So, you’re posted up on your period, out of things to watch on Netflix (I just discovered This Is Us – I know I’m late to the game but damn that’s a good show to watch when hormonal and emotional), and feeling like you want to kick it old school and read a book! Well, luckily, we’ve got just the thing for all you real menstruating readers out there — books to read while bleeding. So put on the kettle, snuggle up under a blanket, and turn on your Kindle/iPad/Audible app (or an actual, physical book), and let’s get reading, ppl!
Shrill – Lindy West
Best for: smashin’ taboos
You gotta give it to Lindy West, girl knows who to break a taboo! Her book Shrill takes on rape culture, internet trolls, the comedy industry, body positivity, and being “fat positive” – but Lindy is funny, sharp, smart, witty, and makes you feel like you are chatting excitedly about things you care about with a good friend. Read an excerpt from her book — “My name is Lindy West and I bleed” (YES!) — and then add that shit to cart.
The Red Tent – Anita Diamant
Best for: calling your mom
This sweeping, dramatic story is set in biblical times – the story revolves around the lives of the four wives of Jacob (yep, from the Bible) but it is really a story about the power of femininity, the mystery of being a woman, and a not so subtle metaphor for menstruation. Seriously though, this one will stick with you, and it’s biblical setting will also help fill that Game of Thrones-shaped hole in you heart, just a little bit.
Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth - Warsan Shire
There Are Things More Beautiful Than Beyonce – Morgan Parker
The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde – Audre Lorde
Best for: Making some space
Sometimes you just need to take a minute. Work, friends, a thousand notifications, getting to pilates, getting to drinks, getting back to work, remembering to call your mom about The Red Tent… your period can be a good opportunity to take a step back, hit pause, and give yourself a bit of mental and physical space. What better way to clear some mental space than with a book of poems. The above are all good places to start, but poetry is deeply personal, and I recommend going to a local, independent bookstore, and having a chat with someone who works there – ask them to help you find something that makes you feel something.
The Glass Castle - Jeannette Walls
Best for: reading before you see the movie
Sometimes when you’re on your period you want to be distracted – so you want to read a book that you just can’t put down. And I mean stay-up-all-night, under-the-covers, sleep-through-your-alarm, can’t put down. Well, Jeannette Walls memoir about her unconventional childhood on the road with her charismatic but alcoholic father and free-spirited but absent mother, is just that. Walls is the type of storyteller that reminds you why you love reading books so damn much in the first place.
The Neapolitan Novels – Elena Ferrante
Best for: thinking about your cycle sisters
Ooof. This. Mother. Flipping. Series. This four-part series follows the lives and friendship of two women, Elena and Lila, as they navigate coming-of-age in a neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples, Italy in the 1950s. Ferrante’s writing is so spectacular, it feels like you are reading something entirely new, yet completely familiar, at the same time. As the lives of these women weave in and out of each other, into relationships, marriages, romances, and friendships, Ferrante puts jealously, misogyny, class, social structures, and, of course, the strength of female friendships, under the microscope in the best way.
A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
Best for: a good cry (seriously, we’re warning you)
This book should come with a warning *do not read the last 60 pages in a public place you are not comfortable ugly-crying in*. (And sorry to everyone in my row on my most recent flight, I did not mean to get my tears on your tray-table.) A sprawling tale about the friendship of four men that spans decades, A Little Life is at times a really challenging read, but at the center of the story lies Jude, a character you won’t be able to shake off in a hurry (or ever). A truly beautiful, unforgettable novel, for when you need to get emotional.
Outlander – Diana Gabaldon
Best for: when you’re feelin’ a little steamy
Here’s the scoop, it's about a woman who accidentally travels back in time while on a “second honeymoon” in Scotland with her husband after the end of the World War II. She ends up in the 18th century, around the time of the second Scottish uprising against the British, and uses her knowledge of medicine to earn respect. She's forced to marry one of the members of a Scottish clan, and *spoiler alert* romance ensues. But, beyond that, it's about a woman who is forced to make difficult decisions. The novel deals with issues like PTSD, love, and sexual assault (of both male and female victims) with a lot of nuance. Also there are a few v. steamy sex scenes that are both empowering and will have you nodding your head like, finally, someone *gets it*.
OK – so what about you? What are the books you’re reading while bleeding? Meet you in the comments!