To celebrate International Women’s Day we asked 5 book-loving friends – whose taste we trust! – to select a book by or about an inspiring woman.
She Said by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey
I recently finished this book, which was written by the journalists who broke the Harvey Weinstein story. There so much to be inspired by – from their dedication throughout the investigation to the way they’ve passionately advocated for the victims ever since. It’s a testament to the importance of women believing and backing each other and it’s obviously ignited a movement and paradigm shift in how we talk about men abusing their power.
Recommended by Marlee Silva, co-founder of Tiddas4Tiddas
Breaking Badly by Georgie Dent
An incredibly brave, beautifully written memoir about an early-20s nervous breakdown. In a world where perfect glossy public images dominate, leaving us wondering whether our faults will ever be acceptable, her honesty Is a breath of fresh air… and a relief.
Recommended by Shoes of Prey entrepreneur and author of Reboot Jodie Fox
The Girls by Chloe Higgins
This book deeply moved me. It’s a visceral and evocative memoir of grief and how it ricochets through the lives of one family in the aftermath of tragedy. I lost a family member too in my teens, and Chloe’s words reminded me of that moment, when time stops, yet the world goes on – how you are forced to evolve and reconstruct yourself. Grief is not a problem to be solved but an experience you will carry with you your whole life. It doesn’t have an expiration date. It comes in violent waves and then dissolves. Those that are fighting the most catastrophic internal battles are inspiring, and Chloe’s frankness and sheer authenticity really resonated with me. The Girls ’is a beautiful brave book, and Chloe is a fearless writer. I admire her for sharing this story.
Recommended by Jess Carrera, film producer and publicist
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
A friend gave me Marjane Satrapi’s exquisite graphic novel back in 2007 and I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say it never really left me. An account of her childhood during and after the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Persepolis is profoundly original and inspiring storytelling; at once funny, riveting and devastating.
Recommended by Bronwyn Birdsall, writer
A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
Whenever I need inspiration in my life, I will always turn to the works of Virginia Woolf. Her incredible intelligence and emotional depths will never cease to leave me awestruck and full of a new kind of determination. In A Room of One’s Own, Woolf burns with restless inquiry and tackles the subject of women in fiction. Based on two lectures that she delivered in Cambridge in 1928, this essay interrogates the patriarchy, the labours of writing, and the perils of being a woman.
Recommended by Chloe Cooper, writer
Thick & Other Essays, Tressie McMillan Cottom
I saw writer and academic Tressie McMillan Cottom speak at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne last year and, like any good literary festival attendee, I bought her book. This time, though, the purchase wasn’t driven by a sense of obligation but because she was so clever. In Thick, McMillan Cottom is just as amusing, angry and precise as she was that Sunday afternoon. In a series of essays, she writes about beauty (and what happened when she dared to describe herself online as “unattractive”); her horrendous experience of miscarriage and why white men get to write inane columns in the New York Times but black women don’t. The perfect mix of personal memoir and witty social commentary from a woman I really admire.
Recommended by Felicity Robinson, co-founder of PRIMER
The Moment Of Lift by Melinda Gates
It was my mum who first recommended this book to me, and I can see why it appealed to her. Melinda Gates (who is, yes, the wife of Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates) has spent the past 20 years trying to improve the lives of those are less fortunate. She is the co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is the second largest philanthropic fund in the world, and in recent years she’s taken a particular interest in improving the lives of women, in the belief that if you want to lift a society up, you need to stop keeping women down.
Throughout the book, Gates, who is 55, takes a level approach – and as a result, The Moment Of Lift is a million miles from the kind of activist memoir you’d expect from a millennial writer. But, in many ways, her quiet writing style means her stories and anecdotes are all the more powerful. Plus you have to respect the opinion of a woman who has access to the world’s top thinkers. My favourite parts of the book dealt with Gates’ own realisation that she was a feminist and her reflections on women in the workplace.
Recommended by Anna Saunders, co-founder of PRIMER