March 2024 Reads for the Rest of Us

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:

  1. 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;
  2. 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
  3. I want to challenge and encourage you all to buy, borrow and read them! 

The 25 books on this list are just a small representation of the hundreds of books being released this month. March is a big one, so I had to be discerning and make some tough choices. But I am confident you’ll find some here that appeal.

You know I include nonfiction along with the fiction and university press titles alongside indies and the big ones. You’ll find experienced writers and cheeky first-timers (my favorites). There are seasoned scholars and underdog activists (also among my favorites). I aim to provide you with a wide variety of viewpoints, voices, subjects, formats and styles. 

And this month is no exception. 

You can choose from an epic graphic memoir, a darling of a biography, collections of poignant essays and stories of 1950s India, Chinese-Canadian coming of age, star-crossed lovers in Cameroon or Korean stray cats. 

Need ideas or inspiration for continuing to fight for reproductive justice and racial liberation? They’re here. 

Spiritual strengthening? The comfort of seeing yourself represented as a whole, authentic person? Got ‘em.

Clarity, guidance, humor or escape? Check, check, check and check.

So see what piques your interest and let me know what you’re reading. Next month I’ll be back with April’s Reads for the Rest of Us but also my giant annual list honoring National Poetry Month, so stay tuned! 

Inside the Mirror: A Novel

By Parul Kapur (@parulkapurwriter) University of Nebraska Press. 358 pages. Out Mar. 2. 

Focused on gender roles, art and reimagination, this remarkable debut features twin sisters who take different paths in 1950s India. As one complies with her father’s wishes, the other risks it all to live with agency, authenticity and ambition.


Anita de Monte Laughs Last: A Novel

By Xochitl Gonzalez (@xochitltheg). Flatiron. 352 pages. Out Mar. 5.

Xochitl Gonzalez’s sophomore novel packs the same powerful punch in the sharp and humorous style we loved in Olga Dies Dreaming. With Anita, Gonzalez offers a potent examination of power, love and opportunity—who gets them and who gets left behind. 


Beautiful People: My Thirteen Truths About Disability

By Melissa Blake (@melissablake81). Hachette Go. 272 pages. Out Mar. 5. 

Part memoir, part manifesta and all Melissa, this debut is a refreshing, candid and thoughtful look at living with disabilities. Activist and influencer Melissa Blake pulls no punches when exploring themes of ableism, representation, language, self-love and more. 


Counsel Culture

Written by Kim Hye-jin. Translated by Jamie Chang. Restless Books. 208 pages. Out Mar. 5.

What do a midlife counselor, a 10-year-old girl and a couple of feral cats have in common? This unique, gritty and heartfelt story of loss, friendship and redemption, of course! 


Feeding Ghosts: A Graphic Memoir

By Tessa Hulls (@tessahulls). MCD. 400 pages. Out Mar. 5. 

This is an epic graphic memoir in which Tessa Hulls shares her family’s journey from China to Hong Kong and the US over generations. As much a history lesson as a personal story, Feeding Ghosts is tremendous in its content, presentation and impact. 


Fire Dreams: Making Black Feminist Liberation in the South

By Laura McTighe (@lauramctighe) and Women With A Vision (@wwavnola). Duke University Press. Out Mar. 5.

Exploring the work of southern Black feminists for racial and reproductive justice, abolition, sex worker rights, and more, this volume is an engaging historical narrative and a model for successful collective action that uses imaginative ways to work in collaboration and care. 


Imagine Freedom: Transforming Pain into Political and Spiritual Power

By Rahiel Tesfamariam (@rahielt). Amistad. 304 pages. Out Mar. 5.

Activist, theologian and journalist Rahiel Tesfamariam speaks truth to power in this compelling volume focused on healing intergenerational trauma, nurturing spiritual imagination and building a global collective in pursuit of true liberation for people of African descent.  


Metaracism: How Systemic Racism Devastates Black Lives―and How We Break Free

By Tricia Rose (@proftriciarose). Basic Books. 288 pages. Out Mar. 5.

If you need a refresher on just what systemic racism is, where it comes from and what we can do to combat it, look no further. Scholar and writer Tricia Rose has written this pioneering volume full of real-world examples, accessible explanations and ideas for forward movement.


Thunder Song: Essays

By Sasha taqʷšəblu LaPointe (Coast Salish). Counterpoint. 256 pages. Out Mar. 5.

Following her award-winning memoir, Red Paint, Sasha taqʷšəblu LaPointe offers readers this incandescent collection of essays reflecting on family, tradition, art and music, climate change, spirituality and more. Her way with words is powerful; her distinctive style is fresh, magnetic and compelling.


Fury: A Novel

Written by Clyo Mendoza (@buena.bestia). Translated by Christina MacSweeney. Seven Stories Press. 256 pages. Out Mar. 12.

This is a fierce and fantastical debut novel by award-winning Mexican poet Clyo Mendoza. Set against an unforgiving desert landscape, the characters in this tale fight, flee and… something else that starts with “f.” There’s pain, fear, truth, magic, loss and more, but Mendoza’s lyricism makes even the harshest words beautiful. 


These Letters End in Tears: A Novel

By Musih Tedji Xaviere (@MusihX). Catapult. 240 pages. Out Mar. 12.

In this powerful and devastating story, two girls – one Christian, one Muslim – fall in love against all odds. Set in Cameroon, where same-sex relationships are strictly forbidden and punishable by law, this debut shines a light on the pain and injustice many must face for love. 


A Touch of Chaos

By Scarlett St. Clair (Muscogee Nation) (@authorscarlettstclair). Bloom Books. 592 pages. Out Mar. 12.

