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Mar 06, 2020

International Women’s Day: What Are the Best Female Empowerment Books?

International Women's Day: What Are the Best Female Empowerment Books?

It’s hard to believe the people of the United Kingdom once lived in a period where women weren’t allowed to vote or work – a period that wasn’t all that long ago.

Over the past 170 years, there have been many great philosophers, intellectuals and everyday people documenting the rise of the suffragettes, feminism and the stories of the empowered and the oppressed. 

Laws changed, perceptions altered, and political movements emerged. Still, there’s plenty of work to do at a national and international level for the equality of women throughout the world.

International Women’s Day is a celebration of what we have achieved so far. It acts as a springboard for future ideas and is a collaboration of thoughts from people that care about the future of humanity.

The driving idea of International Women’s Day is female empowerment. We want to support that idea by listing the best female empowerment books. 

All these books are non-fiction, as we wanted to call on real-life experiences.

The 8 Best Female Empowerment Books

If Not, Winter: Sappho/Anne Carson

1. If Not, Winter: Sappho/Anne Carson

Sappho was a Greek poet and writer who is one of the first (if not the first) known female writers. This book is a translation of the fragments of Sappho’s work – of which little survives.

Summary: Anne Carson focuses on the theme of fragmentation in this book, relaying broken messages with whitespace and empty square brackets that leave your brain open to suggestion. It’s an ode to the missing parts of Sappho’s work and the enigma that she has become.

You’ll like this if: You want to read something that’s less ‘accessible’ that popular feminism and female culture, but still has empowerment penetrating through its core.

File under: ancient poetry that feeds the soul

Also Try: Inanna, Lady of Largest Heart: Poems of the Sumerian High Priestess Enheduanna

D-Day Girls: Sarah Rose

2. D-Day Girls: Sarah Rose

A large jump in terms of time, but still history nonetheless. And history we have no way of comprehending – a time when the future of humankind hung by a thread, when evil ideologies attempted to rule the world.

Summary: this book tells the tales of the women recruited by British spy agency SOE to travel over to France as saboteurs. Over half died and a third didn’t return. Sarah Rose uses declassified files, personal accounts and oral histories to tell the stories of women such as Odette Sansom and Andree Borrel.

You’ll like this if: you have an interest in modern or military history, but also heroism and a willingness to hear a moving account of WW2 from an unexpected perspective.

File under: an emotive yet factual tale of female heroism and bravery.

Also try: They Fought Like Demons: Women Soldiers in the Civil War

Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity - Kim Scott

3. Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity – Kim Scott

While the target audience of this book is anyone that is or wants to be a good boss or manager, we’re celebrating the fact it was written by a former employee of Google and Apple, who is also a woman. We love the humanitarian aspect because it’s what feminism, equality and empowerment are all about.

Summary: radical candor offers a guide to those who are confused by management, and aims to hit the sweet spot between blind aggression and hindering empathy. The book has plenty of actionable lessons and shows managers how to create positive workplaces where employees feel like valued human beings.

You’ll like this if: you want to be a better manager, while giving colleagues guidance and direction. You don’t want to view people as ‘commodities’ or ‘tools’, but as the person they are.

File under: humanity-driven management strategy.

Also try: Brave, Not Perfect: Fear Less, Fail More, and Live Bolder – Reshma Saujani

No One is Too Small to Make a Difference - Greta Thurnberg

4. No One is Too Small to Make a Difference – Greta Thurnberg

Her speech on climate change caused a stir, there were both supporters and critics, and in some cases, she was ridiculed. Usually, children are revered as actors or young pop singers, think Miley Cyrus. But a 15-year-old girl talking about climate change? This seems like some sort of phenomenon.

Summary: the book is a collection of speeches written by Greta Thurnberg and published a few months before her speech in 2019. The book tells us we all need to focus on preserving the planet in a direct and non-compromising style. It’s a rallying cry for the powerless to take a stand, and those in power to use it for the most important reason – the preservation of the human race.

You’ll like this if: you’re interested in climate change, but also want to understand the views and opinions of a younger generation and give them the platform to feel empowered.

