Just under a year ago, I wrote a post called ‘books for feminists of all ages‘, bringing together my reviews of more than a dozen feminist favourites. I’ve since reviewed more than 20 similarly themed titles, including some beautifully illustrated books for younger readers, so it’s time for an updated list (with affiliate links).
Up first is a new release from Abrams + Chronicle (review copy). They never fail to amaze me with their children’s books and When Sue Found Sue is a wonderful addition to their series of books celebrating incredible women. Written by Toni Buzzeo and illustrated by Diana Sudyka, this is a story about when Sue Hendrickson discovered a T-Rex, the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton ever uncovered.
It’s a wonderful gift idea to inspire curious young minds. And, as always, the hardback cover features story illustrations, so take a peek under the jacket.
My Abrams Kids collection is strong and I’m looking forward to reading these with Jenson when he’s a bit older. We’re in a bit of a Gruffalo rut at the moment! There’s Dancing Through Fields of Color, about the life and work of artist Helen Frankenthaler…
… Born to Ride, which uses 1890s America as the backdrop for the age-old message of perseverance and always getting back up again…
… Along Came Coco, about the life and work of Coco Chanel…
… Lights! Camera! Alice!, a celebration of the first female filmmaker, Alice Guy…
… and Nevertheless, She Persisted not only uses one of my favourite quotes, but it’s also about the life and career of a female politician who is rather prominent of late: Elizabeth Warren.
Abrams aren’t the only ones kicking ass with empowering children’s books. The Little Guides to Great Lives from Laurence King are fun, colourful and educational.
You can’t talk about books which inspire young female readers without mentioning Matilda, who turned 30 last year. Have you seen the beautiful new editions? I’ve collected them all.
It can be hard in that inbetween age, where you’re no longer a child but not quite a grown up (cue Britney Spears’ I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman!) but fortunately Laura Bates is on hand with Girl Up, a friendly, accessible and not at all patronising book about what it’s like to grow up female. It tackles the likes of consent, body image, mental health, imposter syndrome and more. Essential reading for teens.
If you’ve grown up without the kinds of children’s books previously mentioned, it can be easy to think that the world is lacking in positive female role models. That is so not the case. The history books might not be packed with them but there are many writers and publishers looking to rectify that. All Hail the Queen takes a closer (and beautifully illustrated) look at 20 women who have ruled throughout history.
While all of these books are certainly educational, some are more fun than others. I really enjoyed What Would Boudicca Do? It’s like Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls for the Cosmo generation – imagine Aisling Bea teaching a history lesson and you’re part-way there.
Bosom Buddies is another fun title and would make a great gift for your bestie. It features various famous female friendships, including the likes of the Bronte sisters, Marilyn Monroe & Ella Fitzgerald, Tina Fey & Amy Poehler and Malala Yousafzai & Muzoon Almellehan. I wasn’t already aware of most of these female friendships and it made for an interesting read.
Looking for something a bit geekier? With Star Wars: Women of the Galaxy, super-nerd Amy Ratcliffe has produced a stunning anthology celebrating 75 female characters from across the galaxy, illustrated by a range of female and non-binary artists.
Want a shorter, empowering read? Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie should be required reading, like We Should All Be Feminists. Reading this short book is like having a chat with your mum friends over cocktails. There’s a rush of relief when you feel like someone else not only ‘gets it’ but inspires you to make positive changes to your life.
If shorter stories are your thing, and you don’t mind a bit of magical realism, Cecelia Ahern’s Roar is fantastic. I can guarantee that any woman reading this will be able to identify with at least one of these stories, in fact, I identified with most.
Poetry fan? I’ve got you covered, from the beautifully illustrated There Are Girls Like Lions…
… to the incredible She is Fierce. I’ve finally found poetry I love and can relate to!
Now for the ‘grown up’ books. Mary Beard’s Women & Power is based on two of her lectures in her role as Professor of Classics at Newnham College, Cambridge. The book looks at The Public Voice of Women (2014) and Women in Power (2017) – and it’s a genuinely fascinating read. Women & Power is short enough that you can read it in a day and quickly pass it on to someone else – and pass it on you must, as this is knowledge which deserves, no, needs, to be shared.
Michelle Obama’s memoir, Becoming, is one of the best-selling books of the last year. I’ve had a girl crush on her for years and I loved finding out more about her fascinating life. Give it a read if you haven’t already.
Until recently, Roxane Gay was a name I’d heard a lot but I hadn’t read any of her work. Then I read Bad Feminist. This collection of essays made me fall in love with her almost immediately. Some essays were more personal, such as one on Scrabble (really!), and some were more academic, focusing primarily on the representation of women and people of colour in popular culture. I learned a lot and there were certainly moments where I had to check my white privilege. I’ll definitely be reading more of her work.
Now for the epic: A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf: the book which sits on many a list of must-reads but which I’d previously managed to overlook. This stunner (my edition is from The Folio Society) compiles a series of lectures given by Woolf at Newnham College and Girton College, illustrated by her sister, artist Vanessa Bell. The title comes from a woman’s need to have a room (and money) of her own in order to be a successful writer (‘a lock on the door means the power to think for oneself’), which is why, most fascinatingly, there could never have been a female Shakespeare. In fact, Woolf’s analysis of women and fiction is truly eye-opening. A Room of One’s Own is almost one hundred years old, yet it feels like it was written yesterday.
How many of these have you read? And how many are now on your TBR?