Highlight: Women's literature

Inspired by International Women’s Day this week we have found some great new literature by amazing female authors!

Witches what women do together – Sam George-Allen

Local author

A reader may instinctively pass off the important message this book has to pass on if one judges a book by its cover, but within lies wonderful life lessons and experiences far beyond implications of Wicca society; lessons that regardless of age, we could still all stand to (re)learn.

Covens. Girl bands. Ballet troupes. Convents. In all times and places, girls and women have come together in communities of vocation, of necessity, of support. And wherever women gather, magic happens. Female farmers change the way we grow our food. Online beauty communities democratise the intricacies of skincare. Teen girls invent phrases that enter the urban lexicon, and choose our next pop superstars.

Patriarchal societies have long been content to uphold men’s and boys’ clubs, while viewing groups that exclude men as sites of rivalry and suspicion. In this deeply personal exploration of what women make together, Sam George-Allen delves into workplaces, industries and social groups to dismantle the cultural myth of female isolation and uncover evidence that these groups are formidable.

Witches honours the heritage of the women who have come before us and those still fighting for equality today. George-Allen represents girlhood as something multi-faceted that isn’t easily defined, but shows how the power of women working together is magic.
— Cindy Morris, Readings Carlton
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Accidental Feminists – Jane Caro

Jane Caro has become a notable literary figure over the years, this being her tenth book (other bestselling non-fiction titles include her autobiography Plain-speaking Jane ). And while Accidental Feminists could potentially be considered an extension of this it ropes in the very broad topic of feminism and the baby boomer generation. It uses her own experiences and those of other sociological and socio-economic spheres separate to her own.

If you are looking for a personal account of Australian feminism from the first wave of women who “earned their own money”, then this is the title to read.

Women over fifty-five are of the generation that changed everything. We didn't expect to. Or intend to. We weren't brought up much differently from the women who came before us, and we rarely identified as feminists, although almost all of us do now. Accidental Feminists is our story. It explores how the world we lived in-with the pill and a regular pay cheque-transformed us and how, almost in spite of ourselves, we revolutionised the world. It is a celebration of grit, adaptability, energy and persistence. It is also a plea for future generations to keep agitating for a better, fairer world.

Caro offers a generational bridge for readers who identify across all three waves of feminism: a way to understand what came before, to better see where to go from here.
— Melissa Cranenburgh, Books + Publishing
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wild women and their amazing adventures over land, sea & air – ed. by Mariella Frostrup

This is an inspirational book filled with accounts of firsts. A lot of iconic names of women who set the precedent for future female adventurers; contributors include:

  • Ella Maillart who wrote about her many travels across the USSR and Asia from the 1930s.

  • Beryl Markham, primarily one of the first female aviators flying across Africa. She was the first person to fly solo, non-stop across the Atlantic from east to west.

  • Lady Hester Stanhope sets the example for women as far back as the early 19th century with her archaeological expedition to Ashkelon being groundbreaking at the time.

  • and possibly the most prominent name in record-breaking women adventurers: Amelia Earhart

More modern mentions include Cheryl Strayd (author of Wild) and Australian Robyn Davidson (Tracks).

From Constantinople to Crimea, from Antarctica to the Andes, women throughout history have travelled across land and sea and recorded their adventures. This is a collection of more than 50 of the greatest escapades ever experienced and told by women. Curated by Mariella Frostrup, these works span the globe from the 1700s to the present day and include well-known heroines such as Isabella Bird, Dervla Murphy and Cheryl Straid as well as unknown and undiscovered adventurers.

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The Thinking Woman – Julienne van Loon

Inspired by reading Alain de Botton’s Consolations of Philosophy, van Loon has admitted she had a “perhaps I am the one to write this book” moment. The Thinking Woman is, in a way, her answer to the intellectual representation she mourned for. She focuses on six difficult concepts to succinctly nail down but with an accessible voice for readerships of either gender; making this title quite an enjoyable read.

One of the age-old questions of philosophy is what does it mean to live a good life? In this extraordinary book, scholar and writer, Julienne van Loon, applies a range of philosophical ideas to her own experience. Van Loon engages with the work of six leading contemporary thinkers and writers — Rosi Braidotti, Nancy Holmstrom, Siri Hustvedt, Laura Kipnis, Julia Kristeva and Marina Warner — through interrogating and enlivening their ideas on love, play, fear, work, wonder and friendship.

Her journey is intellectual and deeply personal, political and intimate at once. It introduces readers to six extraordinary women whose own deeply thoughtful work has much to offer all of us. They may transform our own views of what it means to live a good life.

There is an old dictum that an idea isn’t properly understood until it’s applied. The Thinking Woman is not a book that seeks to intervene in theory. It is a book that seeks to apply theory to practice, and by practice I mean, to a large extent, my own practice of everyday life.
— Julienne van Loon