International Women's Day: writers and illustrators on their favourite books by women

International Women's Day: writers and illustrators on their favourite books by women

For International Women's Day, writers and illustrators speak about the books by women that they love and have inspired them.

Non Pratt, author of Trouble and Remix (both Walker Books) and Unboxed (Barrington Stoke), picks Girl With a White Dog by Anne Booth (Catnip Publishing Ltd): "Girl With A White Dog tells the story of a girl called Jessie standing on the cusp of teenagehood as she discovers the importance of questioning not only the stories we are told, but who is doing the telling. A book to remind all storytellers of the responsibilities we have to our readers. Profound and prescient, Girl With A White Dog changed both my heart and my mind. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without it."

Rowan Coleman, author of The Other Sister (Ebury Press), picked The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter (Vintage Classics): "It's incredibly difficult to choose just one book by a woman writer that has influenced and inspired me, there are so many. But after some thought I'm choosing The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter, a collection of short stories which I first read aged about 12. To me her writing represented a kind of freedom of expression and imagination I hadn't encountered before, and I can remember pausing mid paragraph and thinking to myself, this is what fiction can be, fiction can be anything. And that was a very impactful moment on my young mind, one I've never forgotten."

Julie Ferry, author of The Transatlantic Marriage Bureau (Aurum Press), picked Jeanette Winterson’s The Passion (Vintage): "The Passion made me change the way I looked at the world, which is perhaps the greatest gift a novelist can give a reader. As a teenager it exposed me to a completely original style - it’s a historical love story with a magical quality to it, I was hooked on the writing and the characters from the first page. Villanelle, Winterson’s web-footed heroine, who has lost her heart, is totally mesmerising and I often revisit certain passages of the novel when I need reminding of the arresting power of love, passion and hope."

Holly Bourne, author of The Spinster Club trilogy, picked How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran (Ebury Press): "Like lots of women who grew up in the feminism wasteland of the nineties, Caitlin's book was a game changer. It was the first book that made me realise I *am* a feminist, and I'm bloody well going to use the word proudly. Although the movement has moved on a lot since 2011, I believe that book was a 'red pill' moment for so many and I'm incredibly grateful it exists."

Illustrator Nadia Shireen, author of The Bumblebear (Jonathan Cape) picked The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole aged 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend (Penguin): "I remember reading my brother's copy of this when I was quite young, and I'd never read anything like it. It's hilarious, awkward and really touching at times. I love Adrian's demented delusions of grandeur, and how fed up he is with his mundane family and surroundings. It's a comfort read now, one of those books I can open at random whenever I need an emergency chortle."

Tanya Byrne, author of Heart-shaped Bruise (Headline), picked Warsan Shire's Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth: "In the summer of 2013 I read a poem on tumblr that knocked the air right out of me. I sought out the author and a few days later I was in possession of Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth. I didn't know it at the time, but I was about to lose my own mother. We didn't have the best relationship so I am forever indebted to Warsan Shire for making me see my mother's fierceness for what it actually was: utter, unconditional, uncontainable love."

Juno Dawson, author of Margot & Me (Hot Key Books) picked Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman (Corgi Children's): "Noughts & Crosses was such a turning point for me. It's a book that truly demonstrates the limitless possibilities of writing YA fiction: it's a thriller, a romance, it changed the way I thought about racism. I taught it to my Year 6 class way back in 2005 and we all cried at the end. It was then that I thought if I was ever going to write a book it would be with a YA audience in mind."

Sunny Singh, author of Hotel Arcadia (Quartet Books) and co-founder of the Jhalak Prize for Best Book by a Writer of Colour, picked Meera's Padavali: "Meera’s Padavali (collection of verses) has travelled with me since I was 21. When the cloth covered book grew too tattered to carry around, I photocopied it. Twenty-five years later, I am on my fifth photocopy. In addition to her popular devotional and love poems, Meera also wrote about power, resistance and violence. Her poems nourish, comfort, challenge and inspire. And she remains my most beloved writer and heroine."