BitchReads17 Books Feminists Should Read In February

I have been curating BitchReads since April, and in that time, I’ve been able to read scores of new books from authors in various genres. Yet, I have never been more excited for books than I am for the forthcoming novels, memoirs, essay collections, poetry, and good ol’ nonfiction books being released in the first six months of 2018.

There are so many worthy books from so many incredible authors, and in February, there are 17 books that are particularly worth your time. From a non-fiction book about rape culture from two Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists to a novel about the impact of wrongful imprisonment on a young couple, these books are incredibly worthwhile.

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1. Mothers of Massive Resistance: White Women and the Politics of White Supremacy by Elizabeth Gillespie McRae

Mothers of Massive Resistance by Elizabeth Gillespie McRae

Oxford University Press
Release Date: February 1, 2017
Price: $34.95

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Since Donald Trump’s election, there’s been a laser-sharp focus on the role white women play in upholding racist systems. As exit polls showed, 53 percent of white women cast their ballots for Trump while 63 percent of white women voted for Roy Moore in Alabama’s senate race. Given this context, there is no better time than now for Mothers of Massive Resistance. In her book, Elizabeth McRae, a history professor at Western Carolina University, explores racial segregation from the 1920s through the 1970s to explore how white women were the “crucial workforce” that reinforced Jim Crow. Mothers of Massive Resistance is eye-opening.

2. A False Report: A True Story of Rape in America by T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong

A False Report by Ken Armstrong and T. Christian Miller

Crown
Release Date: February 6, 2018
Price: $28.00

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In 2016, journalists T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong won the Pulitzer Prize for the shortened version of what’s become A False Report. In their award-winning story, as well as their sobering book, Miller and Armstrong tell the story of “Marie,” a teenage rape victim in Seattle who claimed that she was attacked at knifepoint. When detectives suspected that Marie wasn’t telling the truth, they pressured her into retracting her allegation, and then attempted to prosecute her for lying. A False Report details how a criminal justice system that doesn’t believe victims leads to further traumatization. If you’re a fan of true crime, this book should definitely be on your reading list.

 

3. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Algonquin
Release Date: February 6, 2018
Price: $26.95

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Celestial and Roy are living the “American Dream”: They’re newlyweds who live in Atlanta, own their home, and have enough disposable income to visit Roy’s family in Eloe, Louisiana whenever they please. Plus, Roy is rising in the ranks, so he’s able to afford their monthly bills while Celestial pursues her dream of being an in-demand doll-maker. Everything is going well until it’s not, and as Roy is arrested, charged with a crime he didn’t commit, and sentenced to 12 years, they both have to find the balance between saving their marriage and saving themselves. Tayari Jones’s fourth book is a must-read.

 

4. Call Me Zebra by Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi

Call Me Zebra by Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi

Houghton Mifflin Court
Release Date: February 6, 2018
Price: $24.00

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Bibi Abbas Abbas Hosseini was born in Iran during the tumultuous days of the Iraq War to proud members of the country’s “Autodidacts, Anarchists, Atheists.” When they flee Iran, and Bibi ultimately settles in New York City (without her deceased parents), she discovers that she’s an outsider akin to a zebra. In an effort to honor her parents and other ancestors, Bibi embarks on a “Grand Tour of Exile” that lands her in Barcelona. In the last city that she and her parents lived in before relocating to America, Bibi finds far more than she expected to, and discovers that isolation is a choice she doesn’t have to make.

 

5. Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved by Kate Bowler

Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved by Kate Bowler

Random House
Release Date: February 6, 2018
Price: $26.00

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Over the past two years, readers have been offered two incredible memoirs about the delicate space between living and not-quite-dead: In January 2016, When Breath Becomes Air, neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi’s memoir about being diagnosed with stage four lung cancer was released. Two weeks ago, The Bright Hour, Nina Riggs’s memoir about being diagnosed with breast cancer, shot to the top of the bestseller list. Now, Kate Bowler, a religious historian at Duke Divinity School, is giving us Everything Happens For a Reason, a memoir about being diagnosed with stage four colon cancer while navigating prosperity gospel and everything Christians have been taught about triumphing over obstacles.

