18 Essential Books For Educating Yourself Further

Whether you want to get to know your body better, deepen your understanding of the history and experiences of minority groups or educate yourself on issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community, these are the books to work through.

To quote philosopher Francis Bacon, “Some books should be tasted, some devoured, but only a few should be chewed and digested thoroughly.” These definitely fall into the to-be-chewed category.

Whether you want to get to know your body better, deepen your understanding of the history and experiences of minority groups or educate yourself on issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community, these are the books to work through.

1 Women, Race and Class – Angela Davis

Legendary political activist Angela Davis charts the history of racial and gender oppression in the United States in this powerful study of the women’s liberation movement.

2 Period Power – Maisie Hill

Maisie Hill flips the lid on this long overdue conversation with her no-nonsense handbook to periods and hormones. It’s bloody brilliant stuff.

3 On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous – Ocean Vuong

A powerful, raw and poetic exploration of language, race, sexuality, trauma and masculinity. Framed as a letter from a young Vietnamese man to his illiterate mother, the subject matter is at once shattering and beautiful.

4 Trans Like Me: A Journey For All Of Us – C.N. Lester

What does it mean to be transgender? This book covers a multitude of topics about the trans experience, from pronouns to Caitlin Jenner, as well as CN Lester’s own experience with identity.

5 How We Fight For Our Lives: A Memoir – Saeed Jones

A telling portrait of what life is like growing up as a young black gay man in America’s south. It’s a memoir you’ll never forget.

6 Girl, Woman, Other – Bernardine Evaristo

A Booker-Prize Winning novel, Girl, Woman, Other follows the lives of 12 different black British women and their intricately connected stories.

7 Call Me by Your Name – André Aciman

Now a major motion classic, Call Me by Your Name is one of the greatest LGBTQ love stories of our time.

8 White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Race – Robin DiAngelo

American academic, Robin DiAngelo, shows how wounded and defensive white reactions can shut down vital conversations and uphold white supremacy. If you’re invested in societal change, add it to your TBR pile asap.

9 Everyday Sexism – Laura Bates

The Everyday Sexism project was founded by writer Laura Bates back in 2012. It began as a website to catalogue instances of sexism on a day-to-day basis but quickly evolved into a viral success, credited with helping to spark a new wave of feminism. From discrimination in the workplace to sexual harassment, Everyday Sexism is an important literary protest against inequality and a manifesto for change.

10 All Boys Aren’t Blue: A Memoir Manifesto by George M. Johnson

Written by journalist and LGBTQ activist, George M. Johnson, this fearless memoir-manifesto explores the trials and triumphs of the black queer lived experience.

11 Me and White Supremacy – Layla Saad

A blistering expose of how entrenched white privilege is in modern society, Saad’s Me and White Supremacy is mandatory reading for anyone committed to doing better.

12 The Colour Purple – Alice Walker

A classic everybody should read at least once, The Colour Purple is a cultural touchstone of modern American literature. Told through a series of letters spanning 20 years, Alice Walker’s epic broke the silence around domestic and sexual abuse, narrating the lives of women through their pain and struggle, companionship and growth, resilience and bravery.

13 I Am Not Your Baby Mother – Candice Brathwaite

Part memoir, part manifesto, Candice Brathwaite’s straight-talking guide to navigating black British motherhood is a must-read for all mums.

14 Vagina: A New Biography – Naomi Wolf

Naomi Wolf’s revolutionary work challenges how we think about, talk about and understand the vagina.

15 The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colourblindness – Michelle Alexander

Michelle Alexander presents a searing must-read for anyone who wants to expand their understanding of the deeply flawed legal system in America.

16 The Hate You Give – Angie Thomas

Inspired by the BLM movement, this is an honest and painfully relevant YA novel about police brutality and one girl’s struggle for justice.

17 The Stars and the Blackness Between Them – Junauda Petrus

Told in two distinct and irresistible voices, Junauda Petrus’s bold and lyrical debut is the story of two black girls from very different backgrounds finding love and happiness in a world that seems determined to deny them both.

18 Boy Erased: A Memoir of Identity, Faith and Family – Garrard Conley

Boy Erased tells the gut-wrenching true story of author Garrard Conley’s failed conversion therapy. Through an institutionalised 12-step program heavy on bible study, he was supposed to emerge heterosexual and cleansed of impure urges. Instead, he found the strength and understanding to accept his true self.