Many people don’t realize that most of the world’s cultures are patriarchal. This means men hold more power than women, who are seen as subservient to men. One important aspect of feminism is the definition of equality. This is what we promote through our education and advocacy programs. Reading about feminism is an excellent way to be educated about feminism. If you are interested in the best feminist books, this article is for you.
Feminism is all about women’s rights. This is an important thing to keep in mind when you are choosing feminist books since it is essential to consider both men’s and women when trying to improve the current system—reading on to know more about this topic.
Best Feminist Novels To Read In 2021
Feminism can be a movement or a framework for activism. But it can also be a source for inspiration, a springboard to creativity, and a prompt for looking at overlooked areas of history. These are some suggestions for feminist novels and poetry.
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
The best feminist fiction books
The Awakening was regarded as a scandalous piece of feminist fiction when first published back in 1899. While on holiday with her husband and young children, Edna meets Robert Lebrun. A flirtation becomes an affair that opens her eyes to a world beyond her oppressive marriage and the restraints of nineteenth-century society.
It’s Not About the Burqa by Mariam Khan
Best feminist non-fictionnon-fiction books
It’s not about the burqa is a collection of voices that you won’t hear in mainstream media. Seventeen Muslim women speak openly and honestly about their hijab, love, and marriage, the hijab and the faith they hold; intersex and divorcing; intersectional feminism; queer identity; racism; and dealing with a disapproving community. This is a must-read for all feminists.
Living A Feminist Life by Sara Ahmed
Best book about feminist theory
“Living a Feminist Life” provides a simple and accessible view of feminist theory. It uses everyday life experiences to show that anyone can make practical changes to live a feminist lifestyle. Sarah Ahmed points out that while feminists can become distant from the problems they seek to solve, they can still create solutions that address all the issues that confront women of all races and classes. LeSavoy recommends it as an academic feminist text. It refuses to be one and instead uses a narrative storytelling style that encourages all feminist conversations.
Race, Class, And Gender: An Anthology By Margaret L. Andersen
Race, Class, and Gender contain over 60 essays that explore the intersections between gender, race, and class. This book is an excellent resource to help you understand multiple aspects of feminist theory.
This Bridge Called My Back: Writings By Radical Women Of Color, Edited By Cherríe Moraga And Gloria E. Anzaldúa
This Bridge Called My Back: Writings from Radical Women Of Color: Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and Asian women examines the intersections of feminism, race, class, and sexuality. It is widely considered to be one of the most important texts of Third Wave Feminism. Among the contributors are influential feminist writers like Naomi Littlebear Morena and Audre Lorde.
- Moraga, Cherríe (Author)
Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall
Mikki Kendall, activist and author of “Hood Feminism,” reveals the blind spot in modern feminism. Instead of focusing on the needs of women of color, she focuses instead on the privileges of the few. LeSavoy recommends this book to address the “issues of white feminism exclusion women of color” and offer practical ways to become more allies. Recognizing white privilege in feminism can help us take the first steps towards inclusive feminism and active allyship.
Colonize This! Young Women Of Color On Today’s Feminism, Edited By Bushra Rehman And Daisy Hernández
Colonize This! Features essays on topics such as abortion and Muslim feminism. Colonize This! Celebrates the feminism and achievements of women of color in the 21st Century. It is a joyous and fascinating read with many feminist voices discussing essential topics.
Sister Outsider By Audre Lorde
Best Feminist Classics Books
Audre Lorde is the author of the famous essay collection Black Feminism. In Sister Outsider, Lorde talks about anger and poetry, her experiences as a Black lesbian living in the USA, and calls out white feminists for excluding and erasing Black women.
Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism By Bell Hooks
“Ain’t It a Woman?” by Bell Hooks speech is the title of this article. Another classic in Black Feminism. It is a vital read from a leading feminist scholar, charting the history and evolution of feminism, including the Civil Rights movement and the impact of racism on Black women.
- hooks, bell (Author)
Gender Trouble by Judith Butler
Judith Butler is synonymous with the feminist movement. Since the 1970s, this pioneering philosopher has written more than 20 books that challenge gender norms and defy gender performance. Each book is worth reading, but we recommend starting with Gender Problem: Feminisms and the Subversion Of Identity. Gender Problem is an essential work in feminist theory and queer theory. It challenges the gender binary by arguing that “gender” itself is a performative construct. It was written in 1990, and its revolutionary arguments are just as relevant today as they were back then.
