Skip Links

Summer reading list for All About Women

Tegan Reeves

It’s 2020 and the books that you bought last year are still sitting there on your living room floor. Give yourself a new deadline to work through that pile – March 8 – All About Women.

These are the must-reads from the Opera House team.

The complicated lives of the women of ISIS in The Guest House for Young Widows

The Guest House for Young Widows questions: What role is there for Muslim women in the west? How do we judge these women who both suffered and inflicted intense pain? These aren’t easy questions to answer, however Azadeh Moaveni does a great job at unpacking the lives of thirteen women who have travelled to Syria to join the Islamic State. Often, these women are escaping one unfortunate life to find themselves in another – only in Syria.

Read this book if: You want to challenge your views.

See Azadeh speak at: The women of ISIS

The book cover for 'Guest house for young widows: Among the women of ISIS' by Azadeh Moaveni, on a light orange background. It features a woman in a hijab looking at the camera as she crosses the road.

Poetry about country and healing in Kindred

A book of poetry might not be what you would typically reach for over the summer time, Kirli Saunders’ Kindred is a good place to start. Saunders, a Gunai woman, writes poetry that reads with ease and relatability, highlighting the moments in life that we’re too busy to notice.

Kindred is an overarching tale of journey, broken into three sections – trauma, nurture, and recovery, all the while portraying the role that country and language plays in healing.

Read this book if: You’d like to start reading poetry, but don’t know where to start.

See Kirli speak with Paola Balla and Amelia & Rosalie Kunoth-Monks at: Blak matriarchies

Book cover for 'Kindred' by Kirli Saunders, on a light green background. It features a red red banksia on a pale blue background.

Honest writing about menopause in Flash Count Diary

Menopause is a fact of life. Honest writing about menopause is far from a fact of life. Darcey Steinke manages to tell the frank story of her own experience of menopause, intertwining it with science, philosophy and literature. Steinke explores menopause, not as a ‘problem’ or a ‘medical condition’, but as a time in life that we all need to discuss and debate more openly.

Read this book if: You’re tired of ‘5 Ways To Cure Hot Flushes’ listicles.

See Darcey speak at: Hot flush living

The book cover for 'Flash Count Diary: Menupause and the Vindication of Natural Life' by Darcey Steinke, on a maroon background. Light skin cover, with typography and a red dot over the word 'menopause'

Pouring out the booze, once and for all, in High Sobriety

It’s something many of us can relate to – evenings laced with one too many wines and mornings spent chugging Berocca in an effort to escape the hangover. At age 35, journalist Jill Stark decided that she’d give up alcohol for a year. The result is a humourous and insightful look into the challenges and triumphs of saying no to a drink.

Stark does more than recount her own booze-free journey. She delves into the undercurrents of Australia’s love for alcohol and exposes just how prevalent alcohol advertising is, across all forms of media.

Read this book if: You’re thinking about taking the plunge into a dry new year.

See Jill speak with Shanna Whan and Yumi Stynes at: Sober curious

The book cover for 'High Sobriety: My year without booze' by Jill Stark, on a pink background. The cover features typography in the form of a beer bottle

Notes on the nature of perfection in Beauty

Part book, part essay – whatever it is, Beauty’s one hundred and fifty pages pack a punch. Bri Lee dives into her own experiences with disordered eating, and her struggle for physical appearance perfection. After some time, Lee comes to the realisation that being thin doesn’t equate to happiness.

Women have more of a voice than ever in the media, but when it comes to beauty, these voices seem to be more hypocritical than constructive. Lee tears this hypocrisy apart, while taking us along for the ride on her own journey of self-acceptance.

Read this book if: You’re exhausted by calorie counting or are not quite sure why you’ve just forked out $200 for anti-aging cream.

See Bri speak with Carly Findlay speak at: Rethinking beauty

The book cover for 'Beauty' by Bri Lee, on a light purple background. The cover is grey, with the painting of a woman in yellow, red, white and blue abstract acrylic paints.

You may also like...


Menopause: A whale of a time

Think you have nothing in common with a killer whale? We take a closer look at menopause in the lead up to Darcey Steinke’s Hot Flush Living talk at All About Women 2020.

Cheat Sheet: Jo Dunkley

One of the youngest female astrophysics professors on the planet, Jo Dunkley's knowledge is out of this world.


Cheat Sheet: Lindy West

Our handy cheat sheet for self-described “comedian and feminist killjoy” Lindy West, ahead of her talk at All About Women 2020.