16 Feminist Books That'll Make Your Bookshelf More Balanced
Last year, Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique celebrated it’s 50th anniversary. The book, largely credited with sparking the second wave of feminism, has been continually hailed as a vanguard of feminism and will continue to be a landmark for the movement in the world of literature for years to come. But Friedan’s work isn’t the only feminist book on the block.Since the debut of Friedan’s book, the options for feminist reading material have only increased.
Although the world has come a long way since 1964, equality is still a constant struggle in the nation. What better way to arm yourself for an uphill battle then with a slew of feminist books in your library? Beyond feminist classics such as Friedan, or The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir, there is a world of feminist literature waiting. Whether your tastes veer more toward classical literature, young adult fiction, or light-hearted humor, there’s a feminist book out there for you. This list spans several genres that all have one thing in common: a feminist heartbeat.
So hit the library, or head to the nearest bookstore with this list in hand. Learn something new. Read something new. Suggest one of these for your next book club pick. Share a title with your sister. Curl up with a cup of tea and dive into your next feminist pick. You won’t regret it.
1. 'The Handmaid's Tale' by Margaret Atwood
Although any of Atwood's work would fit on this list, The Handmaid's Tale is perhaps her best-known book. A departure from her previous novels, Atwood weaves together a tale of a dystopian future where women are no longer allowed to read, and their usefulness is determined by whether or not their ovaries are viable. Horrifying, funny, and hitting a little too close to home at times, this book is a must read.
2. 'Little Women' by Louisa May Alcott
Written by a woman, for women, Little Women is a feminist classic. Preaching the message of independence (Jo March, anyone?) and self-expression to all who read, Alcott explores the relationships between women while men are away, and delivers a liberating view of the possibilities available to women.
3. 'The Red Tent' by Anita Diamant
In The Red Tent, Diamant takes the character of Dinah (an otherwise minimal character in biblical history), and weaves a tale of the life that might of been. Telling the story of Jacob's wives from Dinah's point of view, Diamant paints a fascinating and heart wrenching portrait of the women of the bible, spinning a saga of betrayal, love, midwifery, and sisterhood. You'll read this book again and again.
4. 'Feminism Is For Everybody' by bell hooks
A primer for anyone who's looking for an educational and accessible entry point into the world of feminism, Feminism Is For Everybody encourages readers to explore the world of feminism. bell hooks delivers feminism clearly, and begs readers to learn how the movement can touch their lives personally.
5. 'The Golden Compass' by Philip Pullman
Long before The Hunger Games, there was a trilogy with an equally as badass female protagonist. The Golden Compass takes readers on a journey through a fantastical world of fantasy, where a young girl, Lyra, begins her quest to find her best friend Roger, who's been kidnapped. With equal parts fantasy and coming of age, Lyra is a wonderfully complex and feminist character for all ages.
6. 'Fun Home' by Alison Bechdel
Equal parts heartbreaking and hilarious, Fun Home tells the story of family, sexual angst, and becoming who you are. Told through a series of comics, Bechdel leaves no emotional stone unturned in this novel turned Broadway musical.
7. 'We Should All Be Feminists' by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Adapted from her wildly popular Ted Talk by the same name, Adichie takes readers by the hand in this personal essay. We Should All Be Feminists offers readers a unique take on feminism, drawing on her own experiences and crafting a relevant and timely explanation as to why everyone really should be a feminist.
8. 'Bad Feminist' by Roxane Gay
In this funny and insightful collection of essays, Gay manages to span politics, the importance of the color pink, how much she loves Vogue, and cultural criticism, all without losing the reader's interest. Bad Feminist has been on every reading list since it debuted, and is sure to go down as a classic.
9. 'Men Explain Things To Me' by Rebecca Solnit
In a compact and comic collection of essays, Men Explain Things to Me tackles gender wars, #YesAllWomen, and many of the author's own hilarious and horrifying encounters. A quick and integral read, this book is the perfect conversation starter for all things feminism.
10. '#Girlboss' by Sophia Amoruso
In #Girlboss, Amoruso shares how she went from dumpster diving to the founder of a multi-million dollar clothing company. Throughout the book she tackles what it's like to be a woman in a predominately male-dominated field, how she overcame being a high school drop out, and how being different is a blessing, not a curse. A must-read for any feminist in need of some motivation in her work life.
11. 'How To Be A Woman' by Caitlin Moran
With wit and biting humor, Moran takes on topics such as body image, rape culture, strip clubs, and why bras hurt so much. With striking clarity, How To Be A Woman lays out exactly why women's rights and female empowerment are essential issues for everyone in society.
12. 'Persepolis' by Marjane Satrapi
The second graphic novel on the list, Persepolis is a memoir that tells the story of Satrapi, growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. Painting an impressive and alarming portrait of daily life in Iran, the book beautifully portrays what it means to be a child, a woman, and an outspoken voice amidst a revolution.
13. 'Sister Outsider' by Audre Lorde
In this collection of essays and speeches, Lorde takes on sexism, racism, homophobia, class, and more. Sister Outsider celebrates the voice of a black, lesbian, feminist poet and writer. A wonderful addition and celebration of intersectional feminism.
14. 'Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?' by Jeanette Winterson
Acclaimed and best-selling author Winterson brings readers the story of her own life in this memoir about finding happiness. Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? is the story of a past painted over, searching for identity, what happens when you find yourself, and about how other peoples words and experiences can save you when you least expect it.
15. 'Full Frontal Feminism' by Jessica Valenti
A smart and relatable guide to feminism for young women, Full Frontal Feminism delivers an impressive range of topics from pop culture, to health, relationships and more.
16. 'Why Not Me?' by Mindy Kaling
In Kaling's second foray into the world of literature, she delivers a perfect approach for life, simply put in the title, Why Not Me?. From falling in love at work, to the raucous world of being a woman of color working in Hollywood, Kaling's wit and ability to make you wish she were your best friend are strong.