HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY!
International Women’s Day is a fantastic annual celebration of all things female, as well as the importance of women and how they have shaped the world we live in today.
So I hope you’ve celebrated all the women in your life today, as well as those women who have made a real change in our society. Here are some books that feature incredible women whose story will hopefully help you celebrate all things women and the journey to equality that we are still very much on…
Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo
In a chilling, eerily truncated third-person voice, Jiyoung’s entire life is recounted to the psychiatrist—a narrative infused with disparate elements of frustration, perseverance, and submission.
Born in 1982 and given the most common name for Korean baby girls, Jiyoung quickly becomes the unfavored sister to her princeling little brother. Always, her behaviour is policed by the male figures around her—from the elementary school teachers who enforce strict uniforms for girls, to the coworkers who install a hidden camera in the women’s restroom and post their photos online.
In her father’s eyes, it is Jiyoung’s fault that men harass her late at night; in her husband’s eyes, it is Jiyoung’s duty to forsake her career to take care of him and their child—to put them first.
I’m recommending this book because of its raw and honest depiction of women’s experiences and how they are shaped by male prejudices and expectations.
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
Convenience Store Woman is the story of thirty-six-year-old Keiko who has never fit in anywhere except for when she starts working at the Hiiromachi branch of ‘Smile Mart’. Here she finds peace and purpose in her life and through the store is able to understand the rules of social interaction and she does her best to copy the dress, mannerisms, and speech of her colleagues, playing the part of a “normal” person excellently.
Managers come and go, but Keiko stays at the store for eighteen years. It’s almost hard to tell where the store ends and she begins. Keiko is very happy with her life, but the people close to her cannot understand her decisions and pressure her to find a husband and to start a proper career.
I’m recommending this book because although it is incredibly weird, Sayaka Murata’s irony and dry sense of humour comes through excellently in this story of someone desperately trying to understand and meet societies expectations of women and what happens when women don’t conform…
A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum
This story follows three generations of Palestinian-American women living in Brooklyn who are torn between individual desire and the strict mores of Arab culture.
Palestine, 1990. Seventeen-year-old Isra prefers reading books to entertaining the suitors her father has chosen for her. Over the course of a week, the naïve and dreamy girl finds herself quickly betrothed and married, and is soon living in Brooklyn. There Isra struggles to adapt to the expectations of her oppressive mother-in-law Fareeda and strange new husband Adam, a pressure that intensifies as she begins to have children.
Brooklyn, 2008. Eighteen-year-old Deya, Isra’s oldest daughter, must meet with potential husbands at her grandmother Fareeda’s insistence, though her only desire is to go to college. Deya can’t help but wonder if her options would have been different had her parents survived the car crash that killed them when Deya was only eight. But her grandmother is firm on the matter: the only way to secure a worthy future for Deya is through marriage to the right man.
I’m recommending this novel because not only does it beautifully discuss how culture and honour shape some women’s lives, but it also shows how the ‘modern’ woman in some cultures are still ruled by shame and destruction.
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. Lily escapes to Tiburon, South Carolina; a town that holds the secret to her mother’s past.
She and her nanny, Rosaleen, are kindly taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters, and Lily is introduced to their mesmerizing world of bees and honey and finds herself feeling closer to her mother than ever before.
This is a remarkable novel about divine female power and sisterhood. I’m recommending A Secret Life of Bees because it is a heartwarming story that celebrates and depicts the strength of women when we unite.
Other Books to Help You Celebrate International Women’s Day
- Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
- Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
- Men Who Hate Women by Laura Bates
- Untamed by Glennon Doyle
- Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall
- The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai
- The Girl With The Louding Voice
- Feminists Don’t Wear Pink (And Other Lies) by Scarlett Curtis