100 Books for People who Loved (and Miss) Sassy Magazine

If you’re a woman (or man, but mostly women) over a certain age, you likely remember Sassy magazine. It was sort of like the “anti-Seventeen.” Headed by Jane Pratt (who later created xojane), it was the alternative teen magazine in the late ’80s-mid ’90s. It featured girls of diverse ethnicities and body types in its photo shoots, ran articles about incest, suicide, armpit hair, smashing the patriarchy, bands like Nirvana (before they were a household name), and zines. They had an annual “Sassiest Girl in America” contest, and an annual reader-produced issue. They were sex-positive, body-positive, and whether you were a geek, misfit, jock, differently-abled – anything; you could feel at home with Sassy.

Here’s a round-up of books that reminded me of Sassy mag, or books I imagine a fellow Sassy-reader would love. Obviously, this is far from all-inclusive, and if you have your favorites, I’d love to hear about them. These are in no particular order, and I’ve notated fiction with an asterisk (*), and books that are forthcoming with two asterisks (**).

  1. * Zipper Mouth by Laurie Weeks: “In this extraordinary debut novel, Laurie Weeks captures the freedom and longing of life on the edge in New York City. Ranting letters to Judy Davis and Sylvia Plath, an unrequited fixation on a straight best friend, exalted nightclub epiphanies, devastating morning-after hangovers—Zipper Mouth chronicles the exuberance and mortification of a junkie, and transcends the chaos of everyday life.”
  2. * How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran: “It’s 1990. Johanna Morrigan, fourteen, has shamed herself so badly on local TV that she decides that there’s no point in being Johanna anymore and reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde—fast-talking, hard-drinking Gothic hero and full-time Lady Sex Adventurer. She will save her poverty-stricken Bohemian family by becoming a writer—like Jo in Little Women, or the Bröntes—but without the dying young bit.”
  3. Sex Object: A Memoir by Jessica Valenti: “Valenti explores the toll that sexism takes on women’s lives, from the everyday to the existential. From subway gropings and imposter syndrome to sexual awakenings and motherhood, Sex Objectreveals the painful, embarrassing, and sometimes illegal moments that shaped Valenti’s adolescence and young adulthood in New York City.
  4. The Geek Feminist Revolution: Essays by Kameron Hurley: “The book collects dozens of Hurley’s essays on feminism, geek culture, and her experiences and insights as a genre writer, including “We Have Always Fought,” which won the 2013 Hugo for Best Related Work.”
  5. ** When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon: “A laugh-out-loud, heartfelt YA romantic comedy, told in alternating perspectives, about two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged for them to be married.”
  6. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur: This book of poetry is a small package of brilliance; gorgeous words and writing about femininity, trauma, love, loss, and rebuilding.
  7. Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay: “In these funny and insightful essays, Roxane Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman (Sweet Valley High) of color (The Help) while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years (Girls, Django in Chains) and commenting on the state of feminism today (abortion, Chris Brown). The portrait that emerges is not only one of an incredibly insightful woman continually growing to understand herself and our society, but also one of our culture.”
  8. * The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas: Some people call this “the Black Lives Matter book.” A vivid, much-needed story about unnecessary police violence and the lives it destroys.
  9. * Girl by Blake Nelson: “Meet Andrea Marr, straight-A high school student, thrift-store addict, and princess of the downtown music scene. Andrea is about to experience her first love, first time, and first step outside the comfort zone of high school, with the help of indie rock band The Color Green.”
  10. * Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman: “By turns a shocking story of love and violence and an addictive portrait of the intoxication of female friendship, set against the unsettled backdrop of a town gripped by moral panic, Girls on Fire is an unflinching and unforgettable snapshot of girlhood: girls lost and found, girls strong and weak, girls who burn bright and brighter—and some who flicker away.”
  11. Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde: “Presenting the essential writings of black lesbian poet and feminist writer Audre Lorde, SISTER OUTSIDER celebrates an influential voice in twentieth-century literature. In this charged collection of fifteen essays and speeches, Lorde takes on sexism, racism, ageism, homophobia, and class, and propounds social difference as a vehicle for action and change. Her prose is incisive, unflinching, and lyrical, reflecting struggle but ultimately offering messages of hope.”
  12. ** Geekerella: A Fangirl Fairy Tale by Ashley Poston: “Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom.”
  13. The Feminist Utopia Project: Fifty-Seven Visions of a Wildly Better Future by Alexandra Brodsky and Rachel Kauder Nalebuff: “Combining essays, interviews, poetry, illustrations, and short stories, The Feminist Utopia Project challenges the status quo that accepts inequality and violence as a given—and inspires us to demand a radically better future.”
  14. How Sassy Changed My Life: A Love Letter to the Greatest Teen Magazine of All Time by Kara Jesella and Marissa Meltzer: “How Sassy Changed My Life will present for the first time the inside story of the magazine’s rise and fall while celebrating its unique vision and lasting impact. Through interviews with the staff, columnists, and favorite personalities we are brought behind the scenes from its launch to its final issue and witness its unique fusion of feminism and femininity, its frank commentary on taboo topics like teen sex and suicide, its battles with advertisers and the religious right, and the ascension of its writers from anonymous staffers to celebrities in their own right.”
