If there’s one thing I learned from my women’s studies class of freshman year, it’s that everyone benefits from reading feminist literature. It teaches us not only about ourselves but all kinds of people. Feminist literature has helped me to understand the goals and motivations of men, women, and those with varying gender identities. However, when starting a new genre, it can be difficult to know where to start. This list is a starting point for anyone who wants to be introduced to feminist literature with a little help. These gorgeous books are too good to be true!
Women of Resistance: Poems for a New Feminism by Danielle Barnhart and Iris Mahan
If you compare this modern poetry anthology to the older writings, it has a completely different voice. It’s the difference between getting women equal rights and what to do once you have them. Also, more jobs for women versus more jobs means sexual harassment in the workplace. I admire the unabashed wordplay used in each poem. There’s nothing boring about this book at all. It’s breathtakingly free, so hopeful and pessimistic at the same time. I wanted to highlight every stanza because that’s how beautiful each line was.
Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World by Ann Shen
I’ve been dying to read this book and it did not disappoint! I was floored by the gorgeous illustrations, and they get even better the more you read. The pictures give you a greater sense of what the women were like, all while portraying their beauty in a genuine and flattering way. Some illustrations that were absolutely stunning were those of Billie Holiday, Maya Angelou, and Ada Lovelace. You’d expect that all the women in this book are well-known, but I’m a history buff and I didn’t recognize half the women in its contents!
Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
What’s lovely about this book is that each poem is short so you can read the book straight through in a day. The audiobook is your best bet. Every twenty minutes or so there’s gorgeous Indian music in the background as the narrator transitions to the next poem. The atmosphere is made real. Her take on feminist poetry is completely original and her quotes on self-love are meaningful. Kaur so perfectly understands people; her talent is undeniable. Instead of just making you feel some way, Kaur makes you understand “why” you feel that way.
Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay
This is a highly rated book that deserves its praise. Roxane Gay has an honest, intelligent voice and explores gender and race with similar opinions to mine. This was the book that introduced me to black feminism, and by association, intersectional feminism.
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This book was assigned for my women’s studies class but I read it at least twice because I loved it SO MUCH. It explains feminism in the most remarkable way, a way that everybody can understand. It is a book by a beautiful person full of beautiful words. By combining her own experiences with those of women in history, the author makes it clear why feminism is relevant today. Like a person playing whack-a-mole, she slams down on gender bias and arguments for gender inequality. When you’re reading the book, you get the feeling that she is attacking the world with her words – anything to try and get people to understand her.
Additional writers worth researching are bell hooks and Audre Lorde, two brilliant poets whose work is still important today.