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Empowering Books Every Woman Should Read

As the nights draw in and days become colder, there’s undeniable comfort in wrapping up – a cup of steaming tea in hand – with a captivating book.

Though the shifting seasons deliver the greyest of days that beckon us to hibernate indoors, we encourage every woman to take this opportunity to slow down, savour moments of solitude and practice self-care.

Self-care can look different from woman to woman, but today, we explore the realm of reading. From diving into captivating narratives to seeking inspiration, we offer our take on books – classic and contemporary – that every woman should read in their lifetime.

Table of contents:

  1. A note on self-care
  2. Must-read classic books for women
  3. Essential contemporary literature for women
  4. Roundup

The importance of self-care for women

At The Equality Practice, we will always advocate for self-care.

Self-care is a key element of women’s wellness, helping to better manage stress, anxiety and the pressures of daily life. It allows us to recharge mentally and emotionally, and serves as a reminder for women to prioritise their own needs and take time for themselves.

As a result, self-care empowers. It reinforces self-worth and helps women to find balance between responsibilities, becoming more productive and resilient.

Everyone’s version of self-care looks different (more on this in our next blog!) and what recharges one woman may not resonate with another. But ultimately, introducing a self-care routine helps to foster confidence and a stronger sense of self – setting an example for other women.

So what makes reading an exceptional form of self-care?

1. Escapism and relaxation: A good book creates a temporary escape from the stresses of daily life, offers a break from screen time, reduces stress levels and provides a sense of calm.

2. Mental stimulation: Reading improves cognitive function, enhances vocabulary and boosts analytical thinking.

3. Emotional resonance: Books have the power to evoke a wide range of emotions, allowing readers to connect with characters and experiences.

4. Perspective and empowerment: Reading exposes us to diverse perspectives, cultures and ideas, broadening our understanding of the world. It can also inspire personal growth.

5. Improved sleep: Incorporating books into a bedtime routine signals to the body that it’s time to wind down, encouraging a better quality of sleep.

6. Mindfulness: Certain genres, such as self-help or philosophical literature, prompt introspection, self-reflection and awareness.

7. Connection and community: Sharing book recommendations, joining reading groups and discussing books can create a sense of community and connection, especially in the digital age.

8. Long-term brain health: Studies suggest that regular reading may contribute to a lower risk of cognitive decline in later years.

Reading serves many benefits that extend beyond entertainment and pleasure. Its ability to soothe, stimulate, educate and inspire makes it a valuable and accessible tool for nurturing mental, emotional and even physical wellbeing.

Literary classics every woman should read

In the huge landscape of literature, many books stand as timeless treasures. We share some of our favourites, celebrated for their profound storytelling and enduring relevance.

Written by visionary authors of various eras, these literary classics resonate with universal themes and offer invaluable insights into women’s experiences, resilience and societal evolution.

‘Pride and Prejudice’ by Jane Austen (1813)

An eternal classic, Austen’s witty novel explores themes of love, societal expectations and independence through the spirited character of Elizabeth Bennet.

‘Jane Eyre’ by Charlotte Brontë (1847)

Brontë’s masterpiece follows the journey of Jane Eyre, a strong-willed and independent woman navigating societal constraints. It’s a story of resilience, love and self-discovery.

‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee (1960)

Through the eyes of Scout Finch, Lee’s novel addresses racial injustice and moral growth in a small town. Its powerful narrative highlights the importance of empathy and integrity.

‘The Bell Jar’ by Sylvia Plath (1963)

Plath’s semi-autobiographical novel candidly explores the challenges faced by women in a patriarchal society. It delves into mental health, societal pressures and the quest for identity.

‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ by Maya Angelou (1969)

Maya Angelou’s memoir delves into her early years, where she overcame trauma and discrimination. Her powerful storytelling celebrates the strength of self-discovery.

‘The Color Purple’ by Alice Walker (1982)

Walker’s award-winning novel represents the resilience of African American women in the face of oppression and abuse – in a poignant tale of survival, sisterhood and empowerment.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985)

Atwood’s classic feminist fiction offers a dystopian portrayal of patriarchy. The chilling novel reflects on the fragility of women’s rights and importance of agency, freedom and resistance.

Contemporary books every woman should read

There are also many contemporary gems which sit alongside the classics, bridging the gap between the past and present. 

We dive into some modern marvels which reflect today’s societal issues, diverse perspectives and evolving cultural landscapes.

‘Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking’ by Susan Cain (2012)

Cain’s insightful book celebrates the strengths and contributions of introverted women in a predominantly extroverted world, highlighting the power of quietude and introspection.

‘Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants’ by Robin Wall Kimmerer (2013)

Kimmerer’s book is a blend of indigenous wisdom, ecology and personal narrative. It offers a profound perspective on women’s interconnectedness with nature.

‘Bad Feminist’ by Roxane Gay (2014)

With a candid and unapologetic tone, Roxane Gay explores what it means to be a feminist in a world that often presents conflicting ideals – encouraging readers to redefine feminism.

‘Milk and Honey’ by Rupi Kaur (2014)

Kaur’s poetry collection beautifully navigates themes of love, trauma, healing and femininity. Her raw and evocative verses offer solace and empowerment in the journey of self-discovery.

‘Homegoing’ by Yaa Gyasi (2016)

Gyasi’s profound debut traces the lives of two half-sisters in Ghana and their descendants, illustrating the impact of history, slavery and resilience across generations of women.

‘Becoming’ by Michelle Obama (2018)

Obama’s memoir is a powerful testament to her resilience and grace. The deeply personal story of the former First Lady of the United States is both inspiring and relatable in equal measure.

‘Women Don’t Owe You Pretty’ by Florence Given (2020)

Through bold, unapologetic prose and striking illustrations, Given advocates for non-conformity. Her empowering manifesto challenges societal norms and expectations placed on women.

With the turn of autumn to winter, there’s no better time to indulge in a good book. There is true pleasure in getting lost within captivating worlds and compelling narratives. So in the busyness of life, take a moment to find solace and sanctuary in reading. And let us know your favourites so we can continue to share knowledge, inspire and empower women.

Further reading