How to Observe Malala Day: Read These 5 Biography Picks
How do you celebrate Malala Day, Brookies?
July 12th is Malala Day. It’s a commemoration of Malala Yousafzai – a Pakistani girl who defied the Taliban to gain access for girls’ education and was shot in the head for it – but survived. Her United Nations speech on her sixteenth birthday (July 12th, 2013) was a call to action for the world; in her words, “One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world.” She has dedicated her life to building a movement around girls’ education and she asks each of us to do the same.
Of course, there’s no better book to read today than Malala’s own autobiography, I Am Malala, however; I think that diving into other women’s autobiographies and biographies is another way we can all commemorate her outstanding work around girls’ education. Her legacy of women’s empowerment shines in each of the books I have chosen in my Top 5 Biographies to observe Malala Day. I hope Malala would approve…
1. Becoming by Michelle Obama (720 pages) (Published November 13, 2018)
For me, this was a powerful account of how one woman’s story can become a handbook for so many women collectively. While reading Becoming, I was mesmerized by Michelle Obama’s honesty. She shares both her highs and her lows, and she doesn’t hold back the stories around the hard parts of her life because it would be better press. As the first African-American first lady, she made inclusion and girls’ education a focus of her time in the White House. She’s now a best-selling author due to her truth telling. It’s a legacy you have the privilege of witnessing as you read this book.
Why Read It
Her story of becoming asks you to really think about how you are living and who you are becoming.
2. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (400 pages) (Published March 8, 2011)
Scientists called her HeLa but her real name was Henrietta Lacks. She became one of the most vital parts of the medical world as her cells were used to develop the polio vaccine, instrumental in gene mapping and cloning. The book follows her life from having her cells taken from her without her knowledge in 1951 to them being sold by the billions while her family can’t afford health insurance in the decades after. You’re made a witness to a daughter’s quest to answer questions about a mother she never knew while also delving into the ethics around how we gained so many medical advancements one HeLa cell at a time.
Why Read It
Henrietta Lacks changed the medical world; she is an unknown medical pioneer and that just shouldn’t be the case.
3. My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg (400 pages) (Published Aug. 7 2018)
I still remember when she became Supreme Court Justice in 1993 and reading about her continued work on equal rights as I went through university. This biography is a collection of some of the best writing on a range of topics, from gender equality, to the workings of the Supreme Court, to her love of Opera. It shows her passion for equality, for her family, and for justice. It’s a glance into the life of a phenomenal woman.
Why Read It
After reading this, you’ll feel comfortable calling her RBG like all the rest of us fans.
4. Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets & Advice for Living Your Best Life by Ali Wong (240 Pages) (Published October 15, 2019)
Ali Wong writes about her life – from dating, to children, to working in a male-dominated field, to her sex life with the same abandon she shows on stage. Her realism is refreshing, and while she writes this autobiographical account of her life for her two daughters, it’s really a feminist tome showing us what it means to be a woman today. It highlights the juggling act that is womanhood, but also shows us that you have to laugh at things at times; that imperfection can also be very right. She does this all with the same witty jokes we are accustomed to from her stand-up, and it’s clear that she is writing from the heart. I hope her daughters will appreciate her realness one day as much as I do. Check out BooknBrunch contributor Andrea’s full review here.
Why Read It
She gives you the ultimate tips on where to find the best noodles – this is a treasure of a book for that alone.
5. The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying by Nina Riggs (336 Pages) (Published January 16, 2018)
In the Bright Hour, Nina Riggs writes along the lines of what it’s like to consider living and dying at the same time. While the memoir centers on her being diagnosed with terminal cancer, it reminds us of all the spaces between the lines of life and death. She writes of learning how to live despite her diagnosis and the two years of her life she dedicates to living with “death in the room”. She is a poet and the book reads beautifully because of that. While heart-wrenchingly sad, it is also a manifesto to live your life to the fullest; to center yourself in all that you have. She believed deeply in reading, and this work of hers is a love letter to not just her family, but also to literature and the craft of writing. I won’t ruin the story behind the title for you, but I think this is important reading for every one of us.
Why Read It
Everyone needs to see his or her darkest and lightest thoughts reflected in the world, and this will provide you a mirror.
What do all these women have in common? Sharing in Malala’s Legacy of Empowerment…
On this day of celebrating Malala and her legacy of empowering girls and women across the world, I hope you find some time to read one of these biographies. Or better yet, donate a copy to a girl/woman in your life, or to a library to continue spreading the joy of women’s empowerment.
What do you think of our round-up? Send us an email with your comments; we’d love to read them! Are you also looking for your next great read? Check out our Brookstore!
Tina Riffat is a writer and book club leader who likely owns more books than you can re-read in a lifetime. She is committed to living life gracefully and gratefully along with her tribe; she finds it helps with keeping track of the big things: community, equality and authentic connections. She has a soft spot for emerging writers and appreciates books that shine a spotlight on unexplored perspectives. She deeply values the sharing and honouring of our collective stories and will look to highlight that as much as she can.
Top Three Favourite Books are:
1984 by George Orwell
Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Funny Boy by Shyam Selvadurai
Favourite Brunch Venue in Toronto is:
Mildred’s Temple Kitchen