Books for Big Brains – Modern Women: 52 Pioneers

Every so often the Big Brains Boss, Bri Lee, is sent a new book that’s written by, or about, women. We’ve decided to take advantage of this by publishing short, succinct reviews that give you the lowdown on the quality content found within each book’s pages. These reviews will form part of an ongoing series: Books for Big Brains.

How could it get any better, you ask? Well, we want to send YOU the books for FREE. If you’d like to be among the first to get your hands on the latest publications, all you have to do is provide us with your opinion on the book you’re sent in the form of a 200-300 word review. Sound like a sweet deal? Get in touch with us!

Kicking the series off is Emma with her review of Kira Cochrane’s Modern Women: 52 Pioneers.

As a child, I believed I could measure how successful the adults around me were according to how many books they had on their coffee tables.

It had nothing to do with the monetary value of such publications; I was too young to consider that aspect.

It had everything to do with the fact that, in my 6-year-old mind, living with an abundance of gorgeous, hardcover works of carefully compiled photography and prose in your possession meant that you had Made It.

In my childhood home we had one: a thick, hardback guide to painting flowers in watercolour. I treasured it, and could often be found sitting cross-legged on the lounge room floor, poring over detailed images of paintbrushes and short descriptions of colour mixing techniques.

Now an adult (of sorts), I’m able to recognise the absurdity of my childhood assumptions of success. I may still be drawn to beautiful-looking books, but the significance and relevance of the topics they’ve chosen to cover are crucial when it comes to deciding whether I’ll pick them up. Unsurprisingly then, Kira Cochrane’s Modern Women: 52 Pioneers was an easy, and solid, choice.

Cochrane’s Modern Women is a collection of 52 stunningly crafted, individual profiles of historically prominent women who lived extraordinary lives. Each profile is accompanied by dreamy portraits of the subject in question, and provides a concise account of how each of the women included helped shape the world as we know it today through their actions.

Collectively, the profiles are intersectional and diverse. They provide insight into larger, historical narratives by featuring an array of activists, artists, musicians, and scientists, among others.

To read Modern Women: 52 Pioneers is to grant yourself access to information that is still too often overlooked, regarding achievements that are also still too often overlooked.

Keeping hardback publications on your coffee table might not make you as instantaneously successful as I once thought. But learning about some of the world’s most inspirational women and their work is guaranteed to help you get started.


Want to review a book for us as part of Books for Big Brains? Get in touch with us by emailing Emma Kate Lewis at emma@hotchickwithbigbrains.com.

All words and images by Emma Kate Lewis

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