Top 10 SWAN Books of 2022 to Give &/or to Get

Women authors and artists have published some of this year’s most buzzed-about titles. From brand-new releases by longtime writers to much-anticipated debuts from exciting new voices, 2022 has been a banner year for books written by women, for women. 

In this specially curated top 10 list, you’ll find reads that span a variety of interests and experiences—from painting to sculpting, dance to applied arts, and narrative to photography. What better way to support women artists and authors than by reading or gifting one or more of these remarkable titles?

The Wind at My Back: Resilience, Grace, and Other Gifts from My Mentor, Raven Wilkinson by Misty Copeland
Celebrated American Ballet Theatre principal and New York Times bestselling author Misty Copeland adds to her writing repertoire with her newest, heartfelt memoir that chronicles the friendship, mentorship and shared history between herself and the late Raven Wilkinson (1935–2018). Honoring Raven Wilkinson’s invaluable contributions to the art form as a pioneering Black ballerina in the 20th century, Misty also sheds light on the struggles and experiences that have shaped and inspired her to pave the way for a better, stronger future.



The Story of Art Without Men by Katy Hessel

Katy Hessel, an art historian and founder of @thegreatwomenartists, shines the spotlight on women artists whose work has been often overlooked or dismissed and celebrates the creativity that has shaped and enriched our world. Highlighting over 300 works of art from the Renaissance to the present day, this empowering, enlightening guide is an eye-opening look into everything from the glittering paintings by Sofonisba Anguissola of the Renaissance to the radical work of Harriet Powers in the 19th century U.S, and the women shaping the artform in the 2020s. From Manhattan to Nigeria to Japan, the book traces the history of art while keeping women at its heart. Although this title officially releases in the new year (May 2, 2023), you can still pre-order your copy today.


Women’s Work: From Feminine Arts to Feminist Art by Ferren Gipson

Western art history has long devalued and separated decorative and applied arts like ceramics, quilting, and embroidery (deemed more suitable for women) from the “high arts” of painting and sculpture. Women’s Work tells the story of women artists who have dared to defy this long-standing hierarchy and who, through their vision and imagination, have fought to redefine these so-called “lesser” artforms. Powerful and insightful, this book features visionary, groundbreaking artists’ biographies and beautiful images of their works—a true celebration of their artistic legacies.


The Choreography of Everyday Life by Annie-B Parson

In this innovative book by world-renowned choreographer Annie-B Parson, art and life intersect. Annie-B likens art-making to be as natural as walking down the street and ponders upon the “choreography” that occurs in daily life as people engage in activities such as writing letters or playing fetch with their dogs. We also get to follow Annie-B through her own day-to-day journey—reading, spending time at home, and having conversations on everything from Homer’s Odyssey to feminist art to social protest. Dance, as it turns out, is everywhere, and with the spirit and insight of a soloist, Annie-B opens our eyes to how everyday movement creates the wider world.


Masters of Shape: The Lives and Art of American Women Sculptors by Maria Ausherman

In this inspiring, beautifully illustrated book, Maria Ausherman chronicles the lives of 17 pioneering women sculptors who have dared to speak their truths about the racial and gender inequalities and injustices that have lasted for over a century. The works that these talented women artists have cast, carved and molded, reflect their internal worlds and the society around them. Including beautiful photographs and helpful references for additional in-depth reading, this title is sure to inspire young women to pursue their own dreams and passions through the art of sculpture.




Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature by Annemarie Bilclough

As a talented artist and author, Beatrix’s world of characters—Peter Rabbit, Squirrel Nutkin, and Jemima Puddleduck—have delighted audiences for over a century. But Beatrix was also a natural scientist, conservationist and entrepreneur who combined imaginative storytelling with scientific observation to create some of the world’s best-loved children’s books. This book beautifully details and explores the beloved writer’s charming characters which have been set against the backdrop of her exquisite botanical drawings, Lake District landscapes, rarely seen photographs, and humorous illustrated letters to friends. 

La Nijinska: Choreographer of the Modern by Lynn Garafola

Esteemed dance historian Lynn Garafola chronicles the life story of Bronislava Nijinska—the first-ever biography of 20th century ballet’s legendary female choreographer and dancer. By uncovering the bold extraordinariness of Bronislava Nijinska’s artistry and exposing the forces that marshaled against her, Lynn sheds new light on ballet history and revives the memory of lost works and forgotten artists, many of them women. In doing so, the book also reveals the sexism pervasive in the upper echelons of the early and mid 20th century ballet world—barriers that female choreographers still confront today.

