To list ever wonderful piece of feminist literature would be a novel in itself. However, there are some books every woman (and man) should read if they are looking to grasp every aspects of feminism today. These books will make you laugh, make you cry and make you so angry that you’ll be ready to scream at the next man that tries to explain the internet to you. Here are the top ten books every feminist should have on their bookcase:
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Top of my list will always be Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche. All of her books resonate with female strength and the importance of culture. However, for a powerful book that is easy to digest, go to ‘We Should All Be Feminists’. This is not a novel, it is an essay and it is the perfect introduction to why feminism is not a female problem, it is a human problem. Not so much an attack on men or lamenting the woes of being a woman; Chimamanda has a deep understanding of the realities of sexual politics and in this essay she explores the different expectations of men and women. It’s witty, clever and easy to read – no matter your gender.
I am Malala by Christina Lamb and Malala Yousafzai
Don’t feel bad, this girl will make anyone feel unaccomplished. Malala is a 20 year old girl, who at the age of 15, was attacked by the Taliban for speaking out about the importance of educating girls. Even after the attack she continued her work and is now a global icon for female empowerment. This is her story.
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
As a feminist and a woman, sometimes we feel bad for enjoying the things that are apparently forced upon us by the patriarchal society…like lipstick! Gay’s novel ‘Bad Feminist’ takes a comical yet clever look at today’s culture and understanding that it’s okay to be a feminist and still like pink, wear dresses and enjoy shallow things like Vogue magazine. That doesn’t mean that, when it comes down to it, we don’t have substance and intelligence.
Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit
It has become common knowledge that men often assume that they know more on any given subject than their female counterpart. Another clever book, ‘Men Explain Things to Me’ is a comical essay about the day to day conversations between men and women. Although written from her own perspective, it is also an in depth assessment of many issues that women struggle against – most of all the constant struggle to be heard and to be thought of as an intelligent gender with agency.
The Abramson Effect by Debora Spar
This is a book about the women who have ‘made it’. They’ve tackled the ultimate problem within the workplace and they are now the boss. But even in the modern day work place, women and other minorities still struggle for the same rights as men. Although feminism has come far there is still a long way to go before we have equality in the office. The book follows the hiring and subsequent firing of Jill Abramson, a former New York Times editor.
Spinster by Kate Bolick
Women all over the world, over the age of 24, know what it’s like to be told that we should start thinking about ‘settling down’. Our body clocks are ticking. Why are we not married yet? This book however, explores the one option that women can’t possibly want to choose for themselves: staying single! Kate Bolick’s writing is deeply personal and her stories are captivating. Drawing inspiration from other women who chose to live their lives on their own terms, unmarried! This book dares to say marriage isn’t for everyone.
A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
Virgina Woolf was in many ways a woman ahead of her time. In a time when a woman was rarely given any power of her own, Virgina forged her own path and found a voice that was heard globally. She authored many books, but A Room of One’s Own is known worldwide as the epitome of feminist literature. The text explore women as writers and artists in their own right within a male dominant world.
Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics by Bell Hooks
This text is a little more dense than the others on this list; this book address the theories and politics of feminism. Academic yet highly accessible, Bell’s writing beautifully captures the ideas of feminism through wisdom and common sense. She explains the very nature of feminism – not a scary, ‘we hate men’ ideology, but a way of thinking that will one day eradicate sexism, racism and homophobic tendencies. It’s a positive book for both men and women. Read it! You will thank yourself afterwards.
The Hidden Face of Eve by Nawal El Saadawi
There is no denying that all women experience some form of injustice that men will never know. But, when reading of the hardships inflicted upon women in predominantly Muslim nations, it makes ones skin crawl. After being subjected to FGM, Nawal spent years working as a doctor in areas where women struggled with prostitution, honour killings and sexual abuse. This book will open your eyes and make you want to scream at the world.
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft
Yes this book was written by the mind that brought us Frankenstein’s Monsters! No one knew better than Mary what is was like to work in a male dominant society. Having to publish her work under her husband’s name, Mary struggled for recognition. This is one of the earliest works of feminist philosophy and it will highlight for you just how far we have come!
The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf
We’ve all heard that it’s what’s on the inside that counts…apparently women struggle with this concept more than men do. No one can fail to see that women are seen as more valuable when they are beautiful, and that they, in turn, are seen to value their beauty above all else. Well, Wolf explores the connection between beauty and female identity, and how the obsession with physical perfection is just as restrictive as the idea of being the perfect house wife and mother.