15 December 2017
If you are looking for a feminist summer reading list, to transport and inspire you, look no further than YWCA Canberra’s curated holiday reading list. It also doubles a handy list of potential gifts for your friends and family.
We have curated 21 of the greatest books that Y Canberra members, speakers, and staff have recommended this year on our blog. There is a fabulous mix of fiction, non-fiction, autobiographies, philosophy, and feminist theory to guarantee that you discover the right book whatever the occasion.
I Am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls’ education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.
The Diary of a Young Girl is the real diary of a teenage girl that begins on Anne’s 13th birthday (12 June 1942) when she gets a diary. It tells the story of her family who live in Frankfurt, Germany and suddenly have to go into hiding as a result of Hitler and the Nazi Party’s treatment of Jews in Europe during the second world war. They escape to Amsterdam where they go into hiding with other Jews. The diary ends suddenly on 1 August 1944.
Recommended by Julia Faragher
A collection of fifteen essays written between 1976 and 1984 gives clear voice to Audre Lorde’s literary and philosophical personae. These essays explore and illuminate the roots of Lorde’s intellectual development and her deep-seated and longstanding concerns about ways of increasing empowerment among minority women writers and the absolute necessity to explicate the concept of difference—difference according to sex, race, and economic status.
Recommended by Moira Cully.
A ground-breaking work of feminist history and theory analysing the complex relations between various forms of oppression. Ain’t I a Woman examines the impact of sexism on black women during slavery, the historic devaluation of black womanhood, black male sexism, racism within the recent women’s movement, and black women’s involvement with feminism.
Recommended by Shen Narayanasamy.
In Amy Poehler’s highly anticipated first book, Yes Please, she offers up a big juicy stew of personal stories, funny bits on sex and love and friendship and parenthood and real-life advice (some useful, some not so much), like when to be funny and when to be serious.
Recommended by Sophie Hope.
Here in short spellbinding essays are glimpses of the tumultuous life that led Angelou to an exalted place in American letters and taught her lessons in compassion and fortitude: how she was brought up by her indomitable grandmother in segregated Arkansas, taken in at thirteen by her worldlier and less religious mother, and grew to be an awkward, six-foot-tall teenager whose first experience of loveless sex paradoxically left her with her greatest gift, a son.
Recommended by Staycee Charles.
In her powerful debut work Lean Out, acclaimed journalist Dawn Foster unpicks how the purportedly feminist message of Sandberg’s book neatly exempts patriarchy, capitalism and business from any responsibility for changing the position of women in contemporary culture. It looks at the rise of a corporate ‘1% feminism’, and at how feminism has been defanged and depoliticised at a time when women have borne the brunt of the financial crash and the gap between rich and poor is widening faster than ever.
Recommended by Madalein Tier.
This book was written to awaken the heart and provide a new perspective on love, loss, happiness, and pain. Providing a manual of sorts, Reclaim Your Heart will teach readers how to live in this life without allowing life to own you. It is a manual of how to protect your most prized possession: the heart.
Recommended by Holly Vanderpol.
At last, Tina Fey’s story can be told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately half-hearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon—from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence.
Recommended by Laura Campbell.
Hard-hitting and entertaining, Feminist Fight Club blends personal stories with research, statistics, infographics, and no-crap expert advice. Bennett offers a new vocabulary for the sexist workplace archetypes women encounter everyday—such as the Manterrupter who talks over female colleagues in meetings or the Himitator who appropriates their ideas—and provides practical hacks for navigating other gender landmines in today’s working world.
Recommended by Francesca Maclean.
Alain de Botton’s The Consolations of Philosophy takes the discipline of logic and the mind back to its roots. Drawing inspiration from six of the finest minds in history – Socrates, Epicurus, Seneca, Montaigne, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche – he addresses lack of money, the pain of love, inadequacy, anxiety and conformity. De Botton’s book led one critic to call philosophy ‘the new rock and roll’.
Recommended by Anna Kikuno O’Leary.
Dita Von Teese divulges the beauty secrets that have earned her a frequent spot on international best dressed lists and high-profile fashion show rosters. She takes the reader through every step of her signature looks – from her perfectly coiffed hair to her flawless skin and makeup – and turns to experts and friends for advice.
Recommended by Sarah Whiting.
Generation after generation, Yaa Gyasi’s magisterial first novel sets the fate of the individual against the obliterating movements of time, delivering unforgettable characters whose lives were shaped by historical forces beyond their control, including the colonisation of Ghana and the slave trade. Homegoing is a tremendous reading experience, not to be missed, by an astonishingly gifted young writer.
Recommended by Beriy Zipamor.
In this extraordinary memoir, Magda describes her journey of self-discovery from a suburban childhood, haunted by the demons of her father’s espionage activities in wartime Poland and by her secret awareness of her sexuality, to the complex dramas of adulthood and her need to find out the truth about herself and her family.
Recommended by Gemma Nourse.
In Sapiens, Dr Yuval Noah Harari spans the whole of human history, from the very first humans to walk the earth to the radical – and sometimes devastating – breakthroughs of the Cognitive, Agricultural and Scientific Revolutions. Drawing on insights from biology, anthropology, paleontology and economics, he explores how the currents of history have shaped our human societies, the animals and plants around us, and even our personalities.
Recommended by Myfanwy Galloway.
Carrie started her first online business at the age of 20—she knows what it’s like to be an ambitious and creative woman with big dreams and huge determination . . . but she also knows the challenges of starting and running a business, including the fears, overwhelm, confusion, and blocks that entrepreneurs face. Based on her personal, tried-and-tested experience, she offers valuable guidance and powerful exercises to help you.
Recommended by Liz Huang Hughes-Brown.
Sexual harassment, domestic violence and date rape had not been named, although they certainly existed, when Damned Whores and God’s Police was first published in 1975. That was before the Sex Discrimination Act of 1984 and before large numbers of women became visible in employment, in politics and elsewhere across society. It’s hard to imagine an Australia where these abuses were not yet fully understood as obstacles to women’s equality, yet that was Australia in 1975.
Recommended by Anne Summers.
Meadows’ Thinking in Systems, is a concise and crucial book offering insight for problem solving on scales ranging from the personal to the global. Edited by the Sustainability Institute’s Diana Wright, this essential primer brings systems thinking out of the realm of computers and equations and into the tangible world, showing readers how to develop the systems-thinking skills that thought leaders across the globe consider critical for 21st-century life.
Recommended by Sam Launt.
A Director Prepares offers every practitioner an extraordinary insight into the creative process. It is a handbook, Bible and manifesto, all in one. No other book on the art of theatre comes even close to offering this much understanding, experience and inspiration.
Recommended by Cathy Petoc.
Deftly spanning decades and continents and peopled with a wide range of characters—assassins, journalists, drug dealers, and even ghosts—A Brief History of Seven Killings is the fictional exploration of that dangerous and unstable time and its bloody aftermath, from the streets and slums of Kingston in the 70s, to the crack wars in 80s New York, to a radically altered Jamaica in the 90s. Brilliantly inventive and stunningly ambitious, this novel is a revealing modern epic that will secure Marlon James’ place among the great literary talents of his generation.
Recommended by Lydia Randall.
From actress, comedian, and YouTube sensation Lilly Singh, comes the definitive guide to being a bawse—a person who exudes confidence, reaches goals, gets hurt efficiently, and smiles genuinely because they’ve fought through it all and made it out the other side.
Recommended by Caitlin Figueiredo.