Our Selves: Photographs by Women Artists Edited by Roxana Marcoci

This richly illustrated catalog affirms the creative and political agency of female photographers by showcasing how they’ve used photography as a tool of resistance. From a turn-of-the-century photograph of racially segregated education in the U.S. by Frances Benjamin Johnston, to a contemporary portrait celebrating Indigenous art forms by the Chemehuevi artist Cara Romero, Our Selves over 100 years of photography. Not only does the book explore the connections between photography, feminism, civil rights, Indigenous sovereignty and queer liberation, but it also draws attention to individuals that have long been excluded from cultural narratives.

Women Painting Women Edited by Andrea Karnes with contributions from Emma Amos, Faith Ringgold, and Lorna Simpson

This book includes nearly 50 portraits of women artists who’ve chosen women as the subject in their works—serving as a catalyst for telling stories outside of male interpretations of the female body. Spanning the 1960s to the present, while international in scope, the book recognizes female perspectives that have been underrepresented in the history of postwar figuration and showcases the work of early trailblazers such as Emma Amos and Alice Neel as well as emerging artists like Jordan Casteel and Apolonia Sokol. 

How Not to Exclude Artist Mothers (And Other Parents) by Hettie Judah

In this polemical book, critic and campaigner Hettie Judah criticizes the culture that alienates artists who have children, and makes a timely call for the art world to recognize and to take account of their needs. Drawing from interviews with artists across the globe, the book highlights successful models that can be implemented in the future from studio complexes with onsite childcare and galleries with family-friendly policies, to alternative support networks and residency models. Hettie Judah argues that by making changes and becoming more sensitive to the needs of artist parents, the art world has much to gain. Although the title officially releases in the new year (Jan 13, 2023), you can still pre-order your copy today. 

© Reanne Rodrigues (12/22/2022) – Special for FF2 Media ®


Purchase Misty Copeland’s The Wind at My Back: Resilience, Grace, and Other Gifts from My Mentor, Raven Wilkinson here

Preorder The Story of Art Without Men by Katy Hessel here

Order your copy of Women’s Work: From Feminine Arts to Feminist Art by Ferren Gipson here. 

Buy The Choreography of Everyday Life by Annie-B Parson here

Purchase Masters of Shape: The Lives and Art of American Women Sculptors by Maria Ausherman here

Get your copy of Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature by Annemarie Bilclough here. 

Purchase La Nijinska: Choreographer of the Modern by Lynn Garafola here

Buy your copy of Our Selves: Photographs by Women Artists, edited by Roxana Marcoci, with contributions from Helen Kornblum, Kathy Halbreich, Dana Ostrander, Caitlin Ryan, and Phil Taylor here.

Purchase Women Painting Women, edited with text by Andrea Karnes; preface by Marla Price; text by Emma Amos, Faith Ringgold, and Lorna Simpson here

Preorder your copy of How Not to Exclude Artist Mothers (And Other Parents) by Hettie Judah here

********** BONUS: Some Posts by FF2 Team Members on Artists Named Above **********

Learn how Faith Ringgold’s work weaves activism with artistry here

Explore Faith Ringgold’s narrative history quilts via her 2022 Pomegranate calendar here

For more information on the Faith Ringgold: American People exhibition at the New Museum that took place in February 2022, click here.

Get insights on the ‘Alice Neel: People Come First’ exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art which took place in August 2021 here

Learn how painting “genius” Jordan Casteel captures humanity in portraiture here.


Featured photo courtesy of Unsplash.

Tags: Alice Neel, Andrea Karnes, Annie-B Parson, Beatrix Potter, Books, Faith Ringgold, Ferren Gipson, Hettie Judah, jordan casteel, Katy Hessel, Literary Arts, Lynn Garafola, Maria Ausherman, Misty Copeland, Roxana Marcoci

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Reanne is an arts and culture writer based in Manhattan, New York City. She loves telling impactful stories about artists and the value they bring to the world. Reach out to her if you’d like to collaborate on any projects or indulge in a lively discussion over chai at
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