  15. Girl Power: Young Women Speak Out! by Hillary Carlip: “Carlip illuminates the worries, hopes, dreams and experiences of girls ages 13 to 19, through their stories, poems, letters and notes. Their voices come from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives–cowgals, lesbians, teen mothers, sorority sisters and girls in gangs–and reveal the depth, vulnerability, wisdom and power of the writers.”
  16. Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein: “With deft, lucid prose Brownstein proves herself as formidable on the page as on the stage. Accessibly raw, honest and heartfelt, this book captures the experience of being a young woman, a born performer and an outsider, and ultimately finding one’s true calling through hard work, courage and the intoxicating power of rock and roll.”
  17. * Violet & Claire by Francesca Lia Block: “This is the story of two girls, racing through space like shadow and light. A photo negative, together they make the perfect image of a girl. Violet is the dark one, dressed in forever black, dreaming Technicolor dreams of spinning the world into her very own silver screen creation. Claire is like a real-life Tinker Bell, radiating love and light, dressing herself in wings of gauze and glitter, writing poems to keep away the darkness. The setting is L.A., a city as beautiful as it is dangerous, and within this landscape of beauty and pain Violet and Claire vow to make their own movie. Together they will show the world the way they want it to be, and maybe then the world will become that place–a place where people no longer hate or fight or want to hurt. But when desire and ambition threaten to rip a seamless friendship apart, only one thing can make two halves whole again–the power of love.”
  18. * Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero: “Gabi Hernandez chronicles her last year in high school in her diary: college applications, Cindy’s pregnancy, Sebastian’s coming out, the cute boys, her father’s meth habit, and the food she craves. And best of all, the poetry that helps forge her identity.”
  19. Honor Girl: A Graphic Memoir by Maggie Thrash: “Maggie Thrash has spent basically every summer of her fifteen-year-old life at the one-hundred-year-old Camp Bellflower for Girls, set deep in the heart of Appalachia. She’s from Atlanta, she’s never kissed a guy, she’s into Backstreet Boys in a really deep way, and her long summer days are full of a pleasant, peaceful nothing . . . until one confounding moment.”
  20. Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine: “Claudia Rankine’s bold new book recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media. Some of these encounters are slights, seeming slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV-everywhere, all the time. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person’s ability to speak, perform, and stay alive. Our addressability is tied to the state of our belonging, Rankine argues, as are our assumptions and expectations of citizenship. In essay, image, and poetry, Citizen is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in our contemporary, often named “post-race” society.”
  21. * Lizard Radio by Pat Schmatz: “Fifteen-year-old bender Kivali has had a rough time in a gender-rigid culture. Abandoned as a baby and raised by Sheila, an ardent nonconformist, Kivali has always been surrounded by uncertainty. Where did she come from? Is it true what Sheila says, that she was deposited on Earth by the mysterious saurians? What are you? people ask, and Kivali isn’t sure. Boy/girl? Human/lizard? Both/neither?”
  22. In Her Own Sweet Time: Egg Freezing and the New Frontiers of Family (2nd Ed) by Rachel Lehman-Haupt: “This trailblazing memoir examines the trials―and modern scientific solutions―of balancing career and love with the realities of reproductive timing. Women are making massive strides in gender equality, edging out men as the new majority in the workforce. But, because of their brief window for childbearing, this also means a drastically shifting paradigm for motherhood and family planning. In this 2nd edition, Lehmann-Haupt has updated the inspiring, honest account of her own efforts to reconcile modern love and modern life with the latest medical research.”
  23. Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture by Peggy Orenstein: “The rise of the girlie-girl, warns Peggy Orenstein, is no innocent phenomenon. Following her acclaimed books Flux, Schoolgirls, and the provocative New York Times bestseller Waiting for Daisy, Orenstein’s Cinderella Ate My Daughter offers a radical, timely wake-up call for parents, revealing the dark side of a pretty and pink culture confronting girls at every turn as they grow into adults.”
  24. * Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy: “Dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom, Willowdean has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked…until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she issurprised when he seems to like her back. Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any girl does.”
  25. Yes Means Yes!: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape by Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti: “Yes Means Yes aims to have radical and far-reaching effects: from teaching men to treat women as collaborators and not conquests, encouraging men and women that women can enjoy sex instead of being shamed for it, and ultimately, that our children can inherit a world where rape is rare and swiftly punished.”
  26. * Dora: A Headcase by Lidia Yuknavitch: “Dora: A Headcase is a contemporary coming-of-age story based on Freud’s famous case study—retold and revamped through Dora’s point of view, with shotgun blasts of dark humor and sexual play.”
  27. ** Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu: “Viv’s mom was a tough-as-nails, punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, and now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. As Viv forges friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.”
  28. Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West: “Coming of age in a culture that demands women be as small, quiet, and compliant as possible–like a porcelain dove that will also have sex with you–writer and humorist Lindy West quickly discovered that she was anything but. From a painfully shy childhood in which she tried, unsuccessfully, to hide her big body and even bigger opinions; to her public war with stand-up comedians over rape jokes; to her struggle to convince herself, and then the world, that fat people have value; to her accidental activism and never-ending battle royale with Internet trolls, Lindy narrates her life with a blend of humor and pathos that manages to make a trip to the abortion clinic funny and wring tears out of a story about diarrhea.”
