3 non-fiction books every woman needs to read now


Three new books by Irish women coming out this month will deal with challenging topics of our time, from the Cervical Check crisis, mother-and-baby homes and US politics

Irish women are dominating the publishing industry in fiction, with the work of Sally Rooney, OMGWACA and Marian Keyes dominating headlines, to name a few.

But we all know too well that the news is also a grim place for women. Not a day goes by that there isn’t a shudder-inducing revelation at home or abroad.

Here are new books by female authors that are essential reading for women in the current climate.

Overcoming: A Memoir

Vicky Phelan

Vicky Phelan is a champion for Irish women. Having unearthed the Cervical Check scandal in April 2018, she went on to become one of the most ardent campaigners for change to our health system. Her story is one of heartbreak, triumph and resilience in the face of earth-shattering injustice. Vicky, a mother-of-two, is fighting for her life against a terminal cancer diagnosis. She, along with 221 other women, was not made aware of a clinical audit that revised their earlier negative smear test results. This meant that her cervical cancer could possibly have been prevented. Not only did Vicky refuse to sign a non-disclosure agreement about the settlement of her action against the HSE and go public with her story, she also has campaigned for better treatment options for all cervical cancer patients. She credits her education for empowering her to fight for this cause, to use detective-like scrutiny to investigate this scandal. Her story is not only about her personal fight, and taking on the healthcare system, but also about finding happiness and strength in the darkest of circumstances.

Published by Hachette Ireland, out now

Republic of Shame: Stories from Ireland’s Institutions for Fallen Women

Caelainn Hogan

Irish journalist Caelainn Hogan takes an in-depth look at the bizarre culture of control that lead to the darkest scandal of our time. So-called ‘fallen women’ were concealed, punished and exploited by a network of institutions run by the Catholic Church and Irish State until alarmingly recently. Girls and women were condemned to servitude in the Magdalene laundries, and in mother-and-baby homes, women who became pregnant out-of-wedlock were hidden from their world, until they gave birth to babies that were then adopted, sometimes illegally. There was extremely high death rates, and devastatingly, a mass infant grave that was recently discovered outside a mother-and-baby home in Tuam. Caelainn has talked to survivors of these institutions, members of the religious orders that ran them, and to priests and bishops. She has also scrutinised the Church and state documents that reveal how they operated. She uncovers the inner workings of this barbaric system, and the damage caused to the survivors and their families.

Published by Penguin Ireland, out now

The Education of an Idealist

Samantha Power

Pulitzer Prize-winner Samantha Power is a relentless advocate for the protection of human rights, having worked with Obama in the Senate. Once the US government’s UN Ambassador, she is an activist at heart and has passionately fought to tackle genocide throughout her career. She is a vocal critic of US foreign policy — making her perspective all the more fascinating with Trump now at the helm. But she is not just a powerhouse activist and politician — the book also details the heartache Power experiences in her personal life. Of course juggling a 24/7 national security job with raising two young children is not easy. But she has also battled anxiety and writes candidly about her alleged ‘feud’ with Hillary Clinton that marred her reputation for some time. Raised in Ireland, she writes about how her family struggled with her father’s alcoholism before her mother eventually left him for a new life in America. She writes too about trying to process that painful time as an adult, and how it may be what drives her to make a positive impact in the world.

Published by William Collins, out now