What makes a feminist? It’s a concern that appears whenever feminism is discussed. In some cases the responses are pithy and stylish (for instance, the one offered by Su in Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist, among the best feminist books, who mentions that feminists are “just females who don’t want to be treated like shit”). Sometimes they’re much longer, for better or for even worse. Typically there’s mention of makeup or high heels (can you be a feminist and like either? Depend upon who you ask– my personal sensation is, yes, however never ever tell me they’re obligatory).

Often it appears that there are as numerous different types of feminism as there are individuals who recognize– or do not– as feminists. Here’s a rundown of some of the finest feminist books that I have actually come across whilst attempting to work out what being a feminist is to me.

Feminist Classics

Although we’re heading into a brand-new year, and certainly a brand-new years, many of the concerns that we’re facing seem very familiar. It’s discouraging that, yet once again, we’re having to argue problems like “do women deserve bodily autonomy and equal rights?”, however at least there are a wide range of traditional feminist texts that have currently provided exceptional answers to those concerns, which we can make use of in the ongoing defend equality. Here are some classic feminist texts that make for great fundamental reading.

1. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft

In this classic of first-wave feminism, Mary Wollstonecraft made the argument that women was worthy of the exact same rights as males, consisting of equivalent education– a fairly controversial declaration in1792 While many of Wollstonecraft’s opinions and attitudes about women’s functions in society might seem conservative by today’s standards, her works played a major role in kick-starting the conversations that later on feminists continued.

Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde - cover 2. Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde

Audre Lorde’s famous essay collection is a cornerstone of Black Feminism. Lorde goes over making uses of anger, the function of poetry in advocacy, and her own experiences as a Black lesbian in the U.S.A., in addition to calling out white feminism for leaving out and eliminating Black women.

3. This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, edited by Cherríe Moraga and Gloria E. Anzaldúa

This collection of writings by Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and Asian women takes a look at the crossways between feminism and race, class, and sexuality, and is generally deemed among the foundational texts of Third Wave feminism. Factors include important feminist authors such as Naomi Littlebear Morena, Audre Lorde, Barbara Smith and the Combahee River Collective.

4. Women, Culture and Politics by Angela Davis

Academic and activist Angela Davis is the author of many essential feminist text, however Women, Culture and Politics is an especially important read, taking a look at the significance of thinking about employees’ rights, racism and the prison industrial complex as part of feminist analysis.

5. Gender Problem by Judith Butler

A necessary read for anybody interested in queer theory, Gender Problem takes a look at the manner ins which gender has been, and continues to be, constructed and carried out in various contexts and throughout societies.

First published in1978, Fat is a Feminist Issueis just as pertinent today, looking at women’s relationships with their bodies, the manipulative nature of the diet plan industry, and providing ways for readers to escape the trap of socially-imposed ideals of what their bodies” ought to” look like.

One of the best-known works of feminist philosophy,The Second Sex was a source of inspiration for Judith Butler and Betty Friedan.

Gilbert and Gubar’s work of feminist literary criticism might already be familiar to anybody who did an English Literature degree.

Recent Feminist Must-Reads

Recently, there has been an explosion of fantastic feminist writing which takes a look at the relationships in between gender, race, sexuality, class, dis/ability, and lots of other aspects of identity. If you want to find out more about third-wave and intersectional feminism, the feminist books below are a fantastic place to start.

11 Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism, edited by Bushra Rehman and Daisy Hernández

It’s a remarkable and happy read, with a wide variety of feminist voices dealing with vital subjects.

12 Race, Class and Gender: An Anthology by Margaret L. Andersen

With over 60 essays exploring the crossways of gender, race, class and sexuality, Race, Class and Gender is a wonderful resource for gaining an understanding of multiple aspects of feminist theory.

