The Reading List

This season’s selection of new releases celebrates the courage of female voices and the importance of women’s contributions to history, art and business

How (Not) To Be Strong
Alex Scott
(Penguin)
One of the world’s best-known female footballers went from scoring the winning goal for Arsenal in the 2007 UEFA Women’s Cup Final and playing for England at the 2012 Olympics to broadcasting to millions as a TV presenter. But with her remarkable journey seemingly powered by resilience, most people have seen only Scott’s strong side. In this honest and inspirational memoir, she lowers the shield to share the lessons that have shaped her and reveals the strength that comes from exposing your vulnerability.

She’s In CTRL: How women can take back tech
Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon
(Penguin)
Women are woefully under-represented in tech: only a quarter of the UK’s STEM workforce is female. This book is a call to arms for women everywhere: computer scientist Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon is on a mission to stop us being cut out of the story as she examines how the tech world’s biggest decisions are made by a small number of men. Drawing on her own experiences and the stories of other pioneers and innovators, Dr Imafidon shows that the power to change the world of tech is not beyond our grasp.

Shrines of Gaiety
Kate Atkinson
(Penguin Random House)
Acclaimed author of Life After Life and the Whitbread-winning Behind the Scenes at the Museum, Kate Atkinson is back with a mesmerising new novel. Set in the dark underbelly of Soho nightlife in the Roaring Twenties, it follows the glittering world’s reigning and ruthless queen, Nellie Coker, whose empire faces threats from within and without. Told with Atkinson’s trademark Dickensian flair, this is an engrossing tale that perfectly captures the uncertain and ever-changing nature of life.

The Story of Art Without Men
Katy Hessel (Penguin)
Best known for her Instagram account @thegreatwomenartists, art historian and curator Katy Hessel tells the history of art as it’s never been told: by leaving out men and focusing on the greatest females. Beginning with the Renaissance-era Sofonisba Anguissola, it explores the Dutch Golden Age, the astonishing work of postwar artists in Latin America, and the women defining art in the 2020s. This eye-opening read will redefine your sense of art history, in the best possible way.

New Daughters of Africa
Margaret Busby
(Myriad)
Margaret Busby – Britain’s youngest and first black female publisher when she cofounded Allison and Busby in the sixties – edited the pioneering anthology Daughters of Africa in 1992. Now she’s back with an extraordinary collection of contemporary writing by two hundred women of African descent. From Antigua to Zimbabwe and Angola to the USA, these overlooked artists, contemporary stars and emerging talents pay tribute to the heritage that unites them, and explore common obstacles of race, gender and class.

Lucy by the Sea
Elizabeth Strout
(Penguin Random House)
Pulitzer Prize-winner Elizabeth Strout returns with a novel centred on one of her most beloved characters: Lucy Barton, indomitable heroine of My Name Is Lucy Barton and Oh William!. In a look back at the bizarre period we have just lived through, Lucy is uprooted from life in New York City and reluctantly forced into lockdown with her ex-husband William on the Maine coast. In Strout’s signature clean, crisp prose, this is a novel that seeks to resonate with us and console us.

Annie’s Big Book
Annie Leibovitz
(Taschen)
In 2014, publisher Benedikt Taschen asked the world’s foremost portrait photographer, Annie Leibovitz, to collect her pictures into a larger-than-life book. The project took several years and yielded a weighty 26kg tome, but is now published in an easier-to-handle format. Drawing on more than forty years of work – from photojournalism for Rolling Stone in the seventies to conceptual portraits for Vanity Fair and Vogue – it features iconic imagery and never-before-seen portraits.