16 Books To Read This International Women’s Day | sheerluxe.com
From modern feminist manuals to classic novels featuring iron-willed female characters, get inspired by these books by women, for women.
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Becoming by Michelle Obama 

Michelle Obama’s 2018 autobiography did not hold back. From her relationship with Donald Trump to her struggles to conceive naturally, no topic is off the table, but rather than being crass, it makes for a truly inspirational read. In her memoir, Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her – from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago and her years as an executive juggling the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world's most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it – in her own words and on her own terms.

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Crudo by Olivia Laing 

Crudo documents what it was like to live and love in the summer of 2017 – one punctuated by rising fascism, global warming and political unrest. The book follows Kathy, who is about to get married. From a Tuscan hotel for the super rich, to a UK suffering Brexit paralysis, Kathy spends the first summer of her 40s trying to adjust to making a lifelong commitment just as Trump is tweeting the world into nuclear war. Known for her incisive, insightful non-fiction, Olivia Laing’s first foray into fiction radically rewires the novel in a brilliant, funny and emphatically raw account of love in the ‘apocalypse'. 
 
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Educated by Tara Westover 

Tara Westover grew up in a Mormon survivalist family in rural Idaho. This autobiography transports you to a world not often discussed by insiders. Westover believes this education has been the most transformative agent in her life yet acknowledges it has required huge sacrifices on her part. The friction between staying true to yourself and remaining loyal to family is discussed throughout. As Westover first walked into a classroom aged 16 and has since gone on to study at Cambridge and Harvard, this is nothing short of remarkable. Inspiring is a word often bandied about yet there is no word more appropriate to describe Educated or Tara Westover.
 
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Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay 

In this collection of essays – spanning rap music and relationships to work and politics – cultural critic, novelist and professor Roxane Gay explores what it’s like to be a feminist while loving things that could seem at odds with feminist ideology. We also recommend her other work– Not That Bad, Hunger, An Untamed State and Difficult Women.
 
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Eat Up! by Ruby Tandoh 

After leaving the Great British Bake Off as a runner-up in 2013, Ruby Tandoh has gone on to become one of the show’s biggest success stories. Now a food writer, her first non-cookery book retracts the focus from clean eating and directs it towards the joy of food for nourishment, sustenance and – above all – pleasure. Alongside the recipes at the end of each chapter, the book tackles many issues around the way women feel conflicted about what we put in our mouths. From Sylvia Plath and Nora Ephron to The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Tandoh weaves a rich tapestry of cultural voices to illustrate her journey to culinary acceptance. A must-read for anyone who’s ever felt guilt around food. 
 
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My Thoughts Exactly by Lily Allen 

In 2018 award-winning singer Lily Allen returned, with her fourth album and her first book, My Thoughts Exactly in tow. A series of personal essays see her tackle everything from tabloid tattle and parking ticket fines, through to sexual abuse and the loss of a child – this book rewrites everything you thought you knew about her. Like her lyrics, you’ll be caught off-guard with her honesty and find yourself pulled into the narrative. Non-chronological essays with simple titles such as ‘Money’, ‘Voice’ and ‘Sex, Part 1’, allow you to dip in and out of Allen’s story. A few essays in and you’ll want to race through to discover more, especially certain revelations about a fumble with The Streets’ Mike Skinner, a mile-high dalliance with Liam Gallagher and tales of sex with female escorts. During the course of the book, the tendency to think of Allen as a bit of a gobshite (Allen herself describes this fiery, outspoken persona as ‘Cartoon Lily’) disappears. We closed the book feeling nothing but total respect. 
 
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Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier 

This gothic classic had a reboot for its 80th anniversary last year. Now with an introduction by Sarah Perry (author of 2017 hit The Essex Serpent), this tale of love beyond the grave has never been out of print. Made even more famous by Alfred Hitchcock in 1940, Rebecca’s plot follows an unnamed narrator, who has married into a family still reeling from the death of the master’s former wife Rebecca, who died in mysterious circumstances. A must-read thriller. 
 
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The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter 

The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories is a collection of short fiction by British writer Angela Carter. It was first published in the UK in 1979 and went on to win the Cheltenham Festival Literary Prize. The stories share a theme of being closely based upon fairy tales or folk tales. From familiar characters and legends – think Little Red Riding Hood, Bluebeard, Puss in Boots, Beauty and the Beast, vampires and werewolves – Carter created an absorbing collection of dark, sensual, fantastic stories, all with a feminist retelling. 
 
