Great Nonfiction Books by Women: International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day, a day we recognize and appreciate all the great accomplishments women have done for the world. This year, the campaign focuses on the initiatives that challenge inequality, goes against stereotypes and call out bias and help build a more inclusive world. This powerful sentiment is supported by the message #ChooseToChallenge. To help us step up to this important challenge, here are some great book recommendations that will help readers learn, understand and create a more gender equal world:

Men Who Hate Women by Laura Bates

An explosive book examining the rise of secretive, extremist communities who despise women. In this ground-breaking investigation, Laura traces the roots of misogyny across a complex spiders web of groups extending from Men’s Rights Activists and Pick up Artists to Men Going their Own Way, Trolls and the Incel movement, in the name of which some men have committed terrorist acts. Drawing parallels with other extremist movements around the world, Bates seeks to understand what attracts men  to the movement, how it grooms and radicalises boys, how it operates and what can be done to stop it. Most urgently of all, she traces the pathways this extreme ideology has taken from the darkest corners of the internet to emerge covertly in our mainstream media, our playgrounds and our parliament. Going undercover on and offline, Laura provides the first, comprehensive look at this hitherto under-the-radar phenomenon, including fascinating interviews with trolls, former incels, the academics studying this movement and the men fighting back. (Credit: Simon & Schuster UK)

Difficult Women: A History of Feminism in 11 Fights by Helen Lewis

Well-behaved women don’t make history: difficult women do.

Feminism’s success is down to complicated, contradictory, imperfect women, who fought each other as well as fighting for equal rights. Helen Lewis argues that too many of these pioneers have been whitewashed or forgotten in our modern search for feel-good, inspirational heroines. It’s time to reclaim the history of feminism as a history of difficult women.

In this book, you’ll meet the working-class suffragettes who advocated bombings and arson; the princess who discovered why so many women were having bad sex; the pioneer of the refuge movement who became a men’s rights activist; the ‘striker in a sari’ who terrified Margaret Thatcher; the wronged Victorian wife who definitely wasn’t sleeping with the prime minister; and the lesbian politician who outraged the country. Taking the story up to the present with the twenty-first-century campaign for abortion services, Helen Lewis reveals the unvarnished – and unfinished – history of women’s rights.

Drawing on archival research and interviews, Difficult Women is a funny, fearless and sometimes shocking narrative history, which shows why the feminist movement has succeeded – and what it should do next. The battle is difficult, and we must be difficult too. (Credit: Vintage)

Taking Up Space: The Black Girl’s Manifesto for Change by Chelsea Kwakye and Ore Ogunbiyi

Understand that your journey is unique. Use this book as a guide. Our wish for you is that you read this and feel empowered, comforted and validated in every emotion you experience, or decision that you make.

FOR EVERYONE ELSE

We can only hope that reading this helps you to be a better friend, parent, sibling or teacher to black girls living through what we did. It’s time we stepped away from seeing this as a problem that black people are charged with solving on their own.

It’s a collective effort. And everyone has a role to play. (Credit: Merky Books)

Feminists Don’t Wear Pink (and other lies) curated by Scarlett Curtis

What does the F word mean to you? The must-read book for 2018. Follow @feminists on Instagram for updates.

A collection of writing from extraordinary women, from Hollywood actresses to teenage activists, each telling the story of their personal relationship with feminism, this book explores what it means to be a woman from every point of view.

Often funny, sometimes surprising, and always inspiring, this book aims to bridge the gap between the feminist hashtag and the scholarly text by giving women the space to explain how they actually feel about feminism. (Credit: Ballantine Books)

She Will Soar: Bright, Brave Poems about Freedom by Women by Ana Sampson

With poems from classic, well loved poets as well as innovative and bold modern voices, She Will Soar is a stunning collection and an essential addition to any bookshelf. From the ancient world right up to the present day, it includes poems on wanderlust, travel, daydreams, flights of fancy, escaping into books, tranquillity, courage, hope and resilience. From frustrated housewives to passionate activists, from servants and suffragettes to some of today’s most gifted writers, here is a bold choir of voices demanding independence and celebrating their hard-won power.

Immerse yourself in poems by Carol Ann Duffy, Christina Rossetti, Stevie Smith, Sarah Crossan, Emily Dickinson, Salena Godden, Mary Jean Chan, Charly Cox, Nikita Gill, Fiona Benson, Hollie McNish and Grace Nichols to name but a few(Credit: Pan Macmillan)

Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez

Imagine a world where your phone is too big for your hand, where your doctor prescribes a drug that is wrong for your body, where in a car accident you are 47% more likely to be seriously injured, where every week the countless hours of work you do are not recognised or valued.

If any of this sounds familiar, chances are that you’re a woman.

Invisible Women shows us how, in a world largely built for and by men, we are systematically ignoring half the population. It exposes the gender data gap – a gap in our knowledge that is at the root of perpetual, systemic discrimination against women, and that has created a pervasive but invisible bias with a profound effect on women’s lives.

