I regularly get emails from women asking for book recommendations. So here, hopefully just in time for last minute Christmas pressies, are my pick of the best women’s books that I have read this year.
Sweetening the Pill: or How We Got Hooked on Hormonal Birth Control
This is a superbly researched and written examination of the Pill, how it is marketed, why we swallow it and what it does to us.
“The pill is intrinsic to Western, patriarchal, capitalist culture as it is to the lives of many millions of women.” This line shook me hard. It was a terrifying truth, but one that I had never considered before. In order to be the stable, efficient, fully productive economic units of society that our culture requires, women need to take the Pill!
Over the course of the book she unpacks this statement. Women who take the Pill tend to feel numb and have less emotional response to their surroundings, both ups and downs. So women who are less passionate in all senses. Less angry, less outraged, less excited about whom they love, and have a lower libido. Women walk around who cannot get pregnant, who can have sex whenever, wherever without thought or repercussions – the stereotypical male fantasy of a living sex doll.
And women pay for this dubious privilege, both through their prescriptions, (which whilst free in the UK, it is paid for elsewhere.) but also with their health. Healthy women take a powerful medication daily for years, and often decades. A medication which UN polls has shown would be unpalatable for men to take. And it is a medication which promises so much – not just freedom from the constant fear of pregnancy, but also clear skin, bigger boobs, no PMT, lighter bleeding, less cramps, and with some, weight loss… There are few young women who wouldn’t want all that it promises: the ability to transform from a flawed human woman into superwoman.
For me this and The Pill: Are you sure it’s for you? by Alexandra Pope should be required reading of all girls on their 16th birthday.
Body of Wisdom – I just took delivery of this last night and I have read the first few pages and WOW! it is the the book of women’s wisdom I have been yearning for every moon time… I am SO excited about reading it. It explores nine hidden spiritual powers within women’s bodies which have been overlooked by patriarchal spiritual systems. Let me share a quote with you… “The powers described in this book are natural to women. They are integrated into our bodies and energy systems, and coordinated with our hearts and minds both…They are not how most women actually live, as most of us have curtailed what is natural in order to survive or thrive in a patriarchal society. But because they are natural they are always with us, like an invitation that is never withdrawn.”
Alchemy for Women: Personal Transformation Through Dreams and the Female Cycle has been my book of the year. I have learned so much about how not only my, but also my partner’s dreams are affected by my cycle… as well as so many other blood mysteries which no one speaks of. This is a follow-on title from the same authors as the classic book The Wise Wound: Menstruation and Everywoman - and thought it is much smaller, but equally as valuable, it never really established the same reputation. It is a funny mix of the scientific and esoteric written in quite a bitty way – almost like a notebook of discoveries many of which have yet to be fleshed out. It is influencing my ideas for my next book and comes highly recommended.
And of course if you’re wanting to learn more about your cycles may I point you in the direction of my on book on the subject – Moon Time: A Guide to Celebrating your Menstrual Cycle - which hundreds of women around the world have described as life changing.
I also gained a number of really interesting insights from Wild Feminine: Finding Power, Spirit & Joy in the Female Body (don’t you just LOVE the cover!) I found the exercises in it a little repetitive (I have a short attention span!) and it’s a long book – but if you’re looking for a book to help you get in touch with your female body and especially the pelvic bowl, Tami Lynn Kent is a loving insightful guide.
My Mother, Myself is a classic, written in the 70s, before it was even acknowledged how much power on a girl’s psyche her mother has. It is a book that I have bought for myself three times, but never gotten past the second chapter. The same happened again… so I skipped a few and got great insight from it. In truth I’m not mad about her writing style, and it feels a little dated as she is talking about the previous generation of mothers and daughters. But ouch her insights cut like a knife. She says what is now a classic took a while before really taking off, as women admitted to throwing it across the room or hiding it in cupboards before taking it out and finishing it, then recommending it to their friends, or buying a copy for their mother. So I guess I’m not alone!
I have just ordered her other classic My Secret Garden: Women’s Sexual Fantasies which arrived last night and is an eye-opener – it both documents hundreds of women’s sexual fantasies as well as reflecting on the how and why of female sexual fantasy in our patriarchal culture!
Whilst we’re on the topic, lets talk Cunt: A Declaration of Independence which I discovered when I was invited to a Facebook group of the same name – well actually it’s called “That book with a daisy on it” because Facebook don’t allow the word cunt in a positive context. Only for misogynists. Anyway. It is a feisty book which explores women, their bodies, their sexuality and independence with sassyness, verve and packs a punch.
Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything. For god here read whatever you see god as… but the title would have put me off buying it myself. Don’t let it! It is basically all about mindfulness and eating, written with great compassion and humor.
The Dance of the Dissident Daughter: A Woman’s Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine is another book I avoided for years because of the title – not being into either the Christian tradition or the Sacred Feminine. Really it is a powerful book about a woman’s journey into herself, breaking away from what she should believe and feel and discovering her own truth. It has become one of my all time favourite books, which I know I shall come back to again and again.
The Art of Birth: Empower Yourself for Conception, Pregnancy and Birth offers a radical new approach to conception, pregnancy and birth using expressive art for self-development. It is a beautifully illustrated book which will also inspire women who are yearning to express their sense of being a woman through art. Packed full of art exercises, relaxation, positive affirmations, inner work, emotional support and pleasure, where the dream of a natural, empowered journey to motherhood and a positive birth experience can become a new reality.
Leonie Dawson‘s 2014 Create Your Amazing Year in Life and Business Workbook has changed how I live my life and do business over the past three years that I have used it! It is powerful transformational life and business stuff carefully presented in a non-threatening, feminine way with girly pictures and gorgeous colours which make me feel so happy and safe whilst I’m doing the big work inside!
I get the wonderful printable PDF version free on her Life and Business Academy (you can buy the Life and Business versions individually for $9.95 here which is what I did last year). BUT I wanted a lovely bound copy to hold in my hands. And this year for the first year you can buy a printed copy of both versions together from Amazon. I ripped mine open last night and started the life planner the moment the kids were asleep… and then first thing at work this morning I did some of the business part. I LOVE this book. I’ve spent the morning taking stock of the mammoth year of dreams that has been 2013 and looking forward to an even more glorious year next year – oh the things I have in store already!!
Obviously The Rainbow Way has been the book I have spent most time with in every way this year. I turn to it myself when I am feeling creatively overwhelmed, burned out or in need of reassurance. There is a lot of woman craft in it – a focus on the womb and its connection to women’s creativity, our menstrual cycle and how it affects creativity, lots about women’s circles in supporting creativity and lots of self care guidance. (I am so honored that Leonie named it one of her top 20 books for 2013!) I was SO excited to see that it is number 10 on Amazon.co.uk’s most wished for book in the Motherhood genre at the time of writing!
Blueberry Girl A dear friend gave this very special book to Ash for her third birthday and it is SO beautifully written and illustrated. It is a lovely non- religious blessing of power and strength for a girl. Watch the beautiful animated reading of the book here.
Reaching for the Moon was my first book release of the year, and is, of my three self-published books, the quickest seller. It seems to really resonate with mothers and daughters and is spreading like wild fire. My 5 1/2 year old begged to be able to read one of my books, brandishing this one in her little hands, knowing that it was for girls, but I have put her off for a couple more years! I was so honored to hear that it is being taught in a local school and have been invited in to talk to the girls on the topic.
And in brief, other exciting looking new releases still on my Kindle which I have only had a chance to read a few pages of, but have enjoyed thus far include:
Conversations with EVE: Women’s TRUE power – where it came from, how we lost it, how we can get it back!
Conversations with EVE (Every Vagina on Earth) is an eye-opening, inspiring, and motivating book. It shares a fascinating account of how the “Myth of Male Superiority” took away EVE’s rights and freedoms.
Menopause: a Natural and Spiritual Journey
This book is personal journey into the time of menopause looking at it from a spiritual point of view first and how spirituality can help with physical, mental and emotional symptoms. It seeks to show it as a natural part of life.
Ripening Time: Inside Stories for Aging with Grace
Sherry Ruth Anderson, the bestselling author of The Feminine Face of God presents a new perspective on aging. She guides us beyond our culture’s mind traps and shows how growing into old age can be a fruition, the genuine grace and gift of human ripening.
The Good Mother Myth: Redefining Motherhood to Fit Reality dismantles the notion of what it means to be a “good mother.” This collection of essays takes a realistic look at motherhood and provides a platform for real voices and raw stories, each adding to the narrative of motherhood we don’t tend to see in the headlines or on the news.
Spiritual Pregnancy: Nine Months of Spiritual Transformation Before You Give Birth (out Jan 2014) is a really tender, insightful book about pregnancy especially the spiritual aspects, and is written by a husband and wife team of doctors!
What have you read and loved this year?