If you have stumbled across my blog before, you might have noticed that I’m a big old feminist, and its something thats incredibly important to me as well as something that I constantly want to learn more about. So I decided to write a list with a twist today, and I have a couple of mini book lists based around topics you might be interested in that are linked with feminism in general. Obviously some of these books will transcend the category I have sorted them into, and these are some of my personal favourites, but I hope you will still enjoy the list and maybe pick up some interesting books.
If you’re interested in the narratives of abuse and feminism then you will like:
See What You Made Me Do: Power, Control and Domestic Abuse (2019) by Jess Hill- Jess Hill’s four years of investigative journalism went into this book, which goes into blistering detail about the scale of the domestic abuse in Australia, from the affluent bible belt to struggling remote and regional communities and forces the reader to confront the scale and complexity of the issue.
Why does he do that? Inside the minds of angry and controlling men by Lundy Bancroft– Written by a counsellor who specialises in working with abusive men— talks about how abusers think to help women recognise when they are being controlled or devalued, and to find ways to get free of an abusive relationship.
The Colour Purple by Alice Walker – An incredible story of survival which spans forty years of Celie’s life: a black girl who is born into poverty and segregation. After suffering at the hands of her father and being trapped in an unhappy marriage, Celie discovers the power and joy of her own spirit while holding onto the hope of being reunited with her sister. A beautiful story of the growth and freedom beyond an abusive relationship.
If you’re interested in Feminism and Education then you might be interested in:
Educated by Tara Westover– A powerful and beautiful story about about Tara’s discovery of education, its transformative power and the price she has to pay for it.
I am Malala: The Story of the Girl who stood up for education and was shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai- Malala Yousafzai’s extraordinary journey has taken her from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to Oxford University, and this non-fiction book tells of the Tuesday in October 2012 when she was shot at point-blank range for fighting for her right to an education
Becoming by Michelle Obama– The deeply personal and powerful memoir from former first lady Michelle Obama as she talks about her life filled with meaning and accomplishment, and its full of some real bangers of quotes.
If you’re interested in Second Wave Feminism then you will like:
The Handmaids Tale and the Testaments by Margaret Attwood- The totalitarian society of Gilead is ruled by a fundamentalist regime that treats women as property of the state, but even a repressive regime cannot obliterate Offred’s brilliant mind and sheer will to survive. A brilliant concept that will make you question everything you think you know about expectations of our society.
My Life on the Road- Gloria Steinem– Since her childhood, Gloria spent her whole life on the road, and her memoir tells of the more memorable moments from her continuous travel. From her time on Hillary Clinton’s campaign trail and her early exposure to social activism in India to the unlikely embracing of feminism, it’s an enlightening and profound collection of stories.
Bridget Jone’s Diary by Helen Fielding – Perhaps one of the more lighthearted entries on this list, but no less important. Bridget Jones’s Diary is an important look at modern relationships, what it’s like to be a twenty-something woman and all the perils that come with wanting everything.
If you’re interested in Feminism and History then you will like:
The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker – Called the ‘Feminist Illiad’ its a beautiful retelling of the battle of Troy and highlights the silence of women in history. Putting the experience of women like Andromache at the heart of the story: the women who survive in slavery when men destroy their cities and kill their fathers, brothers and children. The central character is Briseis, the woman awarded to Achilles, the greatest Greek fighter, after his army sacks one of the towns neighbouring Troy.
Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K Massie – An in-depth biography from one of the coolest badasses in modern history.
Beloved by Toni Morrison – Based in the mid 1800s as slavery is coming to an end, Sethe is haunted by the violent trauma of her experience in Sweet Home. Her baby, whose tombstone has one word ‘Beloved’ is an important part of the story. It is told with heart breaking clarity and very real pain, it blends horror and beauty and is a true masterpiece.
If you’re interested in womens rage then you will like:
Rage becomes her: the Power of Womens Anger by Soyraya Chema- A conversation-shifting book urging 21st-century women to understand their anger, embrace its power, and use it as a tool for positive change
Eloquent Rage by Brittany Cooper – So what if it’s true that Black women are mad as hell? They have the right to be. In the Black feminist tradition of Audre Lorde, Brittney Cooper reminds us that anger is a powerful source of energy that can give us the strength to keep on fighting.
Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger by Rebecca Traister – Journalist Rebecca Traister’s New York Times bestselling exploration of the transformative power of female anger and its ability to transcend into a political movement
If you like feminism through a queer lens then you will like:
The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson– A brave, fascinating memoir about love, gender, gender theory, having children, death, writing, and the modern family
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo– The novel tells the story of the fictional Old Hollywood star Evelyn Hugo, who at the age of 79 decides to give a final interview to an unknown journalist, Monique Grant. Its a beautifully and complex story that explores power and love in a poignant way.
