Education,  Resources

Eight non-fiction books that highlight women and their strengths

Real stories about women, written by women.

Courtesy of rdne stock project 

Danielle McNally, has been the full-time events coordinator at her father’s iconic Toronto bookstore Ben McNally’s since it opened in 2007 and recommends these newish female-centric titles. They range in genres from historic to political, to personal and anthological: 

1.​​ Overture of Hope by Isabel Vincent 

In Overture of Hope, Canadian investigative journalist Isabel Vincent, chronicles the lives of two unassuming British sisters, Louise and Ida Cook, who used their fanatical obsession with all things opera as a cover to rescue 29 Jewish people from Hitler’s holocaust wrath.  

2. Unearthing by Kyo Maclear 

From essayist and novelist Kyo Maclear, is a memoir set in the wake of the author’s realization that she’s not biologically related to her father. Using quick, botanically-inspired prose, Maclear takes it upon herself to investigate a family secret and thereby illuminates the nuances of human relationships in Unearthing.  

3. More than a Footnote by Karin Wells 

CBC radio documentary maker and author of The Abortion Caravan: When Women Shut Down Government in the Battle for the Right to Choose, Karin Wells presents compiled stories of a dozen Canadian women who throughout the country’s history, contributed greatly to scientific and social advancements—despite seemingly impossible circumstances.  

Courtesy of George Milton 

4. Unbroken by Angela Sterritt 

Drawing from her own traumatic past of growing up in post-colonial consciousness, journalist Angela Sterritt, a ​​descendant of the Gitxsan First Nation, spotlights the ongoing discrimination and violence against Indigenous women and girls across Canada. With countless examples of missing and murder cases, Sterritt uses her debut book to sustain the fight for Indigenous justice and rights.  

5. The Correspondents by Judith Mackrell 

Carolyn Burke’s review captures the essence of The Correspondents with this synopsis: “Judith Mackrell’s bravura group portrait of six women journalists who confronted the entrenched professional prejudice while risking their lives to cover World War II is as engaging as their own richly varied reportage.”  

6. How to Stand Up to a Dictator by Maria Ressa 

In 2021, Fillipina journalist, Maria Ressa, won a ​​Nobel Peace Prize for having placed, through her investigative news site Rappler, an urgent focus on the Philippine government’s slide towards authoritarianism amid former president Rodrigo Duterte’s murderous drug war. Ressa explains with this career memoir how values such as honesty and vulnerability steady the stance against dictatorship in a hyper-connected digitalized world.  

Courtesy of meruyert gonullu 

7. A Life of One’s Own by Joanna Biggs 

You might know Mary Wollstonecraft, George Eliot, Zora Neale Hurston, Virginia Woolf, Simone de Beauvoir, Sylvia Plath, Toni Morrison, and Elena Ferrante. In this fusion of memoir and criticism, an editor at Harper’s Magazine examines how these famous past and present female writers have approached or approach their work.  

​​8. Letters to Gwen John by Celia Paul 

This memoir is a collection of intimate letters imaginatively written by contemporary British artist Celia Paul to the late Gwen John, a 20th-century Welsh artist in who Paul finds a creative companion in. Including calm and sober-toned landscape paintings and portraits from both women, Paul’s book expresses her personal connection and professional resemblance to John.  

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