From government policy and medical research, to technology, workplaces, urban planning and the media, Invisible Women reveals the biased data that excludes women. (Credit: Vintage)

She is Fierce: Brave, Bold and Beautiful Poems by Women by Ana Sampson

She is Fierce: Brave, Bold and Beautiful Poems by Women is a powerful collection of 150 poems written by women – from classic, much loved poets to bold modern voices. Collected by poet Ana Sampson, this collection celebrates the centenary of women’s suffrage at a time when we are still having important conversations about women’s right to be treated as equals. It speaks of universal experiences and emotions.

She is Fierce contains an inclusive array of voices, from modern and contemporary poets such as Maya Angelou and Grace Nichols to poets from previous centuries including Emily Dickinson, Christina Rossetti, Ella Wheeler Wilcox and Charlotte Bronte. (Credit: Macmillan UK)

Loud Black Girls: 20 Black Women Writers Ask: What’s Next? edited by Elizabeth Uviebinené and Yomi Adegoke

In Loud Black Girls, the authors of Slay in Your Lane: The Black Girl Bible, Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené, ask black British female writers to focus on what happens next? – what does the future hold in the uncertain post-Brexit world of Donald Trump and the rise of the far right, where there is also more opportunity for black woman to thrive than there has ever been before?

Despite young black women reading more than any other ethnic group in the UK, they are still largely invisible as published authors. Loud Black Girls seeks to change that by giving black women a voice and a platform. Readers can expect frank, funny and fearless contributions about what matters to black women today, from a range of prominent voices. The book features a contribution by the winner of the submission competition, an introduction by Yomi and Elizabeth, and a foreword by Bernadine Evaristo. (Credit: Fourth Estate)

She Speaks: Women’s Speeches That Changed the World, from Pankhurst to Thunberg edited by Yvette Cooper

A powerful celebration of brilliant speeches by women throughout the ages, from Boudica to Greta Thunberg. Looking at lists of the greatest speeches of all time, you might think that powerful oratory is the preserve of men. But the truth is very different–countless brave and bold women have used their voices to inspire change, transform lives, and radically alter history. In this timely and personal selection of exceptional speeches, Yvette Cooper MP tells the rousing story of female oratory. From Boudica to Greta Thunberg and Margaret Thatcher to Malala, Yvette introduces each speech and demonstrates how powerful and persuasive oratory can be decidedly female. Written by one of our leading public voices, this is an inspirational call for women to be heard across the globe.(Credit: Atlantic Books UK)

Square Haunting: Five Women, Freedom and London Between the Wars by Francesca Wade

Mecklenburgh Square, on the radical fringes of interwar Bloomsbury, was home to activists, experimenters and revolutionaries; among them were the modernist poet H. D., detective novelist Dorothy L. Sayers, classicist Jane Harrison, economic historian Eileen Power, and writer and publisher Virginia Woolf. They each alighted there seeking a space where they could live, love and, above all, work independently.

Francesca Wade’s spellbinding group biography explores how these trailblazing women pushed the boundaries of literature, scholarship, and social norms, forging careers that would have been impossible without these rooms of their own. (Credit: Faber Faber)

It’s Not About the Burqa by Mariam Khan

When was the last time you heard a Muslim woman speak for herself without a filter?

In 2016, Mariam Khan read that David Cameron had linked the radicalization of Muslim men to the ‘traditional submissiveness’ of Muslim women. Mariam felt pretty sure she didn’t know a single Muslim woman who would describe herself that way. Why was she hearing about Muslim women from people who were neither Muslim, nor female?

Years later the state of the national discourse has deteriorated even further, and Muslim women’s voices are still pushed to the fringes – the figures leading the discussion are white and male.

Taking one of the most politicized and misused words associated with Muslim women and Islamophobia, It’s Not About the Burqa is poised to change all that. Here are voices you won’t see represented in the national news headlines: seventeen Muslim women speaking frankly about the hijab and wavering faith, about love and divorce, about feminism, queer identity, sex, and the twin threats of a disapproving community and a racist country. Funny, warm, sometimes sad, and often angry, each of these essays is a passionate declaration, and each essay is calling time on the oppression, the lazy stereotyping, the misogyny and the Islamophobia.

What does it mean, exactly, to be a Muslim woman in the West today? According to the media, it’s all about the burqa.
Here’s what it’s really about.
(Credit: Picador)

This Is How We Come Back Stronger: Feminist Writers on Turning Crisis Into Change edited by the Feminist Society

Expected Publication Date: March 23

In the spring of 2020, a rapidly spreading global pandemic changed the contemporary world. COVID-19 exposed dangerous fault lines in countries like the United States and the United Kingdom, which had long enjoyed the illusion that they were capable of handling large-scale crises like this. The virus has brought to the fore institutional failures concerning public health, unemployment, and government stability, and exacerbated conditions for vulnerable and marginalized groups. Racial disparity, domestic abuse, food insecurity, and social welfare are reconsidered in the wake of a startling new reality: lockdown and severe economic precarity.

In essays, short fiction, poetry, and more, writers respond to the personal and the political in the time of pandemic. Marking the one-year anniversary of lockdown in the US and the UK, these pieces consider where we go from here–and remind us that, despite it all, we are not alone.


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