Women have released some superbly empowering books this year, and in this article we've combined some of these new-release feminist reads with older feminist classics, alongside some thoughts on choosing your new title.
Celebrate gender equality and women's achievements, examine the myth of beauty and the links between feminism and capitalism through our picks of the 10 best feminist books you can buy from sites like eBay and Amazon. We've included novels, essay and poetry collections, audiobook compatible titles and more from a range of inspirational authors.
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Table of Contents
Choosing a feminist book is tough and narrowing it down to just ten was no easy task! Of course there are countless feminist books you can enjoy over a lifetime, so we hope our buying guide will be useful even after you've read the ten we've selected for this particular list.
Books based in fact are also great for academic studies, personal research or to help you make a point during feminist discussions.
For the best of both, try memoirs and fictionalised accounts of true stories. They often balance the realism of non-fiction with the emotional appeal of a novel, and are a particularly interesting read if you don't identify as a woman yourself but want to read about life from a new perspective to enrich your own understanding of feminist values.
Whatever your background, it's always great to flesh out your understanding of feminism by reading books about women with varied life stories.
Whatever your race, look out for books from Black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, Latina and Middle Eastern women, as well as making sure the feminist books you read by white authors are open minded and inclusive.
It's also worthwhile to consider books by transgender women, disabled authors, women from a variety of faiths and body types, and working class writers, as these intersections are sometimes drowned out by other voices which dominate mainstream feminism.
Take a look at the publication date of the books you're browsing, for an idea of the kind of perspective the author may have had. Books published in the 1980s and 1990s will have a different approach to feminism than, say, ones that came out last year.
We've mainly stuck to newer books in our countdown, with a few older ones thrown in for good measure. While older books help you to build context for current issues, modern texts will tend to be more relevant, in terms of their references and the example situations they look at.
The final consideration to have in mind when shopping online for feminist books is the format most compatible with your needs as a reader. Below we've introduced the four main ways you can enjoy a book and the benefits and drawbacks of each.
Hardcover books are sturdy and strong, look aesthetically-pleasing on your shelf or coffee table and can serve as statement gifts. They do tend to be on the heavy side though, and aren't as flexible which makes reading them a tad more strenuous than paperbacks.
The key benefit of a paperback is obviously the fact that it will weigh less and can be bent back on itself with minimal damage, making it extra easy to read wherever you are, and to pass on to others. Paperbacks tend to get damaged and become threadbare easily, but if you like the look of a well-worn book that won't be a downside for you!
If holding an actual book isn't your jam, why not try an eBook or an audio version read by a narrator? The good thing about eBooks are you can store hundreds of feminist titles all in one handy tablet or eReader. The bad news in that if you're trying to reduce your screen time, eBooks really don't help.
Another great option is an audiobook where you actually have the story read to you by the author or an actor. It's not quite the same as reading, but you can enjoy feminist texts and hear powerful, poignant stories from women/womxn while you're driving or at the gym!
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Girl, Woman, Other
A Clever Novel Examining 12 Lives in Vivid Detail
Women Don't Owe You Pretty
The Bold Voice of a Generation
It's Not About the Burqa: Muslim Women on Faith, Feminism, Sexuality and Race
Frank Essays From Muslim Women on a Variety of Topics
If I Had Your Face
A Fascinating Look at the Pressures on Modern Young Women
Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women White Feminists Forgot
A Critique on White Feminism and the Oppression of Some Womxn by Others
Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive
A More Inclusive Approach to Sexism, Sexuality and Gender
A Necessary Book Packed With Brilliantly Articulated Insights
The Dreamily Written Memoir of One of Britain's Most Acclaimed British Artists
Caroline Criado Perez
Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men
A Scandalous Data Bias That Influences Our Daily Lives
The Beauty Myth
A Groundbreaking Takedown of the Oppressive Pursuit of Physical Perfection
Looking at the stories of Black, mixed race and white women this book celebrates lesbian pride, dissects performative wokeness, examines infidelity and explores abusive relationships. It honours grandmothers who give their non-binary, transgender grandchildren unfaltering respect and love, despite not always understanding.
The joint Winner of the 2019 Booker Prize, it takes us across a hundred years and around various corners of the UK and the world, celebrating women with varied interests, dreams, regrets and hopes. A good fun, warm-hearted read written in a style both timely and timeless.
Packed with hard-hitting, quotable phrases such as; 'Love Sex, Hate Sexism', 'Maybe it's a Girl Crush, Maybe You're Queer' and 'It's a Wonderful Day to Dump Them' this book acts as a manifesto for looking outside your own privilege, ditching relationships that don't serve you and celebrating your self worth as a woman, trans woman or non-binary person.