13 Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

Books, essays or tweets– anything composed by Roxane Gay is well worth reading, and Bad Feminist, her collection of personal essays, is among her best. The widest variety of topics is covered, including sexual violence, female anti-heroines, being a ‘bad’ feminist, and even the world of competitive Scrabble. Gay’s composing turns familiar subjects on their heads, making you think about them in a completely brand-new light, and is fiercely amusing as often as it is gut-punchingly frank.

14 The Gender Games by Juno Dawson

You might know Juno Dawson from her YA novels, but she’s likewise a great nonfiction author, and in The Gender Games she thinks about how gendered expectations and stereotypes damage everybody. Making use of her own experiences as a trans lady, and insights from lots of other feminist authors and activists, Dawson provides a manifesto on how to dismantle stereotypes.

15 Feminism: A Graphic Guide by Cathia Jenainati and Judy Groves

This beautifully detailed graphic novel deals a history of various feminist movements, a breakdown of the different waves and classifications of feminism, and a guide to feminism in the present day, in addition to including biographies of numerous prominent feminist figures.

16 Feminism is For Everyone by bell hooks

Among hooks’s more recent works, Feminism is For Everyone is exactly what the title indicates– a feminist guide looking at essential feminist topics like race, class, reproductive rights, and sexual violence.

17 Gender Hooligan by Kate Bornstein

Written by “a self-described nonbinary transfeminine diesel femme dyke”, Gender Hooligan is a radical work on gender, trans rights and feminism that encourages every reader to question society’s binary view of sex and gender.

18 On Intersectionality by Kimberlé Crenshaw

Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term intersectionality in 1989, and her theories and vital work have actually been an extremely influential part of feminism since. On Intersectionality is a collection of Crenshaw’s works, with a brand-new intro by the author that clarifies this groundbreaking feminist framework.

19 Can All Of Us Be Feminists?, modified by June Eric-Udorie

In this essay collection, seventeen feminist writers go over methods to make feminism more efficient and inclusive. With contributions from authors such as Wei Ming Kam, Zoé Samudzi and Frances Ryan, Can We All Be Feminists? is a fascinating and thought-provoking read.

20 Kill in Your Lane by Elizabeth Uviebinené and Yomi Adegoke

Subtitled ‘The Black Woman Bible’, Kill in Your Lane looks at the lives and experiences of Black British females. Uviebinené and Adegoke draw on stories from their own lives, in addition to speaking with many other successful Black British women.

21 Headscarves and Hymens by Mona Eltahawy

Author, journalist and activist Mona Eltahawy is a brave fighter for females’s rights. Her first book, Headscarves and Hymens, challenges spiritual misogyny in the Middle East and the complacency of feminist motions in the West.

Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud cover22 Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud by Anne Helen Petersen

Petersen’s book is a call to every female who’s been informed that she’s ‘too much’– who uses up more area than patriarchal constraints enable. Taking a look at a number of various women, all of whom have been dismissed as being ‘too [something]’, Petersen thinks about why ladies are so typically informed to be ‘less’.

23 Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World, modified by (Schedule Riot Editor) Kelly Jensen

A best read for feminist teens, Here We Are discusses women in fiction, body positivity, advocacy, love, and much more. Taking a firmly intersectional approach, this collection is a fantastic introduction to feminism for young adult readers.

24 Male Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit

The inspiration for the term ‘mansplaining’, Solnit’s book of essays covers subjects including rape, marriage, the erasure of females from history, and the titular subject of males describing obvious things to females (often ones with proficiency).

25 Down Woman: The Reasoning of Misogyny by Kate Manne

In Down Woman, theorist Kate Manne analyses misogyny, how it functions, and what we can do about it. Manne puts the concentrate on how ladies are policed by society, how internalised misogyny is motivated, and how misogyny varies from sexism.

26 Revolting Prostitutes: The Defend Sex Employees’ Rights by Molly Smith and Juno Mac

Written by 2 sex employees, Revolting Woman Of The Streets talks about sex workers’ rights within a feminist framework. Sex employees’ voices are too often sidelined in mainstream and legal discourse, and in Revolting Prostitutes, Smith and Mac attempt to redress this imbalance.

