10 books for women’s history month


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Great writing by female authors from and about New York City



There’s never a bad time to appreciate the words of women writers, but women’s history month is an especially good time to do so. We’ve picked 10 books featuring or about New York City by New York City women, spanning a plethora of genres. Julie Scelfo, author of “The Women Who Made New York,” stressed the importance of a diversity of voices in understanding the history of any city or time period. “The more perspective you have, the richer dialogue you will have, and the closer you get as a community in reaching the truth,” she said. “For too long, the dominant perspective is one that has omitted women, and especially women of color.” Curl up with one of these and a good cup of tea, because apparently winter is back.

Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking

In 2003, DIdion’s husband suffered a fatal heart attack in the couple’s Upper East Side apartment just days after their daughter went into a coma. “The Year of Magical Thinking” chronicles Didion’s struggle to tread water during a period of intense grief.

Jacqueline Woodson, Another Brooklyn

Woodson’s first novel for adults is a short but powerful story about female friendship, memory and growing up.

Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities

Though it was published in 1961, Jacobs’ groundbreaking critique of traditional urban planning still holds many ideas and observations that ring true today. She was born in Pennsylvania but spent much of her life living in and protecting Greenwich Village.

Faith Ringgold, Tar Beach

“Tar Beach” is based on a quilt series by artist, political activist and writer Ringgold that is currently featured in the Guggenheim Museum. The book’s main character lives in Harlem, and its story simply but lyrically weaves in African-American folk lore aimed at younger readers.

Julie Scelfo, The Women Who Made New York

Beautifully illustrated by Hallie Heald, Scelfo profiles some of the female artists, intellectuals and activists without whom our present city would be unrecognizable. It is published by Seal Press, which only prints female authors.

Grace Paley, The Collected Stories

Paley, a writer, poet and political activist, was New York’s first state writer. “Collected Stories” features short fiction with rich characters and sharp observations about gender roles.

Tanwi Nandini Islam, Bright Lines

Featured by First Lady Chirlane McCray’s Gracie Mansion book club, Islam’s debut novel is a queer coming-of-age story set in Brooklyn.

Toni Morrison, Jazz

“Jazz” takes place mostly in Harlem in the 1920s, but explores earlier times and other places. Musical and lively, just like its namesake, the novel tells a crucial story about black life.

Rebecca Solnit, Nonstop Metropolis

This compilation of maps tells the tale of how New York City came to look the way it does. Combined with informative essays, the book peels back the layers for a deep study of history.

Ina Yalof, Food and the City

An investigative journalist, Yalof turns her magnifying glass to the city’s vibrant food scene. She digs up the backstories of everyone from professional chefs to line cooks, and in doing so tells a quintessentially New York story.



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