  29. Just Kids by Patti Smith: “An honest and moving story of youth and friendship, Smith brings the same unique, lyrical quality to Just Kids as she has to the rest of her formidable body of work—from her influential 1975 album Horses to her visual art and poetry.”
  30. Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski: “Researchers have spent the last decade trying to develop a “pink pill” for women to function like Viagra does for men. So where is it? Well, for reasons this book makes crystal clear, that pill will never be the answer—but as a result of the research that’s gone into it, scientists in the last few years have learned more about how women’s sexuality works than we ever thought possible, and Come as You Are explains it all.”
  31. * The DUFF by Kody Keplinger: “Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper may not be the prettiest girl in her high school, but she has a loyal group of friends, a biting wit, and a spot-on BS detector. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush, who calls Bianca the Duff–the designated ugly fat friend–of her crew. But things aren’t so great at home and Bianca, desperate for a distraction, ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him. Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.”
  32. * Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde: “Charlie likes to stand out. She’s a vlogger and actress promoting her first movie at SupaCon, and this is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star Reese Ryan. When internetfamous cool-girl actress Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought. Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with her best guy friend Jamie―no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about a fan contest for her favorite fandom, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.
  1. We Were Feminists Once by Andi Zeisler: “…a founding editor of Bitch Media, draws on more than twenty years’ experience interpreting popular culture in this biting history of how feminism has been co-opted, watered down, and turned into a gyratory media trend. Surveying movies, television, advertising, fashion, and more, Zeisler reveals a media landscape brimming with the language of empowerment, but offering little in the way of transformational change.”
  2. Girl in a Band: A Memoir by Kim Gordon: “Gordon takes us back to the lost New York of the 1980s and ’90s that gave rise to Sonic Youth, and the Alternative revolution in popular music. The band helped build a vocabulary of music—paving the way for Nirvana, Hole, Smashing Pumpkins and many other acts. But at its core, Girl in a Band examines the route from girl to woman in uncharted territory, music, art career, what partnership means—and what happens when that identity dissolves.”
  3. Crafting with Feminism: 25 Girl-Powered Projects to Smash the Patriarchy by Bonnie Burton: “This is what a feminist crafter looks like! Crafting with Feminism features 25 irreverent and easy-to-make projects that celebrate everything that rocks about girls, gals, and badass women. Wear your ideology on your sleeve by creating fierce custom merit badges. Prove that the political is personal with DIY power panties. Get cozy with a handmade Huggable Uterus Body Pillow, or craft heroine finger puppets to honor great women like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Frida Kahlo, and bell hooks. Featuring tips on everything from beginner sewing stitches to building a kickin’ party playlist, and a totally empowering forward from “Queen of Geeks” Felicia Day, this book has everything you need for an awesome crafternoon.”
  4. A Body, Undone: Living On After Great Pain by Christina Crosby: “In A Body, Undone, Crosby puts into words a broken body that seems beyond the reach of language and understanding. She writes about a body shot through with neurological pain, disoriented in time and space, incapacitated by paralysis and deadened sensation. To address this foreign body, she calls upon the readerly pleasures of narrative, critical feminist and queer thinking, and the concentrated language of lyric poetry. Working with these resources, she recalls her 1950s tomboy ways in small-town, rural Pennsylvania, and records growing into the 1970s through radical feminism and the affirmations of gay liberation.”
  5. Stitch n’ Bitch: The Knitter’s Handbook by Debbie Stoller: “In Stitch ‘n Bitch, Debbie Stoller-founder of the first Stitch ‘n Bitch knitting group in New York City-covers every aspect of knitting and the knitting-together lifestyle: the how-to, the when-to, the what-to, the why-to. Writing with wit and attitude (The Knitty-Gritty, Blocking for Blockheads), she explains the different types of needles and yarns (and sheep, too) and all the techniques from basic to fancy, knit to purl to cast-off. She also shares her special brand of corrective surgery for when things go wrong, and offers fun and informative sidebars on such topics as how to find the best yarn for less, how to make a buttonhole, knitting etiquette, and what tools to keep in your knitting bag.”
  6. May Cause Love: An Unexpected Journey of Enlightenment after Abortion by Kassi Underwood: “At age nineteen, Kassi Underwood discovered she was pregnant. Broke, unwed, struggling with alcohol, and living a thousand miles away from home, she checked into an abortion clinic. While her abortion sparked her “feminist awakening,” she also felt lost and lawless, drinking to oblivion and talking about her pregnancy with her parents, her friends, strangers-anyone. Three years later, just when she had settled into a sober life at her dream job, the ex-boyfriend with whom she had become pregnant had a baby with someone else. She shattered. In the depths of a blinding depression, Kassi refused to believe that she would “never get over” her abortion. Inspired by rebellious women in history who used spiritual practices to attain emotional freedom, Kassi embarked on a journey of recovery after abortion…”
  7. * The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera: “Pretty in Pink comes to the South Bronx in this bold and romantic coming-of-age novel about dysfunctional families, good and bad choices, and finding the courage to question everything you ever thought you wanted—from debut author Lilliam Rivera.”