 

6. Heart Berries by Terese Marie Hailhot

Heart Berries by Terese Marie Hailhot

Counterpoint
Release Date: February 6, 2018
Price: $23.00

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Heart Berries is a rare memoir: It’s a coming-of-age story about a Native American girl; deals directly with the impact of mental illness; and explores how parents can unintentionally traumatize their children when they’re not whole. Heart Berries is a dive into how our villages step in to fill the void that our flawed parents leave. In Hailhot’s case, that village includes her doting grandmother, her first husband, Vito, and the psychotherapist who helps her navigate mental illness.

 

 

7. Homey Don’t Play That!: The Story of In Living Color and the Black Comedy Revolution by David Peisner

Homey Don't Play That!: The Story of In Living Color and the Black Comedy Revolution by David Peisner

Atria
Release Date: February 6, 2018
Price: $28.00

Buy It Now

Bruno Mars and Cardi B’s “Finesse (Remix)” video is an ode to the brilliance of In Living Color, a ’90s-era sketch comedy program that turned FOX into a primetime powerhouse. In Homey Don’t Play That!, culture and entertainment writer David Peisner traces how Keenan Ivory Wayans and his siblings, including Damon Wayans, Kim Wayans, and Shawn Wayans, created a cultural touchstone for a generation of viewers. Through his reporting and cultural analysis, Peisner specifically focuses on the Wayans family from their upbringing through their departure from the show during its fourth season. Homey Don’t Play That! is a must-read.

8. I Know How You Feel: The Joy and Heartbreak of Friendship in Women’s Lives by F. Diane Barth

I Know How You Feel: The Joy and Heartbreak of Friendship in Women’s Lives by F. Diane Barth

Houghton Mifflin Court
Release Date: February 6, 2018
Price: $27.00

Buy It Now

Friendships are a life-sustaining force because true friends are able to see you—flaws and all. In I Know How You Feel psychotherapist F. Diane Barth explores how friendships “can make us feel simultaneously special and outcast, loved and unlovable, vulnerable and strong, helpful and useless, angry and happy, alone and lonely, supportive and held.” Through her extensive research and interviews with women about friendship, the Psychology Today blogger examines how complex friendships are, and what we gain and lose emotionally and mentally by having both successful and toxic friendships.

9. Self-Portrait With Boy by Rachel Lyon

Self-Portrait With Boy by Rachel Lyon

Scribner
Release Date: February 6, 2018
Price: $26.00

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Art school graduate Lu Rile is broke and struggling to survive in 1990s New York. Nearly every day, Lu takes a self-portrait as part of a series that she’s aiming to sell. While shooting her 400th photo, Lu captures Max Schubert, her neighbor’s 9-year-old son, falling from their Brooklyn apartment’s crumbling roof. As Lu forges a friendship with Max’s mother, Kate, she fails to mention that she captured her son’s final moments in a photograph while simultaneously shopping the photo to elevate her career. Self-Portrait With Boy is an intense drama that doesn’t present any easy answers about the lengths people are willing to go to catapult themselves at the expense of others.

10. Text Me When You Get Home: The Evolution & Triumph of Modern Female Friendship by Kayleen Schaefer

Text Me When You Get Home: The Evolution & Triumph of Modern Female Friendship by Kayleen Schaefer

Dutton
Release Date: February 6, 2018
Price: $24.00

Buy It Now

Pop culture is littered with examples of female friendships: From Living Single to Sex & the City to Thelma and Louise, portrayals of friendship are essential to understanding feminism on an interpersonal level. In Text Me When You Get Home, journalist Kayleen Schaefer combines cultural analysis with interviews to offer a sociological perspective on female friendship. It’s a refreshing read that really gets at the heart of why portrayals on Insecure, Broad City, and everything in-between so greatly resonate.

 

11. The Atomic City Girls by Janet Beard

The Atomic City Girls by Janet Beard

William Morrow
Release Date: February 6, 2018
Price: $19.99

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The Atomic City Girls provides perfect historical context at a time when the threat of nuclear war between the United States and North Korea is looming. In the 1940s, scores of Americans were aiding in the creation of an atomic bomb without realizing in. Janet Beard paints a vivid image of some of those Americans who are working for a Manhattan Project facility in the tightly-secured Oak Ridge, Tennessee, but aren’t clear about how their day-to-day work is helping America create a nuclear weapon. Through the eyes of 18-year-old June Walker, who’s told that what she does in Oak Ridge shouldn’t be shared with her family and friends, readers are given a disturbing portrayal of how war can brew right under our noses.

