If you want to learn more about feminism, you’re going to have to read more about it. It’s as simple as that! So today, I want to share a list of awesome books about feminism that you should totally read if you want to learn more.
This is pretty much my personal wish list of feminist books after lots of research, and I promise that whether you already love feminism, or you’re a little hesitant to get into it, or even just confused and maybe not even sure how to be a feminist, there’s a book here for you. (There are even some novels, if you prefer that!)
Just pick one and get reading!
Full Frontal Feminism by Jessica Valenti
I just finished this one, and I think it’s an awesome one to start with. It’s perfect for someone who doesn’t know much about feminism at all, because it starts with the basics, but it also delves into some deeper concepts as well. So as someone who’s spent a lot of time learning about feminism, I still got a lot of value from it. Plus, the tone of this book is so fun and light. Valenti writes in a no-bullshit, tell-it-like-it-is way. It’s a really easy, funny read! It’s like listening to her talk — very casual language — with some cussing as well, which I loved. Definitely get your hands on this one to start!
I got this one a few months ago and read it in one sitting — it’s short and an easy, quick read, but so worth it. Comforting and friendly, it’s based on the speech Adichie gave at a TED Talk, where she talks about her personal experience in being a woman, sexual violence, and the problems with how men and women are taught to behave. A really inspiring, optimistic read — check it out!
Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay
Something I’ve mentioned before is the pressure that feminists experience to be the perfect feminist, all the time. It gets overwhelming to feel like you have to address every little thing, be critical every second. Are you truly a feminist if you like watching trash TV or misogynistic songs?
In this book, Roxane Gay discusses what her own development in feminism as a woman of colour, with different essays and a sense of humour, including her feelings of conflict about whether she is a “good” feminist. If you’ve ever felt conflicted about identifying as feminist, this book is for you!
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
Malala is an amazingly inspiring young woman who fought for her education in a place where that is not a welcome idea. She was shot by the Taliban, and yet never gave up. I’m looking forward to this read.
How To Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
This book is one that I’ve been recommended a number of times. I’ve heard it’s hilarious (with awesome British humour) and many people I’ve talked to about feminism cite this book as the one that got them into feminism. I can’t wait to read it!
The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore
The nerd in me is really excited to read this book! It’s an exploration of the original creator of Wonder Woman and the character herself — questioning whether she is a feminist character at all. I’m very curious about this one, so if you read it do let me know what you thought!
Enlightened Sexism: The Seductive Message That Feminism’s Work Is Done by Susan J. Douglas
I absolutely hate when people say feminism’s work is done, so this book is really up on my list. This book details how sexism is still prevalent in our society, and that the idea that feminism is “done” is harmful. Sounds like an important read to me!
Cunt by Inga Muscio
This book has been recommended to me a few times due to my conflicted feelings about the word “cunt,” especially with how and whether or not women should reclaim it. This book explores the history of the word and “gives women the tools to claim ‘cunt’ as a positive and powerful force in their lives.” I’m really excited to read it!
The Abramson Effect by Debora Spar
Jill Abramson was hired to run a a large corporation, only to be publicly fired soon after. Apparently this trend is called “the glass cliff.” While women have come far in the workplace, there’s still a long ways to go — and that’s what this book is about! I’d never even heard of the glass cliff, so I’m excited to learn more about it. Check it out!
Yes Please by Amy Poehler
Do I really need to explain this one? It’s Amy Poehler, and while some say she’s no perfect feminist, I think she’s hilarious! For another fun, inspiring feminist read, get your hands on this book!
Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights by Katha Pollitt
I’m pro-choice (as in, I respect whatever decision any woman makes) but I don’t know enough about the stats behind abortion and the stories that go with it. This book is looks like a good informational read, with well-cited arguments supporting women’s right to reproductive health and choice, so I’ve added this to my list for learning for sure.