A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
Virginia Woolf’s transgressive, mischievous essay is now a landmark piece of feminist literary critique. However, it began life as a series of lectures for Cambridge’s female colleges. Woolf challenges the accepted notion that women are inferior writers. She asserts women’s creativity and points out the economic and systemic failures that have stifled it. She is light, glancing, and funny, despite her passion and urgency. She offers the key to female creative liberation at a crucial point in her argument: A room of one’s own.
If you are interested in other Best Virginia Woolf Books To Read 2021, read more.
Dialectic Of The Flesh By Roz Kaveney
Roz Kaveney is well worth a read. Roz Kaveney’s poetry debates the Flesh, a beautiful exploration of queer and trans existence through verse.
Bad Feminist By Roxane Gay
Roxane Gay writes novels, essays, tweets, and any other writings that are well-worth reading. Her collection of personal essays, Bad Feminist, is one of her most popular. You will find a wide range of topics covered in this book, including sexual violence and female anti-heroines. Gay’s writing flips familiar topics upside down, making it possible to see them in a new light. It is also hilarious and gut-punishingly honest.
Memorable quote: “I embrace the label of bad feminist because I am human.”
- Bad Feminist
The Gender Games By Juno Dawson
Juno Dawson is perhaps best known for her YA novels. But she’s also a great non-fiction writer. In The Gender Games, she examines how stereotypes and gendered expectations can harm everyone. Dawson shares her own experiences as a trans woman and draws on the insights of feminist activists and writers to create a manifesto about how to break down stereotypes.
Redefining Realness by Janet Mock
One of America’s recognizable trans activists, Janet Mock, shares her life as a multiracial and poor trans woman growing up in her powerful autobiography, “Redefining Realness.” Mock’s account of womanhood and her quest for a sense to herself is undoubtedly a story of one woman. However, Mock can make a difference for everyone and every person who has been marginalized or misunderstood attempting to redefine themselves.
The Yellow Wallpaper By Charlotte Perkins Gilman
The Yellow Wallpaper, another early feminist classic, tells the story of a woman who is slowly going through a breakdown after being held in extreme confinement to treat postnatal depression. It was frighteningly based on the author’s own experiences.
The Second Sex By Simone De Beauvoir
The Second Sex, one of the best-known works of feminist philosophy, was a source of inspiration for Betty Friedan and Judith Butler. Beauvoir’s book, divided into two volumes (Facts, Myths, and Lived Experience), focuses on the history of women’s treatment.
The Handmaid’s Tale By Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid’s Tale By Margaret Atwood is a classic in feminist fiction. It tells the story of Offred, who is treated as breeding stock by an oppressive fundamentalist society.
The New Woman of Color: The Collected Writings of Fannie Barrier Williams, 1893-1918 by Fannie Barrier Williams, edited by Mary Jo Deegan
LeSavoy recommends Fannie Barrier Williams to be read. Her writing and speaking shed light on the struggles African American women faced in the Progressive Era. It also helps us “return some of these early thinkers that were overlooked by white supremacy.” Fannie Barrier Williams was highly influential and successful. This collection of essays and speeches contains her efforts to fight for equality and change. Although this book is difficult to find online, it is available in many libraries.
Black Feminism Reimagined: After Intersectionality” by Jennifer C. Nash
Matthiesen recommends “Black Feminism Reimagined,” a philosophical and politically-oriented take on intersectionality in feminist thought. It starts with simple concepts and moves to deeper, more complex issues. Nash promotes inclusion in her quest to reclaim intersectionality. This will allow feminism to be a place of analytical freedom.
Memorable quote: “The labor of Black feminist scholarship, then, is to invite the reader to protect intersectionality from a set of forces — colonization, appropriation, gentrification — that are undeniably violent.”
Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Chimamanda Adichie received a note from an old friend asking her how to raise a girl as a feminist a few years before publication of this book. This book is a response to a letter that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie received. It contains 15 essential suggestions, ranging from having open conversations about sexuality to dispelling misogynistic and historical myths. This manifesto is concise but powerful and essential in helping to define how we build a feminist future.
- Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi (Author)
Women, Culture, and Politics by Angela Y. Davis
Angela Davis, a scholar, and activist earned herself a place as one of the most important feminist voices of our time with her sharp, incisive prose. Women, Culture, and Politics, her best feminist book, is probably her finest. It is a collection of essays and speeches that was written in 1989. They discuss the political and social changes of the 20th Century and how they influenced conversations about the struggle for economic, sexual, and racial equality.
