Ready to feel empowered? 11 Australian books to read on International Women’s Day

That'll make you laugh, cry and feel everything in between.

International Women’s Day is a day for women around the world to celebrate themselves and continue the fight for gender equality. Whether you’re attending a women’s march, learning from fellow females at a conference or donating to a relevant charity, there are so many ways to mark the day. In fact, this International Women’s Day, you can do something as simple as read books.

Reading isn’t just a relaxing hobby, it’s also a simple and effective way to learn more from all sorts of people – particularly women.

A 2015 Macquarie University study of the Australian book industry found female authors account for about 66 per cent of books written in Australia. It’s not often women dominate these sorts of fields, so why not add some of their work to your reading list?

Whether you’re looking for motivation, laughs or to learn, we have 11 books that you can devour this International Women’s Day.

books International Women's Day


Women Don’t Owe You Pretty

Florence Given

Florence Given’s Women Don’t Owe You Pretty takes an intersectional feminist approach to discussing consent in relationships, emotional labour, internalised misogyny and a host of other topics. Released in 2020, the book, which was Florence’s debut title, was an instantaneous success. This is one of the books that should be on your reading list this International Women’s Day.


Women & Power

Mary Beard

Mary Beard’s Women & Power is an exploration of how culture has treated powerful women and feminine voices in the public sphere. The critically acclaimed manifesto tackles the pervasive absence of women in power structures, but rather than injecting women into these places, Mary posits reconstructing power altogether.


On Reckoning

Amy Remeikis

As The Guardian‘s political reporter and a sexual assault survivor, Amy Remeikis’ personal and professional rage takes centre stage in this book.

Written in the wake of the shocking allegations of gendered and sexual violence in Canberra, it’s a captivating but confronting read that will make you think about how much progress is really being made.

(Credit: (Image: Booktopia))


Don’t Be Too Polite, Girls

Wendy McCarthy

With rave reviews from public figures including Dr Kerryn Phelps and Sandra Sully, Wendy McCarthy’s memoir is one that every woman living in Australia will be able to relate to on some level.

An educator, activist and feminist, Wendy has been a champion for women for decades and this read is all about finding your voice and listening to it.


Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Who Helped Win the Space Race

Margot Lee Shetterly

If you’re a history buff looking for a good women-focused books this International Women’s Day, then Hidden Figures is the book for you. The non-fiction novel delves into the biographies of three Black women who worked as computers for NASA. Not only were these women instrumental to a number of successful space programs in the 1960s, but they also overcame racial segregation and gender discrimination during their time at NASA. The book was also turned into an award-winning film by the same name.


This Is Not A Book About Benedict Cumberbatch

Tabitha Carvan

After she unexpectedly fell for British actor Benedict Cumberbatch while stuck at home with two young children, Tabitha put pen to paper to write about women and how we need to unashamedly loving our passions.

This hilarious, joyful read is not so much about the Sherlock star (as the title says) but rather finding out what you love and rolling with it.


Growing Up Disabled in Australia

Carly Findlay

Writer Carly Findlay, who was born with a lifelong skin genetic skin condition called ichthyosis form erythroderma, leads a group of prominent Aussies with a disability or chronic illness as they share their own original pieces.

It’s the fifth book in the highly acclaimed, bestselling Growing Up series so if you enjoy it we recommend checking out other titles including Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia and Growing Up Queer In Australia.


Another Day in the Colony

Chelsea Watego

Written by Munanjahli and South Sea Islander woman Chelsea Watego, this collection of essays that examine ongoing racism First Nations peoples live with will stop you in your tracks.

Through her own experiences and observations, Chelsea discusses how colonialism has seeped into everything from the media, to courtrooms, and how it’s a matter of standing her ground rather than fighting back.


Asian Girls are Going Places

Michelle Law

You may have heard of her brother Benjamin Law, but Michelle’s writing skills are just as impressive and this book is testament to that.

Bursting with advice and anecdotes on everything from solo travel, to finding good Asian food around the world, to romance and relationships, this offbeat read is one that will make you want to book your next flight.



Eliza Reilly

Ever heard of Merle Thornton who fought for Indigenous rights alongside Faith Bandler? What about Annette Kellerman who revolutionised swimming for women?

Learn about them and more powerhouse Aussie sheilas in this cheeky, funny and inspirational read. Turns out we have them to thank for many of the awesome opportunities we have in modern Australia.


Ten Steps to Nanette

Hannah Gadsby

If you checked out Hannah’s Netflix special Nanette then you’ll have a good idea of how powerful this read is.

This read is both harrowing and hilarious and follows Hannah’s life as a queer person growing up in Tasmania where homosexuality was illegal until 1997, her late diagnoses of autism and ADHD and many more stories. It’s even received rave reviews from Oscar winner Emma Thompson so you know you won’t be able to put it down.

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