Press for Progress: an IWD Reading List

Following our series of blog posts from authors, here’s some further reading perfect for International Women’s Day (or any day) – with a selection of fiction and non-fiction for young and old around the themes of celebrating women and the Press for Progress.

For younger readers…

Little People, Big Dreams

This is an empowering series that celebrates the important life stories of wonderful women of the world. From designers and artists to scientists, all of them went on to achieve incredible things, yet all of them began life as a little child with a dream. These books make the lives of these role models accessible for children, providing a powerful message to inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world!

Have a look at the video below to learn more about the books in the series:

What Would She Do

Meet 25 of the most powerful and inspirational women of all time! From Cleopatra to Amelia Earhart, Malala Yousafzai to Michelle Obama and Emma Watson.

Portraits created by hand-picked contemporary illustrators and snappy, compelling text bring these women’s achievements vividly to life, and relate their stories back to those of young girls today. These trailblazers not only accomplished great things, but overcame the same issues that girls all over the world have to face in modern society, such as inequality, gender stereotyping, body shaming, bullying and much more. Created by an all-women team and illustrated by internationally renowned artists, What Would She Do? packs a feminist punch.

Memoirs, essays and more…

Free Women, Free Men by Camille Paglia

From fiery intellectual provocateur Camille Paglia comes a brilliant essay collection that both celebrates and challenges modern feminism – from motherhood to Madonna, football to Friedan, stilettos to Steinem.

“Feminist and culture critic Paglia is at her feisty, full-throated best in this series of short manifestos that spans her career from her breakthrough 1990 study, Sexual Personae, to the present. ”
Publishers Weekly

I love Camille Paglia: for her audacity, her wit, her toughness and her directness. Free Women, Free Men is a collection of her essays and a refreshing reminder that there is a libratory feminism and sexual politics that doesn’t owe any allegiance to self-righteousness, puritanism and constant whining about being a victim.
Christos Tsiolkas

Women and Power by Mary Beard

Britain’s best known classicist Mary Beard, is also a committed and vocal feminist. With wry wit she shows in this manifesto how history has treated powerful women. With examples ranging from Medusa and Athena to Theresa May and Elizabeth Warren, Beard explores the cultural underpinnings of misogyny, considering the public voice of women, how we look at women who exercise power, our cultural assumptions about women’s relationship with power, and how powerful women resist being packaged into a male template.

“In tracing the roots of misogyny to Athens and Rome, Mary Beard has produced a modern feminist classic”
The Guardian

Equal Power by Jo Swinson

A practical call to arms that challenges the persistent inequality of power between men and women. Equal Power holds a mirror up to society, laying bare the extent of gender inequality while making the case that everyone has the power to create change.

In this inspiring and essential book, Jo Swinson outlines the steps, small and large, required to Press for Progress and make our society truly equal.


Fight Like A Girl by Clementine Ford

Personal and fearless – Clementine Ford’s manifesto is a call to arms for feminists new, old and as yet unrealised to Press for Progress. Fight Like A Girl will make you laugh, cry and scream. But above all it will make you demand and fight for a world in which women have real equality and not merely the illusion of it.

Look out for Clementine’s book Boys Will Be Boys, which takes a look at toxic masculinity, later in the year.


When They Call You A Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullors & asha bandele

From Patrisse Khan-Cullors, one of the co-founders of the Sydney Peace Prize Award winning Black Lives Matter movement comes a powerful poetic memoir and reflection on humanity. Necessary and timely, this story asks us to remember that protest in the interest of the most vulnerable comes from love.

“a portrait of incredible resilience. And optimism against the odds. It’s a tale in which the personal is political: But it’s her dedicated struggle for equality, on many levels, that unites it all.” Sydney Morning Herald

Testosterone Rex by Cordelia Fine

Testosterone Rex is the powerful myth that squashes hopes of sex equality by telling us that men and women have evolved different natures. Cordelia Fine shows, with wit and panache, that sex doesn’t create male and female natures. Instead, sex, hormones, culture and evolution work together in ways that make past and present gender dynamics only a serving suggestion for the future – not a recipe.

Testosterone Rex brings together evolutionary science, psychology, neuroscience and social history to move beyond old ‘nature versus nurture’ debates, and to explain why it’s time to unmake the tyrannical myth of Testosterone Rex.

Something different…

I Know a Woman

From ground-breaking scientist Marie Curie to political activist Malala Yousafzai, from feminist author Virginia Woolf to the game-changing Billie Jean King; I Know a Woman creates a gigantic web of womanhood which celebrates the relationships between the world’s most inspirational and influential women.

Some names will be familiar, some might not but all are equally important. With compelling story-telling and beautifully illustrated portraits, I Know a Woman is bold and engaging, highlighting  84 pioneering women and showing the indomitable strength of womankind.

The Word for Woman is Wilderness

Funny, frank and tender, The Word for Woman is Wilderness is an adventure novel with a difference. Erin is 19. She’s never really left England, but she has watched Bear Grylls and wonders why it’s always men who get to go on all the cool wilderness adventures. So Erin sets off on a journey into the Alaskan wilderness, a one-woman challenge to the archetype of the rugged male explorer.

On her journey, Erin explores subjects as diverse as the moon landings, The Order of The Dolphin, The Doomsday Clock, shamanism, Ted Kaczynski, the Gaia hypothesis, Henry David Thoreau, the appropriation of native land and culture, Darwin, nuclear war, and the pill – amongst many others.

Funny, frank and tender, filled with a sense of wonder for the natural world and a fierce love for preserving it, The Word for Woman is Wilderness marks the debut of a bold new voice.

The Book of Joan

A vision of our near-extinction and a re-imagined Joan of Arc poised to save a world ravaged by war. A riveting tale of destruction and love found in the direst of places, Lidia Yuknavitch’s The Book of Joan raises questions about what it means to be human, the fluidity of sex and gender, and the role of art as a means for survival. It’s a genre-defying masterpiece that may very well rewire your brain.

All my youth I gloried in the wild, exulting, rollercoaster prose and questing narratives of Henry Miller, Charles Bukowski, and Jack Kerouac, but cringed at the misogyny; couldn’t we have the former without the latter? We can, because: Lidia Yuknavitch. Buckle your seat belts; it’s gonna be a wild feminist ride
– Rebecca Solnit

Badass Babe Workbook

This interactive and empowering book highlights the accomplishments and messages of over 100 badass babes, with prompts, art activities and writing exercises that will encourage you to unearth, fuel, and cultivate your own inner superpowers, unleash your creativity, and find your voice.

In these complex, sometimes bewildering and challenging times, the Badass Babes Workbook will help you stay engaged, connect with phenomenal women from history and right now, and give you the courage to dig deep into yourself, polish up your talents and gifts, blaze new trails and fight against injustice.

WIN an IWD Book Pack

We’re giving away a stack of these books listed above, as well as a few others and upcoming proofs, offering a great selection of women writers. Five runners-up will receive an advance copy book pack featuring Bri Lee’s Eggshell Skull & Virginia Lloyd’s Girls At The Piano.

To enter, just have a read of our blog posts around the Press for Progress and fill in the form below telling us which one speaks to you most and why. Entries close Monday 12 March, so plenty of time to enjoy these thought provoking reads:

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