As I’ve mentioned, many obnoxious times, I decided to read a lot this summer. I figured that during the school year I wouldn’t be able to read the books I really wanted to. Taking advantage of this time, I’m reading books that I really want to. These are books, that have given me different perspectives on things, given me new role models, and have helped shape my views as a feminist. I’ll leave links to the books, but I also recommend checking out your local used books stores. A few of these books I found at used books stores, for cheap and still good quality. I also really like book recommendations, so feel free to leave them down in the comments.
I’m starting the list with a classic, The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan. One of my favorite books that I would 10/10 recommend to anyone. A short synopsis, Betty Friedan talks about how housewives since the 1960s have had a loss of identity and she continues to discuss the change in the society that came with that. It’s such a fascinating book that explains some of the greatest movements in American Women’s Liberation History. If you haven’t read it, please do. Genre: Social Sciences/ Gender Studies
A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Attwood. Most people recognize this book as the Hulu tv show, but the book is amazing. While it is a fiction book, it is based around a lot of real ideas in the world. Ideas like the reality of the objectification of women, power dynamics between genders, LGBTQA+ rights, political ideas and so much more. A Handmaid’s Tale uses this fictional story to show these issues at their worst. Not only is it incredibly interesting, but it’s also eye-opening and thought-provoking. Genre: Fiction
Macbeth by Shakespeare. I know what you’re thinking. How can a Shakespearean play about gruesome killings and witches be a book about empowerment and feminism? When reading this book, I chose to see it in a positive light where I acknowledged what a powerful woman Lady Macbeth was. Sure, she was a little violent, murderous, manipulative, but she was also extremely powerful and smart. I think it’s interesting to see how she had to act weak in a place where she was simply a wife, to be powerful in the big picture. It’s not as obvious as some of these other books might be, but I still like how strong and independent her character and character growth is. Genre: Tragedy/ Shakespearean Play
More than Enough by Elaine Welteroth. This book has been around social media and the news, but trust me when I say – there’s a reason. Elain Welteroth shared her story from a small town to becoming the youngest and one of the only black women editors in Conde Nast. She simultaneously depicted her life and shared her relationship with activism. I could not put this book down. I kept reading and annotating until I finished it in a day or two. The book includes so many amazing stories involving racial discrimination and what life was like for her, and she brought up a lot of theory about activism. This is a great book if you want to see real-life a strong, empowering lady of color in America. examples of Genre: Memoir/ Biography
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. This one is similar to my justification for Macbeth. A tale of two cities is a classic about the french revolution, showing ideas in freedom and revolution. In addition to the revolution aspects some of the main characters Madame Defarge, Lucie, and Miss Pross showed numerous sides of what a strong female character can look like. Even if you don’t want to read it for those aspects, it’s one of the best books out there. Genre: Historical Novel
The Past is Before Us by Sheila Rowbotham. I had never heard of this book before I went into a used book store intending on finding another gender studies book. Despite that, I’m so glad I found it. The Past is Before Us is about the 2 decades of history of the women’s movement in Great Britain. It shows how some of the main ideas of feminism were formed, different types of feminism, and movements. This is almost like the UK version of The Feminine Mystique but with more history and development of ideas. There are also a lot of great excerpts from essay and poems. Genre: Social Sciences/ Essay.
This list is a diverse collection of books, that I, as a feminist and book lover, have really enjoyed. Books that I couldn’t put down and brought new ideas to my mind. Just remember, these are simply good books. You don’t have to read them just because of the feminist or societal aspects of them. They’re very interesting and show a different side of literature. Thanks for reading! Like I mentioned before, I love book recommendations, so feel free to leave them in the comments below!
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