  8. You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson: “Using her trademark wit alongside pop-culture references galore, Robinson explores everything from why Lisa Bonet is “Queen. Bae. Jesus,” to breaking down the terrible nature of casting calls, to giving her less-than-traditional advice to the future female president, and demanding that the NFL clean up its act, all told in the same conversational voice that launched her podcast, 2 Dope Queens, to the top spot on iTunes.”
  9. Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive by Julia Serrano: “As a trans woman, bisexual, and femme activist, Julia Serano has spent much of the last ten years challenging various forms of exclusion within feminist and queer/LGBTQ movements. In Excluded, she chronicles many of these instances of exclusion and argues that marginalizing others often stems from a handful of assumptions that are routinely made about gender and sexuality. These false assumptions infect theories, activism, organizations, and communities—and worse, they enable people to vigorously protest certain forms of sexism while simultaneously ignoring and even perpetuating others. Serano advocates for a new approach to fighting sexism that avoids these pitfalls and offers new ways of thinking about gender, sexuality, and sexism that foster inclusivity rather than exclusivity.”
  10. The Essential Hip Mama: Writing from the Cutting Edge of Parenting by Ariel Gore: “The Essential Hip Mama captures the heart of a decade’s worth of earthy, honest, soulful parenting—and topics from circumcision to dating, abortion to the belief that “mothers don’t fart.” Gore has gathered in one volume the whispers and conversations heard in homes, on playgrounds, and in coffeehouses around the country.”
  11. Pussy Riot!: A Punk Prayer for Freedom by Pussy Riot: “On February 21, 2012, five members of a Russian feminist punk collective Pussy Riot staged a performance in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow. Dressed in brightly colored tights and balaclavas, they performed their punk prayer, asking the Virgin Mary to drive out Russian president Vladimir Putin from the church. After just forty seconds, they were chased out by security. Three members of the collective, Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, known as Masha, Nadya, and Katya, were later arrested and charged with felony hooliganism motivated by religious hatred. As their trial unfolded, these young women became global feminist icons, garnering the attention and support of activists and artists around the world.”
  12. ** Double Bind: Women on Ambition by Robin Romm: “Even as toweringly successful women from Gloria Steinem to Beyoncé embrace the word “feminism,” the word “ambition,” for many, remains loaded with ambivalence. Women who are naturally driven and goal-oriented shy away from it. They’re loath to see themselves―or be seen by others―as aggressive or, worst of all, as a bitch. Double Bind could not come at a more urgent time, a necessary collection that explodes this conflict, examining the concept of female ambition from every angle in essays full of insight, wisdom, humor, and rage.”
  13. * Done Dirt Cheap by Sarah Lemon: “Tourmaline Harris’s life hit pause at fifteen, when her mom went to prison because of Tourmaline’s unintentionally damning testimony. But at eighteen, her home life is stable, and she has a strong relationship with her father, the president of a local biker club known as the Wardens. Virginia Campbell’s life hit fast-forward at fifteen, when her mom “sold” her into the services of Hazard, a powerful attorney: a man for whom the law is merely a suggestion. When Hazard sets his sights on dismantling the Wardens, he sends in Virginia, who has every intention of selling out the club—and Tourmaline. But the two girls are stronger than the circumstances that brought them together, and their resilience defines the friendship at the heart of this powerful debut novel.”
  14. How to Grow Up: A Memoir by Michelle Tea: “In How to Grow Up, Tea shares her awkward stumble towards the life of a Bona Fide Grown-Up: healthy, responsible, self-aware, and stable. She writes about passion, about her fraught relationship with money, about adoring Barney’s while shopping at thrift stores, about breakups and the fertile ground between relationships, about roommates and rent, and about being superstitious (“why not, it imbues this harsh world of ours with a bit of magic”).”
  15. * Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol: “Anya could really use a friend. But her new BFF isn’t kidding about the “forever” part . . .
    Of all the things Anya expected to find at the bottom of an old well, a new friend was not one of them. Especially not a new friend who’s been dead for a century. Falling down a well is bad enough, but Anya’s normal life might actually be worse. She’s embarrassed by her family, self-conscious about her body, and she’s pretty much given up on fitting in at school. A new friend―even a ghost―is just what she needs. Or so she thinks.”
  16. Rat Girl: A Memoir by Kristin Hersh: “In 1985, Kristin Hersh was just starting to find her place in the world. After leaving home at the age of fifteen, the precocious child of unconventional hippies had enrolled in college while her band, Throwing Muses, was getting off the ground amid rumors of a major label deal. Then everything changed: she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and found herself in an emotional tailspin; she started medication, but then discovered she was pregnant. An intensely personal and moving account of that pivotal year, Rat Girl is sure to be greeted eagerly by Hersh’s many fans.”
  17. Fury: True Tales of a Good Girl Gone Ballistic by Koren Zailckas. “Without alcohol to blur her perspective, Koren finds that her good-girl personality is nothing more than a shroud for unacknowledged anger with the potential to wreak havoc on her life. A sophisticated and deeply personal chronicle, Fury hits a cultural nerve. Blazing a trail toward a healthy, empowered identity, Zailckas will astonish and free a generation of young women.”
