Book Club: Stories about women and how they find strength

In this month’s book club, our resident bookworm Bessma Bader selects interesting stories about women from Lisa See, Zibby Owens and Brené Brown


There is little more inspiring to me than a collective of women. The endurance, resilience, empathy and strength that we give and take from each other is like nothing I have ever experienced. This is what inspired me to make the following three recommendations.



The Island of Sea Women / Lis See

The Island Of Sea Women by Lisa See, published by Scribner Books

This incredible story moved me, educated me and opened up my eyes to a culture I knew nothing about. Set on the Korean Island of Jeju, The Island Of Sea Women follows Mi-Ja and Young-Sook as they begin working as part of a collective of female divers in the 1930s. Despite their different backgrounds, we see their friendship blossom and we watch as they are painfully  pulled apart through wars, politics, and heartbreak. These collectives, known as the Haenyeo, are leaders of their communities. The men stay home with the children while the women earn a living. What struck me is how honestly Lisa See writes the emotions of her characters. This is what historical fiction should be, beautifully written and moving. One of my all-time favorites.



Moms don't time by Zibby Owens

Moms don’t have time to: A Quarantine Anthology by Zibby Owens, published by Skyhorse Publishing

Zibby Owens is the podcaster responsible for the brilliant podcast Mothers Don’t Have Time to Read Books. In 2020, she created a magazine called We Found Time during the lockdown. She asked authors from all over, who were previous guests on her podcast, to contribute stories that helped to help us and distract us through the times we were stuck at home. Zibby collected them and put them in categories of things mothers don’t seem to find time to do: sleep, get sick, see friends, write, and lose weight.

Some stories touched on the lockdown and covid 19, but it wasn’t the central theme. This is a must-read for parents wanting to find empathy and camaraderie. And it’s a great way to get introduced to new writers through their short stories. I was laughing, moved to tears and happy to find that there are others out there who feel the same! 


Dare to Bare / Brene Brown

Dare To Lead by Brené Brown, published by Vermilion (Penguin)

Anything by Brené Brown is a must. In particular, this book embodies everything that she has been teaching for years. We can be empathetic, imperfect, giving and vulnerable and still be leaders in our society. As women, we are told we have to cut out what makes us feminine to lead. To act like a man and not be so soft. Brené teaches us that owning our mistakes and choosing courage over comfort can take us a long way. How does this fit into the collective?

Women need women, and if we are allowed to be womanly and strong together, we do not have to give up that need to prove a point. If there is one thing that I have in common with any woman I have met from anywhere in the world, we have all been asked to change or let go of something integral to our womanhood to get ahead. If you have felt this way, this book is for you (and your daughters). 



Books about success and what drives us
– Books with character you feel an affinity with
– The one book everyone should read
– Books to help overwhelmed moms
– Books to inform, inspire & entertain
– Audiobooks to immerse yourself in


About the author

Bessma bint Bader is an avid blogger and qualified parenting coach with a passionate interest in child development and education. She began her popular blog, Ya Mamma, in 2010 where she shares pertinent insights into the trials and tribulations of parenting, inspired by her five young children.

Since 2010, Bessma has been on the board of Saut as its treasurer – a charitable organization that promotes the welfare of people with Downs Syndrome. She is also on the board of the King Khaled Foundation, which is dedicated to improving the social and economic conditions for thousands of Saudi citizens.

Bessma is also the co-founder and owner of The Playroom – a play center in Riyadh, built around the belief that child-led play fosters creativity, encourages divergent thinking and builds good social skills.




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