Here at HARA we're big fans of Emma Watson, not only is she championing eco-conscious fashion for young women but she's making feminism more accessible and relevant to a new generation as well.
Have you joined Emma Watson's book club yet?
If you're not one of the 200,000+ members of her Goodreads group, Our Shared Shelf, then we heartily encourage you to check it out and consider joining. There's never been a better time to be a bookworm.
As part of her role as UN Women Goodwill Ambassador she started reading around the subject of feminism. In true millennial style however, Emma invites fans and the curious to join her on that same journey.
"I have started reading as many books and essays about equality as I can get my hands on. There is so much amazing stuff out there! Funny, inspiring, sad, thought-provoking, empowering! I’ve been discovering so much that, at times, I’ve felt like my head was about to explode… I decided to start a Feminist book club, as I want to share what I’m learning and hear your thoughts too. "
And what we love most is that she's not talking down to us from the lofty heights of super-stardom, her humbleness makes her passions accessible to us and millions of others , we "walk alongside her" through difficult and challenging topics and we learn with her.
"I would love for this to grow into an open discussion with and between you all... If you fancy it, please join up and participate. Everyone is welcome. I would be honoured!"
Emma selects a new book every couple of months, covering a range of styles, authors, genres, fiction and non-fiction all exploring an aspect of feminism. Some of the recent titles include:
The Vagina Monologues by Eve Esler - not strictly a book but a play and a frank, sometimes funny and at other times heartbreaking account of women discussing their lady parts - reenergising the political campaign, V Day Org, that started in the 80s when the play was first launched. Emma adds, "Just say the title The Vagina Monologues and, even now, twenty years after Eve Ensler first performed her groundbreaking show, the words feel radical."
Women Who Run with Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes is a tome of wisdom; old and familiar tales are broken down into lessons for women to stay connected to their 'wild self', something that modern society and patriarchy has made seem taboo and uncouth. And in Emma's words, "How does one reconnect with our deepest, most true selves when today’s world demands us to conform to ridiculous expectations? Estes retells ancient myths and fairy tales from around the world and in doing so shines a light on a path which leads us back to our natural state --- and help us restore the power we carry within us."
Handmaid's Tale by Margret Atwood is " a gripping read, but it won’t make you feel comfortable.", Emma opens with. A fiction set in a dystopian future where fertility is rare and warped into a precious commodity and women are controlled. Written over 30 years ago it feels just as relevant in these turbulent times.
Why I'm No Longer Speaking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge - is the first book of 2018 and a courageous choice we might add. Facing criticism for over simplifying feminism and being called a "white feminist", Emma explores racism and institutional racism in Britain today and addresses her privilege; "What are the ways I have benefited from being white? In what ways do I support and uphold a system that is structurally racist?". This public introspection can spark a more honest conversation about racism in our communities.
Our Shared Shelf grew rapidly in popularity, reaching 100,000 members in its first month, it's caught the attention of the wider press also. Emma's aim is to interview some of the authors to add to the discussion, here she is interviewing Eve Esler in Elle and over in Entertainment Weekly she speaks with Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid's Tale and more recently in The Guardian exploring race and privilege. But it's the community feel to it that we love the most, there are active discussions around each book, side discussions and rabbit holes. Each book becomes a springboard for more great content and stimulating conversations with people across the globe.
How can you get involved?
There are lighter reads in the midst and don't worry if you're only just joining now; first pick one of the books that appeals to you and then dip into those conversations as and when you can. The Goodreads site also provides links to buying the books: brand new, used, e-books. There's also an active offline community, maybe there's an Our Shared Shelf subgroup taking place IRL near you!