The year may not be over yet, but 2015 has been an incredible year for the history books. So much has changed, in positive and negative ways, that it’s hard to believe it will all be summed up into just 365 days. Politics, social issues, and even pop culture stories have made up so much of how we view the world, that it’s no wonder we’re constantly looking for ways to inform ourselves and gain new perspectives. One way to do that, aside from scrolling through countless websites, is to curl up with one of the many books to read in 2015.
Inspired by this incredible, headline-filled year, our round-up of 11 books every woman should read this year covers everything from feminism and women in politics to racial tensions and the transgender community. Some of the plots subtly introduce these hot topics, while others get right to the point, but all of them will inspire you to embrace 2015 and take on 2016 with enthusiasm and the desire to influence change. So here they are — 11 books every woman needs to read before popping the champagne on New Year’s Eve.
In April of 2015, Hillary Clinton made history when she announced her 2016 presidential bid via a YouTube video. To get ready for the former Secretary of State’s run, read Madam President. Written by The View co-host and former White House Communications Director, Nicolle Wallace, the novel centers around the forty-fifth president of the United States, Charlotte Kramer, who is forced to act fast when the country suddenly comes under attack. A political girl power story (President Kramer’s Secretary of Defense and Press Secretary are women) that keeps readers on the edge of their e-readers, Madam President will prepare you for what we hope will be the future come November 2016.
Despite it being 2015, there are times when it seems like we haven’t really progressed as a country (the Baltimore riots and Sandra Bland, just to name a few). In Laura Lane McNeal’s novel, Dollbaby, a young girl is sent to live with her grandmother in New Orleans, where she experiences racial tensions for the first time. Though the novel is set in the 1960s, seeing how society used to be can help emphasize the changes we must make as a country.
3'Men Explain Things To Me'
We can’t talk about 2015 without mentioning the big f-word: feminism. In Men Explain Things To Me, Solnit writes candidly about the gender wars. Although her humor shines when discussing lighthearted topics, like what goes wrong in so many exchanges between men and women, Solnit also sheds light on serious matters, such as the 2014 Isla Vista killings, and what they mean for women.
This year brought the release of Pixar’s, Inside Out, which kicked ass at the box office and sparked conversations about our emotions – from how we process them and how we grow with them. To take the conversation from the big screen to your Kindle screen, read Jodi Picoult’s latest novel. Leaving Time tells the story of a woman who must sort through her emotions when her mother goes missing. This powerful novel focuses on the process of our emotions and what happens when we refuse to let them do their thing.
5'She’s Not There: A Life In Two Genders'
When Caitlyn Jenner proudly graced the cover of Vanity Fair, an incredible conversation began about our country’s transgender community. But there is still so much to learn about the topic, and Jennifer Finney Boylan’s memoir, She's Not There, is a great place to start. In this eye-opening read, Boylan shares her transition story with grace and humor, humanizing the experience for all of her readers. It’s easy to know that a transgender person should be treated no differently than anyone else, but to delve right into someone’s pain, experience, and life is something we should all do this year.
6'The White Album'
Are you still heartbroken over the end of Mad Men? Then sit down with a glass of Canadian Club and revisit the Lucky Strike era with The White Album. Published in 1979, Didion’s collection of essays delve into some of the key events of the 1960s and how they shaped the world we live in today.
7'To Kill A Mockingbird'
Book nerds rejoiced when it was announced that Harper Lee’s previously unpublished manuscript, Go Set a Watchman, would be published in 2015. But they were heartbroken when the novel failed to live up to literary and moral expectations. To reignite your love for Lee – and more importantly, Atticus Finch – reread To Kill a Mockingbird and try to forget the most recent book was ever released.
8'Forcing The Spring: Inside The Fight For Marriage Equality'
On June 26, 2015, everyone bled rainbows when the Supreme Court finally ruled to make same-sex marriage legal across the country. It was a long-awaited decision that Jo Becker maps out in her book, Forcing the Spring. Beginning with the inception of Proposition 8, Becker covers everything from state-to-state fights all the way to the Supreme Court ruling. Being an ally for marriage equality is a pretty wonderful thing, but knowing just how hard the fight and journey was is even better.
9'Ghettoside: A True Story Of Murder In America'
Unfortunately, 2015 also brought more horrific stories of gun violence, murder, and crime – particularly ones seeded in racial tension. In Jill Leovy’s novel, Ghettoside, one detective refuses to give up on solving the murder of a young black man, a crime that is committed nearly every day in Los Angeles County. Focusing on how these frequent crimes are often forgotten or unnoticed, Leovy writes a story needed for this time in our world.
10'All The Light We Cannot See'
11'Why Not Me?'
Comedy may be a boy’s club, but women are quickly taking over. From Kate Mckinnon to Amy Schumer, women left the world laughing out loud in 2015. What better way to celebrate the rise of women in comedy than with Why Not Me? from funny lady and Instagram queen Mindy Kaling? A follow-up to her previous book, Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me?, Kaling has again brought the humor with a collection of essays about Hollywood’s obsession with women’s weight, the truth about weddings, and so much more. Not only does Kaling accurately describe what it’s like to a be a millennial woman,but she does so in a way that will make you cry tears of utter elation.