Covering themes of feminism, sexuality, race, motherhood and more, here are 10 notable books about women by female authors to read this International Women’s Day.
Women’s Day is just around the corner (Wednesday, 8 March – mark your calendars!) and it’s the perfect time to reflect on the continuing work that is being done to further women’s rights globally. It’s also a day to commemorate the achievements made by amazing women on all fronts and to celebrate womanhood in all its glory. We’ve compiled a list of 10 books written by talented women writers that explore themes unique to the female experience. So, whether you’re in the mood for some poetry or you want to educate yourself on a topic that affects women, we’ve got you covered.
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The Cost of Living: A Working Autobiography by Debora Levy
The follow-up to Deborah Levy’s acclaimed first memoir “Things I Don’t Want to Know” and the second part of her overall “Living Autobiography” trilogy, “The Cost of Living” follows Levy as she works through her divorce from her long-time husband at age 50 in order to live life on her own terms. Starting afresh at any age is difficult and to find yourself alone at middle age is particularly risky but it’s something Levy decides is worth the sacrifice. Made up of fourteen short essays, the collection is a slim but powerful exploration of big themes that will have you reflecting on your own life as well.
Available on Book Depository for $124.56
Home Body by Rupi Kaur
Canadian-Indian poet Rupi Kaur exploded onto the literary scene with her 2014 debut “milk and honey” and 2017’s sophomore effort “The Sun and Her Flowers”. Kaur’s approachable use of language to explore topics like the South Asian experience and femininity made her poetry a hit with the “Instapoetry” crowd. Her most recent book, “Home Body”, is a collection born from a period of introspection from Kaur that will uplift with messages of love, acceptance, community, family and the courage to embrace change.
Available on Book Depository for $134.82
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My Body: Emily Ratajkowski
Actress Emily Ratajkowski is no stranger to being in the public eye, being a well-known model and actress (she starred in David Fincher’s “Gone Girl”) with a social media presence. Ratajkowski’s writing debut “My Body” is a collection of essays — a deeply personal exploration of hard-hitting topics like feminism, sexuality and the commodification of women. Having spent so much time in the limelight, Ratajkowski has a unique insight into the dichotomy between society’s obsession and contempt for women’s sexuality, bringing an unflinching look into problematic dynamics and abuses of power in the fashion and film industries.
Available on Book Depository for $156.74
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
How can we write up a book roundup for Women’s Day without including the incomparable Joan Didion? Having a journalistic track record that spanned the last 60 years, Didion uses her considerable writing talent to tell her own story in “The Year of Magical Thinking”. Immediately becoming a classic book about mourning when it was published in 2005, Didion’s autobiography follows the year after she lost her husband John Gregory Dunne, closely followed by the hospitalisation of her daughter Quintana. Both shockingly personal and stunning in its exploration of grief, it’s no wonder it was a finalist for that year’s Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography.
Available on Book Depository for $132.97
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Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
If you are looking to learn more about intersectional feminism, Roxane Gay’s “Bad Feminist” is a great place to start. In this collection of insightful and witty essays, Gay walks readers through gender, sexuality, race, politics, and media and, of course, how these themes are interconnected and inform our own discriminations and privileges. For those of you who feel a bit intimidated by classic tomes about feminism, give this a try — the essays are approachable and thought-provoking, in addition to being educational.
Available on Book Depository for $131.46
The Expatriates by Janice Y.K. Lee
The child of Korean immigrants, author Janice Y.K. Lee was born and raised in Hong Kong and educated in the United States — placing her perfectly to write about the “expat” experience in our city. “The Expatriates” follows the lives of three very different American women as they grapple with the emotional baggage they have carried with them to their new temporary home. As with her first book, “The Piano Teacher”, Lee has an immense talent that illuminates the complex workings of women’s inner lives. (Psst, this book is also being turned into an upcoming Amazon Prime series.)
Available on Book Depository for $101.80
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The Women of Troy: A Novel by Pat Barker
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pat Barker is synonymous with incredible historical fiction. Largely known for her World War I “Regeneration” trilogy, Barker has recently turned her talents to exploring the female characters who only get a passing mention in Homer’s epic, “The Illiad”. In her daring feminist version of the tale, “The Women of Troy” unravels the story from the forgotten female point of view — what was happening to Helen, Cassandra, Amina, Hecuba and Briseis during the Trojan War while Troy was falling? Both masterful in scope and storytelling, “The Women of Troy” is an extraordinary retelling of one of the great classical Greek myths.
Available on Book Depository for $101.80
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison’s first book propelled her into literary stardom but “The Bluest Eye” also deals with some controversial topics that have led to many attempts to get the book banned. Set in 1940s Ohio, the book follows eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove, who is considered “ugly” due to her dark skin. This internalised racism leads to a deep sense of shame, leading to Pecola praying for blue eyes every night. Considered a modern American classic, “The Bluest Eye” remains one of Toni Morrison’s most unforgettable novels.
Available on Book Depository for $106.65
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Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Do you remember the first time you read “Little Women”? This is a classic for a reason — the story of siblings Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy is timeless and charming, and they’re perhaps the most memorable sisters in literature next to the Bennets in “Pride and Prejudice” (in this writer’s opinion!). Louisa May Alcott was far ahead of her time, creating a group of vivid and passionate young women who were motivated to pursue their dreams. This is a book that mothers will continue to pass down to their daughters to read and for good reason, too.
Available on Book Depository for $100.17
White Oleander by Janet Fitch
Motherhood — and the bond between a parent and their child — is a powerful experience. But what happens if that relationship is damaged? “White Oleander” grapples with this, following a teenager named Astrid who is forced to enter the foster care system after her mother is imprisoned for murder. “White Oleander” is a beautifully composed, almost lyrical exploration of the dysfunctional but undeniably deep, relationship between this mother and daughter.
Available on Book Depository for $96.48
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All artwork by Sassy Media Group using images of respective titles background image courtesy of Pawel Czerwinski via Unsplash.