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These 10 books are inspiring our activists to take action


Staying optimistic in the face of adversity can be challenging. As activists, sometimes we need a boost to keep fighting the good fight. Our UK Youth Ambassadors have recommended the books that they turn to when they need a pick-me-up. From inspirational autobiographies to captivating anthologies, they’ve got you covered!

I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
It demonstrates that you are never too young to become an activist or to make a difference in the world. It also explores key issues facing girls across the world particularly in terms of education. I became more motivated to study and embrace the educational opportunities offered to me as a girl in the UK. — Laura Webb, Brighton

Brave, Not Perfect by Reshma Saujani
From a young age, we are conditioned to stay in our lane rather than taking risks, pushing our boundaries and doing things that terrify us. In this book, Reshma Saujani breaks this mindset down. My take away? You may not always get your way in activism, but you can keep trying, and, even if I fail, at least I tried. Now, when I find myself making excuses not to do something scary, or punishing myself for making mistakes, I stop and remind myself: I’m brave, not perfect. — Abigail Mattingly, Buckinghamshire

Feminists Don’t Wear Pink and Other Lies edited by Scarlett Curtis
The empowerment found in girls supporting girls is a movement that I hope to play a part in. Seeing the impact that a group of determined women can have when they come together gives me hope for the future and inspires me to make my mark through activism and campaigning. — Hannah Davis, London

Inferior by Angela Saini
This book challenges gender equality from a completely new angle by testing social perceptions of both men and women. It explores a variety of questions through the eyes of science, covering topics like nurturing stereotypes and the taboo questions surrounding dominance. Reading this arms you with new perspectives and in some ways causes you to question your own assumptions and go-to arguments. Never before have I found myself frustrated with Charles Darwin. — Ella Reilly, Portsmouth

Becoming by Michelle Obama
Former First Lady, Michelle Obama teaches us to stand fierce in the face of self-doubt and opposition. She has taught me that anyone can reach their goals, regardless of religion, gender or something as trivial as the colour of your skin. She speaks of female empowerment fervently, encouraging us women to fight relentlessly for equal rights and the recognition we deserve. It truly is a book for anyone looking to be inspired in any part of their life. — Sarah Jabir, London

Half the Sky by Sheryl WuDunn and Nicholas D. Kristof
This book highlights experiences of injustice faced by women across the globe. The emotional stories shared by individuals are powerful motivators to try and promote better situations for people worldwide. The equality gap illustrated in this book shows we have work to do and provides some information on how to get up and actually take action. — Amy Randles, Leeds

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
Although a fictional novel, I felt a great empathy for Eleanor and her family. I would recommend this book as it demonstrates how nobody truly knows what somebody has going on in their daily life or in their own home. One thing I took away from this book was to be kind always, and sometimes all somebody needs is for someone to listen to them. — Shannon Leigh Mullally, Coventry

Learning Activism by Aziz Choudry
A good summary of the intellectual sides of being an activist, a man who is well experienced shares his experiences to help a new generation. — James Hensman, Fareham

Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan
This easy read is written from the point of view of two young campaigners and covers the issues they find with campaigning for gender equality in their (supposedly) forward-thinking school. It’s an inspiring and interesting read for young campaigners and touches lightly on major issues in a relatable way. — Ione Gildroy, Leicestershire

A Continent for the Taking: The Tragedy and Hope of Africa by Howard W. French
It’s important to know the history of the countries and continents you’re advocating for. One thing I would take away from the book is that there is always more than meets the eye and there is a reason for everything. It explores the internal and external factors that have led African countries to where they are today and how we can get involved with its progress going forward. No matter your knowledge, it’ll show you a different view worth exploring. — Trudy Kirabo, Sittingbourne

The White Album by Joan Didion
Reading Didion trying to make sense of unthinkable situations and what she has no control over feels strangely familiar and oddly comforting. She manages to put words on those confused feelings you get when we hear horrifying breaking news or experience social unrest. I’ve found reading her personal take on those decades of the 20th century is a great way to understand better the influence of those years on today’s social and political landscape. — Adeline Amar, Edinburgh

Looking for more great reads? Check out the books guaranteed to change your world view recommended by our Policy Team!

ONE welcomes the contributions of guest bloggers but does not necessarily endorse the views, programs, or organisations highlighted.

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