I’ve considered myself to be a feminist for as long as I’ve known the definition of the word. For me, a lot of the things that feminism is working towards are no-brainers, and being educated about current issues that face women of all ethnicities, nationalities, ages, sexualities, and physical abilities is very important to me. It’s hard to take action if you’re not educated, and being informed about a particular topic will allow you to respond to queries or challenges in a concise, convincing, and respectable way.
One of my favourite ways of educating myself about feminism is through books. The internet is great, and I will be the first to admit that I will read opinion piece after opinion piece, but I’ve found that books are the type of feminist content that resonates with me the most. Over the last few years, I’ve read quite a few books about feminism, and I thought it would be fun for me to share my favourites here for the benefit of anyone looking for a new feminist read. While I have read a lot of feminist fiction, I want to focus this blog post specifically on non-fiction. If there’s interest, I will write a blog post about my favourite works of fiction with feminist themes sometime in the near-ish future.
So, without further ado, here are five books about feminism that I think everyone should read, in no particular order.
1) Feminists Don’t Wear Pink and Other Lies, curated by Scarlett Curtis (2018)
This book is a relatively recent release (October 2018), and everything about it is absolutely lovely. It is a collection of essays and poetry by a bunch of amazing women explaining “what the F-word means to them.” The contributors range from Hollywood actresses like Emma Watson and Kiera Knightley to teenage activists working with organizations like GirlUp. What’s really nice about this collection is that it discusses a broad range of topics from a diverse group of writers – the representation is intersectional feminism at its finest. Some of my favourite essays in the collection were by Jodie Whittaker (the 13th Doctor for any Doctor Who fans out there) and by Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter films). Some of these women talk about their struggles of coming to identify as a feminist after growing up in oppressive or conservative cultures, and learning to embrace their femininity and woman-ness after being told to suppress it for so many years. This book is a collection of feminist testimony, and contains some truly insightful writings on the reality of being a woman in twenty-first century society. A great reason to buy this book is that all of the proceeds go to GirlUp, an organization run by the United Nations Foundation that is designed to provide young girls with leadership training programs and resources that will lead them to lead active lives.
Scarlett Curtis also runs a podcast under the same title as the book, where she interviews some of the contributors and other influential women about what being a feminist means to them. 10/10 would recommend!
2) We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2014)
I’m sure that most people who are reading this blog post have either read or heard of this little book, but I’m including it anyway just in case someone hasn’t. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a celebrated Nigerian novelist who presented an influential TED talk at a TEDx event in Euston in 2013. Since then, her talk has been viewed over 5 million times, and Adichie decided to turn the transcript of her talk into a little book that people could pick up and read in a single sitting. The book cogently expresses the importance of feminism to everyone (not just women), and is the ideal book to give to someone who is struggling with their feminist identity or, at the opposite end of the spectrum, to someone who doesn’t understand what “those damn feminists are so pissed off about anyway.”
3) When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele (2018)
While specifically about the struggles of living as a black person in modern-day America and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, this book demonstrates the need for and importance of intersectional feminism more than any other text I’ve read in recent years. The memoir mainly follows the story of Patrisse Khan-Cullors’s upbringing, struggle growing up as a black woman in Los Angeles, and issues faced as a black queer woman. This discussion mixes with growing tensions about police brutality in the United States, and how three women came together to create a movement that rocked the nation. I highly recommend this read to anyone who is unclear about why intersectional feminism is so important.
4) I Am Woman: A Native Perspective on Sociology and Feminism by Lee Maracle (1988)
I read a piece of literary theory by Lee Maracle in an English course during my undergrad, and I was so intrigued by her writing style and ability to make lit theory accessible that I immediately did a Google search for her books. I ordered I Am Woman right away after reading a couple of reviews. She talks about the important women in her life, her experience growing up as an Indigenous woman in British Columbia, and the value of feminism to Indigenous women in Canada. For a country whose reputation is centered on inclusivity and diversity, Canada has a dark history of oppressing Indigenous peoples and ignoring the disappearances and deaths of hundreds of missing and murdered Indigenous women in the last hundred years. This book talks about how feminism, sisterhood, and embracing cultures of all kinds can help in the fight against these issues.
5) I Call Myself a Feminist: The View From Twenty-Five Women Under Thirty, edited by Victoria Pepe (2016)
This is one of the first dedicated books about feminism that I can remember reading. I had always been interested in books about strong women, but for some reason had never gravitated towards books with the word “feminism” in the title. This essay collection does an excellent job at demonstrating why feminism is important to members of my generation, and also of showing how feminism is one of the guiding movements that will carry us forward into a equitable and sustainable future. It’s quite similar in format to Feminists Don’t Wear Pink, but focuses specifically on today’s younger generation. The contributors stem from a wide variety of ethnic groups, socio-economic classes, religions and sexual orientations, and have a plethora of beautiful stories to share.
So there we are! Whether you are a seasoned feminist reader looking for some new books, or someone who is trying to find the right book to begin their feminist literary journey, I hope you have found this post helpful. If you have any recommendations of feminist literature that you think I would love or that I should read, please leave them in the comments below. Until next time!