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About The Book

A collection of essays, oral histories, and artworks about periods across all stages of life, gathered by the editor of the New York Times bestselling anthology My Little Red Book.

After hearing a harrowing coming-of-age story from her great aunt, Rachel Kauder Nalebuff started gathering stories about menstruation in her family that had never been told. What began as an oral history project quickly snowballed: Rachel heard from family and friends, and then from strangers—writers, experts, community leaders, activists, young people, and other visionaries—about the most intimate physical transformations in their lives.

Our Red Book takes us through stories of first periods, last periods, missing periods, and everything about bleeding that people wish they had been told. Weaving together powerful voices—from teenagers, midwives, Indigenous scholars, Olympic athletes, incarcerated writers, disoriented fathers, elected leaders who fought to make period products free, friends transitioning genders, grandmothers, and lovers—the book invites us on a collective journey of growth and change, with Rachel’s own voice as a guide.

The result is a people’s history of menstruation, told through an array of perspectives and identities that span the globe. Gathered over twenty years, the collection takes stock of our shifting relationships to family, cultural inheritance, gender, aging, and liberation.

Reading Group Guide

Discussion questions

What stories do you think you will remember most vividly? Why do you think these stand out?

After reading, do you think about menstruation differently? And if so, in what ways?

Did you notice any patterns across stories that intrigued you? Any tensions or dissonances?

Was there a story you related to? Was there any story that pushed you or expanded your understanding?

Did you learn anything practical from these personal accounts? What did you learn in a more poetic sense?

How did you read the book? Did you go in order? Did you put it down between stories? What prompted you to read the book the way that you did? (There is no right way!)

I’ve noticed, in gathering stories, that hearing one person’s personal testimony often opens the door for someone else to share their story. After reading, is there a memory related to menstruation that emerged for you? Have you ever written about this memory or shared it before?

Is there anyone in your life who you’d like to interview or ask about their memories?

What stories still feel under-discussed or unspeakable? And what would it take for this to change?

Writing & reflection prompt

This is a prompt that Rachel used in gathering stories and while visiting classrooms. You are welcome to adapt it for your classroom or the group you are a part of.

Today, we’re going to reflect as a group about periods and our memories related to menstruation. Everyone has a story, whether or not you think you do. This can be a totally private and personal reflection, but we’ll also end with the option to share our accounts. It can be surprising what happens when we share our words out loud. But let’s not worry about that yet!

Here is our question: Do you have a first period story or related story about coming-of-age you could share, in the spirit of a hand reaching out to young readers?

It could be a story about your first period. Or learning about periods. For example, learning about your mother or parent’s period, a sibling’s period, a girlfriend’s period. It could be about a missing period, or an irregular period, or any moment that a period marked a transition in your life. Pick one story that, when you remember it, sparks a feeling in you.

In a moment, we will write down our memories. But first, let’s go back to this moment and reflect by taking some notes:

What do you remember about this period (no pun intended) in your life?

What did you care about?

Where does this story take place? In what kinds of rooms or setting?

Who else was there?

What dialogue or language do you remember being said?

Was there anything you said, or didn’t say?

What objects stand out in this memory?

What do you remember feeling and feeling in your body?

Let’s begin now by writing about what you remember. (If you feel stuck, it can be helpful to start with the sentence “I remember.”)

[After 10 or so minutes]

What surprises you about this story now? How do you feel, reflecting on it?

What does this story tell you about who you were then and who you are now?

Is there anything you wish you could have known or heard as a younger person?
Or that you would like to tell your younger self?

Let’s take another few minutes to write about those questions.

[Give another few minutes before concluding.]

Thank you all. How was the writing experience?

[Ask a few volunteers to share what they’ve written out loud – or an excerpt of what they’ve written]

Thank you for going to this intimate, vulnerable place with us all today.

About The Readers

Gabra Zackman knows romance. Her clever and “thrilling romantic caper” (Library Journal) Bod Squad series was inspired by the more than one hundred romance and women’s fiction titles she has narrated for audio. She divides her time between her native New York City and Denver, Colorado.

Why We Love It

“What I love most about this book is the range and breadth of voices Rachel brings in to discuss menstruation and first periods. She didn’t just seek contributions from women or teenaged girls. Rachel makes the point that everyone—male, female, nonbinary, gender nonconforming, old, young—is affected by issues related to menstruation, whether directly or indirectly. What emerges is a holistic, inclusive conversation about growing up and aging rather than a narrow discussion about puberty.”

—Carina G., Senior Editor, on A Small Flood

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio (November 1, 2022)
  • Runtime: 6 hours and 9 minutes
  • ISBN13: 9781797143569

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