While every day is a good day to, International Women’s Day is a day dedicated to appreciating and celebrating the amazing and wonderful women in our lives, and that’s what makes it undeniably the best day of the year. This year, make sure to acknowledge and be thankful for the women in your lives that dedicate their hard work and strength to make things happen in a society that sees all women as secondary citizens.
Since all women have different experiences and come from different backgrounds, it’s crucial to listen to their thoughts and ideas as well as center them. With that in mind, let’s take a look at these nine feminist books that you’ll end up wanting to read as soon as possible and will be sure to your TBR lists right away!
1. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
Hailed as one of the greatest literary works in the English language of the 20th century, Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook closely examines and critiques politics, societal norms, and psychological impacts – evidently, Lessing successfully takes on one of the most ambitious tasks in one novel. The Golden Notebook follows Anna Wulf, a divorced writer, in the 1950s; she meticulously records her experiences and thoughts in four different colored notebooks – each notebook is specifically categorized pertaining to her emotions, politics, her professional writing life, and everyday events. Her fifth notebook, the golden notebooks, is Anna’s attempt to pull all strands of her life together in one literal space. Lessing’s book is lauded for its portrayal of communism and anti-war messages as well as being a central work for the feminist movements of the mid-20th century.
2. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Anything that was written by Toni Morrison deserves – at the very least – one read. Morrison’s first novel is one that explores Black girlhood during Jim Crow America in 1941 and its ramifications to this day. The Bluest Eye is the story of 11-year-old Pecola Breedlove and explores how the dichotomy of Blackness versus Whiteness plays a role in the physical and psychological experiences of the Black community. Through the heartwrenching circumstances that Pecola endures, we see how societal standards could tear a young girl to pieces; the way how Whiteness seeps into their lives is insidious and brings forth a discussion of internalized racism, Black girlhood, and the actions/inactions of religious and social communities.
3. Women & Power by Mary Beard
Mary Beard’s book, Women & Power, confronts the misogynists who continuously demean and attack women all over the world. She talks about the roots of misogyny, the trials women face presently, and everything in-between. Beard also uses her own personal experiences as examples of men treating women as inferior people.
4. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
A classic in feminist literature, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is a futuristic dystopian novel that examines the issues relating to gender, power, and religious politics. The book takes place in a future America where the new government limits the agency and rights of women. One “handmaid,” Offred, serves the household of the Commander and his wife and risks her own life to end the oppressive ideals of their repressive government. A timely book, Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale confronts the subjects that affect present-day women’s rights such as reproductive rights and the political/social powers that women have/lack.
5. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
One of my favorite writers, Roxane Gay is a leading figure in present-day Black feminism and feminist writings. Her book, Bad Feminist, is a collection of essays that critically looks into how women navigate the world as modern-day feminists. Gay looks at a range of subjects: politics, entertainment, society, etc.; and through her personal lens and experiences as a Black woman, Gay thoughtfully and intelligently urges women to essentially allow the space to enjoy and partake in present-day culture, while also maintaining a position to always attempt to do better. Through her collection of essays, Gay reassures us that feminism isn’t about perfection, it’s about actively examining what we want and how it affects us and the society we live in.
6. Whipping Girl by Julia Serano
A 21st-century essential read, Whipping Girl by Julia Serano is a collection of insightful essays about transfeminism and the difficulties of specifically trans women. Using her personal experiences with being a trans woman, Serano critically examines the way that trans women have been portrayed by pop culture. She goes in-depth about the ways how transphobia, transmisogyny, misogyny, and the hypersexualization of trans women link to society’s position on elevating masculinity and villainizing feminity. Through her book, Serano advocates for the inclusion and diversity of feminity of all forms.
7. Dear Ijeawele by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Dear Ijeawele is a thoughtful letter for all future feminists. Comprised of fifteen suggestions on how to raise daughters into strong, independent women of the future, Adichie begins the conversation on what it means to be and raise a girl as a feminist in the 21st century. Reminiscent of a manifesto, Adichie challenges gender roles and expectations, putting forth the stress for equality and the respect for the existence of women in all forms. In the end, gender equality is the way of the future.
8. A Room of One’s Own by Virgina Woolf
A Room of One’s Own is an essay written by Virginia Woolf and a feminist required reading. The essay is based on a series of lectures Woolf gave at the women’s colleges at Cambridge University in 1928. This book focuses on the disadvantages women have historically faced. Woolf further builds an argument around the inherent patriarchal narrative in literature and history; she argues that both literature and history are male constructs that have continuously marginalized women. Woolf additionally examines the issues around gender values and inequality towards women.
9. Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez
Caroline Criado Perez’s Invisible Women brings attention to the gender gap that has continued to be an issue for years. Perez speaks about the consistent data across many spectrums that prove the gender inequalities have simply been accepted by women, but the idea behind this book is to kindle a fire in women everywhere to push against the status quo and societal norms.
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