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International Women’s Day 2017: Book Recommendations!

International Women’s Day 2017: Book Recommendations!
International Women’s Day 2017: Book Recommendations!
International Women’s Day 2017: Book Recommendations!Half the Sky: How to Change the World by Nicholas D. Kristof, Sheryl WuDunn
Published by Virago Press (UK) on August 5th 2010
Pages: 352

From two of our most fiercely moral voices, a passionate call to arms against our era’s most pervasive human rights violation: the oppression of women and girls in the developing world.

With Pulitzer Prize winners Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn as our guides, we undertake an odyssey through Africa and Asia to meet the extraordinary women struggling there, among them a Cambodian teenager sold into sex slavery and an Ethiopian woman who suffered devastating injuries in childbirth. Drawing on the breadth of their combined reporting experience, Kristof and WuDunn depict our world with anger, sadness, clarity, and, ultimately, hope.

They show how a little help can transform the lives of women and girls abroad. That Cambodian girl eventually escaped from her brothel and, with assistance from an aid group, built a thriving retail business that supports her family. The Ethiopian woman had her injuries repaired and in time became a surgeon. A Zimbabwean mother of five, counseled to return to school, earned her doctorate and became an expert on AIDS.

Through these stories, Kristof and WuDunn help us see that the key to economic progress lies in unleashing women’s potential. They make clear how so many people have helped to do just that, and how we can each do our part. Throughout much of the world, the greatest unexploited economic resource is the female half of the population. Countries such as China have prospered precisely because they emancipated women and brought them into the formal economy. Unleashing that process globally is not only the right thing to do; it’s also the best strategy for fighting poverty.

Deeply felt, pragmatic, and inspirational, Half the Sky is essential reading for every global citizen.

Half the Sky is a non-fiction book on social justice, in particular the oppression of women and girls seen throughout the developing world.  The heroines in these stories are those women who, with a little bit of assistance, have been able to transform their lives, and those of the women and children around them. Child sex trafficking, the high rates of maternal mortality, obstetric fistula and the lack of educational opportunity for girls are some of the issues resulting from gender inequality that this book addresses. Through the author’s research and the stories they tell, they show the key to fighting poverty and supporting economic progress is to support women to reach their potential.

“It’s no accident that the countries that have enjoyed an economic take off have been those that educated girls and then gave them the autonomy to move to the cities to find work”


International Women’s Day 2017: Book Recommendations!Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky
Published by Ten Speed Press on July 26th 2016
Pages: 128

It’s a scientific fact: Women rock!   A charmingly illustrated and educational book, Women in Science highlights the contributions of fifty notable women to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) from the ancient to the modern world. Full of striking, singular art, this fascinating collection also contains infographics about relevant topics such as lab equipment, rates of women currently working in STEM fields, and an illustrated scientific glossary. The trailblazing women profiled include well-known figures like primatologist Jane Goodall, as well as lesser-known pioneers such as Katherine Johnson, the African-American physicist and mathematician who calculated the trajectory of the 1969 Apollo 11 mission to the moon.  Women in Science celebrates the achievements of the intrepid women who have paved the way for the next generation of female engineers, biologists, mathematicians, doctors, astronauts, physicists, and more!

Women of Science is an educational book with wonderful illustrations that is essential reading for every young girl, to show her that girls CAN do anything! This should be required reading for the male half of the population too, to show them that girls CAN do anything.

Featuring 50 short biographies of notable women in history in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, it is a celebration of what women can achieve, and should be compulsory reading for the coming generation.


International Women’s Day 2017: Book Recommendations!The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Published by Amy Einhorn Books on January 1st 1970
Pages: 444

Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step. . . .

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.
Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.
Minny, Aibileen's best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody's business, but she can't mind her tongue, so she's lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.
Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.
In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women--mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends--view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don't.

It is 1962 in Mississippi, and an unlikely partnership is formed for a clandestine project. Twenty-two year old Skeeter has just returned home after completing her university degree. She is heartbroken to find her beloved Constantine, the maid that helped raise her, is no longer working for her family. She also finds herself outside the inner circle of her childhood friends, as they push for new laws that will only increase the segregation between the white families and their coloured help. Skeeter feels compelled to act, and approaches Aibileen, a maid who works for a friend, to tell her story. Soon Skeeter, Aibileen and her best friend Minny, are secretly working on a book that will reveal all the secrets and truths about life working as a black maid for a white family.

These three women risk their lives for change, and spark a movement towards equality in a severely divided community. This is the perfect read to celebrate the strength and determination of women!


