Our Favourite Books to Help You #BalanceforBetter.

Happy International Women's Day friends. In case you're not familiar with it, IWD is an annual event celebrated each year on March 8th and each year has a theme related to equality or women's rights. This years' theme is #BalanceforBetter and the aim of the campaign (which runs all year) is to work towards a more gender balanced world. Of course over here we like to talk books, so we thought we'd share some of our favourite books (indie, of course) that are related to balance in all meanings of the word.

Firstly, two beautiful Folio Society editions of children's classics which helped me to find my voice as a child. Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield was really influential in helping me to realise the importance of working for what you want, and that you don't have to wait for anyone else to come along and help you to figure it out. I think the story of how the Fossil sisters work together to 'do something to put the name of Fossil in the history books' is both inspiring and just a great story and I recommend it to everyone. The second Folio is Anne of Green Gables by L.M Montgomery. If you've seen pictures of me you'll know I'm a redhead and when I was a kid finding redheads in books who weren't horrible was hard to do, so Anne instantly became my role model as a child. I also have a habit of talking more than I should, and I relate to her in so many ways. Although romance is eventually part of her story, she's very much in favour of standing up for what's right and using her voice, and she taught me that it's OK to do the same.

Moving on to two ex-box books that I think address the theme of balance brilliantly in different ways. Our first ever box book, Star-Shot by Mary-Ann Constantine (Seren Books) addresses the idea of balance in the natural world more than it does gender balance, but I think it's a great book to include. As well as being written by a woman it has a couple of central female characters and the story is all about a band of silence running through Cardiff city and a group of strangers who come together to try to figure it out and restore balance to the city. I love stories with 'found families' in them and this is one of my favourites. It's also great on the theme of balancing technology and the real world which is also an important thing to think about. The other box book I wanted to mention is the last box we did before our hiatus, which included The Outrun by Amy Liptrot (Canongate Books). This is the story of Liptrot's recovery from addiction through returning to her home of Orkney and the way that nature plays into restoring her mental balance. I think it's so important when we're talking about a more equal world to talk about mental health issues and the ways that they affect men and women differently.

Two books that are of phenomenal importance when talking about balance in the world at large are Angie Thomas's two novels, The Hate U Give and On the Come Up. They both take place in the neighbourhood of Garden Heights, a poor, mostly black neighbourhood, and both are about teenage girls learning to use their voice to stand up for justice. They're also both really thought provoking and The Hate U Give in particular will probably make you cry if you're anything like me, but I can't recommend them highly enough for anyone (particularly anyone white) who needs their thinking about race rejigged or needs to take a harder look at the way they operate in the world (which probably is most of us).

Nasty Women is 404 Ink's inaugural publication and is a collection of essays about what it means to be a woman in the 21st century. These address so many issues stopping the world from being entirely gender balanced, such as class, contraception, motherhood, gender and sexual identity and so much more. It's a fantastic collection and I highly recommend it. It's also really easy to dip in and out of and it will provide you with lots of food for thought.

Finally a book that addresses the history of feminism and inequality: My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem (Oneworld). Steinem is a well known American feminist particularly prominent in the '60s and '70s, and this is her memoir of her life as a travelling organiser. She talks about some of the issues facing feminism then and now as well as some of the people that she's encountered over the years and her thoughts about various aspects of intersectionality. It's a really interesting and fast paced book and a great place to start if you're looking to broaden your knowledge of the history of feminism!

That's all I have for this post, but I hope you've discovered something to add to your TBR.

Today is also the start of #Indieathon which lasts from today until Friday 15th. We've got an Instagram challenge going on so hop over there and join in for your chance to win some books and don't forget to use the hashtag throughout the week to share your reading progress!

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