I am an aspiring Women’s and Gender Studies major. Consequently, a large portion of my week is always dedicated to reading about women, which is something I would find difficult to do if I didn’t absolutely love it. Feminist literature is my favorite kind of literature, so much so that picking the books for this list was extremely difficult. Glimmers of feminism can be found in countless places in nearly any literary work if you search hard enough. I decided to stick with the books that are on my bookshelf in my dorm (of which there are many) and from it I collected these books:
I chose the following as the best of feminist (or antifeminist!) literature:
1. Anything written by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi
You know that voice casually chatting about female empowerment in Beyonce’s “Flawless”? Yes, that is Chimamanda. The book I included in the picture above is the literary adaptation of her Ted Talk, titled “We Should All Be Feminists.” I have yet to read any of her novels in their entirety (I just started Purple Hibiscus) but she is known for sending messages of female empowerment in various forms, especially in her novels.
2. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
Bad Feminist was the first book I read for my Intro to Women’s and Gender Studies class, and up to this point it is by far my favorite. Gay wrote the perfect balance between funny and entertaining and serious and informative essay. She touches on lots of dark issues and reminds us of the many struggles of being a woman that we may not have faced ourselves, but must always be aware of.
3. Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham
Lena Dunham definitely runs on the raunchy side of town, so if you’re particularly squeamish or easily made uncomfortable, Not That Kind of Girl might not be your favorite. Personally, I loved her raunchiness, and I think that Dunham includes lots of important lessons about self-love, self acceptance, and independence that every young woman should learn. In a world that is filled with artificiality, I think that it is becoming much more difficult to for young women to find themselves and accept themselves for who they are, which Dunham recognizes, and her confidence is practically contagious.
4. Almost Famous Women by Megan Mayhew Bergman
There are many famous, empowering women whom we regularly praise and appreciate, but this book focuses on the women who suffered and triumphed quietly (Such as conjoined twins Violet and Daisy Hilton). There also several fictional short stories with strong female protagonists (or antagonists). An added bonus is that this book is a collection of short stories, making it an easy book for the college girl to pick up and put down without worrying about forgetting major parts of a plot.
5. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
Nothing beats some good ol’ female empowerment. If you haven’t already read Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, I strongly suggest you do. Looking at leadership and the workforce in a new light and recognizing where women stand in the world I believe is especially important to young college women preparing themselves for the work force (and the “real” world!).
6. Anything written by Charles Bukowski
Charles Bukowski: the man, the myth, the (maybe) misogynist. If there’s one author on this list who is blatantly out of place, it’s Charles Bukowski. Although his literature screams everything but feminism, I think that it is just as important to read. I love Bukowski’s writing, but he makes my blood boil. Read it. Gasp at it. Flail your arms, get mad. Remember why you are a feminist.
So, the next time you feel like you need to boost your self-esteem, or you want to feel empowered or you really want a reason to get angry, grab yourself a nice piece of feminist literature to do the job right.
Image Credit: Hannah Anain, Daily Maverick, It’s Taylor Henriquez, One Million Page Princess, Cloud Front, Her Campus, Charles Avgent