For so many of us, there was only one go-to book about periods we could read growing up: Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume. Now, don’t get me wrong — it’s an iconic book and was a crucial part of my adolescence, but given that roughly half the population menstruates, it’d be nice if there was a little more variety.
And it shouldn’t be limited to books for tweens; reading about periods should be a part of health or sex education for people of any age. The fact that there are so few options out there for people who want to learn about the different facets of menstruation definitely doesn’t help with the stigma. Yes, we’re getting better at talking about this completely natural bodily function, but we have a long way to go.
But if you’re looking for some period reading material, you’re in luck — we have some recommendations. In the interest of full disclosure, we should mention that the author of this article (hi!) contributed a chapter to Period: 12 Voices Tell the Bloody Truth and was interviewed for and featured in Period Power. (What can I say? I can’t stop talking and writing about periods.)
Anyway, without further ado, here are some of our period picks.
Looking for a book that addresses menstruation and body literacy, including menstrual equity and period sex? If so, you’re in luck, because that’s exactly what Amanda Laird has done in Heavy Flow. In addition to breaking down the myths (and misogyny) around menstruation, she also explains why period pain has been ignored for so long and what can be done about it.
Heavy Flow, $22.99 at Amazon
‘Periods Gone Public’
This 2017 book by Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, a lawyer and vice president of development at the Brennan Center for Justice, is exactly what the menstrual movement needed. Reading about her implementable period policies (which have been gaining traction all over the country) gives us hope that someday, menstrual products may be viewed as essential and not just luxury items.
And if you've heard the term "menstrual equity" to describe the need for equal access to period products for everyone so all bleeders can fully participate in society, you can thank Weiss-Wolf (she coined it).
Periods Gone Public: Taking a Stand for Menstrual Equity, $16.99 at Amazon
‘Period: 12 Voices Tell the Bloody Truth’
If you're looking to learn a little bit on a wide variety of period-related topics, this book is your one-stop shop. It covers everything from bleeding while trans to dealing with your period as a homeless person to periods in pop culture. It's written for a young-adult audience but discusses topics interesting and valid at any age. Also, the essay format makes it a great commute read.
Period: 12 Voices Tell the Bloody Truth, $11.20 at Amazon
‘The Guide, Period.’
The Guide, Period is basically the book you wish you'd had before you got your period but didn't. It's written by Naama Bloom, the founder of HelloFlo (a site also owned by SheKnows Media) and talks about everything from period products to eyebrows (seriously) to why periods can be empowering.
The Guide, Period, $9.09 at Amazon
‘Period Power: A Manifesto for the Menstrual Movement’
Nadya Okamoto is kind of a period powerhouse. She's the founder of the Period: The Menstrual Movement, attended Harvard and ran for office — all before turning 21. When she wasn't busy doing all that, she wrote Period Power: A Manifesto for the Menstrual Movement as a call to action for anyone interested in menstrual advocacy or just learning more about how bleeding once a month affects half the people in the world.
Period Power: A Manifesto for the Menstrual Movement, $9.20 at Amazon
‘Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation’
Flow unpacks the cultural and social history of periods in a way that's fun and entertaining. You'll learn about everything from how pads and tampons were developed to how menstruation is handled in different parts of the world.
Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation, $12.50 at Amazon
‘The Curse: Confronting the Last Unmentionable Taboo: Menstruation’
Published in 2000, The Curse may seem a little outdated in parts, but the basics of how menstruation has impacted our culture over time are largely the same. Karen Houppert touches on everything from toxic shock syndrome to common period myths to the problems with gender-segregated sex ed.
The Curse: Confronting the Last Unmentionable Taboo: Menstruation, $8.90 at Amazon
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