10 Feminist Books Everyone Should Read

Updated: Oct 28, 2019

Feminism is one of the most discussed topics in our culture. We're surrounded by famous feminists like Jameela Jamil or Aija Mayrock, all of them fighting for equal rights and equal responsibilities all over the world. Our struggle is not the same as in the early 20th century of the suffragettes or the second wave feminist movement of the 1960s, yet we still haven't reached a fair treatment for every person no matter which sex - beginning from the gender pay gap over toxic masculinity to a "definition" of sexual consent.

In my experience, most people put a quite negative connotation to the term feminism. They call it even "The dirty F word" or got this misunderstood concept of men-hating women who are raging against femininity. While I've been reading feminist literature since my teens, I've figured out that feminism allows and even encourages not only women, but every person to fight for equal rights. Feminism is a movement embracing dignity and respect for all humans beings; a concept that can (and should) be understood by your sister, father, work colleague or the neighbour upstairs. So, for those who are open to rethink our culture, want to know more on the female experience or simply enjoy mind-blowing literature, check out the following books:

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This is THE feminist beginner book. For simply everyone. In 2012, author, poet and activist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie held a TEDx Talk and this book is the adapted version of her speech full with personal anecdotes, as well as an outstanding analysis on feminist theory. A part of her speech was even featured in Beyoncé's song ***Flawless (starting from 1:26 min). Read, watch and listen.

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

Putting an end to girl hate is one of the goals to empower women and strengthen a global sisterhood. All of this competition, envy and bitchy behaviour - but have you considered that this is not embedded within our culture, yet within yourself? Gay explains in a selection of essays openly that we're all human beings and make mistakes. And while she previously denied the f-word, she now embraces the values of feminism in a very authentic way.

Feminists Don't Wear Pink and Other Lies by Scarlett Curtis

How do you define feminism? And how do other women in our contemporary culture define feminism? Scarlett Curtis - journalist, podcast host, feminist and co-founder of The Pink Protest - asked the voices of our generation for the answer. Read what 52 women like Keira Knightley or Emi Mahmoud think about the F word.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Oh Dystopia. A world in which women are put into five classes (handmaids, marthas, wives aunts and unwomen) and suffer under patriarchal structures within the dystopia of Gilead - this is the world of the handmaid Offred. Margaret Atwood brings up a discussion on religion, class systems and feminist resistance. In case you don't want to read the novel, try at least the TV series on Netflix.

The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir

Quite heavy, yet fundamental. In 1949, Simone de Beauvoir challenges the view of a western women in society. "One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman" is one of her most famous quotes. Here de Beauvoir analyses the crucial concept of differentiating sex from gender and explains that gender is culturally constructed.

Women and Power: A Manifesto by Mary Beard

Mary Beard - cultural critic, professor of classics at Cambridge University and feminist - shows on 160 pages what our society has done to powerful women in the past centuries. With personal stories on sexism and violence based on her gender, this book contains a smart, thoughtful and witty analysis on feminist history.

Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Yes, it's again Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. As she is one of the key figures within the feminist discourse, she's also the author of books which are approachable for a wide range of people. In A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, Chimamanda brings feminism to the masses while giving feminist advice to a friend on how to raise a daughter. Straight to the point.

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou is one of the most known voices of female power. She paved the way for a generation of strong women and is one of my personal heroes. Through her honesty on her own experience facing sexism, racism and abuse, she encourages the female community to claim their power back. One of my favourite Angelou quotes: "I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life's a bitch. You've got to go out and kick ass."

The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women by Naomi Wolf

Known as liberal progressive feminist author and former political advisor to Bill Clinton and Al Gore, Naomi Wolf published in 2002 a radical approach on women, society and media. The Beauty Myth discussed how women are in a spiral of self-doubt, objectification and on a constant quest on how to become flawlessly beautiful (which is btw impossible).

If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan

Iranian writer Sara Farizan tells a mesmerising story about a young girl discovering the affection for other women. As the protagonist of the novel is located in the Islamic republic of Iran, the reader takes part in the fear and struggles she has to face. Homosexuality is handled as a crime in Iran, and therefore a lesbian girl might even have to face execution. Sara Farizan brings a new twist in the story by finding a solution to this problem. Get the book to know how.


Text by Bernak Kharabi

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