Women’s contributions throughout history have often been minimized, erased or otherwise removed from the public consciousness. Fortunately there are many great books that bring their stories to light.
In honor of Women’s History Month, the folks over at Goodreads curated a list of books about women who made their mark on the world ― from more well-known names to relatively obscure stories.
“To highlight the incredible lives of women throughout history, we looked at the most popular and highly rated biographies that have resonated with our community of 85 million members,” Goodreads co-founder and editor-in-chief Elizabeth Khuri Chandler told HuffPost.
“We also wanted to broaden our horizons, so we included biographies about women from different centuries and continents,” she added. “But the women had one thing in common: They all made an impact on our world, and this is the perfect month to celebrate that by learning more about their lives.”
Here are the 10 most popular books about women in history, as rated by Goodreads members:
The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women by Kate Moore
Goodreads Description: While radium made headlines as a wonder drug, the hundreds of young women working in the radium-dial factories — covered head to toe in the glittering chemical — began to fall ill. This is the powerful story of their fight for workers’ rights amidst one of the biggest scandals of the early 20th century.
Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang
Simon & Schuster
Goodreads Description: Blending memoir and eyewitness history, Jung Chang describes the lives of three generations of her family in China: her grandmother, a warlord’s concubine; her mother, a young, idealistic Communist living through the Cultural Revolution; and herself, from brief member of the Red Guard to writer.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Sklott
Goodreads Description: A poor Southern tobacco farmer, Henrietta Lacks became an unwitting pioneer for medical breakthroughs after her cells were taken without her knowledge. It took Rebecca Skloot over a decade to uncover this story, traveling to labs, slave quarters, and East Baltimore, where the Lacks family still struggles with Henrietta’s legacy.
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Goodreads Description: She was like most teenage girls, curious and stubborn and anxious for the future. Her diary, written in the Amsterdam attic where she and her family hid from Nazis during World War II, is a heartbreaking classic, an inspirational testament to the power of the human spirit.
Unbowed: A Memoir by Wangari Maathai
Goodreads Description: Wangari Maathai, winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize, takes readers from the rural Kenyan village of her youth to her extraordinary life as a political activist and the first woman to earn a PhD in East and Central Africa. Her message of hope through self-sufficiency shines through the pages of her memoir.
Ida: A Sword Among Lions by Paula J. Giddings
Goodreads Description: A sweeping narrative about a country and a crusader, this is the incredible biography of Ida B. Wells, the daughter of slaves, who led the nation’s first campaign against lynching. Historian Paula J. Giddings paints a vivid portrait of a civil rights champion in the context of her own time and ours.
The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America’s Enemies by Jason Fagone
Dey Street Books
Goodreads Description: After World War I, Shakespeare expert turned code breaker Elizabeth Smith used her skills to catch gangsters during Prohibition, expose a Nazi spy ring, and match wits against Hitler’s Reich. This is the never-before-told story of her life and work, staggering achievements that helped shape modern intelligence.
The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote by Elaine F. Weiss
Goodreads Description: It all came down to Tennessee. In 1920, after a seven-decade crusade, suffragists descended on Nashville, desperate to get the last state to ratify the 19th mendment, granting women the right to vote. Journalist Elaine F. Weiss focuses on the handful of courageous women who led the activists to victory.
Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo by Hayden Herrera
Goodreads Description: The world of magnetic Mexican painter Frida Kahlo springs to life in this sumptuous biography. From growing up during the Mexico Revolution to her tempestuous marriage to muralist Diego Rivera, she comes into her own as a cultural icon, embracing dramatic spectacle and transforming a country with her art.
The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir
Goodreads Description: Death and divorce, scandal and sacrilege — welcome to 16th century England through the eyes of the six wives of King Henry VIII. This in-depth account draws on vast archives from the Tudor period to reveal the complex women behind the tumultuous era of passion, ambition, pleasure, and treason.