In case you’re in need of a little inspiration, our Get to Know Our Clubs series provides an inside look into the clubs using Bookclubs. These clubs are building unique communities on our platform, so let’s all admire their ingenuity and creativity!
March is Women’s History Month, and celebrating women feels natural at Bookclubs. We’re a women-founded company that supports over 40,000 book clubs, many of which are run by women for women. That’s why we are so excited to share with you the launch of The Story of Woman podcast and public book club! This online community is all about telling “woman’s story” and connecting with other like-minded people.
Read on to learn about this vibrant community of women, the important stories being amplified by the club’s leader, Anna Stoecklein Lau, and how you can uplift the women in your own life.
Tell us a little about The Story of Woman podcast and where the inspiration to start a book club came from.
The Story of Woman is a podcast-community that explores what our man-made world looks like through woman’s perspective. Throughout history, her narrative has been missing from our nations, governments, healthcare systems, homes and beyond. While many implications of this are clear – the wage gap, lack of representation in leadership – most consequences are so deeply embedded into our world that they are almost impossible to see… unless you are looking!
The podcast features interviews with authors who have written non-fiction books about our world from a woman's perspective, providing the context needed to see where we are, how we got here and what still needs to be changed. From a man's world to mother nature, our world is shaped by gender. So when one half is left out, the story of humankind becomes something else entirely. By adding women back in, we will begin to understand what it means to be fully human and discover a better path forward, for all people.
With the book club, I wanted to provide a space for readers and listeners of The Story of Woman podcast to connect with one another and share thoughts, ideas, and impressions about the books and author interviews. Because while I think the first best thing anyone can do is learn woman’s story, the next best thing is to connect with others and tell their own story!
What should book club members expect to gain from joining your book club?
While this one-woman operation doesn't yet have capacity to run an official book club, members can connect with like-minded people within the club to have a chat or start their own book club! Members will be able to write reviews about each of the books and interact with other members’ reviews and comments. There are book club questions to get you started, and I will add supporting documents along the way, as well as provide additional opportunities to participate in polls and help shape the future of this podcast-community!
The aim is to move to a more active book club in the future, with live author interviews and meetings where we come together to discuss each of the books featured on the podcast.
This season of your podcast features author interviews, tell us about some highlights from these author conversations and what made them so memorable.
Getting the opportunity to speak with these ten incredible women has been extremely fascinating, enlightening and inspiring. They have important stories to tell that have so far been forgotten, ignored or pushed to the margins and footnotes.
Such as Farida D., an Arab gender researcher who writes about our world and feminism from an Arab woman’s perspective, who has relentlessly pushed back against a world that has tried to silence her. For her own safety, she writes under a pen name and doesn’t disclose her location, but her story is that of a woman who moved from a place of silence to refusing to be silenced and writing over 10 books! She writes about the everyday oppressions that Arab women face, but part of what makes her work so magnificent is her ability to transcend cultures and geography, demonstrating how it is not about who is more or less oppressed, but how the patriarchy manifests in different countries and cultures.
Others are writing woman’s story back into institutions that have left them out, such as Elinor Cleghorn, author of Unwell Women, who is writing woman’s perspective back into medicine. Or Katrine Marçal, author of Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner? and Mother of Invention who is writing woman’s perspective back into the economy. Or Leslie Kern, author of Feminist City, who is writing woman’s perspective back into our physical environments.
One of my favourite conversations was with Mary Ann Sieghart, author of The Authority Gap. Her book beautifully lays out why women are still taken less seriously than men and what we can do about it. It features interviews with very authoritative, powerful world leaders like Hillary Clinton and Angela Merkel, demonstrating that even they are not safe from being interrupted and mansplained too! Mary Ann also makes the case as to why this is the mother of all gender gaps.
Every conversation has had memorable moments – such as when Paula Stone Williams, a transgender woman who transitioned at the age of 60, made the case for how much more difficult her life is now compared to when she lived as a man. Or Gina Rippon, a neuroscientist who made it very clear: there is no such thing as male and female brains!
What book are you most looking forward to reading and talking about this year?
