Plano Reads: Extraordinary Women

During Women’s History Month, we honor the many important ways in which women have contributed to the history of the United States. Here is a reading list, including both novels and nonfiction, that recognizes the achievements of a number of exceptional women. Enjoy all their stories!

For Adults
Remarkable Lives: Nonfiction

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover – Tara Westover was seventeen years old when she first set foot in a classroom. Raised by survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she went on to earn advanced degrees from Harvard and Cambridge universities. An inspiring story of a young woman’s determination to make the most of an opportunity to learn and grow. Print |eBook |Audiobook |CD/Play |

Finding Dorothy Scott: Letters of a WASP Pilot by Sarah Byrn Rickman – Her letters tell the story of Dorothy Scott during World War II and describe her time serving as a Women Airforce Service Pilot (WASP). A valiant young woman determined to use her flying skills to serve her country’s war effort. Print 

First Women: The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies by Kate Andersen Brower – Former White House correspondent Kate Andersen Brower draws on a wide array of untapped, candid sources–from White House staff and social secretaries to friends and political advisers–to tell the stories of ten remarkable women who have defined the role of America’s First Lady—one of the most challenging and underestimated positions in the world. Print | eBook | Audiobook |

Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation by Cokie Roberts – While much has been written about the men who signed the Declaration of Independence, battled the British, and framed the Constitution, the wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters they left behind have been little noticed by history. Roberts brings us the women who fought the Revolution as valiantly as the men, often defending their very doorsteps. While the men went off to war or to Congress, the women managed their businesses, raised their children, provided them with political advice, and made it possible for the men to do what they did. The behind-the-scenes influence of these women — and their sometimes very public activities — was intelligent and pervasive. Print |eBook | Audiobook |

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly – Hidden Figures follows the interwoven accounts of four African American women who participated in some of NASA’s greatest successes. It chronicles their careers over nearly three decades as they faced challenges, forged alliances and used their intellect to change their own lives, and their country’s future. Print |eBook |Audiobook |CD  

A House of My Own: Stories From My Life by Sandra Cisneros – Sandra Cisneros has written many noted works of fiction and poetry, but this collection of autobiographical essays makes clear that she has long sought a place to call her own. An honest and lively memoir of her unique literary life, and her personal search for “home.”  Print |Spanish |Audiobook

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot By the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai – When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education. On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school. Malala’s miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she became a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest nominee ever for the Nobel Peace Prize. Print |eBook |Audiobook  

My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor – The first Hispanic and third woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor recounts her life from a Bronx housing project to the federal bench. It is a journey that offers an inspiring testament to her own extraordinary determination and the power of believing in oneself. Print |eBook |Audiobook |CD |Play |Spanish|

The Queens of Animation: The Untold Story of the Women Who Transformed the World of Disney and Made Cinematic History by Nathalia Holt – The animated films of Walt Disney Studios have moved and entertained millions. But few fans know that behind these groundbreaking feature films was an influential group of women who created beautiful art, but also fought for respect in an often ruthless male-dominated industry. They have slipped under the radar for decades, but now Nathalia Holt tells their dramatic stories, from Snow White to Frozen, for the first time. Large Print |Audiobook |CD/Play|

The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore – The incredible true story of the women heroes who were exposed to radium in factories across the U.S. in the early 20th century, and their brave and groundbreaking battle to strengthen workers’ rights, even as the fatal poison claimed their own lives. Print |eBook |Audiobook |CD |Play |Large Print 

Unique Women: Fiction

The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg – This is a fun-loving mystery about a woman today and five women who in 1943 worked in a Phillips 66 gas station. Flagg tells a hilarious and charming story about strong women during World War II. Print | eBook | eAudiobook | Play|

Circe by Madeline Miller – This lyrical novel by an American classics scholar shows another side of the mythological witch Circe, as more than just Odysseus’ lover. Circe has her own separate story, as a daughter and a mother who experienced her own hardships and growth. The prose is beautiful and the characterization of Circe as a deeply human woman in her relatability is sure to entrance. Print |eBook |CD/Play|

Sabrina & Corina: Stories by Kali Fajardo-Anstine – The eleven short stories that make up this collection all center around the Latina and Indigenous women of Colorado. The stories are vulnerable in their depictions of familial cycles of violence against women, addictions, infidelity, sisterhood, and motherhood. Print |eBook|

The Union Quilters by Jennifer Chiaverini – While the men in Water’s Ford, Pennsylvania are rallying to answer Mr. Lincoln’s call to arms, the women are creating a quilting bee to help. Find out how the women help when they are most needed when needed. Print |CD|

And For Young Adults

Born to Fly: The First Women’s Air Race Across America by Steve Sheinkin – Born to Fly is the gripping story of the fearless women pilots who aimed for the skies–and beyond. Just nine years after American women finally got the right to vote, a group of trailblazers soared to new heights in the 1929 Air Derby, the first women’s air race across the U.S.  Follow the incredible lives of legend Amelia Earhart, who has captivated generations; Marvel Crosson, who built a plane before she even learned how to fly; Louise Thaden, who shattered jaw-dropping altitude records; and Elinor Smith, who at age seventeen made headlines when she flew under the Brooklyn Bridge.  Print |eBook |Audiobook| (YA Nonfiction)

Mary’s Monster: Love, Madness, and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein by Lita Judge – Legend is correct that Mary Shelley began penning Frankenstein in answer to a dare to write a ghost story. What most people don’t know, however, is that the seeds of her novel had been planted long before that night. By age nineteen, she had been disowned by her family, was living in scandal with a married man, and had lost her baby daughter just days after her birth. Mary poured her grief, pain, and passion into the powerful book still revered two hundred years later, and in Mary’s Monster, author/illustrator Lita Judge has poured her own passion into a  book that pays tribute to the life of this incredible author. Print |eBook | (YA Nonfiction)

Nubia: Real One by L.L. McKinney – McKinney’s Nubia is a reimaging of the Amazonian superhero that was first introduced in Wonder Woman comics in the ’70s. In fact, she is DC Comics’ first Black woman superhero character. McKinney’s version of Nubia is a teenage girl with overprotective parents, but Nubia can’t help but use her superstrength powers to help the people around her. Print| (YA Graphic Novel)

A Tyranny of Petticoats: 15 Stories of Belles, Bank Robbers & Other Badass Girls edited by Jessica Spotswood – From some of the best women YA writers, comes an edge-of-your-seat anthology of historical fiction and fantasy featuring a diverse array of daring heroines.  Print |eBook |Play  (YA Story Collection)

Uprising by Margaret Peterson Haddix – In 1927, at the urging of twenty-one-year-old Harriet, Mrs. Livingston reluctantly recalls her experiences at the Triangle Shirtwaist factory, including miserable working conditions that led to a strike, then the fire that took the lives of her two best friends, when Harriet, the boss’s daughter, was only five years old. Includes historical notes. Print |eBook |Audiobook |CD  (YA Fiction)

The Woman All Spies Fear: Code Breaker Elizebeth Smith Friedman and Her Hidden Life by Amy Butler Greenfield – Elizebeth Smith Friedman had a rare talent for spotting patterns and solving puzzles. These skills led her to pioneer codebreaking in America during both World War I and World War II, but she was only recently recognized for her extraordinary contributions to the field. Print |eBook |Audiobook (YA Biography)


You can find more recommendations for Women’s History Month on the OverDrive website for easy reading through the Libby app.

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