The Feminist Know-It-All: You know her. You can’t stand her. Good thing she’s not here! Instead, this column by gender and women’s studies librarian Karla Strand will amplify stories of the creation, access, use and preservation of knowledge by women and girls around the world; share innovative projects and initiatives that focus on information, literacies, libraries and more; and, of course, talk about all of the books.
Each month, I provide Ms. readers with a list of new books being published by writers from historically excluded groups.
The aims of these lists are threefold:
- I want to do my part in the disruption of what has been the acceptable “norm” in the book world for far too long—white, cis, heterosexual, male;
- I want to amplify indie publishers and amazing works by writers who are women, Black, Indigenous, Latinx, APIA/AAPI, international, queer, trans, nonbinary, disabled, fat, immigrant, Muslim, neurodivergent, sex-positive or of other historically marginalized identities—you know, the rest of us; and
- I want to challenge and encourage you all to buy, borrow and read them!
These days, it seems as though time is irrelevant and my memory is nonexistent. Or is this just me?
With what’s happening in the world, it’s hardly surprising that we are struggling, sweating, swearing and coming out swingin’. It’s already August and the heat is on. And while we are working hard to save the world, we must take time to read, rest and renew.
These 27 books are bound to support you, learn you, trouble you and try you. They may even heal you. So take some time and take care.
While you are waiting for this one, you can catch up by reading the other spectacular volumes in the ReVisioning History series from Beacon Press (including A Black Women’s History, A Disability History, A Queer History, An Indigenous Peoples’ History, and more).
By Marquis Bey. Duke University Press. 184 pages. Out August 2.
Dr. Bey is at the leading edge of conversations about gender: what it means to be cisgender, how that equates to whiteness, how Blackness is a non-cis space, and more. Reading Marquis Bey always opens my mind and practices.
By Marie Arnold. Versify. 320 pages. Out August 2.
This is a book for our times, full of outrage, heartbreak, injustice and yes, hope. Thank goodness for hope. And healing. And for ancestors, wisdom, friends and collectives. Take care when reading this one, but do read it.
Written by a survivor, this is one of two sorely needed memoirs/investigations on this list about the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women.
Set in Navajo Nation, this sharp debut centers a forensic photographer who is hiding a secret about how she is so helpful in solving cases. This mystery-crime-thriller is beautifully and chillingly rendered.
If you know the literary me, you know my mad love for Mary Shelley and Frankenstein. And after my own heart, Addie Tsai has gifted us this breathtaking retelling full of queer, biracial, gender-swapping goodness.
What you’ve heard about Alora Young and her debut is all true. She’s extraordinary, the book is phenomenal and you just need to get a copy in your hands ASAP. This month’s #RequiredReading.
What would you do if you had been kicked out of school, your mom was in the hospital, you worked for a sexist pig and were desperate for money and escape? Like Minerva, you might plan the perfect revenge scheme… or would you?
Finally, the spellbinding sequel to the highly acclaimed witch-fantasy-extravaganza Blood Like Magic is here! Will Voya become the Matriarch she intends to be? What happens with her and Luc? Will she save the Toronto witches?
This fantasy debut combines motherhood and monsterhood, queerness and cautionary tales. Sign me up!
Available for the first time in English, this collection of five stories about extraordinarily ordinary women facing hardships is a wonderful introduction to her masterful work.
By Kendra Allen. Ecco. 208 pages. Out August 9.
As a fan of Allen’s previous writing, I am looking forward to reading her memoir of Black girlhood, family, rebellion and coming of age in the South.
This is the singular debut novel about a Mexican and Filipino American family along the coast of Texas said to be descended from the Karankawas, an extinct Texan tribe.
Readers are raving about Leslye Penelope’s 1920s Black Washington, D.C., society brilliance. She gifts us jazz, history, fantasy, crime, culture and romance.
This collection brings together Cooper’s major essays as well as previously unpublished poems, plays, correspondence and journalism.
Giddings’s creepy debut Lakewood knocked my socks off, so I am in line for her next feminist dystopian thriller.
This groundbreaking analysis examines abolition based in Black and women of color feminisms, anti-violence organizing, survivor knowledge production, radical strategizing and more.
The Oleander Sword (The Burning Kingdoms, 2)
I love a good fantasy novel and I love a fantasy series even more. And this series is fantastic.
By Saida Grundy. University of California Press. 356 pages. Out August 16.
With Respectable, feminist sociologist and Spelman graduate Saida Grundy rigorously examines the iconic “Morehouse Man” and themes of masculinity, race, class, gender and higher education.
Set in Mexico, this is a layered, kaleidoscopic and powerful story exploring relationships, fluidity, pain, healing, power and patriarchy.
From the writer of the Poppy War trilogy comes a wholly unique new fantasy that explores language and translation in imperialism.
Set in Texas, this thought-provoking debut explores a Texas family’s secrets, traumas and attempts at forgiveness when they are brought together at the matriarch’s deathbed.
By Debra Magpie Earling (Bitterroot Salish). Milkweed Editions. 368 pages. Out August 23.
This award-winning classic is being released in a brand new edition for a brand new audience to discover. Full of love and pain, abundance and loss, hope and fear, this is a stunning book.
Kimberlé Crenshaw calls this “a critical race theory tour de force for understanding Latino anti-Black bias, from the most important Afro-Latina voice on civil rights today.”
By Brenda Mitchell-Powell. University of Massachusetts Press. 328 pages. Out August 26.
What kind of liberatory librarian-historian would I be if I didn’t include this new exploration of the fight to desegregate the first public library in Virginia? This is an important and little-known history in a well-researched and compelling narrative.
At this point, I hope you know to just read anything and everything Mariame Kaba or Andrea Ritchie write. They are making the most compelling and practical arguments for abolition out there.
By May-lee Chai (@mayleechai). Blair. 166 pages. Out August 30.
Set in China and across its diaspora, the latest collection by award-winning writer May-lee Chai is complex and courageous, inspiring and insightful.
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