The Menstruation Curation
Roll up, roll up! Welcome to your very own Rare Birds Menstruation Curation. This list will cover all your menstruating needs, from non-fiction texts on adolescence to menopause, as well as some easy fiction reads for when you're actually already menstruating and you need a little pick-me-up after a crappy, crampy day.
Don't say we don’t look after you!
For when you want to know what to expect from a period:
Barnett smashes period taboos in an unflinching and hilarious blaze of glory. She goes into incredible detail about all the bodily functions we experience, but find too squeamish to talk about out loud. It's funny and relatable, sometimes bittersweet, and an absolute essential read. It IS about bloody time!
Ali's plethora of tales encompasses experiences of menstruation across the globe. She touches upon period poverty, the more graphic aspects of giving birth and orgasms. Another bible for breaking body taboos, Ali's intersectional masterpiece gives a platform to the overlooked and underrepresented voices across the world.
For when you want to know what to expect from the menopause:
This book is so essential for different reasons - it looks to the past, interrogating the lack of research and abundance of stigma around the menopause and why this came to be. It also investigates the current media and medical attempts to 'solve' the menopause's symptoms. Finally, through the sampling of case studies, these women provide ample advice from medical professionals around a range of factors impacted by the menopause - sex, HRT, diet - a must read to get to know the context and also get to know what you'll be in for!
This one is a great fact and stat-based interrogation of the myths around the menopause. Dr Gunter leans into the unpredictability of the menopause - she doesn't seek to outline a blanket experience - essentially telling us to expect the unexpected but she'll try her best anyway. This unpredictability is what underscores the under-researched field of the menopause, so Dr Gunter seeks to redress this misinformed sphere of public health. Dr Gunter provides reassuring and reliable information on what you can expect, from physical symptoms like hot flushes, weight changes, skin and hair changes, to the less detectable symptoms like mental health and libido.
For when you want to know what to expect from simply existing:
This one's a bit of an all-rounder - it includes essays written by over 30 authors on their experience with the impact of hormones on daily life. The text encompasses periods and the menopause, but also more nuanced experiences such as fertility, transitioning and chronic illness. It is both a celebration of the hormones that propel us through life whilst simultaneously breaking stigma and taboos around certain aspects of hormones we shy away from discussing.
Stemming from the author's own experience being misdiagnosed and mismanaged as an unwell woman. Cleghorn's own experience has encouraged her to interrogate the medical history of women, and why this continues to influence misinformation and misdiagnoses in contemporary medicine.
For when you have cramps and you're hungry:
Need I say more? A book of yummy recipes and the perfect wine pairing to boot.
This one is a super cute and quirky take on your traditional cookbook. Described as 'a cookbook to make you fall in love with the world again', it was inspired by Risbridger's own rock bottom experience, and the thought of roasting a chicken that got her back on her feet. Part memoir, part manifesto to stay inspired by life, and part incredible recipes (hello burnt butter brownies), this one's a gem of a read.
For when you're in the mood for a good cry:
If you have TikTok then this one can’t possibly have escaped your notice. A step above Hoover's usual romance, it deals with extremely sensitive domestic issues such as emotional and physical abuse, mental illness and rape. Though at times gut-wrenching, Hoover expertly manoeuvres these tragic instances as a part of someone's history, not something that presently defines them. It’s bittersweet and great for a good compassionate cry.
Another TikTok legend, Miller's 2011 book can single-handedly be thanked for the resurgence in mythic retellings. Again, we all know the story of Achilles so you know what you're getting going into this one, but it's arresting and poignant nonetheless. A tear-jerker of the highest calibre.
When you're in the mood for a good rage:
Written by an expert in her legal field, Kennedy's eye-opening exposé on the mistreatment of women under the structure of our legal and political society is enough to make you see red. Ranging from discrimination in the laws, to the courts, to the prisons, Kennedy provides an intersectional analysis of the scope of discriminations enacted against women from all walks of our society. It’s an unflinching and challenging read.
Sue Perkins' review of this one says it all: "Mr Darwin, your time is up… This is the evolutionary reboot us bitches have been waiting for"
Lucy Cooke roots a large portion of our patriarchal repression of women in the misrepresentation of female animals in scientific and historic representation. Through case studies ranging from the physically and politically dominating female lemur in Madagascar, to the menopausal female killer whale. Through informing us on the true state of affairs in the animal kingdom, can we extend this misunderstanding and address biases in our society, today?
For when you’re in the MOOD mood:
'Be still my beating vagina' - Christine Baranski in Mamma Mia 2.
This one is an absolute corker of a smut book. A modern retelling of the classic Hades/Persephone myth. If you're looking for innovative writing and a unique plot then maybe this isn't for you. It’s a guilty pleasure, just enjoy the escapism of the book without putting too much pressure on the plot :)
The third instalment of Bellefleur's Written In The Stars series, but can be read as a standalone, this friends to lovers to strangers to lovers wedding romance is a whirlwind of romance and lust in equal parts. A more wholesome pick, this steamy queer tale is one to get the blood pressure rising.
This one is a different calibre to your usual steamy romance. The intersections of motherhood and race provide poignant layers to this deeply engrossing tale of two authors who have a chance encounter 20 years after their whirlwind affair. Thought provoking and sensual, this is a must-read.