3 New Inspiring and Relatable Books by Women
Is it a woman’s world? Maybe not yet, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t trying. The new books in this week’s book club are all about women negotiating their place and status in the world, whether it’s the entire globe, the world within, or the world of business. Go broaden your own horizons, and check them out.
1. The Women’s Atlas (5th Edition) by Joni Seager ($25): Seager has already released four editions of her comprehensive guide to the status of women across the globe; this updated fifth edition shares the most recent statistics, rendered textually and in easily interpretable graphics. Chapters cover everything from “body politics” to “property and policy,” and connections are drawn in surprising and often disturbing ways for anyone who may have constructed a complacent or simple narrative about how the world works for women.
“In the world of women, there are few ‘developed’ nations. Looking at the world through the experiences of women raises questions about the validity of conventional distinctions between ‘developed’ and ‘underdeveloped’ countries: women hold virtually the same proportion of representation in elected governments in Madagascar, Kyrgyzstan, and the USA; the indifference of the state to the murder of indigenous women in Canada, Yazidi women in Iraq, and maquiladora women in Mexico offers a sharp rebuke to the notion of the modern state; married women in South Korea, the UAE, and Malawi all need their husbands’ approval for an abortion. These may seem to be cheap shots – glib comparisons that don’t acknowledge the real advances in women’s lives. But for the women living under these realities, it is glib to say that things are getting better for women somewhere else. A rising tide does not necessarily lift all boats. Women do not automatically share in broad social advances — unless there is a commitment to ensure social equity.”
Seager takes us through how discrimination is measured, and which countries have segregated workforces and “marry-your-rapist” laws. She deals with equity and intersectionality in all its forms, going “beyond the binary” and trying not to create a monolithic message. If you want to remain informed for yourself or find material for the most hard-hitting debate, The Women’s Atlas will provide it in spades.
2. I Might Regret This: Essays, Drawings, Vulnerabilities, and Other Stuff by Abbi Jacobson ($28): “Before I make a decision, I tend to think about all the possible outcomes. I like to be prepared. This tendency unfortunately mainly includes obsessing over the ways in which things could go terribly off course, but it’s better to be informed. So, before embarking on a solo cross-country drive that I would then write about in a book, I made a list of possible worst-case scenarios. The road trip alone was terrifying, but writing about it afterward? A lot could go wrong. So, what’s the worst that could happen?… No one buys the book! If no one buys the book, the publisher could make me buy all the copies and I’ll have to fill my apartment with books. I guess I could create furniture out of the books, piling them up like a soda. I could throw pillows on top. I’ve had some time to think about this, and I could really make it work. Maybe my home, with its furniture completely built from my failed, unbought books, would make it into Architectural Digest? They’d come and take pictures and run a whole article about it. Who knows what could happen then?”
Broad City star Jacobson writes and illustrates this book, a semi-chronicle of a cross-country road trip quest sparked by the idea of an old letter. The love letter, from a WWII soldier to his wife, was somehow delivered 70 years late by the Postal Service to her apartment. Jacobson became obsessed with the intimacy in the letter, deciding to track the couple down the old-fashioned way instead of via internet crowdsourcing. In the end, though, the road trip turned out to be time for Jacobson to spend alone with her thoughts, exploring her own world.
On her road trip, between social media updates, Jacobson kept a journal that served as the basis for the book. Expanding moments from this journal muses on her show’s journey and her friendship with costar Ilana Glazer, bagels, breakups, and the minor and major anxieties that plague us. She talks about falling in love for the first time with a woman (Jacobson came out as bisexual earlier this year) and the ramifications of that relationship as it grew and crumbled. She tells us about the best road trip snacks and lists all the things she thought about on her way. Which is a lot of things — all relatable.
3. How to Be Successful Without Hurting Men’s Feelings: Non-Threatening Leadership Strategies for Women by Sarah Cooper ($17): “What’s the worst part of being a woman in business? We’ve asked these three men what they think.” This headline, blurring satire with reality, graces Cooper’s advice manual’s inner covers. Getting ahead in a man’s world can be difficult for a woman. It’s a veritable minefield: There are all sorts of things you can say and do that, instead of rightly proving your supreme competence, are interpreted as too aggressive. Things like, say, pointing out an error, confidently presenting an idea instead of confirming someone else’s, or expecting recognition for your work.
“As a woman in the business world, I kept seeing other women make the same mistakes over and over again,” Cooper writes. “Telling their coworkers they wanted to be promoted. Asking their managers for more money. Bringing visibility to their work, leading meetings, talking in meetings, looking around in meetings, and breathing in meetings. Seeing this, I knew my calling was to write a book that would stop the frustration born out of making an effort. I learned many of these tips while I was working in the male-dominated world of tech. Although I still messed up and was threatening every once in a while, I generally held fast to these rules and they probably definitely helped me get somewhere, I think. How to Be Successful Without Hurting Men’s Feelings is the non-threatening leadership guide women must follow if we are to be taken seriously in the workplace. And by ‘seriously,’ of course, I mean ‘not seriously,’ which is how we should always strive to be taken. And by ‘strive,’ of course, I mean ‘accept.’”
Cooper shows you how to gender-neutralize your resume, when to wear a wedding ring during a job interview (if it’s in person, don’t, or you might be dismissed as a pregnancy risk), and how much to smile to avoid looking too flirty or too bitchy. Chapters include “How to Relax While Still Completely Stressing Yourself Out,” “How to be Harassed Without Hurting His Career,” and “Gaslighting for Beginners.” For a more extreme tactic, the book also helpfully includes mustaches for those who feel the need to give their colleagues an increased false sense of security that a woman isn’t trying to climb the corporate ladder. And if you feel the satire is just a little too close to home or biting? Well, you can rest assured, as the disclaimer reads, that “No feelings were harmed in the writing of this book.”
What books turn your globe? Tag us in your next worldly read @BritandCo.
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