Inspirational female authors – International Women’s Day 2019

Happy International Women’s Day!

Today, 8 March, is a date to celebrate the social, economic, political and cultural achievements of women. It all began over a century ago and today it is observed all over the world. It is also a day to reflect on improving gender equality and for 2019 the theme is #BalanceforBetter.

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At Brompton library, we have been celebrating the literary achievement of women with a series of book reviews. Since International Women’s Day in 2018, I have been doing regular reviews of books by inspirational female authors. In total I have read eleven books by eleven amazing female writers. It is hard to pick a favourite because the books are all so different and written in different styles.

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I loved some of the books because of their subject matter or the worlds they created. There are the feminist dystopias of The Power, The Water Cure and Red Clocks which comment on gender equality in our own society. There is Helen Dunmore’s novel that explores how a female writer from the eighteenth century could be completely forgotten by history. Angela Carter and Margaret Atwood’s novels reimagine classic myths and fairy tales from a feminist perspective.

I found some of the books inspirational because of their authors. Such as Zadie Smith, who was published at a young age and has gone on to win many literary awards or Toni Morrison, who was the first African-American woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature. Then there is Malala Yousafzai, who almost lost her life standing up for women’s rights.

Because the books are from different eras, it made me reflect on the journey of women’s rights. Roxane Gay’s essays are a funny and insightful look into the struggles of being a modern feminist, whereas Emily Bronte, who had to publish Wuthering Heights under a male pseudonym, is a reminder of how far we’ve come.

I hope you have been as inspired as me by these great reads! And I’m sure you can think of many more inspirational female authors to add to this list.

 

 

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Inspirational female authors: Roxane Gay

Throughout 2018 we are reviewing one book a month written by a woman, to celebrate the centenary of women legally being able to vote. This month I have chosen the first non fiction book on the list: Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

Bad Feminist is a collection of essays about a wide range of subjects including pop music, sexuality, scrabble, women’s legal rights, privilege, sexual violence, reality TV, Chris Brown, female friends, The Hunger Games, body issues and Orange is the New Black. The essays are all in some way an exploration of feminism today.

From the outset Roxane Gay introduces herself as a ‘bad feminist’. Throughout the book she convincingly argues that there might be more than one perfect way to be a feminist. She also explores feminism from the often overlooked perspective of black and LGBT women. It is part essay and part memoir as she shares very personal stories of her life.

I don’t normally read a lot of non fiction but I was hooked by this book straightaway and it was an engaging read. Some parts are funny, some parts are emotionally challenging and she is always insightful. A lot of what she said resonated with me and it made me reevaluate some of my opinions. There is such an array of subjects examined that even if you don’t agree with everything she says, there will be something to interest you.

She also discusses a lot of books I haven’t read yet so it has given me a whole list of things I want to read!

You can see the previous reviews of inspirational women writers for May, April and March See you in July.

Philippa, Brompton Library