Review | Bad Girls Throughout History | Ann Shen

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Bad Girls Throughout History

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Aphra Behn, first female professional writer. Sojourner Truth, 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, scientists, activists, and spies, the accomplishments of these incredible women 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.


I’m going to start off by saying that had this book existed when I was a kid, and had they taught us about all of the women featured in here, I would have become a self-declared feminist so much earlier. Nothing about this book is uninspiring—including the fact that it is written and illustrated by another badass woman. The best way to sum up the experience of reading this book is to say that I am so proud to come from such a lineup of women throughout history and hope to, in some way or another, make them proud of me, too.

What are the top three elements of this book? 1. The illustrations. As someone who is very much into comic books right now, having this great balance of unique and thoughtful illustration alongside the prose was a great reading experience. 2. The balance of diversity. Yesterday I went to pick up Women in Sports—which has a very similar feel to Bad Girls—but most of the examples are American. Bad Girls had women from all across the world, which opened my eyes so much to names I’d never even heard before. 3. The fun prose. Ann Shen has taken her research on each woman and condensed it into one page or less, giving you only the most interesting or significant anecdotes about each woman. It makes reading exciting and not at all boring—which is the danger of reading some biographies or non-fiction titles.

Bad Girls Throughout History is a must-own for anyone who calls themselves a woman. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m surprised Emma Watson hasn’t selected this as one of her feminist titles to-read. It’s so empowering and awe-inspiring—I continue to be blown away even days after finishing it. Ann Shen—well done.

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