  18. * Downer’s Grove by Michael Hornburg: “Downers Grove is the haunting and tender story of Chrissie Swanson, a paranoid high school senior for whom graduating has become a matter of life or death. She’s an unusual girl in an ordinary town. Her mother’s sex life is overshadowing her own; her brother is aboard his own private Enterprise, slipping into one black hole after another; her best friend is hornier than a Prince song; leaving her eccentric grandmother as the only source of wisdom in a rapid downward spiral. As Chrissie tries to take control of the events that shape her life, she finds the events beginning to take control of her, until she is finally cornered by choices with everlasting consequences.”
  19. * Paper Girls, Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughn and Cliff Chiang: “In the early hours after Halloween of 1988, four 12-year-old newspaper delivery girls uncover the most important story of all time. Suburban drama and otherworldly mysteries collide in this smash-hit series about nostalgia, first jobs, and the last days of childhood.”
  20. ** What Girls Are Made Of by Elana K. Arnold: “When Nina Faye was fourteen, her mother told her there was no such thing as unconditional love. Nina believed her. Now she’ll do anything for the boy she loves, to prove she’s worthy of him. But when he breaks up with her, Nina is lost. What is she if not a girlfriend? What is she made of? Broken-hearted, Nina tries to figure out what the conditions of love are.”
  21. Negroland: A Memoir by Margo Jefferson: “At once incendiary and icy, mischievous and provocative, celebratory and elegiac, Negroland is a landmark work on privilege, discrimination, and the fallacy of post-racial America.”
  22. The Feminist Activity Book by Gemma Correll: “The Feminist Activity Book has everything you need to usher in an era of colorful and intersectional joy. Featuring such activities as Feminist All-Star Trading Cards, Destroy the Page-Triarchy, Sexist Social Media Bingo, and A Feminist ABC, The Feminist Activity Book will fuel your feminist rage, remind you to laugh once in awhile, and bring you one step closer to an egalitarian utopia, or whatever.”
  23. ** Post Grad: Five Women and Their First Year Out of College by Caroline Kitchener: “What really happens in the first year out of college? When Caroline Kitchener graduated from Princeton, she began shadowing four of her female classmates, interviewing them as they started to navigate the murky waters of post-collegiate life. Weaving together her own experience as a writer with the experiences of these other women—a documentarian, a singer, a programmer, and an aspiring doctor—Kitchener delves deeply into the personal and professional opportunities offered to female college graduates, and how the world perceives them.”
  24. I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual by Luvvie Ajayi: “…Luvvie Ajayi is a go-to source for smart takes on pop culture. I’m Judging You is her debut book of humorous essays that dissects our cultural obsessions and calls out bad behavior in our increasingly digital, connected lives. It passes on lessons and side-eyes on life, social media, culture, and fame, from addressing those terrible friends we all have to serious discussions of race and media representation to what to do about your fool cousin sharing casket pictures from Grandma’s wake on Facebook.”
  25. Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World by Kelly Jensen: Even if she weren’t a fellow Rioter, I’d put this on the list. Jensen compiled 44 of the coolest people to talk about feminism today – it’s sort of like a scrapbook of awesomeness.
  26. * Zazen by Vanessa Veselka: “Somewhere in Della’s consumptive, industrial wasteland of a city, a bomb goes off. It is not the first, and will not be the last. Reactions to the attacks are polarized. Police activity intensifies. Della’s revolutionary parents welcome the upheaval but are trapped within their own insular beliefs. Her activist restaurant co-workers, who would rather change their identities than the world around them, resume a shallow rebellion of hair-dye, sex parties, and self-absorption. As those bombs keep inching closer, thudding deep and real between the sounds of katydids fluttering in the still of the city night, and the destruction begins to excite her. What begins as terror threats called in to greasy bro-bars across the block boils over into a desperate plot, intoxicating and captivating Della and leaving her little chance for escape.”
  27. * The First Bad Man by Miranda July: “…Miranda July tells the story of Cheryl, a vulnerable, uptight woman in her early forties who lives alone, with a perpetual lump in her throat, unable to cry. Cheryl is haunted by a baby boy she met when she was six; she also believes she has a profound connection with Phillip, a philandering board member at Open Palm, the women’s self-defense studio where she has worked for twenty years. When Cheryl’s bosses ask if their twenty-one-year-old daughter Clee can move into her house for a little while, Cheryl’s eccentrically ordered world explodes. And yet it is Clee—the selfish, cruel blond bombshell—who teaches Cheryl what it means to love and be loved and, inadvertently, provides the solace of a lifetime.”
  28. * You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner: “When Julia finds a slur about her best friend scrawled across the back of the Kingston School for the Deaf, she covers it up with a beautiful (albeit illegal) graffiti mural. Her supposed best friend snitches, the principal expels her, and her two mothers set Julia up with a one-way ticket to a “mainstream” school in the suburbs, where she’s treated like an outcast as the only deaf student. The last thing she has left is her art, and not even Banksy himself could convince her to give that up.”
  29. Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation by Kate Bornstein and S. Bear Bergman: “…Bornstein, together with writer, raconteur, and theater artist S. Bear Bergman, collects and contextualizes the work of this generation’s trans and genderqueer forward thinkers — new voices from the stage, on the streets, in the workplace, in the bedroom, and on the pages and websites of the world’s most respected mainstream news sources. Gender Outlaws includes essays, commentary, comic art, and conversations from a diverse group of trans-spectrum people who live and believe in barrier-breaking lives.”
