March is Women’s History Month and we’re suggesting a month of reads dedicated to fierce females throughout history. We’re talking aviation pioneers, existential thinkers, and eco-feminist trailblazers. Herewith, a girl squad whose footsteps you’ll definitely want to follow in.
West with the Night
In her 1942 memoir, Beryl Markham, a woman smitten with flying the friendly skies, chronicles her childhood in what is now Kenya, her days as a bush a pilot there, and the ultimate aerial adventure that put her on history’s map as an infamous aviation pioneer: She was the first person to pilot a 20-hour flight across the Atlantic from England to North America. And you thought staying awake through all three hours of The Aviator was an accomplishment.
The Ethics of Ambiguity
Move over, David Foster Wallace. French philosopher Simone de Beauvoir has her own ideas of existentialism. In her introduction to existentialist thought, which pays homage to French contemporaries like Jean-Paul Sartre and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, de Beauvoir outlines her “ways of being” and—stick with us—“emphasizes the importance of freedom and responsibility and recognizing the ambiguities of life.”
Described as a feminist journalist, Gloria Steinem takes on the iconic anomaly who is Marilyn Monroe in this provocative portrait. Though it’s not necessarily the bombshell fantasy you have in mind. Steinem reveals the woman under that flouncy white halter dress and blonde bob—and the struggles plain old Norma Jean faced before coming out on top. Oh, and it comes equipped with 16 coffee-table-worthy photos.
China to Me
Rather than narrow her focus on the political beings who ran China and Hong Kong circa the 1930s, Emily Hahn writes about those who actually shaped the countries: their people. Blurring the line between fiction and non, Hahn’s memoir is an account of the nine years she spent in the East, and all of the Asian prostitutes and Euro merchants she met along the way.
Woman and Nature
Susan Griffin is woman; hear her roar in this stimulating must-read that is a critical addition to the literary canon of anyone who calls oneself a feminist. In Woman and Nature, the acclaimed Griffin taps into history and Freudian thought to explore just how the destruction of the earth and the denigration of nature are not only connected but inseparable. A powerful read from a Pulitzer, it’s the very text that is credited with kick-starting the eco-feminist movement.
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Featured Image: Baryl Markham, courtesy of Goodreads