Hello! So today is International Women’s Day and I thought I’d share some book recommendations of inspiring books and authors. I’ve read loads of books that I could talk about but I’m picking a few that have stood out to me.
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I read this last June, you can check out my post here. This is based off Chimamanda’s TEDx talk and there’s several reasons I’m chosing this. It’s short, it’s more an essay than a book and it took me no time to read it. It’s too short to hit everything and that’s fine, it’s a good place to start if you want to know more about feminism (especially why ‘feminism’ and not ‘humanism’ or something similar to that). Chimamanda writes eloquently and sharply and I spent most the time reading this nodding along. It’s shortness means it’s really accessible too for teenagers. Which isn’t to say that teenagers don’t read or aren’t big readers, but sometimes a term like ‘feminism’ can be very daunting or seem boring and serious and the length of this book means that it’s easy for all ages to give it a try.
Asking For It by Louise O’Neill
Speaking of teenagers, this YA book by Louise O’Neill is such an important book which I read last March. Set in a small town in Ireland, 18 year old Emma goes out drinking one weekend and wakes up the next day outside her house with no recollection about how she got there. It’s then revealed online through videos and pictures that she’s been raped. O’Neill handles the aftermath of this ordeal by showing us how rape culture is rife in our community, the title of the book just shows how easily people dismiss rape and sexual assault. If you’ve ever heard things like ‘well dressed like that she’s just asking for attention’, ‘she sleeps around, she’s such a slut’ or ‘look how much she was drinking, she has no respect for herself, of course that happened’ then that’s part of rape culture. We see all these things in play in the novel, along with how the victim is often blamed and is often thought of as a liar until proven right. Thinking about this book makes me angry about the injustices in the world! And how we should all be more supportive and less judgemental of women overall.
I Call Myself a Feminist edited by Victoria Pepe
There are 25 essays in the book, with various accounts of feminism from women under thirty. As with any collection of stories, there’s going to be things that don’t interest you or you disagree with but I still think a collection of stories is a great introduction to the idea of feminism and intersectionality. As a straight white cis-woman, my experiences with feminism is going to be a lot different to other women. There’s a lot of privileges available to me and it’s something I’m aware of and want to educate myself on more. Reading this made me more aware of feminism when it crosses with things like sexuality, race, gender or a mixture of different things. I was aware of these issues individually but reading this book made me more aware of when these things cross over with each other and to be more open to how other people identify with feminism. This also crops up in Kameron Hurley’s The Geek Feminist Revolution where Hurley speaks about what it’s like to be a woman within geek culture and writing speculative fiction.
Animal: The Autobiography of a Female Body by Sara Pascoe
On the subject of intersectionality, Sara addresses the issue of this straight off in her book and continues to say it throughout the book. But she doesn’t set out to be ‘the last word in a conversation’. This book approaches so many different aspects of being a woman: physiological, evolultionary, social. It was interesting to hear things like why our bodies have developed the way they have over the years or how our hormones effect us. We get to hear personal anecdotes from Sarah’s life including when she had an abortion. This is such a big issue Ireland at the moment with the Repeal the 8th movement and something that is still seen as a big taboo to talk about. The books covers a lot of serious issues but done with a humouress touch, I laughed out loud several times while reading this. I have a full review here if you want to read more about this book.
How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran
So I know most lists like this would probably feature Moran’s How to be a Woman and I toyed with adding that but decided on this fiction book instead. HTBAW is non-fiction and we get Moran’s memoirs and experiences with feminism in that and I enjoyed it but didn’t love it. In How to Build a Girl we get a lot of Moran’s early life as it’s a semi-biographical book, so I felt like their was repetition having read How to Build a Woman. I picked this mainly because it’s a YA novel, one with a chubby, slightly awkward and weird protaganist and because the book had a bit of a bite. I liked that this book wasn’t afraid to be frank about things like poverty, masturbation and UTIs w ithout shame or taboo. I’d recommend this to teens who are trying to work out who they are. This book covers reinventing yourself and how it’s ok to try new things to find out who you want to be.
Eat Sweat Play by Anna Kessel
This book. THIS BOOK! I only read it in January but it’s still on my mind now. Women and sport aren’t really seen as a big part of society. Sure, women and fitness are but not sport. And even women at the top of their game come under fire. Serena Williams comes to mind, I often see something about her online like her appearance on or off court which is insane considering she’s one of the greatest athletes in the world and there’s not a chance there would be articles on how Andy Murray’s court outfit was distracting. This book highlights things sports and pregnancy, periods and the big taboo that still is, sexism in the industry for competitors but also fans and why girls so often love sports when younger but how to diminishes as we get into secondary school. It’s so well researched, empowering and really accessible to read.
If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
Another book I read in January (and also another YA book! They’re just so accessible and relatable). Women and girls come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. I’ve mentioned a lot of things during this post that apply or could apply to a lot of women like periods and pregnancy but I think it’s worth pointing out that this doesn’t apply to all women. Trans awareness and visability is something that’s so important right now, espcially since there’s big controversies in USA around trans people and bathrooms. If I was Your Girl is not only the story of a trans teenager but is written by a trans woman. We get to see a lot of different issues that a trans woman deals with, I’m sure Russo drew on her own experiences when writing this novel. It’s important to educate ourselves on the different ways people identify as a woman, to embrace these differences and support each other. This novel is a good place to start if you have no previous knowledge or experience with transgender women and it’s something I want to read more about actually.
I could go on and on about books here. There are so many fantastic female authors and illustrators, as well characters in novels and non-fiction books on strong women in all sorts of walks of life. I read mainly women and it’s not a conscious choice for me, I just find I gravitate more towards women. So much can be taken away from a day like International Women’s Day. There’s a lot to be angry about. There’s a lot to be proud about. The positive and the negative emotions are all valid so I’m not going to say ‘concentrate on the positive’. I do however hope that the overwhelming message should be support. Too often women can tear down other women and I just think we should all try to help one another, be kinder to ourselves and to others.
If you have any thoughts on these books or any suggestions for something you love, please leave a comment below and let me know! If I’ve read it, I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on it. And if I haven’t, I’m always looking forward to new recommendations!