Books open a whole new world that’s beyond our own imaginations, taking us to another place and providing comfort or inspiration when we need it most. I’ve always been a big reader, even as a kid working my way through the classroom library until they had to get a whole new selection of books in to keep me occupied. If I don’t have some kind of reading material with me I feel a bit lost; there’s nothing quite like opening a good book while on the train or in the bath and slipping away to another place. Although my usual tastes involve history, murder or mystery, this year I’ve tried to start broadening my horizons and have made a concerted effort to read up on some of the most celebrated ‘feminist’ books I could find. They may be slightly controversial, but all three of these have left a lasting mark on me and provided a moment of empowerment.
1. Caitlin Moran: How To Be A Woman
I was so late to this party it’s unreal, but after picking up a brand new copy of this in a local charity shop for a quid (hoorah!) I found myself reading it non stop in the space of about a week. Part memoir, part moral compass, Caitlin tells the story of her childhood and adolescence with hilarity; this book is so relatable and so cringe-worthy that it had be laughing out loud and gasping almost simultaneously. From her experience with periods and bras, to how she learned to stand up for herself within a male-dominated workplace and tackled marriage-and-kids when she really wasn’t suited/ready/capable of it, this leaves you feeling like it’s absolutely awesome to be a woman – but not in a cheesy or patronising way. I’m downloading everything else she’s ever written in the hope her future books will give me a continual kick up the backside.
2. Lena Dunham: Not That Kind Of Girl
Hailed as ‘the woman of our generation’, Lena is most famous for writing and staring in HBO’s Girls. Sex and the City it’s not, tackling raw issues and refusing to glamorise the struggles 20-something women face in our modern world. Her book is cut from the same cloth, providing a series of short stories and reflective pieces that tell the story of her youth and early 20’s. I don’t know if I enjoyed this book or not, but it definitely makes you think – the whole first section reflects upon sex and relationships, basically illustrating Lena’s lack of self worth and ability to let herself be treated like absolute filth by any guy that would give her the time of day. She discusses sexual abuse and her complex relationship with food, as well as her ongoing battles with depression and continual visits to her psychiatrist. The book didn’t endear me to her, but it did leave me feeling empowered to let people treat me only in the way I want to be treated – if anything, this is a ‘how to’ guide on how *not* to live your life. Some parts did make me chuckle and I could relate to her on some level, but this isn’t an empowering book in the traditional sense: you have to take your own message from it.
3. Sophia Amoruso: #GirlBoss
Every single woman needs a copy of this on their bookshelf. I devoured this in a matter of days, learning the incredible story of Sophia’s success – from high school drop out and petty thief, to eBay seller and vintage fashion expert, and now one of the most successful businesswomen in America. What I loved about Sophia’s story is that she’s relatable; she hasn’t come from a privileged background (in terms of money, education or opportunities,) but she’s worked for what she has and grafted all the way. In this book she tells her story while integrating motivational messages and top tips for success; she doesn’t give any magic answers, but she does help to inspire and empower the reader by telling them it’s all there for the taking if you just work hard enough. I had to give up reading this before bed as it made me want to get up and start working, switching to digesting it on the train when I could actually jot down notes and start putting things into practice. If you’ve been floundering or aren’t sure what direction to take with your professional life, or just need a little boost, then this is definitely a book to buy today.
Have you read any of these books? Were you a fan of their messages?
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