  30. Breeder: Real-Life Stories from the New Generation of Mothers by Ariel Gore and Bee Lavender: “In this ground-breaking anthology, Ariel Gore and Bee Lavender ask real moms — from Web site designers to tattoo-clad waitresses — to laugh, cry, scream, and shout about motherhood.”
  31. Whip Smart: The True Story of a Secret Life by Melissa Febos: “While a college student at The New School, Melissa Febos spent four years working as a dominatrix in a midtown dungeon. In poetic, nuanced prose she charts how unchecked risk-taking eventually gave way to a course of self-destruction. But as she recounts crossing over the very boundaries that she set for her own safety, she never plays the victim. In fact, the glory of this memoir is Melissa’s ability to illuminate the strange and powerful truths that she learned as she found her way out of a hell of her own making.”
  32. Carry this Book by Abbi Jacobson: “With bright, quirky, and colorful line drawings, Jacobson brings to life actual and imagined items found in the pockets and purses, bags and glove compartments of real and fantastical people—whether it’s the contents of Oprah’s favorite purse, Amelia Earhart’s pencil case, or Bernie Madoff’s suitcase. “
  33. * Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson: “Jesus’ Son is a visionary chronicle of dreamers, addicts, and lost souls. These stories tell of spiraling grief and transcendence, of rock bottom and redemption, of getting lost and found and lost again. The raw beauty and careening energy of Denis Johnson’s prose has earned this book a place among the classics of twentieth-century American literature.”
  34. * Anthropology of an American Girl: A Novel by Hilary Thayer Hamann: “This is what it’s like to be a high-school-age girl. To forsake the boyfriend you once adored. To meet the love of your life, who just happens to be your teacher. To discover for the first time the power of your body and mind. This is what it’s like to be a college-age woman. To live through heartbreak. To suffer the consequences of your choices. To depend on others for survival but to have no one to trust but yourself.”
  35. The Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook by Issa Chandra Moskowitz: “Gone are the days of stressing over how to please family and friends with different dietary needs. Bursting with knock-your-socks-off, mind-bogglingly tasty vegan recipes for Cinnamon Apple Crepes, Cheeseburger Pizza, Biscuits and Gravy, Churro Biscotti, and so much more, The Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook will make everyone at your table happy-even meat eaters and the gluten challenged.”
  36. Girl Zines: Making Media, Doing Feminism by Alison Piepmeier: “With names like The East Village Inky, Mend My Dress, Dear Stepdad, and I’m So Fucking Beautiful, zines created by girls and women over the past two decades make feminism’s third wave visible. These messy, photocopied do-it-yourself documents cover every imaginable subject matter and are loaded with handwriting, collage art, stickers, and glitter. Though they all reflect the personal style of the creators, they are also sites for constructing narratives, identities, and communities.”
  37. **  Bitch Doctrine: Essays for Dissenting Adults by Laurie Penny: “Smart and provocative, witty and uncompromising, this collection of Laurie Penny’s celebrated essays establishes her as one of the most important and vibrant feminist voices of our time. From the shock of Donald Trump’s election and the victories of the far right to online harassment and the transgender rights movement, this darkly humorous collection is an unflinching look at the definitive issues of our age.”
  38. Dirty River: A Queer Femme of Color Dreaming her Way Home by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha: “In 1996, poet Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha ran away from America with two backpacks and ended up in Canada, where she discovered queer anarchopunk love and revolution, yet remained haunted by the reasons she left home in the first place. This passionate and riveting memoir is a mixtape of dreams and nightmares, of immigration court lineups and queer South Asian dance nights; it reveals how a disabled queer woman of color and abuse survivor navigates the dirty river of the past and, as the subtitle suggests, ‘dreams her way home.’ “
  39. Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines by Alexis Pauline Gumbs: “[This] is an anthology that centers mothers of color and marginalized mothers’ voices—women who are in a world of necessary transformation. The challenges faced by movements working for antiviolence, anti-imperialist, and queer liberation, as well as racial, economic, reproductive, gender, and food justice are the same challenges that marginalized mothers face every day. Motivated to create spaces for this discourse because of the authors’ passionate belief in the power of a radical conversation about mothering, they have become the go-to people for cutting-edge inspired work on this topic for an overlapping committed audience of activists, scholars, and writers. Revolutionary Mothering is a movement-shifting anthology committed to birthing new worlds, full of faith and hope for what we can raise up together.”
  40. * Lumberjanes: Volume 1: Beware the Kitten Holy by Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis: “Friendship to the max! Jo, April, Mal, Molly and Ripley are five best pals determined to have an awesome summer together…and they’re not gonna let any insane quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way! Not only is it the second title launching in our new BOOM! Box imprint but LUMBERJANES is one of those punk rock, love-everything-about-it stories that appeals to fans of basically all excellent things. It’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Gravity Falls and features five butt-kicking, rad teenage girls wailing on monsters and solving a mystery with the whole world at stake.”
  41. * Inferno: A Poet’s Novel by Eileen Myles: “Her story of a young female writer, discovering both her sexuality and her own creative drive in the meditative and raucous environment that was New York City in its punk and indie heyday, is engrossing, poignant, and funny. This is a voice from the underground that redefines the meaning of the word.”
