Today is the Women’s March on Washington, one day after the presidential inauguration, that celebrates democracy and diversity. The political events of the past year all over the world have made clear that the need to embrace multiplicity and intersecting identities is stronger than ever. Whilst the march champions the rights of women, the organisers lay utmost emphasis on supporting equality for all - including immigrants, all religious groups and sexual orientations and people with disabilities. And as a woman - and an immigrant, though to another country - I stand in spiritual solidarity with the cause. Whilst thinking of the march and what it means to be a woman today, I realised that so many of the books and talks I’d read and watched last year, so much of my inspiration for well-being, mindful living and just plain badass-ness came from women. Entrepreneurs, designers, boss ladies, bloggers, mothers, television producers - they’re many of these titles in one and then some. Here is a list of my five favourites, books I’ve gifted on and will keep for a long time to come.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie // We should all be feminists.
I don’t know if I need to introduce this one at all. It was delivered at a TED talk, has been included in a Beyonce track and is just plain stunning. Ms Adichie has a way with words that is startlingly clear and hyper-intelligent, whilst being extremely accessible. One of my favourite writers and a woman I admire intensely.
Sarah Hepola // Blackout
A very honest account of a very difficult journey through alcohol abuse. I found myself flinching at times, feeling so sorry for what she’d been through and the reason I made it through the book was that I guessed that the reason there was a book in the first place meant that she’d won her battles. Still, reading such a naked narrative and being invited to view all her pain and hurt was humbling and very sobering.
The Year of Yes // Shonda Rhimes
I first encountered Ms Rhimes though the TED talk she’d delivered and after watching it, I just sat frozen in front of my laptop, trying to absorb the incredible intelligence and creativity and energy I’d just experienced. This book is an extension of that talk, Ms Rhimes’ documentation of her journey to re-discover her hum. It is incredibly well-written, laugh-out-loud funny whilst discussing topics like single motherhood, body politics, fear and shame in a manner both nuanced, self-deprecating and honest, whilst being kind. Kindness is also an important theme in the book, cultivating it toward herself, among other things. Reading about the fears and responses of such a powerful woman - who has the opportunity to interact with other powerful and accomplished women - and realising some of them so closely match mine was a relevation - and also ample reason to realise you never really ever feel good enough!
Amy Schumer // The girl with the lower back tattoo
Razor-sharp wit, incredible self-deprecation and a level of honesty that, again, took my breath away. Ms Schumer shares her life and experiences in hilarious and chatty manner, underneath which lies a great deal of empathy and care. It made feel like we were friends, catching up over a glass of wine - but don’t let the chatty manner fool you, the book touches on quite a few difficult topics.
Lindy West // Shrill
Another of my favourites, Ms West is another member of the sisterhood of smart, witty women, who don’t really want to conform and question why the world wants them to. Or why it rejects women that don’t fit the unrealistic norms set for them. Gender politics and fat shaming are the main focus of the book and the lady handles both really well - there was so much in there that was so new to me, it was eye-opening.