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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at PSU chapter.

TW: rape, sexual assault, violence.

Feminism is a very important, yet controversial topic. Here’s a list of feminist books you must read that will change your perspective on feminism.

The Handmaid’s Tale

This book is a dystopian novel by Margaret Atwood. The book talks about a woman named Offred and her life in the Republic of Gilead. She is a “handmaid,” which is a group of women who are forced to reproduce. This means that even if they don’t want to, they have to hold sexual relations. 

What’s interesting about this book is how they use religion to justify their actions and to justify the fact that women in this dystopian society have no freedom. The book is extremely important for women to understand that they have to keep fighting for their rights, as they can be stripped away from us quickly. 

Through this book, Atwood is criticizing the patriarchy. Even if the society in Gilead seems very far away from our current society, it is still possible to see some patterns between the book and real life. 


“Persepolis” is actually an autobiographical comic book by Marjane Satrapi. The book was originally published in French and talks about the years of Satrapi’s life during and after the Islamic Revolution in Iran. The book narrates her life both in Iran and Vienna.

There are two books, “Persepolis 1: The Story of a Childhood and Persepolis” and “Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return.” The first book deals with the war and religious extremism. She details the impacts on her life, especially the women. It also deals with political ideals such as communism.

The second book deals with her life after she moved to Vienna. Her parents sent her there because they were worried about her safety as she was expressing her rage against the Iranian political system. There, she talks about many cultural shocks and her struggles while keeping an Iranian identity. 

How To Be a Woman

This book is a non-fiction memoir by Caitlin Moran. The book talks about her life and her views about feminism. Through the book, she aims to make feminism more approachable to women as she is trying to change the common view of feminists as “man-haters.” 

The book is very funny and I laughed out loud with some passages. You don’t have to agree with all of her opinions in this book, but it is still a nice book to understand feminism a little bit differently.

I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban

This is the book about the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai. The autobiographical book was co-written with Christina Lamb. The book talks about Malala’s life and her work as a young activist for girls’ education. The book also mentions the rise and fall of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan in Swat Valley, where she is a native. 

Later in the book, she also details the assassination attempt that she suffered by the Taliban, due to her work as an activist for women’s education. This is a great book to teach girls about the importance of being educated and fighting for what you believe. 

Butterfly: From Refugee to Olympian – My Story of Rescue, Hope, and Triumph

“Butterfly,” which is currently being turned into a movie, is an autobiographical book by Yursa Mardini. The book talks about her trajectory from a Syrian refugee to an Olympic swimmer. The book details how she and her sister helped save a group of Syrian refugees from drowning when the engine of their boat failed. They both jumped into the water and helped pull the boat to safety.

The book also details her trajectory as a professional swimmer, how she made it to the Olympics and her current work with the UN as a Goodwill Ambassador.

The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State

“The Last Girl” is an autobiographical book by Nadia Murad, a 2018 Nobel Peace Prize winner. The book narrates her story as a Yazidi woman after being captured by the Islamic State. She was captured and enslaved by the Islamic State during the Second Iraqi Civil War.

The book describes her experience of being repeatedly raped by ISIS members, how she was treated while she was imprisoned, her escape attempts and finally her escape. 

Renata is from Amazonas, Brazil, and studies international politics and broadcast journalism at Penn State. Her hobbies include reading and writing, editing pictures, and dancing for fun. She likes to learn new languages, currently speaks four, and is trying to learn a fifth. Fun fact: she wrote a book, but let’s not talk about that.