House3
CLOSE
MENUCLOSE

12 Books Every Woman Should Read Right Now

Culture

Recommended reading for 2016

This year (let's face it, every year) was a complicated one to be a woman in America. There were undeniably exhilarating highs as we collectively watched the acheivements of women athletes at the summer Olympics; the glorious heights attained by young women like Simone Biles, Katie Ledecky, Allyson Felix, and Simone Manuel, to name just a few, inspired awe (and probably quite a few new parents to name their daughters Simone.) There were incredible women across artistic mediums, from front and center powerhouses like Beyoncé, who released the essential "love letter to black women" aka Lemonade, to behind the scenes players like the National Book Foundation's director Lisa Lucas, playwright Suzan-Lori Parks, and director Kelly Reichardt, who also all made news for their profound and impactful work. And, of course, it was a powerful moment imbued with great hope when we nominated a woman to be the Democratic party's candidate for President of the United States of America. So in many ways, it was a great year to be a woman in America.

Until, of course, it wasn't. It's hard to say what it would feel like if Donald Trump had not won the Electoral College vote and become President-elect. Perhaps if Trump had become but a footnote in history, an ugly asterisk marring the year, then we would be celebrating 2016 as being the most important one for American women ever. But, of course, there's no point in dwelling on a reality that could have been. Rather than celebrating 2016 as a year feminists could embrace, this became a year in which we were forced to confront the fact that millions of people in this country—significantly including a majority of white men and women—were comfortable with electing a leader who has bragged about sexually assaulting women and intends to reduce women's rights and access to important healthcare options. Trump's ascendance is a terrifying reality for untold numbers of Americans who are a part of marginalized communities, and it is a repudiation of progressive, equality-based values that so many of us hold dear.

Donald Trump's election and presumptive presidency, then, are why it's more important than ever for women to engage with the world around them and participate in dialogue pertaining to what is usually defined as women's issues. And while it is important to keep up with the latest news and to know what's happening on local, national, and international levels, it's also important to pull back a little and consume work which is static, rather than breaking, in an effort to gain better perspective on the difficult times within which we now live, and also to give us hope as we more forward into a future that might be troubled, but still has the opportunity of being reclaimed.

Here then, are 12 books that were published in 2016, which we think are important for every woman to read. They range in genre, from poetry to essay collection to historical nonfiction to a couple of works of fiction, but all address women's issues, which is to say that all address human issues, in a manner that is never less than profound and insightful, something we can all appreciate right now.

A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women by Siri Hustvedt
In this provocative book, Hustvedt explores everything from the historical way women have been treated by communities ranging from the medical (she writes fascinatingly about hysteria) to the cultural, as she looks into the way gender influences the way we consume different forms of art. Also, she investigates the mind/body cnnection as it pertains to desire and will. It's required reading for all women who live their lives under the oppression of the male gaze (that is, all of us). 

All The Single Ladies by Rebecca Traister
Traister has been one of the most astute commentators throughout 2016 (her coverage of Hillary Clinton's campaign for New York magazine is essential reading) and she started off the year with the release of this excellent "investigation into the sexual, economic, and emotional lives of women in America." Through the lens of generations of female American power players, Traister explores and explodes the myth that women were passive players in the establishment of this country. Anyone who wants a handbook for dismantling the patriarchy should pick this up right now. 

Black Wave by Michelle Tea 
Tea's vital novel grapples with issues like addiction and sobriety, immaturity and adulthood, and, you know, the impending apocalypse. The important stuff! This beautiful fever dream of a book is so important to read right now, not only because of its inherently rebellious, even revolutionary message that there is no need to conform to a world that rejects us over and over, but also because Tea's compelling prose is a testament to the importance of storytelling—and of having women doing the telling.

Blackout: Remembering The Things I Drank to Forget by Sarah Hepola
In this brave, bitingly funny memoir, Hepola recounts how, for years, she lived with alcohol being "the gasoline of all adventure." What comes after she stops drinking is a powerful story of reinvention; essentially, of learning how to live again when all the things upon which you depended (or used as a crutch) are gone, and you need to find strength and support elsewhere.

Last Sext by Melissa Broder
Definitely one of the most brilliant users of social media with her account So Sad Today (which is also the name of a wonderful collection of personal essays she put out this year), Broder's Last Sext is a powerful poetry collection in which she deals with topics like the loss of love and the creation of the self. In "Lunar Shatters," she writes: "and me I dressed myself/ I made a poison suit/ I darned it out of myths." This, this, is the writing all women need in their lives right now. 

