Library Services


A book list for Women’s History Month

20 March 2024

The Library Liberating the Collections Group have compiled a book list of your suggestions to celebrate International Women’s Day (8 March) and Women’s History Month (March).

A person reads a book on a book ladder in the Donaldson Reading Room.

This year's International Women's Day theme is ‘Inspire Inclusion’ and the Women's History Month theme is ‘Women Who Advocate for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion’. Alongside recommendations connected to these themes, we also welcomed any suggestions for other books written by, for, about and celebrating women.

Your recommendations

The Social Instinct: How Cooperation Shaped the World by Nichola Raihani

(nominated twice)

“This is a must read and wonderful book. It is beautifully written and a tour de force through evolution, animal behaviour and human cooperation. The book is full of interesting and funny anecdotes but also backed up with the most recent findings in the fields of evolutionary biology, psychology, animal behaviour and anthropology. The book explains complex theories to non-scientists in a highly accessible and enjoyable way.”

“It is a fabulously written, fascinating book about how cooperation has shaped the world by a UCL (female) neuroscientist.”    

Joseph Devlin, Experimental Psychology

Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez

(Nominated twice)    

“Invisible Women shows us how, in a world largely built for and by men, we are systematically ignoring half the population.  It exposes the gender data gap, ‘a gap in our knowledge that is at the root of perpetual, systemic discrimination against women, and that has created a pervasive but invisible bias with a profound effect on women’s lives’.”

“It's about the gender data gap! A must read for all.”

Endless Forms: The Secret World of Wasps by Seirian Sumner

“It is written by an amazing UCL scientist, Prof Seirian Sumner - and we all need to learn to love wasps!”

Nichola Raihani, Experimental Psychology

Inventing Ourselves: The Secret Life of the Teenage Brain by Sarah-Jayne Blakemore

“It is written by a former UCL leading neuroscientist, Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore”

Nichola Raihani, Experimental Psychology

The Feminist Killjoy Handbook by Sara Ahmed

“It resonated with me as a feminist who can't stay silent or be happy seeing the injustices around us”.

A Woman in Your Own Right: Assertiveness and You by Anne Dickson

“This book and a course by its author changed my approach to life and work - view yourself as you, not just daughter, sister, colleague, friend, wife etc. etc.”

Nicola Shelton, IEHC

The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold

“This is one of the best non-fiction books I have ever read and turns the narrative surrounding Jack the Ripper on its head. It provides evocative and insightful accounts of the lives of each of the women who were murdered by Jack the Ripper, re-instating them as human beings with full and complex lives instead of faceless victims. Hallie Rubenhold writes with empathy and intelligence and dispels many of the untruths that have surrounded these women since their tragic deaths. It is harrowing, but it is such a powerful and important read when it comes to considering victims, their voices and how they are treated in the stories we tell.”

Naomi Kelly

The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir

“A strong argument from the woman's perspective. The 'female' is a social construct, one which we have slowly moved away from in some societies but is still with us today across the world. Given the current political climate in the West, women are having to fight again for rights over their own bodies. We need to go back to this text to focus our thinking and find our defining voice. It is a ground breaking work that still has resonance today.”

Anita Treso, Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction

Inferior by Angela Saini

“It questions assumptions about the "natural" difference between the sexes in an inspiring way.”    

Revolting Prostitutes: The Fight for Sex Workers Rights by Juno Mac and Molly Smith

“Emphasises the need to support globally sex workers’ rights and provides a convincing case for decriminalising sex work.” 

Waseem Ahmed, History

The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré

“This book was a real eye-opening window into life and the treatment of poor women in rural Nigeria. A young girl is married off as a teenager and the book follows her story as she tries to better herself and achieve her dream of being a teacher.”

Jane Arthurs, Campus Experience and Infrastructure

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

“A realistic portrayal of female friendship in all its complexity: beautiful, loving, difficult and ugly.”


Circe by Madeline Miller

“I love myth, folklore and fairytale but women so often (particularly in Western mythology) feel like supportive characters - there to platform the men. Even the Odyssey, full of powerful women characters like Circe and Athena (a literal witch and goddess!), fails to examine these interesting characters - they are either not represented favourably or there to advance the stories of the male protagonist. I love Madeline Miller's work and how she takes mythological women, archetypes that still really influence our lives today, and deep dives into their thoughts, emotions, motivations, and interests. She uncovers something I think has always been there but hiding because of the fact they were being represented by men or because men have traditionally dominated translation and scholarship (who knows what was lost over history?). So Madeline for retelling these important stories - and doing it with style. I enjoy all her work, but Circe is my favourite.”

Kailey Nolan, UCL School of the Creative and Cultural Industries

50 Women in Technology by Cheryl Robson, Bridget Greenwood, et al.

“It's part of the collection with 50 Women in Theatre, Sport, Sculpture and Blues. Each of them has interviews with amazing women pioneers in their field, who had to fight to be recognised in industries not at pace with inclusivity.”


The Shutter of Snow by Emily Holmes Coleman

“It is an incredible book originally published in the 1930s but (forgive the cliche) well ahead of its time - both in style and subject matter! Based on Coleman's real life, the book explores her time in an asylum after she was diagnosed with post-partum psychosis. An interesting companion novel to the more well-read Beyond the Glass by Antonia White - both women were committed to asylums at the same time, just on other sides of the Atlantic, and both used writing to come to terms with their experience.”

Matilda Blackwell, UCL East

The Intersectional Environmentalist: How to Dismantle Systems of Oppression to Protect People + Planet by Leah Thomas

“It is an important book which highlights the link between environmental degradation and social justice, placing an intersectional lens on the issue and providing historic and contemporary views and practical advice looking to the future.”

Carla Washbourne, Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy

Our Wives Under The Sea by Julia Armfield

“Leah has returned late from a deep sea scientific mission, and something within her has changed. The book is written from the perspective of her wife, Miri, who is searching for reasons to explain the difference in her wife. It is one of the most beautiful and haunting lesbian love stories I have read. The writing style is fluid and poetic; the story is unsettling and strange and flits between moments in the past and present. But the book is driven by the profound love Miri has for Leah, and reads in its totality as a love letter to her wife.”

Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit 

“It is as relevant as ever.”

Dr Vanessa Puetz, CEHP

Queens of a Fallen World: The Lost Women of Augustine’s Confessions by Kate Cooper

“A profound new study of women in late antiquity. It completely transforms our reading of this pivotal point of history by ‘reading against the grain’ and focusing on the roles and agency of the women who interacted with St Augustine in important ways and were recorded in his work.”

Votes for Women and Other Plays by Susan Croft , Cicely Hamilton, et al.

“They launched themselves onto the political stage with their satirical plays, sketches and monologues whilst at the same time challenging the staid conventions of the Edwardian Theatre of the day. The legacy of their inspiring work to change both theatre and society has survived in the political theatre, agitprop and verbatim theatre we know today.”    

The Secret to Superhuman Strength by Alison Bechdel

“It's brilliant.”    

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this list.

Photo of Steps to Progress exhibit in UCL Main Library
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in UCL Library, Culture, Collections and Open Science

This activity was organised through the Library Liberating the Collections Group. The purpose of this group is to identify and oversee progress with a strategic set of actions intended to enrich the collections, increasing visibility of, and access to, works by authors who have been marginalised (and thus less heard) because of factors such as race, sexuality, gender and disability. Any titles that we don’t already own we will buy and add to our collections and will be available shortly.

Celebrating International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month