This coming Sunday celebrates International Women's Day – a day to embrace the achievements of women around the world while still acknowledging that greater equality is still needed.
Yesterday we took a look at our favourite female empowerment films, and today we've made a list of books, both fictional and academic, that will inspire and move you.
These books and their amazing authors show us what it means to be a woman. Forget just 8th March – make this your lifetime reading list!
1. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
This short novel is set in a dystopian world where a class of women are kept as concubines, only used to reproduce. In this world, women who cannot produce children and are unmarried are not seen or treated as real people.
2. The Country Girls by Edna O'Brien
Released in 1960, this novel by Irish author Edna O'Brien was banned as it explored the sexual lives of not just women, but Irish, Catholic women in the restrictive post-war country.
3. The Beauty Myth: How Images Of Beauty Are Used Against Women by Naomi Wolfe
In a western world where women are largely (but not totally) equal to a men, Wolfe looks at the one thing that has been put in place to keep us in our place – the heavy, restrictive and impossible ideal of beauty.
4. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
Largely accepted to a be a response to Charlotte Brontë's classic Jane Eyre, Wide Sargasso Sea tells the story of Antoinette, the 'mad woman in the attic' and traces her life from Jamaica, where she meets and marries an English gentleman, to her life with him back in England where she is renamed Bertha and hidden away from daily life.
5. The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
Written in 1949, The Second Sex explores the oppression of women throughout history as well as many other aspects as to why the woman is the other, the 'second sex'. This book is considered to be the catalyst for Second Wave Feminism which came to a head in the 1960's.
6. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison's first novel tells the sad tale of Pecola, a young black girl whose desire to be white and have blue eyes eventually leads her to escape to insanity, where her wish comes true. An important novel about what beauty means, and what it should mean.
7. Sisters by June Levine
This book, written by June Levine who passed away in 2008, explores the Irish feminist movement as well as her own search for personal fulfilment in 1960's Ireland.
8. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou's autobiographical fiction explores her early life as a black American woman looking at topics such as independence, family, rape and womanhood.
9. Feminism Is For Everybody by bell hooks
In a world where 'feminism' is often seen as a derogatory word, bell hooks gets back to basics with what feminism and feminist really are – a great starter book if you're just beginning to explore the often complex world of feminist academic texts.
10. Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters by Courtney E. Martin
Written in 2007, Martin explores today's generation of women who rather than being told we can 'be anything' are told we need to 'be everything'. Martin looks at the quest for perfection through the modern surge in disordered eating.