If you've been on the internet as woman, you know it's not always a sunshiny land of rainbows and butterflies. Actually, it's almost never that — especially for women who are banking their careers on their web presence. I could be here all day citing the instances of
internet trolling, the studies that prove its prevalence on the web today, along with its outsize effect on women. And yet, women on the internet are building communities, careers, and even fame from putting their passions on the web, and they don't look to be slowing down anytime soon.
Below are nine books, all by women who have made their careers on the internet, in which they share the lessons they've learned, the struggles they've faced, and the triumphs they've made on the world wide web — all while dealing with their own personal lives, building names for themselves, and generally trying to kick ass in all arenas big and small. While some of these books focus more on the writers' internet lives than others, all will offer hilarious, heart-wrenching, smart and savvy takes on what it's really like to be a woman on the web, both good and bad, and how we can make it better.
'Well, That Escalated Quickly: Memoirs And Mistakes of An Accidental Activist' by Franchesa Ramsey (May 22)
Franchesca Ramsey didn't set out to be an activist. Or a comedian. Or a commentator on identity, race, and culture. But then her YouTube video "What White Girls Say. . . to Black Girls" went viral. Faced with an avalanche of media requests, fan letters, and hate mail, she had two choices: Jump in and make her voice heard or step back and let others frame the conversation. In her first book, Ramsey uses her own experiences as an accidental activist to explore the many ways we communicate with each other — from the highs to the many pitfalls that accompany talking about race, power, sexuality, and gender in an unpredictable public space: the internet.
Click here to buy. 'Crash Override: How Gamergate (Nearly) Destroyed My Life, And How We Can Win the Fight Against Online Hate' by Zoe Quinn
Zoe Quinn is a video game developer whose ex-boyfriend published a crazed blog post cobbled together from private information, half-truths, and outright fictions, along with a rallying cry to the online hordes to go after her. They answered in the form of a "movement" known as #gamergate — they hacked her accounts, stole nude photos of her, harassed her, and threatened her.
Crash Override offers an up close look inside the controversy, and the social and cultural battles that started in the far corners of the internet. Quinn uses her story — as target and as activist — to provide an accessible, personal, and human look at the ways the internet impacts our lives and culture. Click here to buy. 'Shrill: Notes From A Loud Woman' by Lindy West
Coming of age in a culture that demands women be as small, quiet, and compliant as possible — like a porcelain dove that will also have sex with you — writer and humorist Lindy West quickly discovered that she was anything but. From her public war with stand-up comedians over rape jokes; to her accidental activism and never-ending, sometimes heartwrenching, battle royale with Internet trolls,
Shrill provocatively dissects what it means to become self-aware the hard way, to go from wanting to be silent and invisible to earning a living defending the silenced in all caps. Click here to buy. 'One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter' by Scaachi Koul
One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter, Koul deploys her razor-sharp humour to share her fears, outrages and mortifying experiences as an outsider growing up in Canada. Her subjects range from shaving her knuckles in grade school, to a shopping trip gone horribly awry, to dealing with internet trolls. Alongside these personal stories are pointed observations about life as a woman of colour, where every aspect of her appearance is open for critique, derision or outright scorn...especially on the internet. Click here to buy. 'You're Never Weird On The Internet (Almost)' by Felicia Day
The internet isn’t all cat videos. There’s also Felicia Day—filmmaker, internet entrepreneur, compulsive gamer, and former lonely homeschooled girl who overcame her isolated childhood to become the ruler of a new world...or at least semi-influential in the world of internet Geeks. Felicia’s short-ish life and her rags-to-riches rise to internet fame launched her career as one of the most influential creators in new media. Hilarious and inspirational,
You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) is proof that everyone should embrace what makes them different and be brave enough to share it with the world, because anything is possible now—even for a digital misfit. Click here to buy. 'The Misadventures Of Awkward Black Girl' by Issa Rae
Being an introvert in a world that glorifies outgoing cool isn’t easy. But when Issa Rae, the creator of the Shorty Award–winning hit series
The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, and the HBO series, Insecure, is that introvert — whether she’s navigating love, work, friendships — it sure is entertaining. In this collection of essays, Rae covers everything from cybersexing in the early days of the internet to deflecting unsolicited comments on weight gain, from navigating the perils of eating out alone and public displays of affection to learning to accept yourself — on the internet and off. Click here to buy. 'Buffering: Unshared Tales Of A Life Fully Loaded' by Hannah Hart
By combing through the journals that Hannah has kept for much of her life, this collection of narrative essays delivers a fuller picture of her life, her experiences, and the things she’s figured out about family, faith, love, sexuality, self-worth, friendship, and fame. Revealing what makes Hannah tick, this sometimes cringe-worthy, poignant collection of stories delivers plenty of Hannah’s wit and wisdom, both about her life before the internet, and after internet fame.
Click here to buy. 'This Is Really Happening' by Erin Chack
This Is Really Happening, Erin recounts everything from meeting her soulmate at age 14 to her first chemotherapy session at age 19 to what really goes on behind the scenes at a major internet media company. With fresh perspective on universal themes of resilience and love, and the hilarious themes of viral Buzzfeed articles and trying a menstrual cup for the first time, Chack's book is all about growing up, and the ways the internet and social media are shifting our lives for better (like meeting your first boyfriend on AIM chat) and worse. Click here to buy. 'So Much I Want to Tell You: Letters to My Little Sister' by Anna Akana
In 2007, Anna Akana lost her teen sister, Kristina, to suicide. In the months that followed, she began making YouTube videos as a form of creative expression and as a way to connect with others. Ten years later, Anna has more than a million subscribers who watch her smart, honest vlogs on her YouTube channel. Here, Anna opens up about her own struggles with poor self-esteem and reveals both the highs and lows of coming-of-age on the internet. She offers hard-won advice for young women on everything from self-care to money to sex, and is refreshingly straightforward about the realities of dating, female friendship, and the hustle required to make your dreams come true.
Click here to buy.