Not only is it great fun to read, it's also peppered with Florence's sassy illustrations. At 20 years old she's the youngest author on our list, and her message is clear; feminism must be inclusive and women/womxn owe beauty and grace to absolutely no one. A gorgeous gift and a book you'll refer to again and again.
Full of thoughtful, witty essays on life as a Muslim woman, this book is not only moving and uplifting but pretty blinking hilarious in places too. Amplifying the voices of seventeen women who follow the Islamic faith, this critically-acclaimed book is a must read, as it's so rarely that Muslim women's voices are central to a mainstream feminist narrative.
Presenting stories from British women as well as those living across the world, It's Not About the Burqa looks at issues like arranged marriages, wavering faith, decisions about wearing the hijab and feminist icons in the Islamic community. A bold rejection of the Islamophobia that has been prevalent in the UK for many years, and a joyous and life-affirming read.
This book has had a great deal of buzz around it in 2020 for good reason. It tells the interweaving stories of four women living in modern-day South Korea and examines themes of status, wealth, beauty, pregnancy and infatuation to name a few. It's a quick read and hard to put down.
Cleverly written and superbly relevant to the current era of keeping up appearances and cutthroat competition, this book is perfect for readers who like to digest feminist issues through fictional characters and their life experiences. It's also a fantastic portrait of contemporary Seoul.
This is an excellent read because it deals with significant issues using humour and irony to great effect. Mikki Kendall brings together arguments about the whitewashing of the feminist movement we see all too often, and looks hard at how race, physical ability, class and sexuality all intersect with the issue of gender.
Here you'll learn about food insecurity and how it disproportionately affects black women and women of colour, how the living wage is harsher on those same women, and how high-publicity feminist campaigns often oppress women who should be celebrated within the movement. A favourite with critics and rightly so.
Julia Serano, who is a femme, bisexual trans woman, writes brilliantly and stirringly on a range of topics. This book aims to document the kinds of exclusion prevalent in the world of contemporary feminism and examines the stereotypes and assumptions associated with sexuality and gender.
Advocating for a novel approach to feminism and equality, Julia suggests ways we can all fight sexism without excluding certain stories and voices from the narrative. An excellent read, and an important book to ensure our understanding of feminism is well-rounded and diverse.
If you're looking for a book which gives a voice to women who don't fall into the centre of the privilege Venn diagram, Audre Lorde's Sister Outsider is a top pick. It is a collection of interviews, speeches, letters and essays from one of Black feminism's most inspiring voices.
Reading this book draws attention to the inequalities within modern feminism – where the loudest voices have often been those of white women. Audre Lorde's poetry and erotic musings, along with her explorations of friendship, sexuality and race make this essential reading for feminists of any background.
We recommend Tracey Emin's memoir, Strangeland, because it is easy and joyful to read, beautifully written and covers a range of topics which affect women of varied backgrounds; including rape and sexual assault, love, adventure and abortion.
Feminism far too often overlooks working class voices, and while this book isn't the most recently published on our list, its message is still relatable today, with Emin bringing to life her Margate childhood in the 1970s, the Turkish village where she spent part of her youth, and bustling London where she made her fortune. A powerful voice which rebels against 'feminine' norms.
What we love about this book is the fact that it has so many handy, memorable statistics that you can impress (no, sorry, stun) your friends with once you've read it. The book is clearly presented, easy to follow and hits its message home without mincing any words.
Caroline Criado Perez has brought together a comprehensive collection of data that proves inequality between the genders is all around us. From the size of the average smartphone to the non-existent crash test dummies with female proportions, this book opens our eyes to the imbalanced world around us.
This book is a real life-changer for anyone who identifies as a woman. It breaks apart the belief that women of all kinds owe physical beauty to men and the world in general. This easy-to-read and quotable book is perfect for you if you want bite-sized, perspective-shifting feminism.
Available as a (practically) pocket-sized paperback, Naomi Wolf's groundbreaking book was first published in 1990 but its message – that beauty is simply a capitalist tool to oppress and control women – is as vital and valuable today as it was then. A liberating and emboldening read.
If you are on the hunt for more interesting and educational books, we have some great suggestions for you. Take a look at the links below for inspiration that will help you fill your bookshelves and expand your knowledge in one go!
That brings us to the end of our article on the best feminist books you can read this year. We hope you've discovered some great reads which celebrate the achievements of women from all backgrounds and help you better understand the importance of equality in every area of life.
Author: Annie Hopkins
No. 1: Bernadine Evaristo｜Girl, Woman, Other
No. 2: Florence Given｜Women Don't Owe You Pretty
No. 3: Mariam Khan ｜It's Not About the Burqa: Muslim Women on Faith, Feminism, Sexuality and Race
No. 4: Frances Cha｜If I Had Your Face
No. 5: Mikki Kendall｜Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women White Feminists Forgot
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