In our society it’s not easy being female, especially not being young and female. A report carried out recently in the UK (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-37223063) said on average teenage girls are more unhappy than ever before. Being young and being female, this sadly doesn’t surprise me – I’ve been incredibly unhappy myself and have faced (and still face) darkness inside myself, and within society. Something is going seriously wrong in the world to be causing so much unhappiness – depression and anxiety are more common than ever before and the increase doesn’t seem to be slowing down. However, there are things that can help change this, especially those of the fictional variety.
There are so many books I’ve read which have made me think and reflect on myself and life, and the society and world I am part of. Here I wanted to share some of my top recommendations for being young and being female. All of these books are ones that have helped me, in one form or another, to feel stronger, more informed and developed in myself. These books have helped to reaffirm the things I know are important to me and what I fight for every day. Whether you’re a young female yourself or want to help someone who is and who’s unhappy with society and in need of some fictional respite, this list is for you!
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid’s Tale is one of the most iconic “classics” for women and girls wanting to explore more about feminism and the “role” of females and their value in society. I read this book this summer and it quickly became one of my all time favourites. Margaret Atwood is a stunning writer and her concepts are breath-taking. I can’t put into words how much I loved this book and how it made me feel so much stronger in myself. I think I read this at the perfect time in my life – this summer has been a very defining one for me and the first time in a few years of unhappiness that I’ve felt like me and confident in who I am and my values, and The Handmaid’s Tale reaffirmed this.
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas
ACOMAF is one of my favourite YA books (alongside Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kauffman) and is so so so needed in the YA literary world. The first book A Court of Thorns and Roses is still a brilliant book, but a lot is included in the second book which is needed for our society to see and hear. Obviously you need to read the first book before venturing onto ACOMAF, but it’s worth it. Sarah J Maas includes issues like domestic abuse, female pleasure in sex, being confident in your own skin, depression and much more, and there really isn’t any book like it that I’ve discovered so far.
Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill
Only Ever Yours is a very painful book. I read it at a time when I wasn’t well and was suffering badly with anxiety which evoked depression and body dysmorphia in me, leading to an eating disorder. This book is a modern version of The Handmaid’s Tale (though the Handmaid’s Tale could have been written yesterday because NOTHING has changed) and is about the pressure on young women to act and look a certain way. It discusses a lot about eating disorders, social pressure, body dysmorphia and more which is why I found it so painful to read because I was feeling exactly what the characters were. Saying this, it made me properly realise what it was I was going through which did help in the long run to make me feel better. Even though I did find it hard to read and it was triggering, it is one of the most powerful books I’ve read because I related to it so much and Louise O’Neill wrote it so beautifully.
The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
The Bloody Chamber is a collection of short story fairytale retellings which are a little bit gruesome but a fantastic eye opener to the reality of “fairytales” and the fact that they were stories of warning, not of innocence and charm. What I particularly love about this collection is the fairly subtle feminist element and the notion of what it is to be female in a world of males. When I started reading this, I expected it to be hugely feminist as that’s what it’s always been portrayed as to me, however I loved that it was more subtle and had a very realistic tone to it, despite being a gothic fantasy book.
Asking For It by Louise O’Neill
Louise O’Neill’s second book, Asking For it is about the horrific reality of being a victim of rape and the way society deals with it. It’s the idea that young women are “Asking For It” in the way they dress, act and present themselves. It’s a shocking book, but does reaffirm the need for change in our society so pressure is alleviated for young women in particular to be a certain way – I don’t think I’m the only one who is baffled by the pressure of covering up too much and not covering up enough because whatever we seem to do, it isn’t right in the eyes of society.
Other notable books:
Are there any books you’ve read which made you feel empowered or are noteworthy? Leave your recommendations in the comments below!