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8 Must-Read Books to Celebrate International Women’s Day

In honor of International Women’s Day, Women’s History Month, and all women everywhere, The Helm team is sharing the books by female authors that have shaped and changed our lives

In honor of International Women’s Day, Women’s History Month, and all women everywhere, The Helm team is sharing the books by female authors that have shaped and changed our lives. From an everyday design guide to a novel about race and identity, to a thrilling family memoir, these titles celebrate the complexities of the female experience and get to the heart of what it means to be a woman.

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Men Explain Things to Be Book By Rebecca Solnit

01. Men Explain Things to Me

Men Explain Things to Me is critical at a time when our culture is being forced to examine the various ways manhood informs womanhood. The chapter which affected me most though -- Woolf’s Darkness: Embracing the Inexplicable -- was Solnit's deconstruction of a Virginia's Woolf declaration: “The future is dark, which is the best thing the future can be, I think.” It’s about re-evaluating our relationship with uncertainty and examining (deciding!) what it would be like were we not to default to either optimism or despair. Solnit offers that both are a form of planning rather than a genuine exploration; one we shouldn't attribute any value or expectation to. There is something spiritual, Tolle-ian even, about her musings but through her lens, I found them even richer. In short, this book is a must-read for all; woman or man. - Lindsey Taylor Wood, CEO and Co-Founder

Rebecca Solnit
Books A Million, $12

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Americanah Book by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

02. Americanah

Adichie weaves together themes of love, race, class, identity and the search for home in this sweeping novel with an indelible female protagonist, Ifemelu, a Nigerian woman who leaves home for several years to study and live in the U.S. Americanah is a book I return to  again and again not only because of the breathtaking writing, searing social commentary, and epic love story at its core, but because Ifemelu–strong, self-assured, funny—is a model for the kind of woman I want to be. - Lori Leibovich, Acting Editorial Director

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Books A Million, $16

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The Girl Who Smiled Beads By Clemantine Wamariya

03. The Girl Who Smiled Beads

After living in a world of survival for six formative years, running for her life across seven African countries, Clemantine Wamariya’s world shifts, and she finds herself spending her teen years in a typical American High School. Her story of reconciling her traumatic past with the affluent, white-washed reality of her U.S. Public School got under my skin, opened my eyes, and made me question. Clemantine's strength and tenacity is unmatched. As Clemantine says herself, “Maybe someday… you'll think of my story. You'll remember to put your ego in a bag and throw that bag away. You'll remember to be kind and generous and a better human.” - Becca Crandall, E-Commerce Manager

Clemantine Wamariya
Books A Million, $23

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Why Materials Matter: Design For A Better World Book by Seetal Solanki

04. Why Materials Matter: Responsible Design For A Better World

One of the most significant challenges of our lifetime is reconciling finite resources, planned obsolescence fabrication, and blind consumerism. Why Materials Matter is a primer for understanding the make-up of everyday objects and the future of material science. As a designer, it is essential for me to have a breadth of material knowledge. Doing so allows me to take an informed and thoughtful approach to design and fabrication. As a consumer, it is a tool that helps me use my spending power in support of products made with high level of material and production considerations. - Venessa Rosely, Art Director

Seetal Solanki
Books A Million, $50

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The Year of Magical Thinking book by Joan Didion

05. The Year of Magical Thinking

Joan Didion can do no wrong in my book. The Year of Magical Thinking, in particular, is a beautifully real reckoning of how to make sense out of the most nonsensical. I’ve experienced a lot of loss in my life, and each time I’ve picked up this book, I’ve gotten something new from Didion’s beautiful—as times, brutal—prose to help me get through. Yes, it’s a book about grief, but I would say it’s also very much a book about gratitude. As Didion so perfectly and precisely says, “Life changes fast. Life changes in an instant. You sit down to dinner and life as you know it changes.” - Rachel Waldman, Style Director

Joan Didion
Books A Million, $27

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On Beauty Book by Zadie Smith

06. On Beauty

I read this book many years ago, and it has stayed with me, and on my bookshelf, as an enduring favorite. As a reader with a penchant for complicated family drama and dynamics, the intricate way that Smith explores politics, culture, identity, geography, and privilege through the complex webbing of the Belsey family captured and kept me engaged page after—funny, emotional, profound—page. - Julie Weber, COO

Zadie Smith
Books A Million, $17

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The Glass Castle book by Jeannette Walls

07. The Glass Castle

I read The Glass Castle during my freshman year of college in a humanities class. It’s such a wild story that I was dubious of its reality – until Jeannette Walls visited campus and spoke with my class. She’s the most poised, relatable, intelligent person, who just happened to have an insanely dysfunctional and adventure-filled childhood. If you’ve ever had big dreams or a crazy family, or if you just love great storytelling, this book is a must-read. - Emily Hughes, Head of Growth

Jeannette Walls
Books A Million, $15

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The Namesake book by Jhumpa Lahiri

08. The Namesake

A story of passion, kin, and identity, Lahiri eloquently documents a family’s choice to honor the traditions of their native India all while reconciling with the contradictory American cultural bubble they exist in. As a child of immigrants, I see myself in the character, Ashima, as she comes to terms with her new home a world away from her native country. Despite the focus on her son’s struggle for identity, this novel honors the grit of Ashima and that of all women who sacrifice their own dreams in hopes of a better life for their children. - Jiya Pinder, Executive and Editorial Associate

Jhumpa Lahiri
Books A Million, $14

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