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  • Writer's pictureJess

Summer reads: Inspiring female memoirs

Updated: Aug 28, 2019

As the summer holidays approach I thought I'd do another book round up, of inspiring female memoirs (you can read our 'females in business' edit here and 'inspiring reads for girls' here). Some are famous, successful women and their stories of womanhood, careers and life experiences that got them to where they are always fascinate me. Whether it's overcoming adversity, or tenaciously following a dream - these summer reads all make me remember just how much we can learn from other women's stories...

Out of her huge body of writing, I remember nothing is Nora Ephron at her funniest, wisest, and best - written in later life, she takes a reflective, hilarious look at the past and bemoans the realities of modern life. Looking back over her career and childhood highs and lows, her writing is filled with insights and observations that instantly ring true with many women, written in only the way Nora can.

Maya Angelou's autobiography is one unique snapshot of the lives of many African American women growing up in the South. She is open and honest, covering topics that many autobiographies don't - including her own journey through sexuality, the 'normative beauty standards' that her skin and hair didn't fit into and the confusion this caused around her own sense of beauty - she is fearlessly honest as she talks about coming of age as a confident, talented woman in a world that felt determined to stop her from rising - thankfully she persisted.

Reading Busy Phillips autobiography feels like a warm, 100-mile-a-minute chat with a girlfriend. It runs off at tangents, with no censor - covering everything from 'growing up in Hollywood' to her part in the #metoo campaign. That said, it doesn't simply focus on the realities and darker corners of showbiz life, it's full of funny ancedotes and the warmth that Busy is known for. An honest, heart-bearing read.

Henrietta Lacks was one of the greatest contributors to medicine in modern history—and she didn't even know it. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks tells the story of a black female tobacco farmer whose cells were taken without her permission and used to develop the polio vaccine, among several other major scientific advancements. A widely unknown story; the lack of consent or regard for Henrietta's worth and the immeasurable value that she brought to advancements in science and society is staggering. A must read.

I read an interview with Mindy Kaling in Red last month and immediately wanted to know more about the Hollywood comedian and actress. Is everyone handing out with me? is the book that led to “The Mindy Project,” on Fox and is the book that put Mindy on the Hollywood 'funny women' map. Yes it's full of humour as you'd expect, but honesty and insight too - sharing her journey through childhood and the struggles she found as not only the first woman, and the first POC in a writer's room in Hollywood.

I'd love to hear what you're reading over the summer - let me know in comments below!

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