27 The Minority Body: A Theory of Impairment by Elizabeth Barnes

Disability rights are an important aspect of feminism. In The Minority Body, Elizabeth Barnes offers a necessary summary of the social vs. the medical model of impairment, asserting that handicapped bodies like hers ought to be viewed as various, instead of inferior, to abled bodies.

28 Living a Feminist Life by Sara Ahmed

In this ‘killjoy manifesto’, Sara Ahmed describes methods to apply feminist theory to everyday life, and construct support group and options that can stand versus the ongoing grind of sexism, racism, and other sort of bigotry.

Fiction, Poetry, and Feminist Nonfiction

Feminism is a motion and a structure for advocacy, but it’s likewise a source of motivation, a springboard for creativity, and a timely to take a look at disregarded locations of history. Here are some recommendations for feminist novels, poetry, and nonfiction books.

29 Asking For It by Louise O’Neill

Celebrated YA author O’Neill tells a destructive story of sexual violence and victim blaming, in this novel that was also turned into a highly ranked play.

30 The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

A classic of feminist fiction, The Handmaid’s Tale tells the story of Offred, a woman treated as absolutely nothing more than reproducing stock by an oppressive, fundamentalist society.

Things a Bright Girl Can Do cover31 Things A Brilliant Woman Can Do by Sally Nicholls

This historical YA novel informs the story of the Suffragette and Suffragist movements, through the eyes of three young girls annoyed by the restricted roles that society provides for ladies at the start of the 20 th century.

32 The Deathless Women by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

This modern Gothic novel reimagines the ‘dark sis’ from Dracula, giving these two new vampires a voice that they never ever had in Bram Stoker’s initial novel.

33 Angela Carter’s Book of Wayward Girls and Wicked Women, edited by Angela Carter

This collection of stories, edited by a titan of feminist fiction, celebrates women who defy labels like ‘likeable’, ‘pleasant’ or ‘good’, and rather choose ‘cunning’, ‘creative’ and ‘intriguing’.

34 The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Dhonielle Clayton’s debut book, a dream story embeded in a world where looks can magically be altered, isn’t simply a gripping adventure– it’s also a sharp takedown of the dangers of the beauty market.

35 The Radium Girls by Kate Moore

This narrative nonfiction book handle an innovative battle to safeguard workers’ rights, health and safety. When the young women working for the Radium Dial Corporation in the early 20 th century started to reveal indications of radiation poisoning, they started a legal battle for compensation that resulted in major modifications in companies’ legal duties.

36 Furious Thing by Jenny Downham

Anger is a feminist problem, and in this explosive YA book, heroine Lexi discovers to reveal her anger at a world that lets her therefore numerous other ladies down.

37 The Blazing World by Margaret Cavendish

This very early feminist book (and proto sci-fi story) was composed by the Duchess of Newcastle in 1666, and follows the adventures of a female who travels to an alien, utopian world.

38 The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Another early feminist classic, The Yellow Wallpaper tells the story of a female gradually going through a breakdown following severe confinement as treatment for postnatal depression– and, frighteningly, was based upon the author’s own experiences.

39 Dialectic of the Flesh by Roz Kaveney

Roz Kaveney’s poems are well worth a read, and Dialectic of the Flesh is a lovely expedition of queer and trans existence through verse.

40 Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown

An essential lesbian coming-of-age story, Rubyfruit Jungle is a novelised telling of Rita Mae Brown’s own experiences as a young lesbian leaving house and setting out as a filmmaker.


As I discussed at the start of this post, feminism is such a big and wide-ranging subject that this list just comprises a portion of the terrific feminist books out there.

Fortunately, Reserve Riot has plenty more suggestions– have a check out 10 Current Nonfiction Books About Feminism, or 10 Feminist Books to Assist Take Apart the Patriarchy And if you want to talk feminist books with fellow readers, why not join Schedule Riot’s Instagram-based feminist book club, Persist?

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