Author Lisa Beazley shares five must-read books that celebrate women as the multi-dimensional, powerful people that we are
Give me a holiday and I’ll give you a book. International Women’s Day, you say? The day that celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women while still recognizing the need for freedom, better opportunities, more resources, and greater equality? Okay mama, here are five books that fit the bill. Whether you are a fiction junkie or looking for real world inspiration, we’ve got you covered.
Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn
This book made a huge splash when it came out eight years ago, so there’s a good chance you’ve read it. If not, it’s as relevant and inspiring as ever. Husband and wife team Kristoff and Duwuun use their experience as global reporters to shine a light on the horrific mistreatment of women across Asia and Africa while also celebrating their breathtaking bravery and inspriring resilience.
With one electrifying story after another, the authors effectively argue that the key to economic progress is unleashing the potential of girls and women. The best part is that instead of leaving you overwhelmed or depressed, this book makes gargantuan problems seem solvable, and even gives you the tools to do your part. Chapter names like “Rescuing Girls is the Easy Part” and “Is Islam Mysoginistic?” and “Five Steps You can Take in the Next Ten Minutes” give you an idea of just how straightforward and accessible this read is.
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
If you haven’t yet YouTubed Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk about feminism, do it now and be charmed by this brilliant, funny and down-to-earth star of the literary world. Her non-fiction book – adapted from that very talk – is as nuanced and witty as you’d hope. The Nigerian-born author writes with honesty and humour about the discrimination and marginalization of women all over the world, illuminating a 21st century approach to feminism that’s rooted in inclusion and awareness.
THE WIFE: A Novel by Meg Wolitzer
Behind every great man is a great woman, right? But what would happen if that woman decided to stop supporting him? Joan married Joe when they were both aspiring writers. Unfortunately it was the 1950s and Joan was, well, a woman. She makes the choice to forsake her ambition in favor of her husband’s. Suffice it to say he doesn’t spend his life proving his gratitude for her great sacrifice. Forty years on, Joe is about to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature and Joan rethinks everything. Terrific for book clubs because everyone is likely to have their own opinion about Joan’s choices, THE WIFE will also provoke questions about your own priorities when it comes to marriage, families and careers. Still not convinced? How’s this for relatable:
“Everyone knows how women soldier on, how women dream up blueprints, recipes, ideas for a better world, and then sometimes lose them on the way to the crib in the middle of the night, on the way to Stop and Shop, or the bath. They lose them on the way to greasing the path on which their husband and children will ride serenely through life.”
The Power by Naomi Alderman
This was three reads ago, and I still can’t stop thinking about it. It’s the one people are calling this generation’s Handmaid’s Tale. Set in the future, teenage girls suddenly develop the power to send an electric shock out of their fingertips, causing pain or death at will. The scales of gender power swing wildly in the other direction, and everything is….different. Good different? Nope. With moments of brilliant satire and leave-the-lights-on terror, you’ll never think about gender and power in quite the same way again.
The Rules do not Apply: A Memoir by Ariel Levy
As the cover copy says: When 38-year-old Ariel Levy left for a reporting trip to Mongolia in 2012, she was pregnant, married, financially secure, and successful on her own terms. A month later, none of that was true.
Many of us born in the developed world, with access to resources and education, know Levy – maybe we are her, or we know someone just like her: They want to have it all, and they want to get it in their own way, traditional rules be damned. Unfortunately, Levy learns the hard way that “having it all” is simply not possible. While you may disagree with some of her choices, you will feel her unimaginable heartbreak while admiring her resilience and honesty. This is a book that goes beyond cliches to make you think about the complicated choices facing women lucky enough to have them today. Oh, and call me when you get to the humdinger of a plot twist at the end.