Are you looking for the Greatest Feminist Books? So What makes a feminist? It’s a question that pops up whenever feminism is discussed. Sometimes the answers are concise and snappy (for example, the one is given by Su in Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist, one of the best books, which states that feminists are “just women who don’t want to be treated like shit”). Sometimes they’re much longer, for better or for worse. Often there’s mention of makeup or high heels (can you be a feminist and like either? Depends on who you ask – my personal feeling is, yes, but never tell me they’re compulsory).
Sometimes it seems that there are many different types of feminism as those who identify – or don’t – as feminists. Learning about feminism and trying to apply it to your life is a continuous process, with a multitude of perspectives to consider. While reading the best books is certainly not the only way to get involved in feminism, it’s a great way to encounter and engage with some of these perspectives.
Table of Contents
- 1 Top Rated Best Feminist Books To Read
- 1.1 Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde
- 1.2 This Bridge Called My Back by Rosario Morales
- 1.3 Women, Culture, And Politics by Angela Davis
- 1.4 Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall
- 1.5 The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur
- 1.6 The Future Is Feminist: Radical, Funny, and Inspiring Writing by Women
- 1.7 This Will Be My Undoing by Morgan Jerkins
- 1.8 The Awakening by Kate Chopin
- 1.9 Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit
- 1.10 The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
- 1.11 Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger by Rebecca Traister
- 1.12 The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson
- 1.13 Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism by bell hooks
- 1.14 The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
- 1.15 The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
- 1.16 A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes
- 1.17 We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- 1.18 The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal
- 1.19 A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft
- 1.20 A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
- 1.21 Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
- 1.22 The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
- 1.23 The Color Purple by Alice Walker
- 1.24 Bossypants by Tina Fey
- 1.25 Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
Top Rated Best Feminist Books To Read
Even though feminism in the broadest sense encompasses several different ideologies, social movements, and political movements, it’s all based on its most important principle: the advocacy of women’s rights predicated on the reasoning that the sexes are equal. It also supports the belief that men and women should be fair not only in rights but also in opportunities.
Pennbook knows that exploring feminism is like a daunting task with so many different facets of the movement to sort through, as well as a lot of misinformation out there. So we’ve decided to present to our readers some of the books that we feel will make their search more comfortable and help them explore feminism in greater depth. With that said, below are the top feminist books 2020 currently available.
Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde
Audre Lorde’s famous essay collection is a cornerstone of Black Feminism. Lorde discusses the uses of anger, the role of poetry in activism, and her own experiences as a Black lesbian in the USA, as well as calling out white feminism to exclude and erase Black women.
This Bridge Called My Back by Rosario Morales
This collection of writings by Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and Asian women looks at the intersections between feminism and race, class, and sexuality. It is generally viewed as one of the foundational texts of Third Wave feminism. Contributors include influential feminist writers such as Naomi Littlebear Morena, Audre Lorde, Barbara Smith, and the Combahee River Collective.
Women, Culture, And Politics by Angela Davis
Academic and activist Angela Davis is the author of much crucial feminist text, but Women, Culture, and Politics is a particularly relevant read. It looks at the importance of considering workers’ rights, racism, and the prison industrial complex as part of feminist analysis.
Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall
Mikki Kendall’s Hood Feminism, out next month, is the wake-up call we all need when discussing feminism. Too often, food insecurity, access to quality education, safe neighborhoods, a living wage, and medical care aren’t part of the conversation, which comes at the expense of white privilege. Hood Feminism brings it all to light.
The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur
Following the success of her first poetry collection, Milk and Honey, Rupi Kaur’s second heart-tugging collection, The Sun and Her Flowers, reminds us of women’s strength and power. Its five sections- Wilting, Falling, Rooting, Rising, and Blooming- are filled with relatable moments of love, healing, growth, and learning to accept who you are while still challenging the world around you.
The Future Is Feminist: Radical, Funny, and Inspiring Writing by Women
Jessica Valenti, one of the most well-known modern feminists of our time, and other icons, including Salma Hayek, Chelsea Handler, and Mindy Kaling, bring their whip-smart perspectives new collection, The Future Is Feminist. The essays explore what it means to be a feminist yesterday, today, and tomorrow. One critical topic of discussion? Resting bitch face, or as some may know it, RBF.
This Will Be My Undoing by Morgan Jerkins
In Morgan Jerkins’ collection of essays, This Will Be My Undoing, the acclaimed writer brilliantly describes life as a Black feminist in a white America. She and other Black women are fighting to navigate their way through the white feminist movement that continues to dominate our country.
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Now’s probably the time you regret just reading Cliff’s Notes of Kate Chopin’s The Awakening in English Lit class. The classic (first published in 1899!) is the best-known example of early feminism. The main character, Edna, struggles with her family’s views on femininity and motherhood. Relatable.
Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit
Thank Rebecca Solnit for creating the popular term “mansplaining,” which originated from her hilarious essay on what happens when men assume women don’t know what they’re talking about. According to Solnit, it’s due to a combination of “overconfidence and cluelessness.”