12. The House of Impossible Beauties by Joseph Cassara

The House of Impossible Beauties by Joseph Cassara

Ecco
Release Date: February 6, 2018
Price: $26.99

Buy It Now

The iconic 1991 film Paris Is Burning introduced us to Angie and Venus Xtravaganza, two integral facets of New York’s drag scene. In his debut novel, Joseph Cassara takes readers to Harlem in the 1980s to reimagine Angie and Venus as two people escaping abusive homes and finding their place through the House of Xtravaganza. Through their lens, Cassara paints a story of what it meant to be queer in New York during the ’80s and ’90s.

 

 

 

13. The Body is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self Love by Sonya Renee Taylor

The Body is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self Love by Sonya Renee Taylor

Berrett-Koehler Publishers
Release Date: February 13, 2018
Price: $17.95

Buy It Now

In 2011, poet and activist Sonya Renee Taylor founded The Body Is Not An Apology, an organization dedicated to “cultivating global radical self love and body empowerment.” In the seven years since she founded The Body Is Not An Apology, Taylor has become a leading voice in the body positivity community, and in her book, she explores different facets of developing healthier relationships with bodies. Whether it’s navigating fat-shaming or changing the public messaging about fatness, Taylor presents a realistic guide for better loving ourselves.

 

14. Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism by Safiya Umoja Noble

Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism by Safiya Umoja Noble

New York University Press
Release Date: February 20, 2018
Price: $35.50

Buy It Now

Search engines are not impartial and unbiased. Instead, as Safiya Umoja Noble, a professor at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communication, highlights in her book, search engines exploit people from marginalized communities in “erroneous, stereotypical, or even pornographic ways.” After Googling “Black girls” and seeing pornography as the first return, Noble realized that search engines are capable of reinforcing oppression by using altruistic algorithms. Through extensive analysis, Noble presents a strong argument about how search engines fuel marginalization offline.

15. Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by Brittney Cooper

Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by Brittney Cooper

St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: February 20, 2018
Price: $25.99

Buy It Now

From the outset of Eloquent Rage, Dr. Brittney Cooper, a tenured professor of women and gender studies at Rutgers University, clearly articulates that Black women’s anger is a “powerful source of energy serving progress and change.” She uses her own journey toward embracing anger as a useful political tool as the foundation for a profound exploration of how anger has been weaponized against Black women, and how we can reclaim the emotion much in the way that Audre Lorde posited in her 1981 “The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism” essay. Anger is a way of pushing against systems intent on destroying us, and what matters more than our survival?

16. Invisible: How Young Women with Serious Health Issues Navigate Work, Relationships, and the Pressure to Seem Just Fine by Michele Lent Hirsch

Invisible: How Young Women with Serious Health Issues Navigate Work, Relationships, and the Pressure to Seem Just Fine by Michele Lent Hirsch

Beacon Press
Release Date: February 27, 2018
Price: $26.95

Buy It Now

When journalist Michele Lent Hirsch was in her 20s, she was facing an array of serious illnesses, including thyroid cancer, Lyme disease, and mast-cell activation syndrome. While this combination of illnesses would be daunting for anyone, it’s also considered unusual for someone her age to be navigating so many different ailments. By combining her personal experience with pop-culture depiction of chronic illness as well as interviews with other young women who’ve navigated serious illnesses, Hirsch presents a multidimensional perspective on how their everyday lives, from dating to living alone, unfold.

17. The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani Dasgupta

The Serpent's Secret by Sayantani Dasgupta

Scholastic Press
Release Date: February 27, 2018
Price: $17.99

Buy It Now

Throughout her life, Kiran has been told that she’s an Indian princess, but she has no idea that outside of being an ordinary sixth-grader in New Jersey, she’s also a skilled demon-slayer. On her twelfth birthday, Kiran discovers that the protection spell cast around her parents has expired, and killing demons is integral to their family’s survival. From that point onward, Sayantani Dasgupta thrusts Kiran into the Kingdom Beyond Seven Oceans and Thirteen Rivers, a world where she’s an actual princess and she has to rescue her parents from magical creatures who wish harm on them.

Evette Dionne
by Evette Dionne
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Evette Dionne is Bitch Media’s senior culture editor. She’s all about Beyoncé, Black women, and dope TV shows and books. You can follow her on Twitter.

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