This might be the most difficult question! For one, I am not yet sure who I will have the pleasure of speaking with this year. And there are so many fantastic books about woman’s perspective out in the world!
I will say Difficult Women by Helen Lewis, which is an overview of feminism in eleven fights, focusing on some of the more unorthodox, illegal and even violent tactics that have been used through the years. Because these women used more controversial tactics, they were not thanked or rewarded for their efforts, and often they were punished. However, it is these same women that have enabled women today the ability to get divorced, vote, study, work, have abortions, escape violent partners and more.
Helen argues that people are complicated and so is feminist achievement. And yet, our expectation of feminism is often, as Helen puts it - “Perfection. Niceness. Selflessness. We worry whether women can ‘have it all’.” And that we fail to consider that people are flawed, and these flaws often contribute to their achievements. And “being difficult” is very often a crucial element of feminism!
Tell us a little more about your community and how you uplift women’s voices.
I have been calling The Story of Woman a “podcast-community” because I see it as part podcast, part community! There is a recurring section of the podcast called “Your Story” where authors are invited to ask listeners open-ended questions, a bit like an author-led book club! The idea is to begin thinking about how the content relates to our own lives, and listeners can share responses with the community – such as their experience with the topic discussed, ways to overcome challenges, positive stories, organisations doing the work, movies to recommend on the topic, and anything else!
I want to create space for listeners to not only connect and learn from one another, but also recognise that they are not alone in their experiences. Because when you realise that you are not alone, you begin to see the bigger systems at play, and you become a part of a community… and the community of woman is 3.5 billion strong!
I will uplift women’s voices in this way, while also lifting up the voices of the authors and the women in the stories that they tell.
Since March is Women’s History Month, how can the members of the Bookclubs community support and empower the women in their lives?
Alright I might be getting a little esoteric here, but I think the best thing anyone can do to support the women in their lives is to learn about our world from woman’s perspective and begin to really understand the dynamics of gender. Gender shapes our world, but because this is how it’s always been, we often can’t see the invisible forces at play.
How this plays out in the world is that, with often the best of intentions, we try to fix the women rather than the system. And as women, we often end up blaming ourselves for situations we find ourselves in rather than blaming the system. For example, we might think: maybe if I had made that point faster, he wouldn’t have interrupted me; maybe if I had made my pain clearer, the doctor would have diagnosed me sooner; maybe if I had taken a different route home, I would have made it safely.
If we understand the bigger forces at play, we can come up with more creative and helpful solutions to empower the women in our lives… including ourselves if we are one! Because sending a woman to assertiveness training courses might feel like a way to empower her, but not when you understand how women are often punished for showing ambition and confidence. Understanding the bigger picture will enable us to empower women in the best possible ways.
How can we celebrate Women’s History Month all year round?
Read more women, watch more women, listen to more women! The goal is to make Women’s History Month obsolete, because then women’s history will have finally become human history. It may sound counterintuitive, but we can celebrate women all year round by exposing ourselves to their work and viewing it not as “women’s literature” or “women’s movies” or “women’s sports”, but just simply as literature, movies and sports.
We can celebrate women and their achievements, while also rejecting the tendency to label women as niche and something separate from the mainstream.
What book is currently on your nightstand?
I tend to read multiple books at once so I can decide what I am feeling in that moment! I am reading three right now:
- Rodham by Curtis Sittenfield – a fascinating novel about Hillary Clinton choosing not to marry Bill that questions how she, and the world, might have turned out if she hadn’t!
- A Year in the Life by Lucy Leonelli – this was actually written by a friend of mine who took a year off to explore twenty-six different UK subcultures, such as battle re-enactors, circus performers, naturists, zeitgeist political activists and more!
- Storycraft by Jack Hart – this book is a guide to narrative nonfiction which I am using to improve the stories I tell through my podcast.
We’ll be highlighting women’s stories, voices, and book clubs all month long via our blog, social media, and newsletter so if you enjoyed this feature, subscribe to our blog and create a Bookclubs account to access more reading and club inspiration! Already have an account? Rate and review the books above that you've read, and recommend your favorites to friends.