With International Women’s Day and TEDxLondonWomen recently taking place, we wanted to share our latest favourite books by women.

With both days having the themes of ‘#ShowingUp’ and ‘#ChooseToChallenge’, we think the 12 books below are a perfect selection of doing just that. Not to mention these are some of the books provided at TEDxLondonWomen 2020 by our literary partner Penguin. Enjoy these inspirational books by women!

1. Investing To Save The Planet by Alice Ross

Alice explores the growing concept of responsible investments and how they can be used in the fight against climate change. With the rise of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investing, this form of investment is no longer considered fringe, in fact it can generate funds for companies tackling the climate crisis, while providing investors with positive returns in the process. A potential win-win situation. 

This book is a great introduction to the topic providing a clear and easy format to understand, making responsible investing accessible to everyone and showcasing how we can use our savings, regardless of size as a force of change.

2. The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna 

In this Young Adult Novel, we dive into Deka’s world. A place where girls at the age of sixteen undergo a purification ceremony, with those bleeding gold being referred to as Alakai – deemed impure and shunned from society due to their immortality and special powers. It’s revealed that Deka in fact bleeds gold and her only chance of redemption is by joining an army of Alakai trained to defeat the Deathshrieks – monsters that terrorise the entire kingdom. Far from home, Deka finds her chosen family, learns of her Mother’s past and of her own origins. However, Deka soon begins to realise that all is not as seems….

A great read for lovers of fantasy. Namina interweaves her own personal experience of patriarchy and the way it intersects with issues of sexism and racism into the story.

3. The Gendered Brain by Gina Rippon

With the use of cutting-edge neuroscience, Gina unpacks the stereotypes that are put upon us from an early age. Exploring the belief that our sex determines our skills and preferences and how this continuous message can mould the way we perceive ourselves and others around us.  

An insightful read, highlighting how gendered stereotypes can drastically hinder people’s potential, having serious repercussions for us all and how we identify. 

4. Untamed by Glennon Doyle 

Society expects women to strive for perfection. However, this chase has often left many of us feeling overwhelmed and tired of attempting to reach the standards set out for us by others. Glennon faces her discontent head-on by deciding to quit abandoning herself to please others and start living life for her. 

This book is the perfect mix of memoir and call to action to release ourselves from the shackles of society’s standard of women and walk into the truth of our inner peace.

5. Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam Joo 

Set in South Korea at the end of the twentieth century, this book follows the story of one young woman, Kim Jiyoung and raises questions on the endemic misogyny and institutional oppression that has not only had an effect on her but all women. 

A witty and powerful book that represents the experience of women outside of the west.

6. Professional Troublemaker: The Fear-Fighter Manual by Luvvie Ajayi 

Luvvie has created a guide to overcoming one of the biggest enemies of progress – Fear. In this book, Luvvie explores how fear held her back in the past, by exploring why she was afraid to call herself a writer and how she nearly avoided doing the TED Talk after being approached multiple times, that would go on to change her life due to feelings of imposter syndrome. Though the book speaks to Luvvie’s experience, it’s applicable to us all. 

Professional Troublemaker uses wit, humour and honesty in presenting the case to strive into the unknown, take all the opportunities afforded to you and no longer being ruled by fear.

7. The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey 

Set in 1976, on the isle of an imaginary Caribbean country called St Constance, Aycayia, a beautiful woman has been cursed by the jealous wives to live as a mermaid, swimming the Caribbean sea for centuries. One day she is entranced by the singing of a local fisherman David, however this fascination becomes her undoing. 

This book beautifully explores themes of unconditional love, friendship, family and loss. 

8. How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee  

Singapore, 1942. The country has become occupied by the Japanese Army, villages are ransacked and rations are scarce. Seventeen year old Wang Di, like many other girls and young women, is taken from her family to become ‘comfort women’ for the soldiers. In 2000, Wang Di is still tormented by her experience and remains silent on the extent of brutality she faced during the war. It takes the attempts of twelve year old Kevin attempting to uncover the truth of his grandma’s dying words to set into motion the events that help Wang Di finally speak her truth. 

A beautifully heartbreaking book that documents the experiences of women in the East during World War Two, a narrative that is not commonly heard in the West.

9. Find Your Voice: The Secret To Talking With Confidence In Any Situation by Caroline Goyder 

Find Your Voice is all about giving you the confidence needed to captivate any audience. Using her own experience, helping broadcasters, celebrities, teachers and other top-level professionals speak effortlessly and comfortably in front of others, Caroline now shares her tips and tricks on how to effectively engage with your audience in a world full of distractions. 

Communication is key to everything, having the ability to do it effectively makes life a little easier. A fantastic and easy guide for all the eventualities we might face.

10. The Book Of Echoes by Rosanna Amaka 

London, Brixton 1981. Sixteen year old Michael is already considered on the wrong side, with his community having limited job opportunities in all but one thing, drug-running. Michael falls for Ngozi, a vibrant young immigrant from a Nigerian village, their connection runs much deeper than they could ever imagine, something that’s brought to the attention of the reader by the narrator – the spirit of an african woman who lost her life on a slave ship two centuries earlier. 

This book is beautifully written, haunting in ways with an unforgettable message that love, hope and unity will heal us all.

11. Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister by Jung Chang 

Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister explores the story of how the most famous sisters in China, shaped the course of modern Chinese history. Their story connects East and West, includes a revolution and spans over three centuries and two continents. 

A detailed account of how the choices of three women, set the precedent of a whole nation.

12. We Are Displaced: My Journey and Stories from Refugees Girls Around the World by Malala Yousafzai 

Over 68.5 million people are currently displaced,all people with their own hopes and dreams and a longing for a safe home. In this part memoir, part communal storytelling, Malala explores what it means to be displaced and longing for a home she cannot return to through her own experience and that of other girls she has met on her various journeys.

A poignant and powerful tale of resilience and one of hope.

Let us know if you enjoyed our recommendations of amazing books by women. Tag us on @TEDxLondon and using the hashtag #IWD2021 and #TEDxLondonWomen on social media.

Skip to content