13 Nonfiction Books About The History-Making Women You Didn't Learn About In School

by Kerri Jarema

I am always in the market for more nonfiction books about women, but I have to admit that I feel a particular urge to pick a new one up whenever Women's History Month rolls around. But with so many options from biographies to memoirs to essay collections, there just isn't enough time in the month to learn enough about all the different badass women out there. So this March, I'm going to be focusing in on a couple of books that have collected the stories of incredible women throughout history — from scientists and inventors to politicians and activists. If you're hoping to use Women's History Month this year to catch up on the stories of some women that your history classes might have missed, there are a healthy handful of books out there that are perfect for you.

The 15 picks below contain the lives of multiple different women in their pages. Picking up even one of this stack will give you a the introduction to tons of great women that you'll no doubt want to do even more research on once you're done. Because you can never have too many female role models in your life, now more than ever, be sure to make some room for these fierce women on your TBR this month.

'She Caused a Riot: 100 Unknown Women Who Built Cities, Sparked Revolutions, and Massively Crushed It' by Hannah Jewell (March 6)

When you learn about women in history, it's hard not to wonder: why do they all seem so prim and proper? The truth is, you're probably not being told the whole story. But in 100 Nasty Women of History Hannah Jewell will spill the tea on women with impressive kill counts, women who fought empires, and women who wrote — and did — dangerous things.

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'Bygone Badass Broads: 52 Forgotten Women Who Changed the World' by Mackenzi Lee (March 13)

Based on author Mackenzi Lee’s popular weekly Twitter series of the same name, Bygone Badass Broads features 52 remarkable and forgotten trailblazing women from all over the world. With tales of heroism and cunning, Bygone Badass Broads gives new life to these historic female pioneers. Starting in the fifth century BC and extending to the present day, the book takes a close look at bold and inspiring women who dared to be different.

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'Rejected Princesses: Tales of History's Boldest Heroines, Hellions, and Heretics' by Jason Porath

Rejected Princesses pays homage to a collection of strong, fierce, and yes, sometimes weird, women: warrior queens, soldiers, villains, spies, revolutionaries, and more who refused to meekly accept their place. Each profile features an eye-catching image of both heroic and villainous women in from a princess-pirate in fifth century Denmark, to a rebel preacher in 1630s Boston, to a bloodthirsty Hungarian countess, to a former prostitute who commanded a fleet of more than 70,000 men on China’s seas.

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'Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Tales of Extraordinary Women' by Elena Favilli

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls might be a children's book, but it's still packed with 100 bedtime stories about the lives of 100 extraoridinary women — from Elizabeth I to Serena Williams. If you're looking to get quick introductions to a variety of different inspirational women, this is definitely the book for you. Plus, you can share it with the kids in your life who could use some feminist influence, too.

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'Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History' by Sam Maggs

Smart women have always been able to achieve amazing things, especially when the odds were stacked against them. In Wonder Women, author Sam Maggs tells the stories of the brilliant, brainy, and totally rad women in history who broke barriers as scientists, engineers, mathematicians, adventurers, and inventors. Entries about women Alice Ball, the chemist who developed an effective treatment for leprosy and Huang Daopo, the inventor whose weaving technology revolutionized textile production in China, will show you just how much you don't know about history's fiercest women.

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'Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World' by Rachel Ignotofsky

Women in Science highlights the contributions of fifty notable women to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics from the ancient to the modern world. The trailblazing women profiled include well-known figures like primatologist Jane Goodall, as well as lesser-known pioneers such as Katherine Johnson, the African-American physicist and mathematician who calculated the trajectory of the 1969 Apollo 11 mission to the moon.

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'Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World' by Ann Shen

Aphra Behn, first female professional writer. Sojourner Truth, activist and abolitionist. Ada Lovelace, first computer programmer. Marie Curie, first woman to win the Nobel Prize. Joan Jett, godmother of punk. The 100 revolutionary women highlighted in Ann Shen's Bad Girls Throughout History challenged the status quo and changed the rules for all who followed.

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'Rad Women Worldwide: Artists and Athletes, Pirates and Punks, and Other Revolutionaries Who Shaped History' by Kate Schatz

Rad Women Worldwide features an array of diverse figures from Hatshepsut (the great female king who ruled Egypt peacefully for two decades) and Malala Yousafzi (the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize) to Poly Styrene (legendary teenage punk and lead singer of X-Ray Spex) and Liv Arnesen and Ann Bancroft (polar explorers and the first women to cross Antarctica), in a progressive and visually arresting book that is sure to educate and inspire.

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'Broad Strokes: 15 Women Who Made Art and Made History (In That Order)' by Bridget Quinn

Historically, major women artists have been excluded from the mainstream art canon. Aligned with the resurgence of feminism in pop culture, Broad Strokes offers an entertaining corrective to that omission. Art historian Bridget Quinn delves into the lives and careers of 15 brilliant female artists in text that's both feisty and educational. Full of beautiful reproductions of the artists' works and contemporary portraits of each artist by renowned illustrator Lisa Congdon, this is art history from 1600 to the present day for the modern art lover, reader, and feminist.

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'Dead Feminists: Historic Heroines in Living Color' by Chandler O'Leary

This letterpress-inspired book combines feminist history with a vision for a better future. Based on the beloved Dead Feminists letterpress poster series, this illuminating look at 27 women who have changed the world revisits the original posters plus adds new art, archival photographs, and ephemera to tell the stories of feminists such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Gwendolyn Brooks, Rachel Carson, and more. Dead Feminists takes feminist inspiration to a new level of artistry and shows how women have made a difference throughout history.

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'The Women Who Made New York' by Julie Scelfo

Read any history of New York City and you will read about men who have been lauded for generations for creating the most exciting and influential city in the world. But that's not the whole story. The Women Who Made New York reveals the untold stories of the phenomenal women who made New York City the cultural epicenter of the world. From Zora Neale Hurston and Audre Lorde to Others Fran Lebowitz and Grace Jones, these women helped shape not only New York City's history but its very identity.

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'In Praise of Difficult Women: Life Lessons From 29 Heroines Who Dared to Break the Rules' by Karen Karbo

In Praise of Difficult Women is an ode to the bold and charismatic women of modern history. Author Karen Karbo spotlights the spirited rule breakers who charted their way with little regard for expectations: Amelia Earhart, Helen Gurley Brown, Edie Sedgwick, Hillary Clinton, Amy Poehler, Shonda Rhimes, and more. By spotlighting women who are smart, sassy and unapologetically feminine — all leading imperfectly glorious lives — you'll be sure to find iconic inspiration for your own journey.

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'200 Women: Who Will Change The Way You See The World' by Ruth Hobday

Two hundred women from a variety of backgrounds are asked the same five questions. From well-known activists, artists, and innovators to everyday women whose lives are no less exceptional, each shares her unique replies to questions like "What really matters to you?" and "What would you change in the world if you could?" Interviewees include conservation and animal welfare activist Jane Goodall, actor and human rights advocate Alfre Woodard, and author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

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