This post was totally unplanned, but since it’s International Women’s Day today, and I’ve been trying to read more feminist literature lately, I thought it would be cool to share some of my favorite books with feminist themes (both fiction and nonfiction) and some of the books I haven’t yet read but are on my TBR. (Wow, that was a long sentence. Sorry.) I am proud to be a feminist, and love educating myself about various feminist issues, especially through well-written books.
I’ve divided this post into two sections. First is my recommended reads, books I’ve read and would highly recommend to those looking for some interesting feminist books. The second list are the top five feminist books on my TBR (to-be-read list). While there are a lot of feminist books on that list, these are the ones I’m hoping to get to in the near future. Both lists have a mix of fiction and nonfiction, as well as books from authors of different ages, cultures, backgrounds, and time periods. Feel free to share your favorite feminist reads in the comments!
- I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai. I absolutely love Malala and the cause she is fighting for: girls’ education. I’m actually planning a whole post about it later this month, so I’ll keep this short. But this book is amazing, and I think everyone should read it.
- The Color Purple by Alice Walker. I loved this book so much more than I was expecting to. I actually just finished it a week ago, and I’m still thinking about it. I love that it addresses feminist issues while still being an enthralling work of fiction. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend it.
- My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem. Like The Color Purple, I read this book for the Our Shared Shelf book club (Emma Watson’s feminist book club). My Life on the Road really opened my eyes to a lot of issues I hadn’t really thought about, and even made me really question some opinions I’d believed my entire life. Really, it just got me thinking, which is always the first step.
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Hear me out: I realize it could be argued that this book is a bit sexist. But it’s actually Regency England that was sexist. This book, specifically Elizabeth Bennet, are decidedly feminist, especially considering when the book was written. Lizzie was really the first character, for me, who taught me that I don’t need to adhere to “traditional” and suffocating societal mores. Plus, it’s just one of my favorite books.
- A Vindication of the Rights of Women by Mary Wollstonecraft. There’s a reason Mary Wollstonecraft is known as the mother of feminism. This book is almost as relevant today as it was in 1792 (whether that’s a good or bad thing is up to you). I didn’t really “get” it when I read it six or so years ago (to be honest, I was still struggling with the close-minded beliefs with which I was raised). But when I reread it a few months ago, I was amazed! I think I actually said “YES!” out loud a few times while reading. I ended up writing a 20-page paper using the ideas in this book to look at the feminist themes in Pride and Prejudice. And I got an A. So trust me on this one. (I would also recommend reading them together, especially if you want to read P&P through a feminist lens.)
- Yes Please by Amy Poehler. I did not go into this thinking I would learn anything other than facts about Amy Poehler. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel more confident and powerful after finishing this book. Poehler talks about being a woman in a man’s world, and how she learned
- Bossypants by Tina Fey. Like Poehler, Fey taught me some unexpected lessons in this book. I walked away from it not only feeling better about myself as a person, but also feeling better about myself as a woman.
- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. This is a dystopian novel about a society in which women are completely disenfranchised. They are relegated to domestic and reproductive tasks only. It’s an extreme view, but a scary look at what could happen if anti-feminist get their way.
- We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. As soon as I heard about this book, I added it to my TBR. From what I gather, it’s a short and concise look at what feminism really means in today’s society. (I also recently bought a copy of her book Americanah, which I’m really looking forward to reading as well.)
- The Second Sex by Simone de Bouvoir. I read excerpts of this in college, but not the book in it’s entirety. In it, Bouvoir looks at historical, religious, and scientific differences between men and women.
- A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf. Based on a series of lectures Woolf gave at Newham and Girton Colleges – two women’s colleges at Cambridge – this book examines female authors and characters in literature.
- The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë. I read Anne Brontë’s other novel, Agnes Grey, in a women’s history class in college and really enjoyed it. So I was excited to hear that this book has strong feminist themes; Anne was the first author to write about a woman leaving her abusive husband (in this book). I just got a copy, and will definitely be reading it soon!
- Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates. One of the side effects of my reading My Life on the Road was that I became more aware of everyday sexism. Little things that I just didn’t notice before. This book looks at different forms of sexism women face everyday.
- Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution by Mona Eltahawy. I picked this book up on a whim a few weeks ago, and I’m actually really excited to read it. It’s a call for gender equality in the Middle East, where women are treated as second-class citizens.