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Carleton Reviews: My Favourite Feminist Books to Celebrate Women’s History Month

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Carleton chapter.

Happy Women’s History Month! Here are some books to help you celebrate.


A vindication of the rights of woman

This is my default suggestion anytime someone wants to start reading feminist literature. I often refer to this as the bible of feminism since it’s one of the best-known classics out there! This was also the book that got me into reading, and I still think back on it today. Mary Wollstonecraft’s work taught me to reflect on literature, not just from my own modern perspective, but from the perspective of the author at the time they wrote it.  

Wollstonecraft, arguably the most important female philosopher of the French Revolution, sums up her criticisms of society through iconic essays compiled in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. She became popular for her views on women’s education, which are a major part of the book. Intelligent and witty, she not only challenges prominent male philosophers of the time but details the reasons why their ideas are wrong and harmful to society. Don’t believe me? Just try to get through her Dedication without your jaw-dropping.

The stonewall reader

I picked this one up last summer, and my goodness, am I glad that I did. I you’re interested in Queer intersections with feminism, or Queer history, this book is for you. The Stonewall Reader is a compilation of first-person accounts leading up to, during, and after the Stonewall Uprising. With testimonies by prominent figures like Marsha P. Johnson and oral histories recorded by historian Eric Marcus (from the podcast “Making Gay History”), this book is excellent for those looking to better their knowledge and appreciation of the Gay Liberation Movement. I also really enjoyed the different writing styles included in this – some were written oral testimonies, some were essays, and some were news reports. I was also drawn to this one because I listened to some of Eric Marcus’ podcasts and loved it! With an eclectic variety of styles and voices, this is one of my favourite Queer reads.

Bad Feminist

A popular voice in feminist literature today – and for good reason – Roxanne Gay’s memoir, Bad Feminist, is such an important intersectional feminist read. This is a vulnerable testimony of how she navigated a world that often dismissed her very existence. Gay transports the reader into her shoes through a very honest account of the highs and lows of her life as a Black, fat woman, including her high-school experience, her love for scrabble competitions, her experience with mental illness, and her professional career as an English professor and writer. Pulling stories from famous literature and pop culture, as well as her own personal experiences, she criticizes the demanding and performative nature of modern feminism. She articulates that since her feminism will never be in line with these demands, she must be a bad feminist. This is a label she wears with pride.

As someone who loves to read, I really appreciated how she incorporated such a wide variety of literature and pop culture in her narrative. I also have so much respect for the way she incorporates her experiences with mental illness and its stigmas. I’m sure that, like me, after you finish this read, you’ll also find yourself identifying as a bad feminist!

Hood feminism: notes from the women that a movement forgot

As soon as I heard of this book, I knew I had to get my hands on it. Hood Feminism, a collection of essays by Mikki Kendall which became quite popular in 2020, details the experiences of people that feminism tends to ignore. I read this around the time I started learning about intersectional feminism and can honestly say this has been one of the most comprehensive and impactful sources for understanding it. Kendall talks about the ways race, gender, education, ability, and so much more impact how a person can navigate the world. She also shares her own story of navigating systemic oppression and how so many people can’t make it out of these barriers. I always found myself needing to take time after each chapter to reflect on the stories and powerful messages she told. I don’t think I’ve ever found a social media post that comes close to matching the expertise she shares here. Be sure to have your pens, highlighters, and stickies close by when reading this!

we have always been here

I don’t think I can talk about feminist literature without mentioning We Have Always Been Here by Samra Habib! I literally could not put this down, and often find myself reflecting back on her stories when I’m struggling to understand my place in the world. Habib, a Canadian immigrant, narrates her experience living in Pakistan facing regular threats from Islamic extremists and immigrating to Canada in her early life. Struggling with always feeling out of place, she recounts her challenges with religion and her family in her late high-school years. Eventually being accepted into journalism school in Toronto, she cuts ties with her family and begins exploring her identity. Habib shares how after a life of feeling out of place, she finally finds herself by exploring her sexuality, gender, and religion, and how she was able to make peace with her family. In her beautifully written award-winning memoir, Habib exudes hope for anyone struggling wherever they are in their lives.


to the lighthouse

This may be controversial, but I much prefer Virginia Woolf to Jane Austin! Let me be clear – Woolf’s To The Lighthouse is sheer perfection and cannot be compared. Whenever I need an escape, I grab myself a fancy coffee, find myself a nice place to get cozy and let Woolf’s brilliance transport me out of reality. Written with such poise and elegance, she captures the complexities and struggles of men and women at different stages in their lives. The reader finds themselves in early 1900s Scotland, following the Ramsay family. Woolf specifically highlights the importance of Mrs. Ramsay, the mother figure to her several children and their friends, who hold the respect of every person she meets.