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The Most Of Nora Ephron by Nora Ephron

This collection is a celebration of the work of the late Nora Ephron, one of America's most acute observers, famous for her whip-smart take on life. Everything you could possibly want from Ephron is here: from her writings on journalism, feminism, and on being a woman; her best-selling novel, Heartburn, written in the wake of her devastating divorce from Carl Bernstein; her hilarious and touching screenplay for the film When Harry Met Sally; her pithy blogs on politics; plus her moving meditations on aging (I Feel Bad About My Neck) and dying. Cited as an inspiration by everyone from Dolly Alderton and India Knight to Lena Dunham, this is an absolute must read. 
 
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The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer 

Meg Wolitzer is the New York Times-bestselling author of The Interestings and The Uncoupling. Her latest work, The Female Persuasion, is a novel focusing on Greer Kadetsky, a shy college freshman in a steady relationship with her boyfriend Cory. That is until she meets Faith Frank, a charismatic 63-year-old and famous fighter of women’s rights. Gradually, Greer finds herself drawn down an ambitious new path – one far from the path she previously assumed was set in stone. 
 
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We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 

What does feminism mean today? With humour and a light touch, the award-winning Nigeran author offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the 21st century—one rooted in inclusion and awareness. She shines a light not only on blatant discrimination but also on the more insidious, institutional behaviours marginalising women around the world. 
 
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The Power by Naomi Alderman 

There’s a reason you’ve seen this one being regularly consumed on your commute. Winner of the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2017, Naomi Alderman’s novel-cum-feminist-thought experiment The Power explores the idea of what would happen if women held power over men and weren’t afraid to abuse it. This gripping, innovative story exceeds the remit of a standard thriller into a global, sprawling parable of what it means to be a woman today. 
 
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Rise Up Women! by Diane Atkinson 

Between the death of Queen Victoria and the outbreak of WWI, while the patriarchs of the Liberal and Tory parties vied for supremacy in parliament, the campaign for women's suffrage was fought with flair and imagination in the public arena. Led by Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters Christabel and Sylvia, the suffragettes and their actions would come to define protest movements for generations to come. A hundred years on, Diane Atkinson celebrates the lives of the women who answered the call to 'Rise Up'; a richly diverse group spanning the divides of class and country, women of all ages who were determined to fight for what had been so long denied. 
 
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H Is For Hawk by Helen Macdonald 

As a child, Helen Macdonald was determined to become a falconer, learning the arcane terminology and reading the classic books. Years later, when her father died and she was poleaxed by grief, she became obsessed with the idea of training her own goshawk. She bought Mabel for £800 on a Scottish quayside and took her home to Cambridge, ready to embark on the long, strange business of trying to train this wildest of animals. H is for Hawk is an unflinchingly honest account of Macdonald's struggle with grief during the difficult process of the hawk's taming and her own untaming. This is a book about memory, nature and nation – and how it might be possible to reconcile death with life and love.
 
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My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante 

Book one in the New York Times-bestselling Neapolitan quartet about two friends growing up in post-war Italy is a rich and intense family epic by acclaimed Italian writer Elena Ferrante. Beginning in the 1950s in a poor but vibrant neighbourhood on the outskirts of Naples, Ferrante’s four-volume story spans almost 60 years, as its protagonists, the fiery Lila and the bookish narrator, Elena, become women, wives, mothers, and leaders, all the while maintaining a complex – and at times conflictual – friendship. Book one in the series follows Lila and Elena from their first fateful meeting as ten-year-olds through their school years and adolescence.
 
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Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë 

Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë's only novel, was published in 1847 under the male pseudonym Ellis Bell. The story centres on a wild, passionate story of the intense and almost demonic love between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, an orphan adopted by Catherine's father. Heathcliff is bullied and humiliated by Catherine's brother Hindley and believing incorrectly his love for Catherine is not reciprocated, leaves Wuthering Heights, only to return years later as a wealthy and polished man, who proceeds to exact a terrible revenge for his former miseries. Strangely romantic, there’s a reason passages from this passionate book make for popular wedding readings. 
 
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