As Covid-19 cases spike in Singapore this week, and further lockdown is expected, turning to books acts as a means of not only social distancing, but of managing anxiety. Take a break from the screens, celebrate International Women’s month, and draw comfort from these brave, intelligent and fascinating females.
The Girl with Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee
Hyeonseo Lee’s famous TED Talk may have been viewed by over ten million; but twelve minutes merely scrapes the surface of her chilling story. Born into an unimaginable communist North Korea, at seventeen Hyeonseo risks everything to flee to freedom. She crosses a heavily patrolled river in the dead of night to China, where she then faces years on the run – full of dangerous interactions with gangs, police and traffickers. To avoid capture, she changes her name seven times over twelve years before she is finally reunited with her beloved family in South Korea.
Diana: Her True Story, in Her Own Words by Andrew Morton
This biography sent shockwaves in 1992, as full details of Prince Charles’ torrid love affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles officially came to public light. Diana originally had to deny involvement with the book, when in fact she secretly provided hours of tape recordings for its creation (these are now transcribed and key sections included with the latest edition). Today more relevant than ever, what with Meghan and Harry’s departure from royal ties and a Diana musical launching on Broadway, Diana: Her True Story marks the first time any senior royal has ever spoken so boldly about her turbulent marriage, relationship with the Queen and life within the palace. Diana was finally able to stop living a fairytale lie.
Beautiful by Katie Piper
Pretty 24-year-old Katie met a guy on social media, not knowing he would become her worst nightmare. The man held her captive, raped her, and then threw sulphuric acid on her face. She was left disfigured, and both physically and mentally damaged. This memoir follows brave Katie through surgeries, therapies, justice and her ultimate recovery. Beautiful is a testament to survival in the most extreme of adversity, and Katie’s courage is an inspiration to us all. Expect to shed a lot of tears whilst discovering your new heroine.
Becoming by Michelle Obama
As the first black ‘First Lady of the United States’, Michelle Obama helped create the most inclusive White House in history. Her book details life from childhood in Chicago, meeting husband Barack, and of course her world-renowned official duties. What’s special about her story is that its honest and raw – Michelle dives into her moments of deep self-doubt, struggles within her marriage, and feelings about Barack’s successor. It’s no wonder the memoir has become one of the best selling of all time, and she has established herself as an advocate for women all over the world.
Lessons: My Path to a Meaningful Life by Gisele Bündchen
There’s more to this Victoria’s Secret supermodel than meets the eye. In Lessons, Gisele Bündchen opens up on what she has learned over 37 years to shape a more meaningful, mindful and spiritual life today. The journey begins in Brazil, where she is spotted by a modelling scout, takes her to London, where she became a breakthrough star thanks to Alexander Mc Queen, leading to multi-million dollar contacts and magazine covers. She finally comes back to what really matters to her – home, family, health and wellbeing. This will inspire you to align your priorities whatever your profession.
Learning to Fly by Victoria Beckham
We couldn’t have a girl power list without a Spice Girl, could we? Learning to Fly was Victoria’s first book, released in 2001; charting her lonely childhood, determination on the road to fame, whirlwind as Posh Spice, and the terrifying threats that come with being one of the most famous families on the planet. Victoria talks frankly about her insecurities, industry challenges and media scrutiny, and proves that with a hard work and the right attitude, dreams can indeed come true.
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
Malala has inspired a generation of young girls and it’s not without merit. When she was just 15, the schoolgirl was shot in the head on a bus in an attempt to be silenced by the Taliban when she fought for her right to an education. Few expected her to survive, but her recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey to the United Nations as a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest nominee ever for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Educated by Tara Westover
Tara Westover’s parents were Mormon survivalists in the mountains of rural America. That is, they spent their days preparing for the end of the world, under extremist religious beliefs. Tara was born without a birth certificate, access to mainstream medicine or traditional education. No, this wasn’t in the 18th century – this was in the NINETIES, the MTV era! Against all odds, Tara broke free of her family and eventually earned a PhD from Cambridge University. She discovers education for herself, as well as an exciting new world she never knew existed.