5 Books To Make You Brave

Shannon Hodge

We're tired of feeling scared - and these authors know exactly how it's done...



I have no desire to become an entirely fearless person. After all, fear may hold us back, but it may help us, too. It's the whisper in our ear telling us to get out of the sea when the waves are too strong. It's the pressure on the brakes letting us know when we need to slow down. Think of it as a shield: there to protect you, almost impossible to break through but an absolute necessity when going into battle.

That's why I'm sharing five books written by or about women who have valiantly linked arms with their fears - and become all the stronger for it...

Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic
If ever there was a book to help you deal with fear, this is the one. After meeting people around the world who were stuck in creative ruts, Elizabeth Gilbert responded with Big Magic. She discusses addressing fear head on (rather than hiding from it) with the best creative road trip metaphor: “Fear is allowed to be in the car, it's allowed to have a voice, but it's not allowed to have a vote on making decisions in the trip, and it cannot mess with the radio, it has to stay in the backseat.”

Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things
A huge advocate of “feeling the fear and doing it anyway”, Cheryl Strayed is a compassionate writer informed by her own wealth of experience in everything from tragedy to adventure, as seen in her novel Wild. However, Tiny Beautiful Things is a courageous collection of the columns from her internet agony aunt 'Dear Sugar' days, where the anxious, confused and hopeful turned to Cheryl Strayed for her invaluable advice on love and life. Jam-packed with a mix of heartbreaking and hilarious, but always honest, answers, this is a book that will stay with you long after you've finished the final page.

Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, Half The Sky
Named after the Chinese proverb “Women hold up half the sky”, this book tells the true stories of lives many of us will fortunately never have to lead. Authors Kristof and WuDunn highlight the unimaginable hurdles that women and children across the world have overcome to change their own lives for the better. From tragic stories of honour killings, sexual slavery and genital cutting, this book not only highlights the fearful realities of these women, but puts a hand out to the people reading - inviting them to be brave too and help fight for every woman's rights worldwide.

Khaled Hosseini, A Thousand Splendid Suns
The Kite Runner author Hosseini wanted to tackle a modern day unresolved justice of “gender apartheid being forced on Afghan women” in this novel. Though fictional, this story highlights the desperate struggle against starvation, brutality and fear that many Afghan women have had to face - and still do today. I implore you not to be moved by the two protagonists' resilience in a land of injustice and oppression.

Malala Yousafzai, I am Malala
Education activist and a voice for young girls around the world, Malala Yousafzai came to the public's attention writing for BBC Urdu about life under the Taliban. Her defiance to the Taliban's version of Sharia law led to her being targeted and shot in the head in 2012. I Am Malala is the story of her life, beliefs, hardships and courage. Despite moving to the UK since the shooting following concerns for the whole family's safety, Malala continues to travel the world campaigning for the right to education for every girl and every boy worldwide: "They thought that the bullet would silence us. But they failed. Weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born."

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