briefly) in other countries. As they put down roots in Bangladesh and Brazil, Turkey and Tokyo, Indonesia and Italy, their experiences remind us that the visitor’s eagerness to move to a favorite country may result in something quite different from the dream. (Expat, Women’s True Tales of Life Abroad, edited by Christina Henry de Tessan, Seal Press, 2002)

Cuba Diaries: An American Housewife in Havana was written by Isadora Tattlin, a Californian who lives wherever her European husband’s business takes them. When they moved to Cuba in the early 1990’s, she kept a journal. Though her family was provided with a mansion and staff, and she gave a dinner party that included Fidel Castro, she knew that outside, store shelves were bare and beggars pleaded for soap. (Cuba Diaries: An American Housewife in Havana, Isadora Tattlin, A Shannon Ravenel Book, 2002)

Go Girl! The Black Woman’s Book of Travel and Adventure includes travel stories by 52 contemporary black women, including Alice Walker in Bali, Maya Angelou in Africa, and Gwendolyn Brooks in Russia. The resource list in the back of the book ranges from travel magazines to cruises for African American travelers. The book was published in 1997, so the resource list is a out of date. (Go Girl! The Black Woman’s Book of Travel and Adventure, Elaine Lee, Eighth Mountain Press, 1997)

The Single Woman’s Travel Guide is a resource for women traveling alone. It tells about discounts for singles, offers tips about where to find romance, and gives suggestions for single mothers traveling with children. (The Single Woman’s Travel Guide, Jacquelin Simenauer, Citadel Press, 2001)

“As for this business of adventure being for men only…oh, moose poop! Women have been busy proving we can do anything for decades now,” writes Jessica Maxwell in the first chapter of Femme d’Adventure, Travel Tales from Inner Montana to Outer Mongolia, one of a popular line of books from Adventura (Seal Press) that celebrates the achievements and experiences of women adventurers, athletes, travelers and naturalists. The whole Adventura collection is tempting. (Femme d’Adventure, Travel Tales from Inner Montana to Outer Mongolia, Jessica Maxwell, Seal Press, 1997)

Active Woman Vacation Guide: True Stories by Women Travelers, Plus 1001 Exciting Adventure Trips. True tales of women’s historic trips: "Tiger Hunt in India," 1848; "Bicycle Riding in Algeria," 1895; "Preparing for the Himalayas" 1996. Fifty-four organizations are listed that offer contemporary adventure trips for women of all ages, backgrounds, and states of fitness. (Active Woman Vacation Guide, True Stories by Women Travelers, Plus 1001 Exciting Adventure Trips, Evelyn Kaye, Blue Panda Publications, 1997)

Tales of a Female Nomad. Since 1986, Ruth Gelman has had no permanent address and no possessions except those she can carry. She travels without a plan, guided by instinct and serendipity. She tells fascinating stories about living in Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Israel, Ecuador and Indonesia. (Tales of a Female Nomad, Ruth Gelman, Broadway, 2002)

Inuit Women Artists, Voices from Cape Dorest. Three writers and nine artists who create jewelry, sculpture and graphics, illuminate the experience of Inuit women in the modern world. (Inuit Women Artists, Voices from Cape Dorset, edited by Odette LeRoux, Marion Jackson and Minnie Aodla Freeman, 1996, Chronicle Books)

The Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets. Twenty-five years in the making, this unique sourcebook focuses on mythology, anthropology, religion, and sexuality. Its 1,350 entries include goddesses, witchcraft,  and meanings of sun, moon, earth, sea, time, and space; ideas of the soul, reincarnation, creation and doomsday; ancient and modern attitudes toward sex, prostitution, romance, rape, warfare, death and sin. (Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, Barbara G. Walker, 1983, Harper San Franicsco)

More Interesting Reading

The Bandit Queen of India, Phoolan Devi, 2003, The Lyons Press

The Book of the Courtesans, A Catalogue of Their Virtues, Susan Griffin, 2001, Broadway Books

Bond Between Women, China Gallard, 1998, Riverhead Books

Daughter of China, A True Story of Love and Betrayal, Meihong Xu and Larry Engelmann, 1999, John Wiley & Sons

The Divine Feminine: Exploring the Feminine Face of God Around the World, Andrew Harvey and Anne Baring, 1996, Conari Press

Dragon Lady, The Life and Legend of the Last Empress of China, Sterling Seagrave with the collaboration of Peggy Seagrave, 1992, Vintage Books

Feminism Without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity, Chandra Talpade Mohanty, 2003, Duke University Press

Gender at Work, Aruna Rao, Rieky Stuart, David Kelleher, 1999, Kumarian Press

Global Critical Race Feminism, Edited by Adrien Katherine Wing, 2000, New York University Press

Global Woman: Nannies, Maids and Sex Workers in the New Economy, edited by Barbara Ehrenreich and Arlie Russell Hochschild, 2002, Henry Hold

The Girl from Purple Mountain, May-lee Chai and Winburg Chai, 2001, Thomas Dunne Books

Inside the Kingdom, Carmen Bin Ladin, 2004 Time Warner audio books

The Magic of Handweaving: The Basics and Beyond, Sigrid Piroch, 2004, Krause Publications

Reading Lolita in Tehran, Azar Nafisi, 2004, Random House

Women of Belize, Gender and Change in Central America, Irma McClaurin, 2000, Rutgers University Press