10 Inspirational Books To Celebrate International Women's Day

In partnership with the Guille-Allès Library

International Women’s Day is a time to shine a light on the achievements of women across the globe.

Together with the team at the library, we're doing that by celebrating the written work of incredible female writers, from all walks of life. The library's catalogue is bursting with works from talented female authors, and it would be impossible to put together a definitive list, but the team has gathered ten of their favourite titles to scratch the surface. These books explore the lives and experiences of women, with works of both fiction and nonfiction, that we think everyone should read.


Woman Reading Crossed Legs


1. 'How To Be A Woman' by Caitlin Moran

This book is hilarious. You will snort with laughter at the everyday tribulations of womanhood that Moran so wittily dissects. A hugely entertaining and life affirming read, How to Be a Woman is a pin-sharp feminist manifesto with one ultimate message – forget the boring sexist stuff and concentrate on having more fun. 


2.  'Becoming' by Michelle Obama

‘Your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own’. Not really about politics at all, Becoming is Obama’s deeply personal and reflective memoir chronicling the experiences that have shaped her. Warm and wise storytelling, this book is - without sounding too cheesy - seriously inspirational. And if you listen to the audiobook narrated by Michelle herself, prepare to cry happy tears!  


3.  'Women Don't Owe You Pretty' by Florence Given

Florence Given is an icon, and Women Don’t Owe You Pretty is deemed ‘a feminist guide for the Insta generation.’ Love, friendships, sexuality, confidence – Given covers it all in a lively yet down-to-earth way. Think of her as a big sister giving advice on all the things you want to know.


4.  'We Should All Be Feminists' by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Adichie is a best-selling novelist, and this book is adapted from her TedX talk of the same name (which gained over 6 million views). A twenty-first century view of feminism, We Should All Be Feminists is full of wit and insight, Adichie combines her own experiences to explain why the gender divide is harmful for men and women alike. A rallying cry for feminism to take heed of.


5.  'Bossypants' by Tina Fey

Those who don’t know Tina Fey may be confused by the cover of Bossypants but anyone who’s seen her act on any of her many shows and films knows it fits perfectly with her style of comedy. Her characters are beloved by many, so this memoir is a wonderful way to see the woman behind the screen and discover the highs and lows of her time as head writer within the world of comedy. This memoir is at times absurd and silly, but also insightful and inspirational. 


6.  'The World's Wife' by Carol Ann Duffy

The first ever female Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy is an award-winning poet for good reason. This collection tells the story of famous men from the perspective of their wives. From Mrs Darwin to Queen Kong, The World’s Wife is clever and imaginative, bringing women out from the shadows to tell their own side of the story.


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7.  'I Am Malala' by Malala Yousafzai

A truly extraordinary story and one that leaves you with a resounding sense of hope. When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out and nearly paid the price with her life. In her book I Am Malala, Yousafzai speaks of her miraculous recovery from that day, and her subsequent journey to the United Nations, becoming the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate and her continuing campaign for every girl's right to an education.


8.  'A Room Of One's Own' by Virginia Woolf 

Published in 1929, A Room of One’s Own is based on a series of lectures Woolf gave at Cambridge University entitled Women and Fiction. Woolf takes you through the history of women’s writing, rife with distraction and at the mercy of a patriarchal society. So, what then do women need to be free to create and write? Solitude, independence, and a room with a lock on the door! This is a great read that makes you appreciate what we have now and must have been so empowering to hear back then.  


9.  'Normal People' by Sally Rooney

Sally Rooney is regarded as one of the foremost millennial writers, but Normal People has a far-reaching appeal. This book shows the ups and downs and subtle shifts of power in the relationship of the two main characters who you can’t help but root for even when they make frustrating decisions! It is a beautifully written story of growing up and first love which is at times heart-breaking but also full of joy. 


10.  'Jane Eyre' by Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyre makes it to the list firstly because of the protagonist. Jane challenges the traditions of the mid 1800s, battling against the subordination of women and pushing for the right to make her own choices. Secondly, all three Bronte sisters became published writers in 1846, under pseudonyms, to avoid the commonplace prejudice against female writers at the time. Power to them! 



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