We are just days away from International Women’s Day 2020 and, whilst there’s never a time when we shouldn’t be celebrating and supporting female writers and their works, this day is a good reminder of how far women have come over the past few decades in terms of equality, but also how far we still have to go.
This international women’s I’m going to be dedicating the entire week to reading women. If those are also you’re plans, here are some books to add to your list.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
It’s so exciting to see a revival of love for this book thanks to Greta Gerwig’s new adaptation (which, if you haven’t seen it yet, would make a great watch for this international women’s day).
Greta’s movie really brought out the feminist themes of this book and the novel itself was so ahead of it’s time. Every reader will relate to at least one of the March sisters, especially Jo, an avid reader with a wild soul.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
One of my favourite classics and Jane one of the best characters. When alive the Bronte sisters wrote and sold their books to help support their family. Their stories largely revolve around governesses and romance.
Charlotte commbines the two in Jane Eyre creating a twisty, gothic tale about an orphan who moves to Thornfield to become the governess of Mr Rochester’s ward.
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
Call me crazy, but I think this frivolous romantic novel that Charlotte Bronte apparently hated is just as feminist as Jane Eyre. Hear me out. Yes it’s mostly about women talking about men eligible for marriage but Austen more than once points to the inequality between men and women, particularly when it comes to the Bennet’s lack of a male heir, forcing them to forfeit their home to a distant cousin and the unfairness of it.
The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante
Any opportunity I get to recommend this series, I do. Written by an anonymous author these books revolves around a friendship that spans decades, from childhood to old age. It’s characters and their relationships with each other are complex and the setting of an impoverished part of Naples is so vivid it comes to life on the page.
The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood
This is probably the first book on this list that purposely has and explores feminist themes. It’s a dystopia novel set in a future where the fertility rate has dropped exponentially. A new republic, Gilead has come into force to try and fix this issue.
Now women have four roles, a Wife, a Martha, an Aunt and a Handmaid. Offred is a Handmaid and her purpose is to give her Commander and his Wife a baby.
The Power by Naomi Alberman
Winner of the 2017 Women’s Prize for Fiction this explores what would happen were the power between men and women to shift. Teenage girls begin to experience a ‘power’ that can inflict pain and death on others. In this novel it’s the men who need to be protected, who can’t go out alone, who are told they are weak because of their gender.
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
This is such a powerful story. This follows a Dominican girl living in a very religious household who’s struggling to find her identity. She finds a way to express herself and her frustrations in slam poetry. It’s written in prose but don’t let that put you off. If you can’t get into it, I highly recommend the audiobook as it’s narrated by the author and she puts so much passion into her performance.
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Everisto
Co-winner of the 2019 Booker Prize and longlisted for this years Women’s Prize, this book is high on everyones raider, and so it should be.
This is a multi-perspective book following mainly British, mainly black, women who each have their own story of womenhood and femininity to tell.
The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir
Everyone has heard of Henry VIII but the most I ever learnt about his six wives at school was a rhyme to remember how they died. This book gives a detailed and exciting account of who there women were, what their ambitions were and what their lives were like. This book is the best non-fiction I’ve ever read. It’s tense and full of royal court intrigue. It’s 500+ pages but I read it in three days.
Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo
This book is great if you have a little one in the house. It’s a non-fiction with a twist. Telling the stories of extra-ordinary women throughout history in a way that will capture the minds of little girls. A lot of these women I had never heard of so it’s a great starting place to learn what amazing things women can do.