In Pursuit of Disobedient Women
In this forthcoming memoir from journalist Dionne Searcey, the author looks back at the four years, 2015–2019, in which she served as the New York Times‘s West African bureau chief. She settled with her husband and children in Senegal but traveled throughout the two dozen countries she had to report on. Alas, Searcey’s subjects rarely made it fully into the paper’s pages due to political events in the U.S. taking up reams of space instead. Here, Searcey gives her interviewees their due, many of whom were women bucking the constraints of patriarchy in brave, awe-inspiring, and encouraging ways.
Rana el Kaliouby
Rana El Kaliouby was raised in Egypt and Kuwait in a conservative family. Her father’s traditional values didn’t stop him from marrying her mother, who was one of the first women computer programmers in the region. El Kaliouby became an innovative scientist herself and is now the CEO of Affectiva, a company that attempts to marry the human quality of emotional intelligence with artificial intelligence technology. In this memoir, out this April, El Kaliouby explores how she arrived not only at her rebellious success in a field dominated by white men, but also her interest in emotionally intelligent—and responsible—AI developments.
Guest House for Young Widows
While it quickly became clear to the international community that the group calling itself the Islamic State was practicing repression and violence, ISIS’s propaganda was convincingly clever and promised freedom from persecution, empowerment for those who felt and were disenfranchised, and a utopian vision of peaceful Muslim tenets. As a result, many people from across the globe decided to join in and adopt the cause—these included women from a vast array of backgrounds. Journalist Azadeh Moaveni follows the stories of some of the women disappointed and deeply mistreated by ISIS and explores their complex motivations for joining it.
Sierra Crane Murdoch
For true crime enthusiasts and those interested in how historic traumas live on in systemic injustices that perpetuate harm, Sierra Crane Murdoch’s forthcoming book is a must. Murdoch dives into the case of a formerly incarcerated woman, Lissa Yellow Bird, whose obsession with a largely ignored disappearance helped expose a con and bring the truth to light. In 2009, Yellow Bird returned from prison to Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, much changed by the Bakken oil boom. Navigating the police, newly rich locals, and workers coming to cash in, she followed every lead, trying to find one young man, Kristopher Clarke.
You may know Jia Tolentino’s writing already from her marvelously sharp writing in The New Yorker and elsewhere, but the nine new essays in this book circle the titular theme: How does culture reflect us, how do we—as consumers of culture through various forms of media—reflect culture, and how does a cultural critic like Tolentino, whose very job is to think about these relationships, justify her work in a world full of trick mirrors? From celebrity and reality TV culture to the scammers we love to hate (or hate to love) and much more, Tolentino contends with the Internet Age.
The Fate of Food
In the face of climate change, a growing population, and shrinking resources (or more difficult access to them), it’s no surprise that many laypeople might panic at the thought of how we’ll be able to continue feeding the population of this planet. But environmental journalist Amanda Little isn’t ready to give up yet, and neither are the dozens of people she talked to for this book. Traveling across the globe to look at various farming techniques, both ancient and cutting edge, Little finds a plethora of ways in which—if we’re smart—human beings might innovate our way towards sustainable eating.
See Jane Win
In 2018, the largest ever contingent of women candidates were up for election in both local and national races. Journalist Caitlin Moscatello covers four winning candidates’ processes, from their life-changing decisions to run in the first place, all the way up to election day. Through these particular races, Moscatello explores the many barriers set in place for women and examines the further difficulties facing women of color, as well as queer and trans women. Demonstrating how these candidates and others defied expectation, worked against norms, and pushed the establishment to change, Moscatello draws complex conclusions about how Janes win.
Our Women on the Ground
Journalism has long been a battleground profession, fighting to be or remain free, while also being part of broader patriarchal systems that maintain the status quo. For women journalists in the Arab world, who we we hear relatively little about in the United States, the job is both deeply urgent and even more complex as they navigate various systems of oppression as well as the distinct and particular freedoms that allow them to do work others cannot. In these wonderful, important essays, these professionals describe their reasons for pursuing this work, its personal and political importance, and much more.
In the age of Harvey Weinstein’s trial and conviction, it’s a good time to look back at how what was once called an open secret in Hollywood became front-page news. Chronicling their investigation in this book, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey knew they’d face steep legal blockades as they investigated Weinstein, but what they didn’t expect was how, once they’d acquired enough information to publish their first piece, so many women would come forward to discuss the many other open secrets out there.
Vanity Fair's Women on Women
Over the last four decades, Vanity Fair has covered a host of culturally and politically significant women. This collection of profiles of women by women is divided into sections titled “Comedians,” “White House,” “Society and Style,” “Renegades,” “Musicians,” “the House of Windsor,” “The Stars,” and “In Their Own Words.” While these are rather self-explanatory (you know where Princess Diana, Whoopi Goldberg, and Lady Gaga all fit in), what isn’t as clear is just how wonderfully these work in concert with each other, as the decades pass and certain issues facing these women change, or remain just the same. It’s a super handy feminist reader.
While many of us can agree that feminism isn’t a dirty word, women are still underrepresented in journalism, according to the Women’s Media Center, with women of color making up an even smaller minority, despite the fact that women make up 50% of the U.S. population, and people of color nearly 40%. The good news, as far as we’re concerned, is that while there’s a dearth in representation in newsrooms across the country, many pros have been writing and editing excellent books recently. So fill that gender-gap in your bookshelf with these ten badass books by women journalists (both new and forthcoming).
Featured image by Sarah Graves