January 13, 2022

Books Recommended by Emma Watson

Much like her movie characters, Hermione Granger and Belle from Beauty and the Beast, actress and activist Emma Watson is a keen bookworm. Here are a few of the best books she’s recommended over the past few years.

Emma Watson, the actress best known for playing Hermione Granger in the world-famous Harry Potter films, beautifully articulated the power of storytelling, books, and reading, at the recent Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts special:

quotation marksWhen things get really dark, and things get really hard, stories give us places we can go, where we can rest, feel held.

Harry Potter's 20th anniversary saw Emma Watson reunite with many of her former cast-mates, including Radcliffe, Grint, and Tom Felton, to reflect on the enduring power and popularity of the iconic Harry Potter franchise. This quote above, from Watson, had many of us reflecting on the enduring power of storytelling, and why J.K. Rowling's universe remains such a comfort to many readers today. But what does Emma Watson herself like to read in her spare time? We've put together a quick guide to some of the best reads she's picked out over the last few years - some of which were promoted through her book club, Our Shared Shelf.

Who is Emma Watson?

The actress worked alongside co-stars Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint for over a decade, studied English Literature at college at Brown (as well as earning a place at Oxford University), and also modeled during her multiple campaigns with Burberry. 

Most recently, Watson has become a keen activist for women’s rights and sustainability - in particular, our worldwide plastic problem, for which she even wore a dress made of recycled bottles to the Met Gala to promote greater awareness. She became a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and spearheaded the famous #HeForShe campaign, as well as partnering with fellow actress and activist Thandiwe Newton to discuss the dangers of Twitter trolls and online abuse.

Running alongside her activism, Watson is a keen reader; she even founded her own book club (the aforementioned Our Shared Shelf) to promote feminist books and essays. If you’d like to check out some of these recommended reads for yourself but aren’t sure where to start, then have a look at our guide here on some of the best books handpicked by the actress.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking - Susan CainSusan Cain

On Uptime

Despite the fact that 1/3 of people in the world are introverted, they are now often viewed in a negative light, particularly by Western societies. Shyness and sensitivity are often critiqued, whilst being flamboyant and loud is championed. 

Author and lecturer Susan Cain wrote this groundbreaking book to help introverts discover how they can harness their talents and overcome these stereotypes, and to show extroverts that introverts deserve to be valued more highly. 

quotation marksDon't think of introversion as something that needs to be 'cured'.

Cain’s lessons include the following ideas:

  • Society undervalues and misunderstands introverts; instead of seeking ‘outgoing’ individuals, we should value the insight that those who are quieter, and the qualities they bring to any situation. 
  • In Western countries particularly, extroverts are presented as the ‘ideal’ of success. This is because confidence is often (mistakenly) aligned with competence.
  • Whoever shouts the loudest is not necessarily the person with the most insightful ideas - an important lesson for those navigating the workplace. Exercises such as ‘brain-storming’, group presentations, and even meetings can make introverts feel uncomfortable, and we should allow people to work in the ways that best suit them as individuals. 

Man's Search for Meaning - Viktor Frankl

On Uptime

Written whilst the author fought for survival in Aushwitz and other Nazi concentration camps, Man’s Search For Meaning is a moving tribute to hope and love, even in the most dire of circumstances. Famous psychiatrist and philosopher Frankl focuses on the beauty that can be found in both nature and art, which he believes can help others overcome the most harrowing of circumstances. Frankl argues that our ability to choose our attitude and reaction to any circumstance is our greatest freedom. 

quotation marksWhen we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.

Our three main takeaways: 

  • Frankl’s theory of ‘logotherapy’, a type of therapy geared towards helping individuals find personal meaning in life, and to focus on the future rather than the past. 
  • Suffering cannot be avoided, but we can learn how to cope with our pain. By finding purpose in life, our suffering is lessened. 
  • Humans should pursue meaning over pleasure in order to feel fulfilled. 

All About Love: New Visions - bell hooks

On Uptime

In this book, feminist writer bell hooks explores traditional notions that we as a society hold about love, challenging the idea that romantic love is the most important of all. 

She condemns the modern ‘culture of narcissism’, writing that it’s possible to love oneself without being self-centred and whilst still thinking of others at the same time. hooks believes that, too often, women accept bullying or coercive behavior from their partners as just a part of ‘being in love’, challenging this idea and providing a guide on how to try and overcome this self-destructive mindset. hooks also champions friendships and the love we have for family members. 

quotation marksKnowing love, or the hope of knowing love, is the anchor that keeps us from falling into that sea of despair.

Some of her key lessons include the following ideas:

  • One of the most central ingredients to love, in any form, is honesty and truth-telling. Without honesty, there can be no justice in society. 
  • Self- acceptance is the key to self-love; until we are able to see ourselves as we really are, we will not have the foundations necessary for self-love. 
  • Love should be something we are proactive about, so that society at large can become less polarized. Love is a choice, and we should focus more on the concept of love as a verb than as a noun. 

Women Who Run With Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype - Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés

In this book, Dr. Estés has created a new voice for describing the female psyche, referring to the ‘Wild Woman’ as the repressed female psyche. Dr. Estés draws from myths and fairy tales from multiple cultures and regions to depict her image of the ‘Wild Woman’, which can be discovered by exploring the ancient subconsciousness of women. 

She argues that society has dampened woman’s deep, ‘true’ nature, because for centuries they’ve not been regarded as important. Dr Estés explores the idea that for centuries, the 'wild woman' has been repressed by a male-orientated value system which trivialises women's emotions. Now, she posits, it is time to unleash it. 

quotation marksThough her soul requires seeing, the culture around her requires sightlessness. Though her soul wishes to speak its truth, she is pressured to be silent.

Some of this book’s key lessons include:

  • Over-civilisation has killed the female soul. From a young age, girls were labelled ‘tomboys’ or ‘girly girls’, but this kind of socialisation and judgement has killed the spirit inside them. 
  • Our instincts are our most powerful weapon, and women should listen to and value them over the voices of teachers, parents, guardians, and politicians. Intuition, Dr Estés argues, is the direct messaging of the soul. 
  • Women should wear their scars as badges of honour; everyone has been through difficult times, and there is no point living in the shadow of past mistakes or tragedies. We should look back on what we’ve been through and realise how strong we are - and, of course, how much of a Wild Woman we are. 
If there’s one thing we can learn from Emma Watson’s reading recommendations, it’s that she enjoys a wide range of different topics and interests.

However, at their core, these book picks contain a common thread: an interest and curiosity to learn more about the world, and our place as humans within it.

If you, like Watson, want to become better-read and level up your understanding of the world, then check out our wide variety of book, course, and documentary summaries on Uptime.

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