Hankering for an empowering, educational and inspiring read? You’ve come to the right place.
In this blog post, we’re celebrating women and their wise words, sisters and their stories, females and their fierce bodies of work. From essayists past and present and breakout names to literary powerhouses and contemporary greats, these are the books that have advocated for the lives and truths of women and challenged the way we think about gender.
1 Feminists Don’t Wear Pink (and other lies) – Scarlett Curtis
What exactly does the F word mean? This curation of funny, powerful and personal essays by a plethora of diverse contemporary female voices and celebrities explores everything from misogyny and masturbation to period tax and motherhood. Purchase the book via Bookshop.org here.
2. A Room of One’s Own – Virginia Woolf
First published in 1929, Woolf’s essay on women’s struggle for independence was a call to arms and a seminal feminist text. Her thesis is simply that in order for women to write, they have must have money and a room of their own. That is – the freedom and the space to fulfil their true potential. We don’t ask for much. Purchase the book via Bookshop.org here.
3. Dear Ijeawele – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
From the best-selling author of We Should All Be Feminists and Americanah, Dear Ijeawele gets right to the heart of 21st century sexual politics. Adichie’s childhood friend and new mum Ijeawele wrote to ask how she should raise her baby daughter to be a feminist and this 15-piece manifesto is her funny, perceptive and utterly galvanising response. Leave it to Adichie to make her mark in 60 pages and under. Purchase the book via Bookshop.org here.
4. Slay In Your Lane: The Black Girl Bible – Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinene
Featuring interviews with Susan Wokoma, Lady Leshurr and Denise Lewis, Slay In Your Lane is a true insight into what it’s like to be a black girl today and a powerful toolkit to help black women everywhere take control of their lives. It will inspire, uplift and resonate with many. Purchase the book via Bookshop.org here.
5. Girl, Woman, Other – Bernardine Evaristo
Evaristo’s Booker Prize-winning novel follows the interconnected stories and struggles of 12 black female and non-binary characters, diverse in age, background and lived experiences. Brimming with humanity, Evaristo’s nuanced and achingly relevant novel flows like a lovesong to black womanhood and quite frankly deserves ALL the awards. Purchase the book via Bookshop.org here.
6. Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions – Gloria Steinem
A collection of timeless essays from the trailblazing feminist Gloria Steinem, ranging from the hilarious satire “If Men Could Menstruate’ to the moving tribute to her mother “Ruth’s Song”, and the famous exposé “I Was A Playboy Bunny”. Purchase the book via Amazon here.
7. The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty are Used Against Women – Naomi Wolf
If you’ve ever stood in the mirror, poked at your hips and wished for a smaller, thinner, more symmetrical version of yourself that doesn’t exist, Wolf’s words will strike a chord. Her iconic critique of the oppressive function of beauty standards through the ages is a clarion call to freedom from the shackles of pretty-pressure. Purchase the book via Bookshop.org here.
8. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
Sylvia Plath’s legendary novel closely parallels her own life and experience with depression. It centres around Esther Greenwood, a young promising writer interning at a fashion magazine in New York who should be having the time of her life, only she’s not because she’s stifled by a misogynistic society and spiralling into mental illness. The fig tree quote will make you feel every type of emotion. Purchase the book via Bookshop.org here.
9. A Vindication of The Rights of Women – Mary Wollstonecraft
Dubbed one of the mothers of feminist theory, Mary Wollstonecraft’s seminal text challenged the notion that women only exist to please men and called for women and men to be given equal opportunities in education, work and politics. Purchase the book via Bookshop.org here.
10. Gender Outlaw – Kate Bornstein
“I know I’m not a man . . . and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m probably not a woman, either. . . . . The trouble is, we’re living in a world that insists we be one or the other.”
First published in 1994, Bornstein’s fearless and prescient text dismantles gender binary, unpicks our notions of male and female and questions why society defends the binary system so vehemently. In the foreword, Bornstein caveats their work by acknowledging that the way we speak about gender is always in flux and the language used in this edition will no doubt fall short, even in its revised 2006 version. That said, Gender Outlaw invites us all to consider what kind of world we live in. Purchase the book via Bookshop.org here.
11. Bad Feminist – Roxane Gay
Ever felt like you’re a sh*tty feminist? A flawed woman with a penchant for Vogue magazines, misogynist songs and all the pink? From Fifty Shades of Grey to Chris Brown, Bad Feminist is a razor-sharp, witty and insightful look at the glossy myths and contradictions inherent not only in the feminism movement but within the human condition. Purchase the book via Bookshop.org here.
12. The Power – Naomi Alderman
In this speculative fiction/dystopian feminist fantasy, Naomi Alderman asks what if the matriarchy had all the power? It’s a woman’s world now and they can kill with the touch of a finger… Purchase the book via Bookshop.org here.