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10 women's histories and biographies popular on Goodreads

Read about a WWII spy, Pan Am stewardesses, the mothers of civil rights leaders and more remarkable women.
Woman reading a biography book about woman in her bed
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March is Women’s History Month, which means it’s a great time to curl up with a book or ten about some extraordinary women and the impact they’ve made over the centuries.

We asked Goodreads for a list of the most popular recent biographies and history about women — determined by how many of their over 110 million users have indicated they want to read it, have read it and how much they liked it.

Whether you want to read about civil rights leaders, espionage, stewardesses from Pan Am heyday or anything between, there’s likely a book for you in these 10.

"A Black Women's History of the United States," by Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross

This new history of the United States, written by award-winning historians Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross, is centered on the stories of Black women. It spans from the first arrival of African women centuries ago to the present. Ibram X. Kendi, author of “How to be Anti-Racist,” calls it “remarkably comprehensive and accessible.”

"Agent Sonya: Moscow's Most Daring Wartime Spy," by Ben Macintyre

In Ben Macintyre’s new book, "Agent Sonya," he tells the remarkable story of one of the most effective and elusive Cold War spies, a woman code-named Sonya. She appeared to be living a normal life with her husband and kids in England, all the while serving as Soviet colonel, gathering scientific secrets to help the Soviet Union

"The Doctors Blackwell: How Two Pioneering Sisters Brought Medicine to Women and Women to Medicine," by Janice P. Nimura

In 1849, Elizabeth Blackwell became the first American woman to earn an M.D. and her sister, Emily, achieved the same not long after. Janice P. Nimura tells the story of their extraordinary lives, including starting the first hospital staffed entirely by women, in her new book, “The Doctors Blackwell.”

"Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote and Insisted on Equality for All," by Martha S. Jones

Most people know about the fight that led to the ratification of the 19th amendment, but lesser told is the longer and harder fight for Black women, most of whom did not win the right to vote when white women did. In "Vanguard," historian Martha S. Jones tells the stories of how women such as Maria Stewart, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Fannie Lou Hamer and others secured the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and beyond.

"Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath," by Heather Clark

In this expansive new biography of Sylvia Plath, Heather Clark tries to reframe the story of Plath’s life around her stunning literary achievement. The New York Times called “Red Comet” “mesmerizing” and “comprehensive.”

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

Anna Malaika Tubbs celebrates Black motherhood through the stories of Berdis Baldwin, Alberta King and Louise Little, the mothers of James Baldwin, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X. “The Three Mothers” gives these women their due credit not only for the way their parenting shaped their influential sons but for their other influential work.

"The Princess Spy: The True Story of World War II Spy Aline Griffith, Countess of Romanones," by Larry Loftis

“The Princess Spy” tells the (almost) unbelievable story of Aline Griffith, an American woman who joined the Office of Strategic Services (a precursor to the C.I.A.) as a coder right out of college. She is quickly assigned to infiltrate the upper echelons of European society. She continues her work after marrying a wealthy Spaniard, recruiting more agents and countering Nazi espionage.

"Confident Women: Swindlers, Grifters and Shapeshifters of the Feminine Persuasion," by Tori Telfer

Tori Telfer, author of “The Lady Killers: Deadly Women Throughout History,” returns with “Confident Women,” an energetic history of the best (and worst) con women the world has seen. From 1700s Paris to the present day, Telfer’s gives readers a detailed look at the art of the con.

"Come Fly the World: The Jet-Age Story of the Women of Pan Am," by Julia Cooke

Pan Am stewardesses weren’t only required to be a certain height, weight and age. They were required to have a college education and speak at least two languages. In Julia Cooke’s new book, “Come Fly The World,” she tells the dazzling story of a group of stewardesses who were part of an iconic era and helped shape history in ways long forgotten.

"With Her Fist Raised: Dorothy Pitman Hughes and the Transformative Power of Black Community Activism," by Laura Lovett

Dorothy Pitman Hughes was a trailblazing activist who spoke alongside Gloria Steinem for five years and helped revitalize her west side neighborhood in New York when it was struggling against racial discrimination and lacked critical services necessary for its residents to thrive. “With Her Fist Raised” is the first biography of this remarkable figure.

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