Books that changed my life: Jess Phillips

Reader's Digest Editors

Jess Phillips is the Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley and chair of the Women’s Parliamentary Labour Party. Her book, Everywoman, is published by Windmill

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole By Sue Townsend

I’ve read this at least once a year since I was ten. To begin with I identified entirely with Adrian; we both had holistically-minded working-class families who were funny and hated Margaret Thatcher. Some might argue that 
I turned into Pandora Braithwaite, the love of Adrian’s life, because she became a Labour MP but, as I get older, I sympathise more with his mum. She was a bit of an absent mother but joined an organisation to champion the rights of women.

 

How To Be a Woman By Caitlin Moran

I guess I’m a bit of a sucker for women writers from the Midlands. When this came out in 2011, I was looking after my two young sons and could barely finish a cup of tea, let alone a book. But this was different and I inhaled every word. I recognised myself in Caitlin; growing up in the 1990s, boys being horrible, becoming a young mum. I’d always been a feminist but this made me want to get up and shout about stuff in a way that no other feminist literature had before.

 

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls By Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo

I don’t often get to put my kids to bed but when I do, I really want to sit and talk with them. This is my younger son’s favourite book and, through our shared enjoyment of the stories of amazing women, he and I have wonderful conversations about bravery, adventure, intellectual study, politics and much more. We take it in turns to read one entry each every night we’re together. It’s the most precious time I spend with him.