8 March marks International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievement of women. In honour of this fabulous day I’m sharing some awesome books by and about some awesome women. So many of these books have received positive reviews and acclaim, and have messages as important today as they were when first published. Some are filled with strong and empowering messages and experiences; others are acclaimed novels by women that have stood the test of time for their mastery.
If you are looking to explore more about this movement #everydaysexism on twitter or the website everydaysexism.com can show you literally thousands of stories about the hassles and sexism women face on an everyday basis.
“Often shocking, sometimes amusing and always poignant, everyday sexism is a protest against inequality and a manifesto for change…Welcome to the fourth wave of feminism.”
Longlisted for the 2016 Stella prize this novel sounds amazing. It was developed from a short story and has a strong connection to Brontë’s Wuthering Heights.
“The Women’s Pages is about the choices and compromises women make, about their griefs and losses, and about the cold aching spaces that are left when they disappear from the story. It explores the mysterious process of creativity, and the way stories are shaped and fiction is formed.”
Everybody knows about Plath’s poetry, but her novel is as profound and important as her poems.
“The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath’s only novel, was originally published in 1963 under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas. The novel is partially based on Plath’s own life and descent into mental illness, and has become a modern classic.”
Mansplaining is a thing that is both humerous and frustrating where men feel the need to explain things to women who they think can’t understand something without their help. It’s a pain, it has to stop, and it is most definitely a thing.
“In her comic, scathing essay, Men Explain Things to Me, Rebecca Solnit took on what often goes wrong in conversations between men and women. She wrote about men who wrongly assume they know things and wrongly assume women don’t, about why this arises, and how this aspect of the gender wars works, airing some of her own hilariously awful encounters.”
I think so many people were horrified when Malala was first shot for the simple act of fighting to give girls the right to an education. Her story is powerful and proves that when you are determined, nothing can stop you.
“I Am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls’ education, and of Malala’s parents’ fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons. It will make you believe in the power of one person’s voice to inspire change in the world.”
I have so much adoration for this book. I read it at uni and loved it.
“Vast and crowded, rich in narrative irony and suspense, Middlemarch is richer still in character, in its sense of how individual destinies are shaped by and shape the community, and in the great art that enlarges the reader’s sympathy and imagination.”
I can’t remember where I read this quote, or who said it, but it went along the lines of “A Room of One’s Own is a must read by all women”.
“In this essay, Woolf exposes the prejudices and constraints against which women writers struggled for centuries, and argues for a more equal literary establishment.”
If not for the magnificent retelling of Adam and Eve, read it because a 19 year old woman basically invented the science fiction genre because of a bet.
“Shelley’s novel of “The Modern Prometheus” chillingly dramatized the dangerous potential of life begotten upon a laboratory table.”
Before I get complaints in, I know he’s a man, but I am putting this in here because this book tries to crush the idea that women in fiction be put on pedestals by their male admirers and thought to be more than a person. The image of a woman or girl created in a boy’s mind is often so far into perfection that it becomes the woman’s fault when she fails to live up to this.
“Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar… Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew…”
What I love about Little Women is that each sister is their own person, Jo is outspoken, Beth is shy, Meg is sensible but tries to fit in with those around her, and Amy is artistic. They are their own person and don’t try to be anything other than who they are.
“Life in the March household is full of adventures and accidents as the four very different March sisters follow their varying paths to adulthood, always maintaining the special bond between them.”
Jane took control of her destiny, she made her own decisions, and overcame her past to find happiness. She’s a great inspirational character.
“With a heroine full of yearning, the dangerous secrets she encounters, and the choices she finally makes, Charlotte Bronte’s innovative and enduring romantic novel continues to engage and provoke readers.”
Ashamedly it was only a few years ago that I realised Miles Franklin was actually a woman (real name Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin, namesake to the Stella Award and the Miles Franklin award). Like Jane Eyre there is a strong minded and passionate female character in Franklin’s story that is an inspiration to read about.
“Written with all the high spirits of youth, My Brilliant Career is the unforgettable tale of Sybylla Melvin, a headstrong country girl – passionate, endearing, stubborn, honest – and her fraught journey from rags to riches to rags.”
There are hundreds of books out there that you can also read and that I could have listed. I have linked a few great lists below: Goodreads has compiled a list of feminist books, Angus & Robinson have compiled some great reads for IWD 2016, the Stella Prize also have so many wonderful novels by women you should check out as well.
Have you read any of these books? Has there been a wonderful woman writer who has written about something important to you, or maybe wrote a novel that changed your view on the world, yourself, or society? I’d love to hear about it! To learn more about International Women’s Day check out their website.
All Your IWD 2016 Bits and Pieces