What Will It Take To Make a Woman President? by Marianne Schnall
Extremely relevant while Hillary Clinton runs for president today, this book is full of interviews of many other famous people who answer this question — including Gloria Steinem, Nicholas Kristof, Maya Angelou, Melissa Etheridge, Jessica Valenti, and Sheryl Sandberg. I’m interested in what they’ll have to say!
Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson
The main character in this book is a teenage woman of colour who is pregnant, and the story deals with violence, histories of poverty and homelessness, and Afro-Caribbean folklore. I have to say, I haven’t come across many books like this, so I’m very interested!
I know very little about the transgender community, and I know nothing about what it’s like to be trans in our society. This book is about Janet Mock’s experience growing up young, poor, multiracial and trans in America, and the unique challenges of trans people. Looking forward to this eye-opening read!
Intercourse by Andrea Dworkin
This seems like a book you just simply have to read if you’re interested in feminism at all. Andrea Dworkin is one of the most famous feminists out there, and this book is a major source of controversy because it talks about sex itself being a form of inequality between men and women. I don’t know if I’ll be one of the people who passionately and angrily disagrees with her, but I know it’ll be one interesting critical read!
Stone Butch Blues: A Novel by Leslie Feinberg
This is a book published in the 90s, and is considered to be an amazing story about being transgendered. Here’s the summary from Amazon:
“Published in 1993, this brave, original novel is considered to be the finest account ever written of the complexities of a transgendered existence. Woman or man? Thats the question that rages like a storm around Jess Goldberg, clouding her life and her identity. Growing up differently gendered in a blue–collar town in the 1950s, coming out as a butch in the bars and factories of the prefeminist 60s, deciding to pass as a man in order to survive when she is left without work or a community in the early 70s. This powerful, provocative and deeply moving novel sees Jess coming full circle, she learns to accept the complexities of being a transgendered person in a world demanding simple explanations: a he-she emerging whole, weathering the turbulence.”
If you’d rather read about transgender issues in the form of a story, this novel is for you!
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Another well-known one that I have yet to read. This story is one where women are only important because they can have children; they don’t have any rights and cannot read, deal with money, and more. It’s a dystopian story that is a reflection of our own society… I’m interested to see how!
Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy
I read this novel when I was in university, as part of a class about gender. Ironically, that class is the one that pushed me away from feminism; it was far too academic, both over my head and frustratingly elitist. But this book stuck with me — it’s a utopia and dystopia, and it breaks down so many different structures that exist in our society. A really cool read!
Babygate: How To Survive Pregnancy and Parenting in the Workplace by Dina Bakst, Phoebe Tubman, and Elizabeth Gedmark
Okay, maybe this one isn’t really a priority on my list right now since I’m not planning on a having a kid any time soon. But it just looks so interesting! It’s full of quizzes, testimonies, and laws & regulations to be aware of if you’re a parent in the US. It also has comparisons with countries outside the States! Sound pretty neat to me. So if you’re pregnant, planning to have kids or know someone who is, check this one out!
Vagina by Naomi Wolf
Naomi Wolf is another well-known feminist. This book is about women’s sexuality and the vagina. It seems to be a little more of a heavy, theoretical, academic-type read, but the topic seems interesting — so it’s still on my list! Let me know if you read this one, I’d love to know what you think!
Men Explain Things To Me by Rebecca Solnit
This book contains seven essays on the topic of how men talk to women. If you’ve ever heard of the term “mainsplaining,” this seems to be the book that brought that idea to light! I have mixed feelings about the concept in general, so I’m really interested to learn more about it.
The Guy’s Guide to Feminism by Michael Kaufman & Michael Kimmel
This looks like the perfect book for guys that might be new to feminism! It has good reviews, is written by two well-known male feminists, and is generally thought to give a nice intro to feminism. I’ve seen it all over the internet, and from what I can tell, it’s written in an easy-to-read, accessible way. It’s been recommended as the best choice for guys that are interested in learning more about feminism and who don’t know too much about it yet. I haven’t read it myself, so if you do get this for a friend or yourself, it’s on my list — do let me know what you think of it! You can check out this website for more info.
What’s your favourite book? Share your recommendations in the comments below!
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