File Under: an angry, passionate opinion of climate change from the next generation.

Also try: I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban – Malala Yousafzai

Rose McGowan - Brave

5. Rose McGowan – Brave

The #MeToo movement went viral in 2017 after women started hashtagging social media posts with the phrase; it was a crucial moment in women’s civil rights in Hollywood. Rose McGowan was one of the most prominent figures of the movement and was the first woman to come forward and report the abuse she had suffered at the hands of Harvey Weinstein. Many more women came forward after, which will see him spend between 5-25 years in prison.

Summary: McGowan talks about her childhood in Italy, being raised in a cult. She then goes on to talk about the cult of Hollywood and how the industry sexualised and homogenised her for the benefit of other people. It also details her terrifying ordeal with Weinstein who she calls ‘the monster’.

You’ll like this if: you want to learn about the fight against sexual assault crimes, and the veil hangs over Hollywood from the woman that wouldn’t give up.

File under: a warrior-style account of industry abuse.

Also try: What Is a Girl Worth?: My Story of Breaking the Silence and Exposing the Truth about Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics’ – Rachael Denhollander

Feminism is for Everyone - Bell Hooks

6. Feminism is for Everyone – Bell Hooks

You could be forgiven for not knowing what the definition of feminism is these days. The word strikes fear into both men and women, generating images of an angry, politically-correct women screaming about injustice. If you want to discover or refresh your mind about the core beliefs of feminism, this book is for you.

Summary: bell hooks discusses culture, society, gender and sexuality in this easy-to-understand book about feminist culture. She strips feminism back to its roots, which is creating communities that are focused on equality, justice and mutual respect. She discusses issues like reproduction rights, violence and rape and encourages us to demand a different future; one that doesn’t enable racism, sexism or patriarchalism.

You’ll like this if: you want to discover more about feminism (and other vital issues) in a simple, accessible way and read about alternatives to the current system.

File under: a thought-provoking, easy to access common sense approach to feminism.

Also try: Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity – Judith Butler

Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World - Kate Pankhurst

7. Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World – Kate Pankhurst

It’s one thing educating ourselves about feminism and equality, but what about younger children that are still in school? If they aren’t aware of the state of the world and don’t know how to make an impact, we won’t make any progress. Luckily, Kate Pankhurst is at hand to ensure kids are educated and entertained.

Summary: the concept of the book is simple; Kate wants to make influential females accessible to younger children. The books are full of interesting facts and well-illustrated and full of colour. Some of the women included are Jane Austen, Marie Curie and Amelia Earhart.

You’ll like this if: you’re passionate about educating youngsters about empowered women, ideal if you have young children.

File under: fun, educational, accessible information for kids.

Also try: Strong Is the New Pretty: A Celebration of Girls Being Themselves – Kate T. Parker

The Bad Feminist - Roxane Gay

8. The Bad Feminist – Roxane Gay

What do you need to do to be a good feminist? Be a working professional if you’re a woman? Cry if you’re a man? We can often try to categorise what it is to be a feminist, much like we do with ‘being a man’ or ‘being a woman’. We construct an idea of what it is to be these things that can sometimes deviate from the original purpose of the concept.

Summary: this collection of essays or cultural critique discusses being a feminist while going through the cultural contradictions we all experience when following a particular idea. The book targets a more populist audience and is showing how she moves through the world as a woman. It’s not a directional book. The book covers race, equality, gender and entertainment.

You’ll like this if: you like popular culture, you understand the flaws of human beings and realise there is no perfect route to becoming a feminist.

File under: personal, honest, contradictory account of a woman’s journey through life and feminism.

Also try: We Should All be Feminists – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Reading on International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day is the perfect day for reading, it’ll help you feel like an empowered woman, and also has other benefits:

  • Sharpens your mind and enhances knowledge of important issues.
  • Increases your vocabulary.
  • Lowers stress levels.
  • Helps with mental health issues.
  • Entertaining and peaceful.
  • Helps you sleep.

What will you be reading this International Women’s Day?

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