clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

25 must-read books about cities written by women

An essential collection of perspectives on urban topics—where women have much to contribute

illustration of books Paige Vickers

As someone who writes about cities, I end up reading a lot of books about how the places we live have formed, grown, and changed. But it wasn’t until I was four-fifths of the way through a stack on my nightstand when I realized something else about the books I read about cities—nearly all of them are written by men.

After writing a story about how urbanist discourse often shuts out women’s voices, both in print and online, I put out the call for books about cities written by people who do not identify as men. The list you see here is not meant to be a definitive or complete list of the contributions of women urbanists, but a collection of essential perspectives on topics where women have much to contribute.

If you’re looking for a refreshing take on the way gender shapes our urban neighborhoods, or a comprehensive history of how inequity is engrained in our transportation systems, you’ll find it here. Enjoy, peruse our list of 101 books about cities for more women-authored titles, and share your own selections in the comments.

Hollow City: The Siege of San Francisco and the Crisis of American Urbanism by Rebecca Solnit

Naked City: The Death and Life of Authentic Urban Places by Sharon Zukin

How Women Saved the City by Daphne Spain

Flâneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice, and London by Lauren Elkin

Radical Suburbs: Experimental Living on the Fringes of the American City by Amanda Kolson Hurley

The Global City: New York, London, Tokyo by Saskia Sassen

Bicycle/Race: Transportation, Culture, and Resistance by Adonia Lugo

A Black Urbanist by Kristen Jeffers

Our Towns: A 10,000-Mile Journey to the Heart of America by Deborah and James Fallows

The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone by Olivia Laing

The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs

Redesigning the American Dream: The Future of Housing, Work and Family Life by Dolores Hayden

Discrimination by Design: A Feminist Critique of the Man-Made Environment by Leslie Weisman

Black on the Block: The Politics of Race and Class in the City by Mary Pattillo

Modern Housing for America: Policy Struggles in the New Deal Era by Gail Radford

Urban Alchemy: Restoring Joy in America’s Sorted-Out Cities by Mindy Thompson Fullilove

Streetfight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution by Janette Sadik-Khan and Seth Solomonow

Sex and the Revitalized City: Gender, Condominium Development, and Urban Citizenship by Leslie Kahn

Sidewalks: Conflict and Negotiation over Public Space by Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris and Renia Ehrenfeucht

Towards Cosmopolis: Planning for Multicultural Cities by Leonie Sandercock

The Just City by Susan S. Fainstein

A Neighborhood That Never Changes: Gentrification, Social Preservation, and the Search for Authenticity by Japonica Brown-Saracino

Accessible America: A History of Disability and Design by Bess Williamson

Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs by Ellen Dunham-Jones and June Williamson

The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation by Natalie Moore