The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
Betty Friedan admitted in 1973 that she didn’t know anything about “the woman problem” until she wrote The Feminine Mystique. She said, “I thought something was wrong with me because there wasn’t an orgasm waxing my kitchen floor.” Many American women felt the same way. Just as Friedan was able to see the world through this book, so were the women who read it. The Feminine Mystique captured American middle-class housewives’ frustration at not answering the question, “Is it all?” and encouraged them to make positive changes.
Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity by Julia Serano
Julia Serano, a lesbian and transgender activist, is a professional biologist. Her experiences before and after the transition provide insights into how negative attitudes about feminity influence our reactions to trans women. Serano’s writing is a reflection of her intelligence. She uses strong arguments to show that deeply-rooted cultural beliefs that connect fragility with femininity are misogynistic assumptions that women must destroy for embracing femininity.
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Plath’s classic novel, Esther Greenwood’s descent to mental illness, is written haunting and shrewdly poetic. Esther Greenwood is an aspiring writer whose dreams get stifled in her misogynistic society. Esther’s story captures the disillusionment and desire of young women, which is why it has been a classic for young feminists. The Guardian called The Bell Jar a “tormented footnote of Plath’s tormented poems”; however, it is a work that has unquestionable literary brilliance and stands alone as a classic feminist novel.
Relate: Best Sylvia Plath Quotes 2021
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Fat Is A Feminist Issue By Susie Orbach
Fat is a Feminist issue was first published in 1978. It examines women’s relationships to their bodies and the manipulative nature diet industry. It also offers ways for readers to escape from the socially imposed expectations of how their bodies should look.
The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler
Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues is an episodic play that continues the theme of the unusual. It gathers the stories and experiences of real women from all walks of life, including those of different races, genders, and ages. This allows us to examine female sexuality in all its complexity. Since its 1996 debut, Ensler has been a central feminist touchpoint, exploring sexual consent and body image topics. You will be amazed by the title. But you’ll also enjoy the hilarious and eloquent voice of womankind.
Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit
Rebecca Solnit is the person to thank if you have ever used the term “mansplaining” to describe the condescending attempts trying to explain something to women. Men Explain Things To Me, her collection of funny, anger-inducing essays, has been hailed as one of the most important feminist books.
Solnit explores some of the most critical themes in the modern feminist experience, such as marriage equality and the erasures of women from history. She also discusses the topic of having your expertise explained, often in patronizing terms. Solnit says it is due to “overconfidence” and “cleverness.” We all know a man, I believe.
The Madwoman In The Attic By Sandra Gilbert And Susan Gubar
Anyone who studied English Literature might be familiar with Gilbert and Gubar’s feminist literary criticism. This text examines the portrayal of women in 19th-century novels. It applies a feminist lens to the treatment and representation of female characters, especially Bertha Rochester, the titular “madwoman in an attic.”
- Gilbert, Sandra M. (Author)
Things A Bright Girl Can Do By Sally Nicholls
This historical YA novel is about the Suffragette movement. It tells the story through the eyes of three young girls frustrated at the limited roles society gave women in the first half of the 20th Century.
Headscarves And Hymens By Mona Eltahawy
Mona Eltahawy, author, journalist, and activist, is a fierce fighter for women. Headscarves and Hymens is her first book. It challenges the religious misogyny of the Middle East and complacency in feminist movements in Western countries.
The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer
The Female Eunuch, Greer’s feminist classic, was published in 1970. It immediately caused a stir with its shocking conclusion that a traditional nuclear family is a tool for female oppression and that sexual liberation is the key to female freedom. Greer’s unflinching polemic, which was both outrageous and practical, transformed the lives of women. Although her call for women not to consume their menstrual blood may not have been widespread, the question of whether The Female Eunuch still appeals to modern feminists is “Yes.”
Gender Outlaw By Kate Bornstein
Gender Outlaw, written by “a self-described transfeminine diesel femme dake,” is a radical book on gender and trans rights that challenges society’s binary views of sex.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Although Alcott may not have meant to write a feminist novel when she told the tale of Jo, Beth, and Meg in 1868, Little Women has been a staple of feminist Literature for many generations. It’s clear that the film adaptation of Little Women 2019, starring Greta Gerwig, has rekindled feminist enthusiasm. Greta Gerwig’s portrayal of Alcott’s courageous, loving, and unconventional sisters can show us that there are many ways to be female. Read the book. Then, watch the movie. Both, in any order.