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison’s debut novel, The Bluest Eye (1970), explores society’s long-problematic beauty ideals through its main character, Pecola – a young black girl mocked for the color of her skin. After her traumatizing experiences with sexual assault and bullying, she must confront what it means to conform to the world around her.
Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger by Rebecca Traister
How to cope with the overbearing patriarchy currently fueled by the Trump administration? Read Rebecca Traister’s Good and Mad, which illustrates how women have channeled their rage through historical events like the Women’s March and the #MeToo movement- sparking a timely debate of what it means to be an “angry woman” today.
The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson
Maggie Nelson has a way of combining innovative intellectual thoughts with emotional impact. Seriously, every sentence in this critically acclaimed genre-bending memoir is worth underlining. In this book, she wrestles with notions of desire, identity, and limitations (and possibilities) of love and language. She also offers up new ways of being feminists today, which don’t live neatly inside the mainstream conventions.
Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism by bell hooks
Named after Sojourner Truth’s famous speech delivered in 1851, this book explains the need for an intersectional framework in law, mass media, education, and more. The hook is a renowned leader in intersectional critical theory. She brilliantly dissects social patterns and mass media, putting hard-to-grasp concepts into language we can understand and grow from.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
No list of the best feminist novels 2020 would be complete without mentioning Margaret Atwood’s masterful dystopia set in a future America where women are reduced to their reproductive usefulness. The TV adaptation has been internationally successful, and the novel, which now seems scarily prescient in today’s political climate, will be followed with a sequel, The Testaments, in September 2019.
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
Set fifteen years after Margaret Atwood’s bestselling novel The Handmaid’s Tale, The Testaments continues the story of Gilead through three, very different, women’s voices. The book delves into the regime’s inner workings and asks how far these women will go for what they believe in.
A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes
While the names Odysseus, Achilles, and Agamemnon are synonymous with epic tales of battle and bravery, the women of Homer’s epics have primarily been sidelined, if not entirely forgotten. From Helen to Penelope, Natalie Haynes gives a voice to the women, girls, and goddesses who have been silenced for so long in this retelling of the Trojan War’s story from an all-female perspective.
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This short essay is based on a TEDx talk the author gave in 2012 and addressed how we need to raise our children, both sons, and daughters, differently to begin creating a fairer world for everyone. Illustrated by Chimamanda’s own experiences of gender inequality throughout her life, this is a concise, well-argued, and beautifully written book. At only 52 pages, there’s no reason not to find the time to read it.
The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal
Elizabeth Macneal’s enthralling novel follows Iris Whittle as she breaks free of the staid gender expectations of the 19th century to follow her heart and pursue a new life full of art and love. But after a chance meeting, collector Silas develops a dark obsession with Iris, which could threaten her newfound freedom forever. Battling gender stereotypes and male entitlement, Iris is undoubtedly a Victorian heroine for the 21st century.
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft
Written in 1792 by proto-feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman is one of the earliest examples of feminist philosophy. Mary argues against the established thinking that women should only receive a domestic, not a rational education, claiming that educating women is essential as they, in turn, will inform the nation’s children. Although it was published before the word feminism was coined, the idea that women are human beings who deserve the same fundamental rights as men is at the heart of this text.
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 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 bright, incisive perspective remains inspiring today as it was published.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Though feminism may not have been on her mind when she wrote the story of the brave March sisters in the 1860s, Alcott has influenced numerous generations of bold, loving, and unconventional women. Following Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy as they grow, find love, pursue their art and endure loss, Little Women shows the many ways to be a woman, and earned a place in the hearts of feminists of all stripes.
The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
Author and philosopher de Beauvoir’s 1949 book began as an autobiographical essay exploring why she thought of herself as a woman first and everything else second. It reclaimed “the problem of woman,” which, as she put it, “has always been the problem of men.” Sharp-witted and winding, de Beauvoir combines critical theory with personal observation for the feminist canon’s formative work.
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Adapted into the Steven Spielberg directed film that earned Oprah an Oscar nomination, The Color Purple tells the tale of Celie, a young woman growing up in poverty in segregated Georgia. Despite suffering unimaginable hardship, eventually, Celia finds her way back to the ones she loves in a lyrical, classic story.
Bossypants by Tina Fey
An aptly hilarious autobiography, comedienne Tina Fey takes us from her nerdy youth to her success as an SNL staple and star of NBC sitcom, 30 Rock. But in between, she reveals what made her one of the industry’s top names in comedy.
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
In humorous and educational documents, the author takes us the trip of her development as a woman of color while taking readers on a journey throughout the culture of the past couple of years and commenting on the state of feminism today. The portrait that emerges isn’t just one of a remarkably insightful woman continually growing to understand our culture, but also among our civilization.
This book is a sharp, humorous, and spot-on look at how the civilization we consume becomes that we are and an inspirational call-to-arms of all of the ways we need to perform better.
Video: Feminists: What Were They Thinking?
Last update on 2020-11-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API