The Educational Nonfiction By Women To Read This Summer

by Sadie Trombetta

School may be out for summer, but you should never be done learning, even on your much-needed breaks from academia. That's why this year, to avoid the inevitable summer learning loss, you should keep your mind engaged with these new nonfiction books by women. Covering everything from history and politics to health and science, they will guarantee you continue to challenge your mind and expand your knowledge all season long.

So far, 2017 has been a banner year for nonfiction books: there was a brilliant and relatable essay collection from one of the boldest millennial voices, a provocative and thought-provoking examination of women's ongoing pursuit for happiness, and even a poignant and breathtaking look into what it feels like to have anxiety. But beyond memoirs, personal essays, and cultural critiques, there have been even more thought-provoking titles about fascinating academic topics hitting the shelves this year, and many of them have come from brilliant women writers. From intriguing historical true crime to rich literary biographies and everything in between, if you are interested in learning something new this summer, the nonfiction section of the library or the bookstore is the place to be.

Ready to learn something new? Then check out one of these 13 new nonfiction books by women to keep your brain stimulated all summer long.


'Free Women Free Men: Sex, Gender, Feminism' by Camille Paglia

Your gender studies classes may be over for the summer, but the fight for equality never ends. Continue to fight the good fight by educating yourself with the help of advocate and cultural critic Camille Paglia's Free Women, Free Men, a timely and crucial collection of feminist essays about the roles men and women play in gender equality. Bold, inspiring, and thought-provoking, this book should be on every woman's summer reading list.

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'City of Light, City of Poison: Murder, Magic, and the First Police Chief of Paris' by Holly Tucker

Go back in time to the 1600s and see Paris through the eyes of the city's first police chief in Holly Tucker's intriguing work of historical nonfiction, City of Light, City of Poison. Well-researched and richly detailed, this true crime thriller follows Nicolas de La Reynie as he hunts undergrounds criminals from the back alleys to the royal court itself. A tantalizing story of murder, lies, and corruption, City of Light, City of Poison will keep readers on the edge of their seats, and keep them learning to boot.

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'The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women' by Kate Moore

A well-researched science story with emotional depth and heart, The Radium Girls is a remarkable true tale about the brave women who helped uncover the truth about the world's wonder drug, and in the process, change the lives, and saved the lives, of so many working women. The perfect balance of history, science, and personal anecdote, this must-read covers so many incredible topics, you'll feel like you're still in school (in a good way).

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'An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back' by Elisabeth Rosenthal

Still not sure what is going on with healthcare in this country? Elisabeth Rosental's An American Sickness can school you in the history and politics of one of the United State's biggest industries and most controversial institutions: medicine. An eye-opening look at where it all went wrong, and what we can do to fix it, this part-politics, part-business book leave you feeling informed and ready to debate.

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'Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong and the New Research That's Rewriting the Story' by Angela Saini

Women have been told time and time again that they are the weaker sex, and not just by a misogynistic society, but by misguided and inaccurate science, too. In Inferior Angela Saini seeks to correct the many things science got wrong about women while exploring how and why it failed to understand the female sex. Covering everything from the latest scientific studies to the ongoing gender wars in biology, Inferior is a thought-provoking and necessary read.

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'Ernest Hemingway: A Biography' by Mary V. Dearborn

Get to know one of America's most beloved writer in Mary V. Dearborn's thorough and refreshing biography, Ernest Hemingway. The first biography of the legendary author written by a women, this in-depth examination of Hemingway's complicated life and legacy draws from a variety of new sources and covers everything from his birth to his premature death to his lasting influence over literature. The perfect summer read for book nerds, Ernest Hemingway will paint the author in a whole new light.

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'Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America' by Nancy MacLean

Politics nerds, hold onto your beach hats, because Nancy MacLean doesn't pull any punches in her searing exposition of the radical right. The perfect balance of history, policy, and finance, Democracy in Chains traces the roots of the the greatest divides in our country and examines the many ways big money influences and controls our major political systems. Sharp and urgent, if you read one book about American politics this summer, make it this one.

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'Janesville: An American Story' by Amy Goldstein

Get to know America's working class first-hand in Amy Goldstein's remarkable and well-researched book about what happens to an industrial town when the factories shut down. In Janesville, the author invites readers to a struggling midwestern town and into the lives of its auto workers, teachers, politicians, and job re-trainers. Equally eye-opening and heartbreaking, Janesville is the kind of American story every citizen should read.

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'A Crack in Creation: Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution' by Jennifer A. Doudna and Samuel H. Sternberg

Break out your lab coat and your old biology notes, because you might need a reference or two when reading Jennifer Doudna's fascinating explanation of CRISPR, an incredible new gene-editing technique with unlimited potential. Broken into two parts, A Crack in Creation first looks at the history, science, techniques, and technologies behind gene-editing before diving deeper into the possibilities CRISPR unlocks. Whether you're a science person or not, you need to know about this new, potentially life saving technology.

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'We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled: Voices from Syria' by Wendy Pearlman

Despite the fact it is covered in the news every day, it's easy to lose sight of the real-life consequences of the civil war and humanitarian crisis in Syria. Not with Wendy Pearlman's We Crossed a Bridge and it Trembled, a gut-wrenching collection of true experiences of Syrians whose lives have been transformed, often torn apart, by the ongoing conflict. A breathtaking yet haunting work of nonfiction, this necessary book could not have come at a better time.

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'The Making of Jane Austen' by Devoney Looser

Find out how Jane Austen became the celebrated author we know and worship today in Devoney Looser's insightful exploration into the writer's life and career, The Making of Jane Austen. By examining the people who influenced Austen's work, including illustrators, directors, and scholars, Looser illuminates the many ways others shaped her reputation and her legacy as much as she shaped theirs. An informative and delightful read for literary lovers who want to learn more about one of the most celebrated authors of all time,The Making of Jane Austen will puts the famed novelist in a whole new light.

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'Beauty Sick: How the Cultural Obsession with Appearance Hurts Girls and Women' by Renee Engeln, PhD

Since you already have your history, literature, science, and politics bases covered, it's time to add a little psychology and sociology reading to your list. Enter Beauty Sick, award-winning Northwestern University professor and director of the Body and Media Lab Dr. Renee Engeln's exposé on the many ways our cultural fixation on women's bodies and appearances is actually harming women in real and measurable ways. Covering everything from physical health to mental well being to financial independence, this absorbing read sheds a light on one of the most disturbing and harmful aspects of womanhood: beauty obsession. Engaging and enlightening, Beauty Sickness gives more than just a diagnosis — it offers real, tangible cures that are worth reading about.

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'Geek Girl Rising: Inside the Sisterhood Shaking Up Tech' by Heather Cabot and Samantha Walravens

Dive head-first into the world of technology in Geek Girl Rising, an inspiring and empowering book about the fearless women of Silicon Valley. From female founders and inventors to technologists and innovators, Heather Cabot and Samantha Walravens use this work to pay tribute to trailblazers like Michelle Phan, Debbie Sterling, Kathryn Minshew, and more while simultaneously celebrating the unstoppable power of women in technology.

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