Pond by Claire Louise Bennett
This slim book stuns in its portrayal of the interior life of its anonymous narrator. It manages to be at once lucid and hallucinatory, a fine feat indeed, and a state of being which feels all too familiar at this particular time in history. As a reader, it is hard not to recognize yourself in the sharp, often witty observations of reality in Pond, and it is hard not to feel recognized in turn by this book, which is a rare and beautiful thing indeed. Reading this book feels like giving yourself permission to think wild, free thoughts, and live a correspondingly wild and free life.

The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race by Jesmyn Ward
Ward's collection of essays, poems, and memoir all revolve around the state of racial relations in America today. It's comprised of some of the most lucid, searing writing on one of the most important topics of our time—truly an incendiary work. 

Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear, and Why by Sady Doyle
Outspoken feminist author Doyle gets to the heart of our society's centuries-old hatred of trouble-causing women, from Billie Holliday to Sylvia Plath to, yes, Hillary Clinton. Doyle explores just what it is that makes loud, messy women such a threat to men, and why it's so meaningful that all women continue to make men uncomfortable.

White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg
This book isn't strictly about women, but it pertains directly to women's issues—after all, it's white Americans, including a majority of white women, who voted into power politicians who intend to strip away women's access to things like affordable healthcare. But also, in it, Isenberg reveals ways in which the American government has historically worked to oppress working class women, even through programs like forced sterilization. (This sort of thing happened to women of all races; please also read about civil rights hero Fannie Lou Hamer, who was forcibly sterilized in a procedure colloquially known as a "Mississippi Appendectomy.")

They and We Will Get Into Trouble for This by Anna Moschovakis 
Comprising several long poems, Moschovakis' latest work deals with questions about who we are and what is the nature of love and promises and the existence of soulmates in a manner which makes me—to put it bluntly but also, I hope, softly—want to bathe in the text. This is a thing, isn't it? Wanting to actually immerse yourself in the words you see placed on a page? Perhaps, or perhaps not. No matter, because I cannot swim in these words, except in my mind, where they've lodged quite completely. I think other readers will find themselve similarly drawn into this work, and all the better for it.

I'll Tell You in Person by Chloe Caldwell
Caldwell's hilarious, honest writing about the kind of things that so many women keep hidden—drug use, acne anxiety, failed relationships, flailing careers—is so necessary to read right now, and always. Caldwell relates her life experiences in a singular voice filled with wit, frustration, intelligence, and empathy—it's that last part that's of particular importance, really. It's rare enough that young women and their choices are treated with any kindness or level of understanding by society at large, and Caldwell is not only unsparing in recounting the darkest parts of her life, but she makes it possible to see that you can be okay with yourself and the life you might always be figuring out how to live, because everyone fucks up sometimes and somehow. It's a powerful message, one we could all use right now.

Little Labors by Rivka Galchen
Galchen's book is a compilation of meditations—in the form of lists, brief observations, stories—on babies, motherhood, womanhood, and literature. It's a provocative and sometimes unsettling look into what is commonly thought to be a placid and sweet part of life, and it's important for its willingness to subvert any of the tropes about new motherhood and how women should and shouldn't feel about it. In a time when women's rights with regards to whether or not they should have a say in how they care for their bodies in jeopardy, Little Labors is a truly essential read. 

Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Well, actually it's crocodile, but she looks out of this world so...

Winnie Harlow walked the Cannes red carpet on Wednesday on her way to a screening of Oh Mercy!, wearing a showstopping gown.

The sheer black dress featured green embroidery on the front and back, which Ralph and Russo confirmed was in the shape of a crocodile. She belted the dress with a black crocodile skin-like belt and finished the look off with some strappy heels. She didn't leave it at just that. For beauty, Harlow packed on full lids of sparkly purple eyeshadow. She kept her hair sleek and simple.

Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Though the brand says otherwise, as Game of Thrones fans, we'd like to think the embroidery is reminiscent of a dragon's skin. Not to mention, Harlow looks out-of-this-world beautiful in it.

True
FROM THE WORLD WIDE WEB
Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

That denim kimono!!

Marion Cotillard shut down the Cannes red carpet on Wednesday at a screening for Matthias Et Maxime. Instead of an extravagant gown that's expected of the event, Cotillard wore a matching black crop top and shorts. Despite wearing an outfit I typically don to a hot yoga class, she looks incredible. She completed the look with an oversized denim kimono, a statement necklace, and heeled booties.

Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

At first, I was drawn in by the crop top and hotpants duo, but, after looking closer at the kimono, it's clear that it's the real scene-stealer. The floor-length Balmain piece was decorated with artful rips and dragon motifs. I would like to live in it.

Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Let's all bow down to the Khaleesi of Cannes.

True
Photo by Frazer Harrison / Getty Images.

"It doesn't make you weak to ask for help"

Singer Billie Eilish is continuing to open up about mental health, this time in a new PSA video in partnership with the Ad Council and Seize the Awkward.

In the video, Eilish insists that "it doesn't make you weak to ask for help." She doubles down on the importance of asking for help, and stresses the importance of friends and family being there when their close ones reach out and checking in on them as well. "You should be able to ask anyone for help, everyone has to help someone if they need it." According to Eilish, there have been times when someone reached out to her at the exact moment she needed it, and it helped.

It was particularly refreshing to see Eilish acknowledge that there are things she still doesn't know and has to learn about her mental health. At the very beginning of the video, the interviewer asks her to reflect on her mental health journey, and all Eilish can do is let out chortle. "I think when people hear, 'Remember to take care of your mental health,' they think that everyone else is, and that is not at all accurate," she admitted. "You know, for me I'm trying to learn still to make sure that I stay okay."

Check out the PSA below.

Billie Eilish On Mental Health & Friendship | Ad Council www.youtube.com

Asset 7
MORE in VIDEO
Photograph via @kimkardashian.

"#NotOnMyMoodBoard"

Kim Kardashian has definitely been accused of borrowing a design now and then. But when Instagram influencer and Kardashian look-alike Kamilla Osman claimed the entrepreneur copied her birthday look for a Met Gala after-party, Kardashian was not going to let it fly—and shared plenty of photo evidence to shut down the claim.

Fashion industry watchdog Diet Prada first noticed Osman's claims on Instagram and shared side-by-side images of Kardashian's Cher-inspired outfit designed by Mugler and Osman's dress. "Never get confused with who 'inspires' who. They won't give you credit but they will copy," Osman wrote on her IG story. "I designed this dress for my birthday last year. Nobody had a dress like this was an original design."

Kardashian responded by posting the true inspiration behind her look: images of Cher, in similarly sparkly, plunging-neckline dresses and wigs, and of model Yasmeen Ghauri walking a Mugler show in the '90s. In fact, the only similarity between Osman's and Kardashian's looks is the bodycon mini-dress style, which the two are not the first to wear. Among the images, Kardashian included a blank slide with the hashtag "NotOnMyMoodBoard," making it clear that this was in response to Osman's claims.

Screenshot via @KimKardashian Instagram Stories

Screenshot via @KimKardashian Instagram Stories

Though I am with Kim on this one, Kardashian does have a history of co-opting other people's work. From being sued over her Kimoji app, to claims she copied makeup palettes and perfume bottle designs, to being accused of copying Naomi Campbell's entire style, it's far from the first (and probably, far from the last) time Kardashian's name will be mentioned like this.

True

After delivered the perfect pep talk

When Lena Waithe took over as a guest host on Jimmy Kimmel Live, her first time ever as a late-night host, actress and friend Halle Berry knew exactly how to pump her up. After Kimmel's security guard Guillermo Rodriguez hit the "Berry Button" (a large button on the wall that says just that), Berry came running out in a backless tee and boyfriend jeans to give Waithe a pep talk... and plant one on her.

Berry rolled in as if she'd just jogged from hanging out with her friends to come to Waithe's immediate aid, joking she wasn't dressed for the occasion; but, let's be real, she could wear a paper bag, and we wouldn't complain. Waithe requested the "Halle Berry juice," similar to her 2002 Oscars speech, and Berry immediately had the lights turned down low and jumped into inspirational speech mode.

"I know that you are a force of nature. You are a beautiful African-American queen going after everything that is hers," Berry said before going on to list Waithe's many titles and accomplishments. She jokingly concluded, "And you already winning, girl, 'cause you are dressed way better than Jimmy ever will," before asking if Waithe needed anything else. Clearly, Waithe thought that was all Berry was there to do, because she said no, but Berry insisted she needed one more thing before grabbing Waithe's face and surprising her with a kiss. "Wow," Waithe reacted after Berry pulled away, and honestly same!

Watch the video, below.

Lena Waithe's Guest Host Monologue on Jimmy Kimmel Live youtu.be

True