If you are a regular reader of this column, you will know that I am a big fan of Scarlett St. Clair. She writes about the only romance novels that I read! This month, the final book in her Hades x Persephone Saga is being released, and it promises to be a hot and exciting end.


You Get What You Pay For: Essays

By Morgan Parker (@morganapple0). One World. 224 pages. Out Mar. 12.

Morgan Parker is back with this candid, intimate and critical memoir in essays focused on the existence of Black women throughout time and the toll slavery, injustice and oppression has taken – and continues to take – on their mental health and wellness. 


Love the World or Get Killed Trying

By Alvina Chamberland (@alvinachamberland). Noemi Press. 274 pages. Out Mar. 15. 

Get to know Alvina Chamberland in this raw and generous work of autofiction. At turns humorous and hungry, this stunning English-language debut explores life, love, vulnerability, rage and rapture as a modern trans woman around the world.


Candy Darling: Dreamer, Icon, Superstar

By Cynthia Carr. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 432 pages. Out Mar. 19. 

Finally, trans icon and Warhol muse Candy Darling gets the full treatment she deserves in this well-researched and richly told biography. Written by author and longtime Village Voice arts writer Cynthia Carr, this portrait illuminates Darling’s life in all its kaleidoscopic complexity.


Fighting Mad: Resisting the End of Roe v. Wade

Edited by Krystale E. Littlejohn and Rickie Solinger. University of California Press. 392 pages. Out Mar. 19.

Dubbed “your field guide to abortion activism,” this collection of personal narratives, statements, comics and essays provides the explanations, advice, ideas and inspiration needed in the fight for reproductive justice post-Dobbs. Keep this one close if you care about bodily autonomy and are fighting to regain it. 


Mother Island: A Daughter Claims Puerto Rico

By Jamie Figueroa. Pantheon. 272 pages. Out Mar. 19. 

In this poignant and layered memoir, Jamie Figueroa relates her experiences growing up Puerto Rican in the Midwest, surrounded by whiteness to which she was expected to assimilate. As she recounts unlearning to relearn, she explores motherhood, lineage, legacy and reclamation.


Who’s Afraid of Gender?

By Judith Butler. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 320 pages. Out Mar. 19.

This essential new book by renowned philosopher Judith Butler takes on the growing violence and authoritarianism of right-wing movements at their center: their willfully ignorant and dangerous alarmism around gender. Butler encourages collectivity, imagination and bravery in the continued fight for equality and justice. 


Wilderness and the American Spirit

By Ruby McConnell (@rubygonewild). Overcup Press. 288 pages. Out Mar. 19.

Ruby McConnell has written one two of my very favorite books. She writes with this captivating and accessible combination of geology, geography, history and liberatory storytelling that informs and inspires. In her latest, she presents a fresh exploration into America’s quest for expansion and its toll on the land, the environment, the people and the wilderness. 


Woman, Life, Freedom

Created by Marjane Satrapi. Translated by Una Dimitrijevic. Seven Stories Press. 272 pages. Out Mar. 19. 

This remarkable volume examines the Iranian feminist uprising following the 2022 beating death of Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by the morality police for not wearing her headscarf properly. Introduced and illustrated by Satrapi, this collaboration of 20+ journalists, artists and experts is a clarion call for uprising, collectivity and continuance.


Refusals and Reinventions: Engendering New Indigenous and Black Life Across the Americas

By Daniel Ìgbín’bí Coleman. Ohio State University Press. 186 pages. Out Mar. 25.

In his debut book, scholar, activist and artist Daniel Ìgbín’bí Coleman examines creativity, (de)colonialism and justice in the US and Mexico. By examining their creation of and participation in multiple worlds, Coleman identifies Black and Indigenous relationality, resistance and resurgence. 


dear elia: Letters from the Asian American Abyss

By Mimi Khúc (@slothprof). Duke University Press. 272 pages. Out Mar. 26.

With dear elia, Mimi Khúc throws out the playbook for scholarly books published by university presses, and I am here for it. Her outstanding exploration of mental health, with particular attention paid to Asian American peoples, is focused not on wellness as we know it but on the game-changing notion that we are all “differently unwell.”  


The Rise and Fall of the Second American Republic: Reconstruction, 1860-1920

By Manisha Sinha (@ProfMSinha). Liveright. 592 pages. Out Mar. 26.

With this groundbreaking volume, renowned historian Manisha Sinha offers a critical reexamination of the Reconstruction era. By extending the time frame and including other important events such as imperialism, conquest of Indigenous peoples and women’s suffrage, SInha presents a new understanding of the consequences of its defeat.


Silver Repetition: A Novel

By Lily Wang. The New Press. 272 pages. Out Mar. 26.

This unique coming-of-age debut is one of dreamy reflections, fractured memories and surreal loss. Lily Wang has written a sensory marvel, a story of unique lyricism and rich layers.


Surviving God: A New Vision of God through the Eyes of Sexual Abuse Survivors

By Grace Ji-Sun Kim (@gracejisunkim) and Susan M. Shaw (@feministgadfly). Broadleaf Books. 229 pages. Out Mar. 26.

Personal and intersectional, this transformational volume by renowned theologians Kim and Shaw focuses on survivors of sexual assault and rethinking Christianity’s role in healing.  


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Karla J. Strand is the gender and women’s studies librarian for the University of Wisconsin. She completed her doctorate in information science via University of Pretoria in South Africa with a background in history and library science, and her research centers on the role of libraries and knowledge in empowering women and girls worldwide. Tweet her @karlajstrand.