The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal
Elizabeth Macneal’s captivating novel follows Iris Whittle as she overcomes the rigid gender roles of the 19th Century and decides to follow her heart and live a life of art and love. After a chance encounter, Silas becomes obsessed with Iris and could endanger her freedom. Iris, fighting gender stereotypes and men’s entitlement, is undoubtedly a Victorian heroine of the 21st Century.
The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
Winter, 1617. A violent storm envelops the Norwegian island Vardo. Maren, a young woman, watches as anglers on the island die in an instant. Vardo has become a haven for women. Eighteen months later, a sinister figure arrives. Absalom Cornet is summoned to bring down the women of the island. His young wife Ursa travels with him. Ursa meets independent women in Maren, her new home. Absalom, however, sees a place filled with terrible evils and must eradicate them. Ursa is happy, even in love. . .
Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates
One of the most challenging things about explaining Sexism is that it doesn’t always happen in the chauvinist-pig wrapper society loves to wrap it in. It usually hits us in quiet, everyday ways that are nearly impossible to explain, but all women know. Everyday Sexism was started as a website in 2012. It is a collection of stories from women worldwide who have been told in subtle, pervasive ways that they are “less than.” This book is eye-opening but not to be overlooked.
- Bates, Laura (Author)
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Alice Walker tells the story of a 20th-century African American woman living in rural Georgia. She breaks the silence on domestic and sexual abuse, buried hurt, resilience, recovery, and more. Nettie is separated from Celie by an ocean. They are only connected through letters Celie writes to her sister and then to God. Celie draws strength from the women around to help her survive immense pain. The novel’s powerful storytelling draws a visceral, profoundly empathic reaction from readers. It earns deep love for powerful and admirable characters.
How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
Interviews with Combahee River Collective founders and current activists allow KeeangaYamahta Taylor to revisit the Collective’s “A Black Feminist Statement.” The 1977 manifesto highlighted the interconnected systems of oppression that movements must fight and stated that “If Black women were to be free, it would mean everyone else would have been free.” Matthiesen recommends this book, stating that it “anticipates intentionality [before there was a name for them] and provides a roadmap to how to build solidarity across differences.”
Gender Trouble By Judith Butler
Gender Trouble is a must-read for anyone interested in queer theory. It examines the various ways gender has been constructed and performed across different contexts and societies.
Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger by Rebecca Traister Courtesy
Rebecca Traister, the New York Times bestseller author of All the Single Ladies, shares a powerful, insightful exploration of the transformative power and potential of female anger to become a political movement.
It seems that women’s anger is suddenly being discussed in the public sphere. However, long before Pantsuit Nation and the Women’s March, and the #MeToo movement, women’s anger was not only political catalytic but also politically problematic. The history of female fury and its cultural importance reveals the long history of bitter resentment which has enshrouded women’s slow rise in political power in America. It also demonstrates how anger is received from women rather than men.
The Women’s Liberation Movement in America
In America, the women’s liberation movement in the 1960s and 70s made a significant impact on the lives of many women, particularly young women. This introduction to the movement offers a brief overview and a wealth of reference materials. It includes 13 biographical profiles of key figures and a wide selection of 15 primary sources documents, a glossary, and a helpful annotation bibliography. Women’s liberation was born out of earlier waves in feminist thought, such as the women’s suffrage and women’s rights movements that gave women the right to vote in 1920. Berkeley tells the story of the turbulent movement in a series of chronologically arranged chapters.
Berkeley explores the history of the modern movement in early 20th-century America. He describes the development and stirrings of the movement in the 1960s, analyzes critical issues that shaped the feminist agenda in the 1970s, and recounts the growing backlash against feminism that culminated in the 1980s. The epilogue provides an overview of the movement’s influence on American society and suggests a direction for feminism in the 21st Century. Students will benefit from this narrative history and ready-reference guide to understand this critical movement in American society.
Our mission is to promote and protect the rights and dignity of all women and girls. We envision gender equality for all and are working to achieve this vision through program partnerships, movement-building in the Asia Pacific, research, policy, advocacy, and other activities, both here and around the globe.
We are not the only international organization that focuses on women’s rights. We are the only one who approaches it with a feminist perspective. Feminism can mean a lot to millions of people. While we don’t have the authority to define feminism in any particular way, we want to help clarify the basics.
We hope that the best feminist books list above will help you learn more about feminism. If you have any questions or suggestions, please let us know. Thanks for reading.
Last update on 2021-10-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API