  42. Girl Power: The Nineties Revolution in Music by Marisa Meltzer: “[This book] examines the role of women in rock since the riot grrrl revolution, weaving Meltzer’s personal anecdotes with interviews with key players such as Tobi Vail from Bikini Kill and Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls. Chronicling the legacy of artists such as Bratmobile, Sleater-Kinney, Alanis Morissette, Britney Spears, and, yes, the Spice Girls, Girl Power points the way for the future of women in rock.”
  43. Cinderella’s Big Score: Women of the Punk and Indie Underground by Maria Raha: “[This book] celebrates the contributions of punk’s oft-overlooked female artists, explores the latent—and not so latent—sexism of indie rock (so often thought of as the hallowed ground of progressive movements), and tells the story of how these women created spaces for themselves in a sometimes limited or exclusionary environment. The indie music world is littered with females who have not only withstood the racket of punk’s intolerance, but have twisted our societal notions of femininity in knots.”
  44. Her: A Memoir by Christa Parravani: A beautiful, insightful memoir of a lost twin and the downward spiral and journey back up to the living of the remaining twin.
  45. * Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: “Mexico City, 1988: Long before iTunes or MP3s, you said “I love you” with a mixtape. Meche, awkward and fifteen, has two equally unhip friends — Sebastian and Daniela — and a whole lot of vinyl records to keep her company. When she discovers how to cast spells using music, the future looks brighter for the trio. With help from this newfound magic, the three friends will piece together their broken families, change their status as non-entities, and maybe even find love…
    Mexico City, 2009: Two decades after abandoning the metropolis, Meche returns for her estranged father’s funeral. It’s hard enough to cope with her family, but then she runs into Sebastian, and it revives memories from her childhood she thought she buried a long time ago. What really happened back then? What precipitated the bitter falling out with her father? And, is there any magic left?”
  46. Colonize This: Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism by Daisy Hernandez: “Daisy Hernandez of Ms. magazine and poet Bushra Rehman have collected a diverse, lively group of emerging writers who speak to their experience—to the strength and rigidity of community and religion, to borders and divisions, both internal and external—and address issues that take feminism into the twenty-first century.”
  47. The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi: “[This] is the story of Satrapi’s unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution; of the contradictions between private life and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval; of her high school years in Vienna facing the trials of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming–both sweet and terrible; and, finally, of her self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland.”
  48. * Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera: “Juliet Milagros Palante is leaving the Bronx and headed to Portland, Oregon. She just came out to her family and isn’t sure if her mom will ever speak to her again. But Juliet has a plan, sort of, one that’s going to help her figure out this whole “Puerto Rican lesbian” thing. She’s interning with the author of her favorite book: Harlowe Brisbane, the ultimate authority on feminism, women’s bodies, and other gay-sounding stuff. Will Juliet be able to figure out her life over the course of one magical summer? Is that even possible? Or is she running away from all the problems that seem too big to handle?”
  49. * Bitch Planet, Volume 1: Extraordinary Machine by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro: “In a future just a few years down the road in the wrong direction, a woman’s failure to comply with her patriarchal overlords will result in exile to the meanest penal planet in the galaxy. When the newest crop of fresh femmes arrive, can they work together to stay alive or will hidden agendas, crooked guards, and the deadliest sport on (or off!) Earth take them to their maker?”
  50. A Girl’s Guide to Taking Over the World: Writings from the Zine Revolution by Karen Green: “On the forefront of this cut-and-paste revolution have been those zines made specifically by and for young women. The words and images that have come to define many young women’s lives have long been overlooked and under appreciated. A Girl’s Guide to Taking Over the World exists because these voices have refused to be silenced.”
  51. Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution by Sara Marcus: “[This] is the epic, definitive history of the Riot Grrrl movement—the radical feminist punk uprising that exploded into the public eye in the 1990s, altering America’s gender landscape forever. Author Sara Marcus, a music and politics writer for Time Out New York, Slate.com, Pos, and Heeb magazine, interweaves research, interviews, and her own memories as a Riot Grrrl front-liner. Her passionate, sophisticated narrative brilliantly conveys the story of punk bands like Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, Heavens to Betsy—as well as successors like Sleater-Kinney, Partyline, and Kathleen Hanna’s Le Tigre—and their effect on today’s culture.”
  52. Mamaphonic: Balancing Motherhood and Other Creative Acts by Bee Lavender: “Do you have a toddler seat strapped in the back of the tour van? Do you write poetry while the baby naps? Have you discovered that becoming a mother has changed not only your daily life but the content of your creative work? Mamaphonic is an anthology about mothering and the creative process. The book includes confessions and conversations about the true, exhilarating, entertaining, and difficult aspects of remaining creative while raising kids. It’s a smart, sexy, alternately funny and heartbreaking look at balancing art and motherhood, told in the artists’ own words.”
  53. Rookie Yearbook One (or any, really) by Tavi Gevinson: “…we explore breakups, love, feminism, street harassment, being happy, being sad, and other life-related topics.”