Arguably the most important element of her books is portraying the state of flux of both people, and the world. She demands that her readers see the bigger picture, even when everything seems so dependent on one singular moment in time. Her poetic writing places the Ramsay house surrounded by what I can imagine are beautiful beaches and valleys. I’d recommend this book to anyone who loves to romanticize life. Its such a great read if you like to analyze the plot and characters as I do, or if you’re just looking for a lovely classic to indulge in. If you end up liking Woolfe, check out her other works including Mrs. Dalloway, A Room of One’s Own, and Orlando!

the bell jar

Another of my favourite classics, The Bell Jar is a semi-autobiographical novel about poet and writer Sylvia Plath’s journey in a world full of judgmental busy bodies, the ideal woman, and life before understanding mental illness. She slowly draws the reader into her mind, describing in exquisite detail how she sees the dangerous world around her. She describes the immense suffering and developing insanity through the main character, Esther Greenwood, as well as the way society views people in this position. What separates her mental illness from others depicted in literature is Plath’s ability to make it seem rational. I particularly enjoyed comparing how times have changed, and how they’ve stayed the same since she wrote this. While I won’t deny how funny men’s perspectives of women are, I also generally don’t take the time to read their inaccuracies. What I found refreshing about Plath’s narrative, is how she writes about her own experience. This was a time when it’s more likely for a story of that complexity to have, undoubtedly, been written and mishandled by a man. This dark psychological classic provides an insightful view into sexism, ableism, and the difficulties women faced with mental illness in the ‘60s.


As a humanities major, I adore Greek mythology – both classics like The Iliad, and modern interpretations that book-tok cannot stop raving about. Speaking of the classics, if you read The Odyssey and hated Circe’s character, this book will pull a complete 180 on that opinion. At least it did for me. I hate The Odyssey simply because Homer’s depiction of Circe lacks the depth and vulnerability that she is afforded in Madelaine Miller’s telling of her story. And yes, I know The Odyssey is about Odysseus’ life, but he spent one life-altering year on her island. The least Homer could do is allot a larger chunk of the epic to her.

Holding a special place in my heart, Circe is an intimate and relatable story of the goddess Circe, daughter of Helios and a nymph, who is different in all the wrong ways. Finding herself in exile on a beautiful island, she learns to hone her witchcraft abilities (which the other immortals despise) and befriends the animals. From time to time, men happen upon her island and she either falls in love with them or turns into swine after they attempt to attack her. Circe is a beautiful telling of a goddess’s journey through love and loss, rejection, and learning to find her strength on her own.


I read Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams after hearing Jack Edwards’ glowing reviews in several of his videos a few years ago. I was skeptical at first – and I honestly don’t remember why – but let me tell you, Queenie is just one of those books that you don’t want to put down. Queenie is a Black journalist in London stuck at a standstill in her career. She’s seeing the police brutality happening in the US, but her editor won’t let her write about it. Stuck in an identity crisis where she feels obligated to report on such a personal issue for her, while also suffering a decline in her mental health post-breakup, Queenie has to do the tough work of figuring out who she is in the world. Eventually undergoing therapy, she learns to confront the labels and expectations placed on her by her family, friends, and work. Another stunning portrayal of intersectional feminism in fiction, award-winning Queenie is going to be the newest addition to your TBR!

This one resonated with me because, in a world of hustle culture and labels, Queenie is forced to slow down and reevaluate her life and identity. She finds herself, quite like many of us, stuck at a standstill where she cannot keep going down the route she is, but she’s also scared to try something new. Queenie also reminded me that not all the decisions I will make about my life will be in accordance with what others expect from me, and that’s okay too.

three women

Another Jack Edwards recommendation, Three Women by Lisa Taddeo blew my mind. Her writing instantly pulled me in and left my jaw on the floor way too many times! Like its title, it follows the lives of three US women. Taddeo’s narrative concerns the sex lives of three unconnected women and the effect sex has on their daily lives. Lina, unhappily married with kids, desperately wants to be intimate with her husband. After being repeatedly turned down, she rekindles a high school relationship which forces her to make tough decisions about her life. High-school student Maggie developed a relationship with her married teacher. Years later, she’s waitressing in the same small town, numbing herself however she can, and pressing charges against the beloved small-town teacher who allegedly ruined her life. Lastly, Sloane is happily married and owns a restaurant with her handsome chef husband. The two enjoy watching the other have sex with another person or couple.

As a journalism major, I loved how Taddeo’s narratives are true stories from a decade of reporting. She started her research long before society started conversing more openly about sex, which fascinates me. Her best-selling novel highlights how taboo sex is to talk about, despite the progress made by feminist and queer movements. Packed with nuances, Taddeo beautifully encapsulates the difficulties of relationships and the parts of sex that are still seldom talked about.

Enjoy Women’s History Month with these fantastic reads!

Hannah is a first year Journalism and Humanities major. She is passionate about Queer culture and everything coffee-related. You can either find her at a coffee shop writing her next article, making coffee for a group, or with her head stuck in a book.