I found Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World at my library while looking for books that featured Ruth Bader Ginsburg for a social media post (I work for the library) following her passing. I was immediately enamored with the artwork, and checked the book out to enjoy at home. This was a fun, informative read with gorgeous illustrations. I learned so much and was inspired by these badass women.
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The summary, from Amazon:
Looking for coffee table books that do more than look great on your table? Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World, delivers on both counts. Featuring 100 women who made history and made their mark on the world, it’s a book you can be proud to display in your home.
Aphra Behn, first female professional writer. Sojourner Truth, women’s rights activist and abolitionist. Ada Lovelace, first computer programmer. Marie Curie, first woman to win the Nobel Prize. Joan Jett, godmother of punk. The 100 revolutionary women highlighted in this gorgeously illustrated book were bad in the best sense of the word: they challenged the status quo and changed the rules for all who followed. From pirates to artists, warriors, daredevils, women in science, activists, and spies, the accomplishments of these incredible women who dared to push boundaries vary as much as the eras and places in which they effected change. Featuring bold watercolor portraits and illuminating essays by Ann Shen, Bad Girls Throughout History is a distinctive, gift-worthy tribute to rebel girls everywhere.
Buy Bad Girls Throughout History here.
What’s better than a book about badass women? A book about badass women with gorgeous calligraphy and illustrations! I was so enamored with this book and would love to buy my own copy for coffee table enjoyment.
This book features 100 women from the beginning of time to modern day who have changed the world. Some I was familiar with, many I knew of and learned so much more about, and some I had never heard of and was blown away by. Here are some highlights from my reading:
Lady Godiva is an icon in my mind: a nude woman with gorgeous, strategically placed hair on a horse. But I never knew her story, and it blew me away!
I immediately texted by cousin about Khutulun because he loves wrestling, and I knew his daughter would get a kick out of a badass princess who agreed to marry a suitor chosen for her by her father only if he beat her at wrestling. (They never did and she married a many of her choice eventually.)
I had never heard of fashion editor Diana Vreeland, but some quotes shared by her immediately resonated with me. These weren’t inspiring quotes, just quotes I could see myself saying. (In her column “Why Don’t You?” she suggested, “Why don’t you . . . paint a map of the world on all four walls of your boys’ nursery so they won’t grow up with a provincial point of view?” She also decorated her Park Avenue apartment completely in red, saying she wanted it to “look like a garden, but a garden in hell.”) I asked Alexa her birthday, betting she was the same sun sign as me, and we actually share a birthday!
I had no idea that the musical Gypsy was based off of the life of a real person, Gypsy Rose Lee.
Hedy Lamarr is one of those people whose story I knew, but never thought much about. Now that I reflect more on it, it amazes me that this woman did so many groundbreaking things. I knew she acted out the first on-screen female orgasm, and I knew she was involved in inventing, but I did not know her inventions were the precursors to WiFi and Bluetooth!
I went to a college run by Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, a very liberal institution within Catholicism which I admire. I loved learning about the artist Sister Corita Kent.
I also appreciated learning about Christine Jorgensen. I did not realize that there were trans folks receiving hormone therapy as early as the 50s. It is sad that she was outed and had to share her story, but so important that she did!
I adored Coretta Scott King‘s love story with Martin Luther King, Jr. In particular, she had his father, who married them, omit the promise to obey her husband from their wedding vows.
I had no idea that Ruth Westheimer, a.k.a. Dr. Ruth, led such an interesting life! She escaped Nazi capture, though her parents died during the Holocaust. She was trained as a sniper leading up to the independence of Israel. She studied in Paris with her husband, then after they divorced, moved to New York with a boyfriend and earned her Master’s and Doctorate there.
I do want to note, there are some really problematic people listed in this book, from Margaret Thatcher to Coco Chanel. On reflection a few years after first reading this, I can’t recall if the author mentioned their faults in equal measure to whatever accomplishments she figured made them badass women. So while my original final paragraph to this post read, “I absolutely loved every page of this book and I appreciated that the author admitted faults and failures for many of the women, too. This is an inspirational, empowering 5 star read that will look great on any coffee table or bookshelf, too!” – I’m not sure I feel the same way on reflection. Nonetheless, it’s a gorgeous book that’s still on my wish list. I just might glue some of the pages together out of disagreement.
Find out more about how I rate books here.
Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World by Ann Shen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
What an amazing, inspiring, fun read with beautiful illustrations! I loved that for many of the women, the author mentioned their failures and even negative things about them, too. I learned so much and gained a ton of TBR goals from the bibliography.