In honour of Women’s Day this month, I have selected 5 highly recommended books from 5 amazing female authors.
These are absolute must-reads, even if you are not a bookworm. Some will tickle your sense of adventure, while others might appeal to your more conservative side. Either way, there is something for everyone here. And since reading is a Covid-friendly activity, I feel quite shameless in my overindulgence in it. The hardest thing for me was choosing only a handful to share.
1. The first author needs no introduction. Elizabeth Gilbert’s latest book City of Girls is truly charming.
The story takes place in 1940 and follows the extravagant life of New York City’s showgirls. Elizabeth’s research and inspiration for the book came from (what I can only imagine being wildly entertaining and captivating) conversations with a retired dancer. And much of the story is based (somewhat loosely) on this woman’s life and love experiences.
What is not common knowledge is that while writing this book, Elizabeth was going through a traumatic time watching her partner and best friend fight cancer. The book became an escape from the inevitable reality of losing someone she loved dearly.
It was hard to choose just one Elizabeth Gilbert book. Honestly, I’d recommend any of them. She is a reader’s delight!
2. This next one is more for the left-brain-oriented types.
Remember Suze Orman? Love her or not, the woman knows about money and how to manage it.
I recommend this book to all women, especially my younger clients who are just starting their careers or are thinking of getting married. I have even considered gifting this book as a wedding present, but it might not be received well by some. (A testament to the perfectly practical and simple-to-use guides to empower women to own or co-own their financial well-being). Suze Orman’s Women and Money is filled with the stuff they don’t teach you in school and university. The book has been adapted for the South African climate and includes Rand values and how to check your credit score with TransUnion.
Although it may not be a book you will read with a good glass of wine in a bubble bath, you will realise its value from the first page.
3. Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.
Maya Angelou said, “Everyone who can read should read this book.” Enough said.
This is not an easy read. The author’s writing style is very rich and mature, much like the feeling you get when indulging in a beautifully cooked lamb shank with a velvety red wine jus. It is a remarkable book though.
She unpacks and rewrites fables and folklore that different cultures have kept alive through storytelling, over generations, with their children and grandchildren. Many of these stories, heard in our younger years, are so entrenched in our belief system that they have become a part of who we are. What I have found most intriguing is how these stories have dictated the way we view women, love and power. Just think of all the old Disney princess movies.
If you have an appetite for magic and medicine, this one is a must!
4. Educated by Tara Westover.
This is an extraordinary memoir of the life of a girl, born in rural Idaho, to parents who, for lack of a better description, were doomsday prophets. They believed the FBI and government were watching their every move. They refused to send their children to school, get medical care or associate with people who were not stockpiling food for the coming end-of-days. As shocking and sad as her story is, she compensates for it with her exquisite writing style. This book will appeal to anyone who has experienced any form of childhood trauma (so basically everyone).
It is not a sad book per se, but rather an astonishing account of how far a person can come and what they can accomplish despite an imperfect upbringing. This one is for the bubble bath!
5. The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer.
Now obviously, that is not the author’s real name. It was a name given to her by Native American elders and means one who likes to push the edge and can help others to do the same.
The best way to describe this book is to give you a tiny taste of it.
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain! I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it, or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.
The book starts with this poem, of which there are 7 more stanzas. Each one as profound as the previous. They are unpacked further in the chapters that follow. This book is real, raw, unfiltered, practical, complex, honest and beautiful.
There are so many incredibly talented female authors. Jane Austin, Chimamanda Adichie, Margaret Atwood, and Charlotte Bronte, just to name a few. Let’s celebrate the diversity and creativity they and all women bring to the world.