International Women’s Day 2017: Book Recommendations!Desert Flower: The Extraordinary Journey of a Desert Nomad by Waris Dirie
Published by Virago Press on March 1st 1999
Pages: 369

By age 6, Waris Dirie was herding her family's sheep and goats, fending off hyenas and wild dogs as the family carved a path through Africa. She was just twice that age when she ran off into the vast furnace of the Somali desert to escape an arranged marriage to a much older man. Traveling for days without food and water, she made her way to Mogadishu and later to London as a servant to her uncle, the Somalian ambassador. There she wrestled with culture shock and got her first taste of the modeling life that eventually brought her into the public eye. Dirie is resilient, having survived drought, hunger, and the ritual female genital mutilation that marks a step toward womanhood among some traditional Moslems but, argue critics, steals or ruins many girls' lives. "As we traveled throughout Somalia," says Dirie, "we met families and I played with their daughters. When we visited them again, the girls were missing. No one spoke the truth about their absence or even spoke of them at all." As a special ambassador to the United Nations, Dirie has spoken out loudly on this subject and championed environmental causes, too. How much of her sometimes breathless story is gospel truth and how much embellished is hard to say. Like Dirie herself, though, the combination is intriguing, powerful, and unique. --Francesca Coltrera

Waris Dirie was born into a nomadic desert clan in Somalia, destined to follow the footsteps of the females in her tribe – oppression, no education, and the ritual of female genital mutilation (FGM). She escaped this life, became an international fashion model and a human rights ambassador for the United Nations, joining the fight to stop the act of FGM around the world.

Waris Dirie is a strong and inspirational woman and this book has raised the awareness of the practice of FGM.


International Women’s Day 2017: Book Recommendations!Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman, Henning Koch
on January 1st 1970
Pages: 324

From the bestselling author of A Man Called Ove and My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, a heartwarming and hilarious story of a reluctant outsider who transforms a tiny village and a woman who finds love and second chances in the unlikeliest of places.
Britt-Marie can’t stand mess. She eats dinner at precisely the right time and starts her day at six in the morning because only lunatics wake up later than that. And she is not passive-aggressive. Not in the least. It's just that sometimes people interpret her helpful suggestions as criticisms, which is certainly not her intention.
But at sixty-three, Britt-Marie has had enough. She finally walks out on her loveless forty-year marriage and finds a job in the only place she can: Borg, a small, derelict town devastated by the financial crisis. For the fastidious Britt-Marie, this new world of noisy children, muddy floors, and a roommate who is a rat (literally), is a hard adjustment.
As for the citizens of Borg, with everything that they know crumbling around them, the only thing that they have left to hold onto is something Britt-Marie absolutely loathes: their love of soccer. When the village’s youth team becomes desperate for a coach, they set their sights on her. She’s the least likely candidate, but their need is obvious and there is no one else to do it.
Thus begins a beautiful and unlikely partnership. In her new role as reluctant mentor to these lost young boys and girls, Britt-Marie soon finds herself becoming increasingly vital to the community. And even more surprisingly, she is the object of romantic desire for a friendly and handsome local policeman named Sven. In this world of oddballs and misfits, can Britt-Marie finally find a place where she belongs?
Zany and full-of-heart, Britt-Marie Was Here is a novel about love and second chances, and about the unexpected friendships we make that teach us who we really are and the things we are capable of doing.

From one of my favourite authors comes a wonderfully strong, unsuspecting heroine in Britt-Marie. Alone at the age of sixty-three after forty years in a loveless marriage, she marches to the unemployment office determined to find a job in the middle of the financial crisis. She finds herself employed as the temporary caretaker of a community centre in Borg, a tiny, derelict town where even the passing trucks don’t stop anymore. For Britt-Marie, described by her husband Kent as ‘socially incompetent’ and ‘aggressive-passive’, by her step-children that she never sees as ‘passive-aggressive’ and by many others who meet her as a ‘nag-bag’, making friends with the locals was always going to be a challenge.

Watching Britt-Marie adjust to her new life in Borg, as she finds herself the coach of the local football team and navigates friendships with the unique local population, is such a pleasure. This is a story of second chances, of identity, unexpected friendships, misfits finding their place and of a woman discovering who she really is and what she really is capable of.

A heartwarming and touching story, with an endearing character – highly recommended!


These are my recommendations for books to read in honour of International Women’s Day!

What books would you recommend to celebrate women and commemorate their struggle for equality? Let me know in the comments below!

  • LOVE this list! I haven’t gotten the chance to read Half the Sky yet, but it’s sitting on my shelf… though I will say, I think I like the cover here better than the one I have at home! 🙂 And, of course, Women in Science is glorious… and if you like artsy feminist nonfiction, then you should totally check out Dead Feminists, Wonder Women, and Bad Girls Throughout History!

    • Julia @ Read and Live Well says:

      Thanks for those recommendations Savannah! I have heard of Bad Girls Throughout History and definitely need to get that one… I will have to look into the others as well, thanks!

Hi! I'm Julia, a lifelong reader, an aspiring writer, medical doctor, and now book blogger, from Queensland, Australia! Go to 'About Read and Live Well' to learn more!

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