April 2024 Reads for the Rest of Us

Each month, we provide Ms. readers with a list of new books being published by writers from historically excluded groups.

Here are 25 fantastic books releasing this month that we recommend you dig into. There are stunning debuts, masterful historical fiction, kaleidoscopic short stories, thoughtful manifestas, moving memoirs, groundbreaking nonfiction, and so much more.

In Hawai‘i, Where Traditional Midwives Can’t Practice

Two days after Alia Louise Stenback survived the Aug. 8 wildfire in Lāhainā, Maui—the deadliest wildfire the United States has seen in over 100 years—she parked herself at a medical tent. One month later, with no ambulances around to provide transport to a hospital, her grandson was born. With a donated birthing kit and the support of traditional midwives, Stenback “caught [her] grandson.”

Stenback grants herself “outlaw” status because she provided care during labor without a midwifery license in assumed violation of Hawaii’s HRS §457J, otherwise known as the Midwifery Restriction Law. Originally passed in the name of maternal and infant safety, the law is the subject of impassioned protests, new legislative proposals and a lawsuit filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation.

‘Riding Barbie’s Coattails’: Race, Gender and Inclusivity at the 2024 Oscars

It’s time to place more women of color at the center of our film narratives—and, as Cord Jefferson implored in his acceptance speech, it’s time for the cultural gatekeepers to fund and support more opportunities for diverse stories and talents.

I congratulate all Oscar winners this year, but it’s much too soon to pat Academy members on the back for doing the bare minimum of race and gender inclusivity.

Mexico Is for Mujeres: The Next Mexican President Will Be a Woman

Mexico’s women-led presidential race does not reveal a feminist utopia—but it does signal progress and possibility.

In a country where women—especially Indigenous women—struggle to survive, Xóchitl Gálvez and Claudia Sheinbaum studied science, shaped policy and crafted resumes worthy of presidential bids. One of them will surely shatter Mexico’s glass ceiling.

(This article originally appears in the Winter 2024 issue of Ms. Join the Ms. community today and you’ll get issues delivered straight to your mailbox!)

The Next Battlefront in the War Against Women: Fighting for Congress to Fully Fund WIC

Leaders in Congress agreed on a topline figure to fund the government for the next fiscal year. But it is certainly no cause for celebration. The long-overdue agreement will continue most of last year’s levels, while providing enormous boosts for the Pentagon. With rising costs, last year’s funding levels are not enough for federal safety net programs to meet the needs of struggling Americans. Simply put, more people need more help and they will not get it. This is particularly true among single mothers—40 percent of whom needlessly struggle with food insecurity.

It’s all part of Republicans’ plan to both restrict abortion access and cut nutrition assistance from low-income mothers, infants and young children—creating a new wave of the feminization of poverty.

2023 ‘Best of the Rest’: Our Favorite Books of the Year!

Each month, we provide Ms. readers with a list of new books being published by writers from historically excluded groups. And each year, we review our monthly Reads for the Rest of Us lists and choose our favorite books of the entire year. 

You’ve read the other “Best of” lists—now read the other one. You know, for the rest of us. So here they are, our book critic’s top 38, in alphabetical order. 

Indigenous Leader Deb Haaland Is Creating a ‘Road to Healing’ for Survivors of Indian Boarding Schools

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland has traveled across the country on a “Road to Healing” tour to hear the stories of Indigenous survivors of the federal Indian boarding school system and connect communities with trauma-informed support.

“I know that this process will be long and difficult,” said Haaland. “I know that this process will be painful. It won’t undo the heartbreak and loss we feel. But only by acknowledging the past can we work toward a future that we’re all proud to embrace.”  

Weekend Reading on Women’s Representation: Michigan Leads the Way to Gender-Balanced Democracy; Wins for Native Women

It’s almost the weekend, which means it’s time for our Weekend Reading series—so pour yourself a glass of wine, curl up under that blanket, and catch up on the latest in women’s representation in the U.S. and abroad.

This week: Michigan’s state legislature is roughly 40 percent women, and ranked-choice voting passed in three cities; how women’s equality and leadership thrived among many Native American nations; America Ferrera keeps it real with the BBC; and more.

Lillian Vernon’s Legacy of ‘Kitchen Table’ Entrepreneurs Celebrated at Smithsonian

More than half a century before the COVID-19 pandemic normalized working from home, Lillian Vernon (1927-2015) launched what would eventually become a multi-million-dollar catalog business from the kitchen table of her modest home in Mount Vernon, N.Y. Her accomplishments as a pathbreaking entrepreneur were recently recognized with the installation of an exhibit: “Lillian Vernon, Kitchen Table Millionaire,” at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.