Updated: Mar 4, 2021
By: Amanda Ekery
During Women’s History Month read something new, something exciting, and something that will make you think! Below are 10 of books written by women/non-binary people that I read this past year. There’s some historical fiction, space novellas, city planning, mysteries, and musical inspiration. I think it’s important to find commonalities amongst different art forms to inform your own work and open your mind to new worlds and possibilities. Reading is one way this can happen.
So visit your library, download them on your phone, get em’ how you can, and enjoy!
1. “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear” by Elizabeth Gilbert
How can you learn to be curious, to pursue ideas without fear, and find what you like? Elizabeth Gilbert answers all these questions and more in Big Magic! I often think that if I’m not practicing or checking out music that I am wasting my time, but Big Magic proves that being curious about other areas and pursuing those interests will feed back into my musical work and even enhance it.
2. “Where’d You Go Bernadette” by Maria Semple
I devoured this book in two days. This comedic mystery thriller revolves around a slightly crazed, creative architect mother and her flute-playing daughter. Super funny and witty, it’s a great narrative of the stresses creative people can face, but told in an imaginative way.
3. “Women in Jazz: The Women, the Legends & Their Fight” by Sammy Stein
This new edition to the women in jazz canon is truly the update our lives needed!
Sammy writes with a forward thinking mindset and includes interviews and opinions from females working in every facet of the music community – musicians, agents, public relation representatives, radio hosts, record labels, writers, and more.
4. “Homegoing” by Yaa Gyasi
Historical fiction that’s well researched, engaging, and brings to light injustices served over hundreds of years – yes, please! Yaa Gyasi’s masterpiece begins with the story of two sisters separated at birth living in British controlled Africa in the 1700s. The story then continues to share the stories of their children and their children’s children, and so on and so forth, until modern day. It’s powerful, eye opening, and is all based on real events.
5. “Dare to Lead” by Brené Brown
“Leadership is not about titles or the corner office. It’s about the willingness to step up, put yourself out there, and lean into courage.” Fellow Texan, Brené Brown is super cool. She writes kind lessons and authentic stories that make you feel like you can take on anything, oh and she has PhD so everything she writes has been proven by research! In her latest book, Dare to Lead, she encourages everyone to think about what it means to dare greatly in their own lives, how being brave in small instances can shift everything, and how to put all these ideas into practice. Practice makes permanent, and hopefully you will come out feeling like you can make change where you see a need.
6. “A Place for Us” by Fatima Farheen Mirza
Oh my gosh, I cannot rave about this book enough! The story, the structure, the struggle, everything is gorgeous! This book is about a Muslim-Indian family living in California in the early 2000s, and conflicting desires to assimilate and retain culture. Told from multiple viewpoints, A Place for Us makes you consider all sides of a story and understand decisions made even when you might disagree.
7. “The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help” by Amanda Palmer
Amanda Palmer is an interesting musician. She describes her style as dark cabaret, a mix of theater and punk. As a touring musician, she has relied heavily on her fans to support her financially, letting her crash on their couches during tours, even borrowing cars when needed. She knows how to ask for what she needs, but in a way that’s not selfish or uncomfortable. It’s truly a gift! In this book she talks about her process on asking for what she needs, and you can use her techniques next time you have a band fundraiser, want to record some music, or for anything else you may want!
8. “To Be Taught, If Fortunate” by Becky Chambers
There is something special about a story that gives you just enough information while not divulging certain details that can be pondered, created, or decided by the reader. To Be Taught, If Fortunate is this special! It’s a novella (baby novel) that’s set in space in the 22nd century, with everyday heroes, and an ending that is irresistible. Becky Chambers’ writing is direct and she even worked with her mom who is a scientist to make everything believable.
9. “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” by Jane Jacobs
Part of being an artist is being informed about the world around you. The community you live in, the structures set up in communities, and how you fit into that community are all imperative. This book from 1961 blew my mind! It discusses city planning (I promise it’s not boring!) and how these plans have effected how people interact, support/not support each other, and live. Just think, sidewalks have huge implications on city communities! Who knew?
10. “Curse of the Boyfriend Sweater: Essays on Crafting” by Alanna Okun
Making things with your hands is telling. It shows you an arc of time, a transformation of materials, and often has a finished product that is a reflection of your work. Music is not tangible or as visible as material making, but the realization of process and product are the same. This lovely book of essays about crafting is relatable on so many artistic levels. It’s fun, honest, and talks about failures and finishes.
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Have a book recommendation? Let me know by sending an email on our Connect page or telling me in person this June at our summer program. Sign up is now open and it’s free AND fun!