In such times, a lot of people are struggling to keep themselves busy and distracted, the media is not helping and everyone is panicking. As long as we keep ourselves busy and isolated, then there is nothing to worry about! I am making this feminist books list to read in order to help you read more and distract you from the media, and maybe learn new things from a different perspective, too! Let’s begin, shall we?
- Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde.
Audre Lorde’s Sister Outsider is a required text for all readers. Originally published in ’84, Lorde’s collection of essays and speeches examine the ramifications of patriarchal oppression while challenging the violence of systemic issues like homophobia, classism, and racism. Lorde unapologetically asserts her identity and the way who she is—a Black lesbian mother warrior poet—impacts the way she is treated by others. What makes Sister Outsider such a life-altering read is Lorde’s anger, wisdom, and vulnerability throughout the collection. Her words aren’t fenced in, sanitized, or palatable. There’s no hesitation in the way she shares her experiences. Each sentence is the truth in the purest sense of the word. If you’ve already read Sister Outsider, make sure to gift a copy of it to a friend.
- We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche.
This short book should be a staple for women everywhere; clocking in at only fifty-two pages, it can be read in just one sitting. This personal essay—adapted from the much-admired TEDx talk of the same name—offers readers a new, more inclusive feminism for our times. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie masterfully draws on her own experiences and her deep understanding of sexual politics to explore what it means to be a woman and encourage all women to wake up and come together.
- I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai.
Named the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2014, Yousafazi’s memoir lets us in on the story behind a young Pakistani girl whose hard fight against Taliban rule resulted in a near-fatal gunshot. Yousafazi is now a beacon of peace amongst the world’s chaos.
- The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.
The semi-autobiographical story of one woman’s descent into mental illness in the 1950s, The Bell Jar has become a quintessential coming-of-age story for young feminists. Moody and sometimes terse, the prose beautifully encapsulates a moment in the female experience—the desire, disillusionment and fear of being young, confused and stifled by the role that society has prescribed.
- Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés.
In this thoughtful book, Dr. Estés explains the concept of the “Wild Woman,” an archetype that’s been laid out through the years of folk and fairy tales. Plot twist: According to the author, we all have a little bit of the wild woman’s natural instincts inside us.
- Women, Culture & Politics by Angela Y. Davis.
Veteran political activist Davis’s essential collection of speeches and essays revolves largely around the ways in which the conversations around sexism, racism, and economic equality shifted in the latter part of the 20th century. From stories of female genital mutilation in Egypt to examinations of rap lyrics and the personal politics of race, Davis’s biting, brilliant prose solidifies her place among the important feminist voices of our era.
- A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft.
First published in 1792, proto-feminist Wollstonecraft took inspiration from the revolutionaries of her time who demanded greater rights for mankind, to advocate for an even more socially-maligned group: women. Independent, educated and intellectually esteemed, Wollstonecraft has been called one of the mothers of feminist theory, posing the idea of women as the natural and intellectual equals of men and deserving of equal treatment and opportunities nearly a hundred years before the term “feminist” even existed.
- A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf.
Published in 1929, Woolf’s essay took on the established literary criticism of the time, which claimed women were inherently lesser writers and creators by virtue of their gender. Instead, Woolf pointed to the vast, systemic education and economic failures that stifled women writers of the time. As one of the foundational pieces of feminist literary critique, you might expect that Woolf’s words lost their potency over the years, but her clever, incisive perspective remains just as inspiring today as it was when it was published.
- Feminism is for Everybody by bell hooks.
Suffice it to say that feminist theory can be a bit dense for some. That’s why beloved feminist author and cultural critic bell hooks set out in 2000 to create an educational text for those whose understanding of feminism comes from passing TV references and outdated ideas about “feminazis.” A passionate treatise for the lay-feminist, hooks explains and examines inclusive feminism and the practical application of it in a way that is both entertaining and informative.
- This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color.
This anthology series features personal essays, criticism, poetry, and even visual art made by over a dozen feminist women of color. It explores the ways their intersecting identities—gender, race, sexuality, class—shape the ways in which they relate to the world and the way the world, in turn, relates to them. Though originally published in the ‘80s, the issues they present, and the perspectives they stand for, remain as pertinent to today’s feminist landscape as they were over thirty years ago.
- Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World by Kumari Jayawardena.
For twenty-five years, Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World has been an essential primer on the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century history of women’s movements in Asia and the Middle East. In this engaging and well-researched survey, Kumari Jayawardena presents feminism as it originated in the Third World, erupting from the specific struggles of women fighting against colonial power, for education or the vote, for safety, and against poverty and inequality.
Journalist and human rights activist Rafia Zakaria’s foreword to this new edition is an impassioned letter in two parts: the first to Western feminists; the second to feminists in the Global South, entreating them to use this “compendium of female courage” as a bridge between women of different nations.
- The Second Sex by Simone De Beauvoir.
This is essential reading for anyone studying gender, a groundbreaking psychoanalytic existentialist study of women in a society that still resonates nearly 70 years after publication. Proving her intellectual equality to her beloved Sartre, De Beauvoir interrogates the way women think and hope, feel and suffer, in overwhelmingly eloquent prose. Not a light read, but a very important one, written before ‘feminism’ was the commonplace phrase it is in many societies today.
- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.
A dystopian future for Western territories sees women’s rights completely overhauled in the name of religion and explores the importance of power plays in modern society. Though at times it may seem far-fetched in its gruesome events, The Handmaid’s Tale draws inspiration from multiple communities around the world where atrocities and violations have occurred – such as one woman who was a member of a religious cult openly discussed with GLAMOUR.
- Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
A collection of personal essays is one of her best. The widest range of topics is covered, including sexual violence, female anti-heroines, being a ‘bad’ feminist, and even the world of competitive Scrabble. Gay’s writing turns familiar topics on their heads, making you think about them in an entirely new light, and is fiercely funny as often as it is gut-punchingly frank.