Have You Set Your 2021 Reading Challenge Yet? It’s Not Too Late

Our Contributor Jacqui Hodges Shares her 2021 Reading Goals and Explains her Thoughts Behind the Selections
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Have You Set Your 2021 Reading Challenge Yet? It’s Not Too Late

Have You Set Your 2021 Reading Challenge Yet?

I think it’s safe to say that 2020 was unlike any other year that I have ever experienced. The suffering has been unprecedented, with so many people across the world facing incredible challenges and hardship. Amid the pandemic, my partner and I moved from a pretty safe and stable life in Barbados to a somewhat volatile and changing New York City. Like many people, we began to spend more time indoors. I had time on my hands to read the constant stream of media, but I quickly became overwhelmed by the negative spin on so much of the news and began to withdraw from much of it. Instead, I decided to focus my attention on causes where I had an interest and a passion for making a difference. Living not too far from the UN headquarters in NYC, I began to pay more attention to their agenda and follow many of their causes, especially those related to diversity, equality, and inclusion. I decided that no matter how small, I could make a difference in improving gender equality, and I vowed to play a part.

Tying my newfound purpose into my commitments as a contributor to BooknBrunch was a no-brainer. I decided to align my annual reading challenge with my desire to contribute to the gender equality agenda. My first goal for 2021 is to read one book each month inspired by an article that I received via the UN Women (click here to be redirected to their website) highlighting 12 feminist books that everyone should read. 

The first goal of my 2021 reading challenge comprises the following books (you can read the full article here):

  1. We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie–a personal essay from a Nigerian-born author exploring the importance of awareness and inclusion in modern-day feminism.
  2. I, Rigoberta Menchu: An Indian Woman in Guatemala by Elisabeth Burgos-Debray–the story of Burgos-Debray’s life and struggle for indigenous women’s rights.
  3. Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta–set during and after Nigeria’s civil war, it tells the story of Ijeoma coming to terms with her sexuality and herself in a society unwilling to accept her.
  4. Feminists Don’t Wear Pink and Other Lies: Amazing Women on What the F-Word Means to Them curated by Scarlett Curtis–many personal figures take a turn in exploring their own unique take on feminism.
  5. I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai–Yousafzai’s powerful memoir, co-written with Christina Lamb, about her life and activism
  6. In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez–a fictionalized version of the story of Patria, Minerva and Maria Teresa Mirabel, leaders of the resistance against the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic until their assassination in 1960.
  7. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood–a novel that explores power and gender through the story of Offred, a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead.
  8. The Second Sex by Simone De Beauvoir–an analysis of what being a woman means and an examination of the concept of ‘other’ and the inequality that comes with it.
  9. Ecofeminism by Marie Miles and Vandana Shiva–explores the relationship between patriarchy and the destruction of nature and how the women’s movements can contribute to climate action and other social movements.
  10. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou–a memoir of her early life and her path to overcoming the unthinkable trauma she endured.
  11. The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State by Nadia Murad (winner of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize)–the story of Murad being taken as a captive by Islamic State militants and her narrow escape.
  12. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf–a 1929 essay highlighting the need for literal and figurative space for women in literature and calls out the systemic failures that stifled women creators of the time.

Let me know if you have read any of them and how you feel about the content. Maybe my post will inspire you to add one of these books to your reading list. Do you have ideas on other books that you would recommend on the subject of gender equality? Either way, I would love to hear from you!

My second reading challenge is to read a further 12 books associated with the books above – through the author, the subject matter or the introduction of a concept of a historical event that I was not aware of before reading the book. I’ll update you on my challenge as we move through 2021 and share each book’s review. At the end of the year, I’ll give you a synopsis of the additional 12 books that I added to my list.

Until then, best wishes to you and your loved ones for 2021 and here’s to empowering women and girls across the world!

Have you made the commitment to contribute to a new cause in 2021? Or maybe you already support a cause that is close to your heart? Why not share your goals and aspirations with BooknBrunch by commenting below.

Jacqui Hodges

With 30 years of general management experience in the global insurance industry and having lived in 4 countries, Jacqui now spends her time between London and New York where she continues to pursue her passion for writing, food, books and travel.

A Reiki practitioner, yogi and huge animal advocate, her home isn’t complete without a furbaby or three. In addition to being a BooknBrunch contributor, she writes for  industry publications.

Favourite book: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
Favourite brunch dish: avocado toast with tomato and chilli


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