Balance for Better: an IWD Reading List

Following our series of blog posts from authors around the Balance for Better theme, 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 redressing the gender balance.

For younger readers…

Fairytales for Feisty Girls by Susannah McFarlane

Reclaiming the word feisty, and redressing the balance of traditional fairytales, Susannah McFarlane has rewritten fairytales to feature girls with smarts who can rescue themselves!

Just watch Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella and Thumbelina create their own happily ever afters in this beautiful and emboldening bedtime book, a glorious treasury for young girls – and boys.

Our Little Inventor by Sher Rill Ng

As you’ll see from the gorgeous imagery in Sher Rill Ng’s blog post, Our Little Inventor is a gorgeous & inspiring picture book about a young girl, Nell, who invents a machine to fix the pollution that is choking the city.

A wonderful picture book about a girl with a big idea and a determined spirit, and who just needs a little help to make the world a better place for everyone.

Little People, Big Dreams

This is an empowering series that celebrates the important life stories of wonderful women and men around 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 which they’ve recently balanced up with the addition of books on men, starting with Muhammad Ali and Stephen Hawking:

Memoirs, essays and more…

Choice Words, edited by Louise Swinn

At a time where there is a lack of balance in abortion laws across Australia, and elsewhere around the world, this book is needed now more than ever.  Choice Words is a passionate appeal from writers, thinkers, musicians, actors, comedians, activists and political staffers, offering personal stories of abortion alongside historical records and political anecdotes.

This treasury of stories highlights the sheer, unspoken commonality of abortion. Women have been dealing with the risks and the fall-out for longer than there is record. It is poignant, wise, funny and true; a salute to those who have been working in the field, a celebration of how far we’ve come, an electrifying caterwaul at how far we still have to go, and a clarion call to action.

Eggshell Skull by Bri Lee

Ahead of publishing Eggshell Skull last year Bri Lee wrote about women in the justice system for International Women’s Day, and since then she’s been campaigning to have the laws changed in Queensland, to better protect victims of sexual abuse when taking cases to court.

Eggshell Skull is a powerful memoir of Bri’s time as a Judge’s associate in Queensland, often dealing with harrowing abuse cases, as well as her own reckoning with the legal system as a complainant in a sexual abuse case.


Courage Calls to Courage Everywhere Jeanette Winterson

One hundred years after women were first granted the vote, award-winning author Jeanette Winterson celebrates how far we have come on the road to equality, and calls on women and men alike to continue the fight.

Winterson examines the current landscape of gender inequality in medicine, education, equal pay, sexual harassment and the #MeToo movement, as well as recent campaigns promoting the equality of women,  and explores what can be learnt from the Suffragette movement a century ago.


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 achive Balance for Better and make our society truly equal.


Fight Like A Girl & Boys Will Be Boys by Clementine Ford

Personal and fearless – Clementine Ford’s manifesto is a call to arms for feminists new, old and as yet unrealised to find Balance for Better. 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.

In her follow-up, Boys Will Be Boys examines what needs to change for that equality to become a reality. It answers the question most asked of Clementine: ‘How do I raise my son to respect women and give them equal space in the world? How do I make sure he’s a supporter and not a perpetrator?’

Watch as Clementine discusses the books below:

The Revolution of Man by Phil Barker

Offering balance to Clementine Ford’s take on toxic masculinity, Phil Barker has written his take on Australian masculinity, unpicking the myth of the ‘Man Box’ and showing how the performance of masculinity is suffocating, limiting and damaging.

The Revolution of Man shows us how to rethink what it means to be a man and urges men to reconnect with their emotions so they, and the people they love, can start leading happier, healthier and more meaningful lives.


Women, Equality, Power by Helen Clark

Women, Equality, Power is a celebration of an outstanding leader who continues to strive and work for change, and it’s a rallying call for other women leaders, whether they are in positions of political, economic or social power.

Helen Clark often said, and continues to say, that having women in leadership positions not only sends a powerful message to other women but also changes societies’ perceptions of gender roles and encourages girls to believe that no door is closed to them.
– Jacinda Ardern

Women Kind by Dr Kirstin Ferguson and Catherine Fox

Women Kind is a reminder that brilliant things happen when smart women get fed up, and celebrates how women are rallying together in a massive and unstoppable force to make their voices heard around the world in ways we have never seen before.

Kirstin Ferguson and Catherine Fox examine how women’s shared clout is transforming communities, workplaces and leadership; show that every woman is a role model; and challenge the idea that women regularly turn on each other for scarce seats at the top table.

Something a little different…

The Mental Load by Emma

A scorching collection of cartoons that is incisive, funny and fiercely feminist as French artist Emma reflects on social and feminist issues by means of simple line drawings. In her strips Emma deals with themes ranging from maternity leave (it is not a vacation!), domestic violence, the clitoris, the violence of the medical world on women during childbirth, and other feminist issues, and she does so in a straightforward way that is both hilarious and deadly serious.

If you’re not laughing, you’re probably crying in recognition.

What Would Boudicca Do? by Elizabeth Foley & Beth Coates

It is time to start channelling the spiky superwomen of history and conquer the sh*t show that is the modern world to provide Balance for Better. It is time to turn to women like Agatha Christie, Hypatia and Cleopatra, Coco Chanel and Cixi.

In this irreverent guide they will help you figure out how to cope with impostor syndrome, dispatch a love rat, stand up for yourself, get politically engaged, kill it at work, and trounce FoMo.

What Would Boudicca Do? will make you fired-up and ready for anything!

Further Reading

Enjoy these thought-provoking reads from our authors:


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