A Good Read: Books by women, about women

The Me Too movement, various recent news stories and the current political climate have re-emphasized the importance of women telling their own stories in their own words.

The Me Too movement, various recent news stories and the current political climate have re-emphasized the importance of women telling their own stories in their own words.

The following female authors provide first-hand accounts of their experiences, offering a unique analysis of themselves and the world around them.

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Heather O’Neill’s advice from her father in Wisdom in Nonsense: Invaluable Lessons from My Father may not be considered conventional but it is certainly entertaining: Learn to play the tuba (there’s a shortage of tuba players, so you’ll always have work). Stay away from Paul Newman movies (or Paul Newman for that matter) at all costs.

As you read through the lecture, a dynamic picture of her father evolves, describing an eccentric, if not flawed, man whose views helped shape O’Neill’s childhood. Funny and genuine, O’Neill deconstructs the impact of her father’s often absurd but well-intentioned advice, reflecting on how it has influence her perception of the world and her work.

Is it possible to be a “good” feminist while having a penchant for bad pop songs and loving the colour pink? Is there even such a thing as a “good” or “bad” feminist?

These questions are explored in Bad Feminist, Roxanne Gay’s collection of essays in which she addresses her own feminist contradictions while affirming her opinions on the misogyny, sexism and inequality that women routinely face. Each essay describes her experiences in context to societal expectations, politics, popular culture and feminist literary criticism. These narratives are often funny, witty, self-depreciating — and sometimes deeply heartbreaking.

Dear Ijeawele, or, A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions is a 63-page letter written by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie to friend who has asked her how to raise her baby daughter as a feminist. Each suggestion expresses thoughtful advice on how to raise her daughter to be an independent woman, free of socially fabricated gender constraints. Drawing from her own experiences, perceptions and Igbo culture, Ngozi encourages her friend to raise her baby girl to embrace creativity, curiosity, self-confidence and gender equality.

Sloane Crosley’s book of essays I Was Told There’d Be Cake describes her habitually clumsy attempts at trying to navigate grown-up expectations, responsibilities and relationships. From her first adult job, failure at having a one-night stand or a deep aversion at having to be a maid of honour, these often sardonic essays provide a lens into one woman’s experience of how she fits, or doesn’t fit, into the world.

In Plain Sight: Reflections on Life in Downtown Eastside Vancouver is a collection of stories written by seven women living in disenfranchised conditions in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Each story provides a first-hand narrative of these women’s reality, exploring their relationships, family history and diverse challenges as they navigate their lives. Deeply personal, these stories offer a stark view into the life of the storyteller, allowing the reader an opportunity to challenge their own stereotypes by reading stories which do not often have the chance to be told.

Looking for more women authors? Check out your local public library.

A Good Read is a column by Tri-City librarians that is published on Wednesdays. Heather Hadley works at Port Moody Public Library.

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