PHOTOS BY FIKUNMI IDOWU
March is Women’s History Month, and while it’s never not an appropriate time to celebrate the magnificent women in your life, it’s a good reminder to pay homage to the people who shape your world. As a young woman in her early 20s, I find looking toward much wiser and (let’s be honest) smarter people to give me advice on how to navigate this turbulent time has been incredibly helpful for me. Below are just a few must-reads that I believe are important for all young women who are looking for some guidance.
Becoming by Michelle Obama
Promoting self-confidence, excellence, and the merits of intelligence and hard work.
A memoir by former first-lady Michelle Obama, Becoming tells her narrative beginning in her childhood home in Chicago, stretching all the way to the years following Obama’s stint in the White House. Michelle provides a relatable framework in which many young girls can find themselves. She also gives a voice to young black women and women of color, which is an experience that cannot be overstated. Becoming allows us to find a piece of ourselves in such a venerable and successful woman, while simultaneously giving an inside view into the challenges that led to her success.
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
The complexities of feminism and how to apply them to everyday life.
An English professor in her late 30s at the time of writing, I consider Roxane Gay to be sort of an older-sister voice of reason – she’s close enough to her twenties to know what it was like, yet far enough away to give reasonable advice. Her collections of essays are raw, funny, emotional, and entertaining. She is not concerned with shaming you for being a subpar feminist, but rather opening up the discussion to include all different kinds of people. She uses analogies from The Hunger Games and Amy Winehouse metaphors to explain to us what life has been like for her, and how she hopes she can apply it to us.
You by Caroline Kepnes
The importance of vigilance and constant awareness for young women.
Sigh. By now, I’m fairly positive you’ve probably watched both seasons on Netflix. Yes, You is a wonderful show that captures the audience. And to be honest, the plot line from the book is very, very similar to that of the first season. However, I think there are merits to be found in actually reading the constant, internal dialogue of a stalker and murderer. The book, more so than the show, reminds us that we always have to be wary of who we meet. Normal-looking people are not always normal (hello, Ted Bundy) and their brains are not wired like ours. Not to scare anyone, but every young girl should read You as a quick reminder to be very particular with who you date.
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
A window into the cultural customs and norms of women who live differently than yourself.
While Hosseini is the only male author on this list, both of his books serve as good reminders to constantly broaden your cultural horizons. A Thousand Splendid Suns is the sequel to The Kite Runner, and explores two female characters and their lives in Afghan society. It allows us to understand the themes that are constant throughout human interaction, and the circumstances that may divide people.