International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day. You can find a whole slew of information on the official website…but here are some interesting facts:

  • International Women’s Day (March 8th) is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future.
  • In some places like China, Russia, Vietnam and Bulgaria, International Women’s Day is a national holiday.
  • The first IWD was observed on 19 March 1911 in Germany following a declaration by the Socialist Party of America. The idea of having an international women’s day was first put forward at the turn of the 20th century amid rapid world industrialization and economic expansion that led to protests over working conditions.

There are hundreds of events taking place worldwide – see them all by visiting this page on the IWD website.

You can also join in the discussion on Twitter using the hashtag #womensday or follow the IWD tweets here.

Since this blog celebrates books (primarily), I thought it would be fun to give a shout out to three women writers who have inspired me in some way.

Margaret Atwood is one of my all-time favorite writers. Not only does she consistently write novels which challenge and delight me, but she is also a Canadian poet, literary critic, essayist, artist, and environmental activist.  My goal is to read everything she has written…and I am slowly making my way through her work. So far I’ve read eight of her novels (my favorites thus far have been The Handmaid’s Tale and The Robber Bride – follow the links to my reviews). Atwood’s books always center around strong female characters…perhaps that is one of the reasons they resonate with me.  Atwood is among the most-honored authors of fiction in recent history. She has won the Arthur C. Clarke Award and Prince of Asturias award for Literature, has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize five times (winning once for The Blind Assassin in 2000), won the Giller Prize in 1996 for Alias Grace, and has been a finalist for the Governor General’s Award seven times (winning once for The Handmaid’s Tale in 1985). She holds honorary degrees at 16 different universities and colleges.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian author whose first two books won literary awards (the 2007 Orange Prize for fiction for her novel Half Of A Yellow Sun; and the 2005 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book for Purple Hibiscus). In 2008, Adichie was selected as a McArthur Fellow. At the age of 19, Adichie left Nigeria and moved to the United States she graduated summa cum laude in 2001 from Eastern Connecticut Universy. She went on to complete a master’s degree in creative writing at Johns Hopkins University and earned a Master of Arts in African studies at Yale University in 2008. I think what strikes me the most about Adichie is how accomplished she has become at a young age. Her writing is striking and beautifully constructed. Her observations of the world, especially that of her native country, are stunning.

I was late in discovering Barbara Kingsolver‘s work – but now that I have, I am enthralled by her. Kingsolver is an American novelist, essayist, and poet. She has earned degrees in Biology at DePauw University and the University of Arizona. Her work often focuses on topics such as social justice, biodiversity, and the interaction between humans and their communities and environments. Kingsolver has been the recipient numerous awards (the 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction for The Lacuna; the 1998  National Book Prize of South Africa for The Poisonwood Bible). Every book that Kingsolver has written since 1993 has been on The New York Times Best Seller list. Her work has been nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Pulitzer Prize. In 2000, she was awarded the National Humanities Medal by U.S. President Bill Clinton. In 2000, Kingsolver established the Bellwether Prize to support “literature of social change.” Kingsolver’s characters jump from the pages of her novels. She is sharply observant of human relationships. I’ve only read two of her books so far, but I intend to remedy that as I have several of her novels and a book of her essays in my to-be-read stacks.

Are there women in literature who have inspired you?



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  1. Those are my two favorite Atwood novels as well. I’m planning to re-read The Handmaid’s Tale later this year.

  2. Happy International Women’s Day!

  3. I love Atwood and Kingsolver as well, and am actually planning on a buddy read with Aarti of Booklust on Alias Grace. I can’t wait to get started!

    • Wendy on March 9, 2011 at 07:55

    Florinda: I remember that you like Atwood 🙂 Enjoy your re-read – that is such a great novel!

    Wallace: Right back atcha!!

    Heather: Oh, sounds like a fun buddy read – enjoy!!

    • Lori L on March 9, 2011 at 11:13

    I love Atwood too. My favorites are Cats Eye and The Handmaid’s Tale, which I re-read last year. Actually, to be honest, she’s never written a book I didn’t like so picking favorites really means very little for me. 🙂

  4. See, it should be a holiday!

    • Amy on March 11, 2011 at 14:09

    Can I just say that I am beyond thrilled to see my favorite author Adichie on your list? Happy International Womens Day (belatedly!) to you!

    • Wendy on March 13, 2011 at 15:15

    Lori L: I know what you mean – I have loved all her books so picking a favorite is a moot point! LOL!

    Kailana: I agree!

    Amy: Happy Women’s Day to you too 🙂 What’s NOT to like about Adichie?!?!? LOL!

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