Gender Outlaw by Kate Bornstein – While non-binary may be a relatively new term to mainstream readers, non-binary people and writers have been discussing the complexities of gender fluidity for decades. Originally published in 1994 and recently revised and updated, self-described “nonbinary transfeminine diesel femme dyke” Bornstein explores the layers of cultural, political and social factors that inform and shape gender performance, calling out the rigid expectations of a gender binary as harmful to people of all presentations.
If you’re interested in Feminism and Power then you will like:
The Power by Naomi Alderman- The Hunger Games crossed with The Handmaid’s Tale, The Power explains what happens when women all over the world begin to discover they can inflict terrible pain with the flick of their fingers, sometimes even resulting in death. Men lose the control.
Speaking Up by Gillian Triggs- An insightful look at the human rights landscape in Australia and the challenges we face.
What Happened by Hilary Clinton– I couldn’t talk about power and women without this book.
If you’re interested in ‘Bad Women’: the you might like:
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood– A look at the crumbling of an empire and how people survive against insurmountable odds.
Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay– In a series of sharp, funny and insightful essays, Roxane Gay touches on everything from the state of feminism today, how the culture we consume changes who we are and why we all need to do better, while simultaneously reflecting on her own journey of evolution as a woman.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – I’m not going to lie, this made the list for the ‘cool girl’ monologue.
My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite – A short story that packs a punch, going over themes of beauty, sisterhood and violence.
If you’re interested in Feminism and the Law then you might like:
Eggshell Skull by Bri Lee- It details Lee’s experiences as a judge’s associate in Brisbane’s District Court of Queensland, where she oversees many cases, including those involving sexual harassment and assault.
Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon-A fun look at the woman herself.
Women and Power: A Manifesto by Mary Beard- Historian Mary Beard’s manifesto for women whose relationship with the structures of power remains problematic.
Catch and Kill: Lies, Spires and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators by Ronan Farrow– The book on the Weinstein affair, told insightfully with a blend of personal story, policy analysis and powerful critique of the patriarchy and how it impacts every aspect of our world today.
If you’re interested in Feminism and the Refugee Experience then you might like:
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee-Pachinko is an epic historical novel following a Korean family who eventually migrates to Japan, it is the first novel written for an adult, English-speaking audience about Japanese–Korean culture
We Are Displaced: My Journey and Stories from Refugee Girls Around the World by Malala Yousafzai
A Hope More Powerful than the Sea- The Journey of Doaa Al Zamel by Melissa Fleming
If you’re interested in Feminism and Love then you might like:
All about Love: New Visions by bell hooks- If you’ve never dabbled in bell hooks’ work, now is the time. All About Love examines the nature of relationships with partners, with the self, with your family and how our white, male-dominated society complicates these experiences.
Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape by Peggy Orenstein– what it means to be a young woman exploring the depths of her sexuality while existing in a world that seeks to demonise female pleasure. This book is the sex-ed you wish you got in high school and more.
If you’re interested in Feminism and Classics then you might like:
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – Just for Lizzie Bennett
A Room of Ones Own by Virginia Wolf – First published in 1929, this extended essay examines whether women are capable – and free – to produce work of the quality of William Shakespeare, addressing the limitations that women writers face.
If you’re interested in Feminism and Race then you might be interested in:
Why I’m no longer talking to White People about Race by Reni Addo-Lodge– An awesome book for the title alone
Ain’t I a Woman? by bell hooks- bell hooks’s Ain’t I a Woman? remains as relevant today as it was when it was first published in 1981. Hooks writes specifically about the experiences of women of colour in various feminism movements throughout history, ultimately making the argument that most movements do not fully recognise diversity.
Heart Berries by Terese Mailhot
Too Much Lip by Melissa Lucashenko
I know what the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou- Maya Angelou’s autobiography tells of the discrimination and extreme poverty she has experienced, but is also a book of hope, joy, achievement and celebration. In this first volume of her six book, Angelou tells of her childhood with her grandmother in the American south of the 1930s, when she suffers the terrible trauma of rape by her mother’s lover
If you’re interested in Feminism and the body then you might be interested in:
Hunger: A Memoir of my body by Roxanne Gay– ‘I ate and ate and ate in the hopes that if I made myself big, my body would be safe. I buried the girl I was because she ran into all kinds of trouble. I tried to erase every memory of her, but she is still there, somewhere. . . . I was trapped in my body, one that I barely recognised or understood, but at least I was safe.’
Beauty by Bri Lee – A beautiful essay about the body and our relationship with it.
The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf– Naomi Wolf’s bestselling book looks at the every day pressure on women to conform physically is a constant and all-pervading ideal of what ‘beauty’ is, touching on the potential oppressive and tyrannical impact it can have.
Even though its my personal list and my interpretation of feminism, I hope you liked my book list!
Have you got any feminist book recommendations I’m missing? Please let me know in the comments.