One of my more attainable New Year’s resolutions for 2016, was to round out my reading list, and start checking out the books every feminist should read. Rather than picking up the latest installment of the next hot dystopian young adult fiction novel (guilty), I want to read with intention. I’ve always been a bookworm, so reading more would be a bit of a copout as a New Year’s resolution. But given my tendency to pick up quick, juicy reads, reading more books that have a feminist angle absolutely qualifies as a resolution. (Not to mention it totally fits in with the rest of my feminist New Year’s resolutions.)
Whether the book is by a female author, or tells a feminist tale, there are plenty of books out there to add to your bookshelf. From fiction, to memoirs, to collections of essays, this list has it all. If you want to go one step further and sign up for a reading challenge, I recommend checking out Bustle’s reading challenge, #BustleReads. But if you don’t have the time (or the willpower) for a full challenge, try starting with one or two of the recommended below. Whether you pick up one, or all 15, keep your eye out for these empowering books on your next trip to the library. You and your feminist agenda won’t regret it.
1'The Feminine Mystique' By Betty Friedan
Take it back to where the movement began, and read The Feminine Mystique. Written over 50 years ago, the book still holds a world of insight into feminism in a society that pushes back against it. Plus, you'll be able to say you've read The Feminine Mystique.
2'Girlboss' By Sophia Amoruso
Brush up on your entrepreneurial skills with #GirlBoss, and follow Amoruso through the trials and tribulations of creating a multi-million dollar business from scratch, in a man's world.
3'The Joy Luck Club' By Amy Tan
Examining the unshakable bonds between mothers and daughters, The Joy Luck Club follows four mother-dughter duos as they traverse life together and apart as immigrants in San Francisco. Expertly crafted, and keeping the reader guessing at the truth of each situation, Amy Tan weaves an undeniably complex and mysterious tale that will keep you turning the pages.
4'Spinster' By Kate Bolick
Feeling alone in the world? You're not the only one. Pick up Spinster and enjoy the ride. In this book, Bolick tackles why society abhors the idea of women who grow old with themselves, and why it's not so bad.
5'A Room Of One's Own' By Virginia Woolf
In A Room Of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf imagines that Shakespeare had an equally as talented sister, but who leaves an entirely different legacy behind. Diving into the subject of creative expression, and how being a woman can limit the experience, Woolf takes on the patriarchy, and remains as relevant as ever.
6'How To Be A Woman' By Caitlin Moran
Hilarious, relevant, and all too real, How To Be A Woman is a must read for any feminist. Shedding light on what it means to be a feminist in society today with a dose of kick in the pants humor? Yes, please.
7'Bad Feminist' By Roxane Gay
Do you ever think, "Sure I'm a feminist, but am I a bad feminist?" Turns out you're not the only one. Bad Feminist is not only witty, but a field guide to feeling alright about yourself, even if you find yourself enjoying things that aren't particular feminist themselves.
8'The Bell Jar' By Sylvia Plath
Perhaps one of the most acclaimed novels to highlight severe depression, The Bell Jar is a classic. Beautiful and harrowing, Sylvia Plath simply bestows the idea of struggling as a young woman in the reader. Reading this book is a challenge, but one you'll be glad you took on when you finish.
9'The Round House' By Louise Erdich
Telling the story of a boy's coming of age after a brutal, racist attack on his mother, The Round House stuns and saddens. Based on real-life statistics of racially-inspired attacks on U.S. reservations, Louise Erdich weaves a believable, heart wrenching tale of justice and understanding.
10'Bossypants' By Tina Fey
What does it take to climb the comedy ladder as a woman? Tina Fey will tell you. In Bossypants, Fey recounts many tales of working with, for, and by women, while consistently being compared to men in her field. Hilarious and charming, this book does not disappoint.
11'Fear Of Flying' By Erica Jong
In Fear Of Flying, Isadora Wing is on a quest to find her true self. Running from a psychoanalyst husband, in pursuit of pleasure with conviction, Erica Jong paints a still relevant picture of a freethinking woman, looking for something more.
12'Redefining Realness' By Janet Mock
With honesty and grace, Janet Mock relays what it's like to grow up poor, multiracial, and transgender in America. Redefining Realness is a beautiful window into intersectional feminism, if you find yourself grasping for more. Mock's quest to find herself is inspiring, powerful, and unapologetic.
13'Lean In' By Sheryl Sandberg
In Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg examines why women's progress in leadership has stalled, and what to do about it. A powerful wake up call for any woman taking the backseat in her own life, this book is one that won't go out of style any time soon.
14'My Life On The Road' By Gloria Steinem
Perhaps the ultimate feminist, Gloria Steinem brings us a new memoir with My Life On The Road. Telling the stories of her youth, Steinem talks not only of her personal growth, but the growth of the women's movement in this memoir, in rich and exciting prose.
15'I Feel Bad About My Neck' By Nora Ephron
Nora Ephron brings her whip smart humor to the table in I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts On Being A Woman. Wading through issues that women face as they age, the book is a perfect read for women of any age (and men too, to be honest). Whether it's menopause or wrinkles, Ephron tackles being at home in your own skin as an aging woman, and delivers a hilarious punch.
Images: George Dolgikh/Fotolia