  54. The Riot Grrrl Collection by Lisa Darms: “For the past two decades, young women (and men) have found their way to feminism through Riot Grrrl. Against the backdrop of the culture wars and before the rise of the Internet or desktop publishing, the zine and music culture of the Riot Grrrl movement empowered young women across the country to speak out against sexism and oppression, creating a powerful new force of liberation and unity within and outside of the women’s movement. While feminist bands like Bikini Kill and Bratmobile fought for their place in a male-dominated punk scene, their members and fans developed an extensive DIY network of activism and support. The Riot Grrrl Collection reproduces a sampling of the original zines, posters, and printed matter for the first time since their initial distribution in the 1980s and ’90s, and includes an original essay by Johanna Fateman and an introduction by Lisa Darms.”
  55. The Big Feminist But: Comics about Women, Men, and the Ifs, ANDs & BUTs of Feminism by Gabrielle Bell, Ulli Lust, & Jeffrey Brown: A spot-on anthology of comics and writers tackling feminism: what it means to be a feminist, where we are with feminism, and all the BUTs – “I’m not a feminist, BUTTTTT…”
  56. Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love, & So Much More by Janet Mock: “With unflinching honesty and moving prose, Janet Mock relays her experiences of growing up young, multiracial, poor, and trans in America, offering readers accessible language while imparting vital insight about the unique challenges and vulnerabilities of a marginalized and misunderstood population.”
  57. All Our Pretty Songs by Sarah McCarry* All Our Pretty Songs by Sarah McCarry: In the lush and magical Pacific Northwest live two best friends who grew up like sisters: charismatic, mercurial, and beautiful Aurora, and the devoted, watchful narrator. Each of them is incomplete without the other. But their unbreakable bond is challenged when a mysterious and gifted musician named Jack comes between them. Suddenly, each girl must decide what matters most: friendship, or love. What both girls don’t know is that the stakes are even higher than either of them could have imagined. They’re not the only ones who have noticed Jack’s gift; his music has awakened an ancient evil―and a world both above and below which may not be mythical at all.
  58. * Princeless: Save Yourself by Jeremy Whitley: Adrienne Ashe never wanted to be a princess. She hates fancy dinners, is uncomfortable in lavish dresses, and has never wanted to wait on someone else to save her. However, on the night of her 16th-birthday, her parents, the King and Queen, locked her away in a tower guarded by a dragon to await the rescue of some handsome prince. Now Adrienne has decided to take matters into her own hands!
  59. * The Diary of a Teenage Girl (Revised Edition): An Account in Words and Pictures by Phoebe Gloeckner: “After losing her virginity to her mother’s boyfriend, Minnie pursues a string of sexual encounters (with both boys and girls) while experimenting with drugs and developing her talents as an artist. Unsupervised and unguided by her aloof and narcissistic mother, Minnie plunges into a defenseless, yet fearless adolescence. While set in the libertine atmosphere of 1970s San Francisco, Minnie’s journey to understand herself and her world is universal: this is the story of a young woman troubled by the discontinuity between what she thinks and feels and what she observes in those around her.”
  60. Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhik: “An original hybrid of reported narrative, annotated dissents, rare archival photos and documents, and illustrations, the book tells a never-before-told story of an unusual and transformative woman who transcends generational divides.”
  61. ** A Girl Walks Into a Book: What the Brontes Taught Me about Life, Love, and Women’s Work by Miranda K. Pennington: “[This book] is a candid and emotional love affair that braids criticism, biography and literature into a quest that helps us understand the place of literature in our lives; how it affects and inspires us.”
  62. ** One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of this Will Matter: Essays by Scaachi Koul: “Alongside these personal stories are pointed observations about life as a woman of color: where every aspect of her appearance is open for critique, derision, or outright scorn; where strict gender rules bind in both Western and Indian cultures, leaving little room for a woman not solely focused on marriage and children to have a career (and a life) for herself.”
  63. Homeward Bound by Emily Matchar: “A generation of smart, highly educated young people are spending their time knitting, canning jam, baking cupcakes, gardening, and more (and blogging about it, of course), embracing the labor-intensive domestic tasks their mothers and grandmothers eagerly shrugged off….This groundbreaking reporting on the New Domesticity is guaranteed to transform our notions of women in today’s society and add a new layer to the ongoing discussion of whether women can—or should—have it all.”
  64. The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic by Jessica Hopper: “Through this vast range of album reviews, essays, columns, interviews, and oral histories, Hopper chronicles what it is to be truly obsessed with music. The pieces in The First Collection send us digging deep into our record collections, searching to re-hear what we loved and hated, makes us reconsider the art, trash, and politics Hopper illuminates, helping us to make sense of what matters to us most.”
  65. Lessons in Taxidermy by Bee Lavender: “This autobiographical tale is stark and resolved, but strangely euphoric, tying together moments and memories into a frantic, delicate, and often transcendently funny account of anguish and confusion, pain and poverty, isolation and illusion. While staying conscious of the particulars of her circumstances, Lavender frames her life in the context of history, traveling, landscape, and freak show culture. “
  66. Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain: “[This is] the definitive oral history of the most nihilistic of all pop movements. Iggy Pop, Richard Hell, the Ramones, and scores of other punk figures lend their voices to this decisive account of that explosive era.”
  67. Boss Babes: A Coloring and Activity Book for Grown-Ups by Michelle Volansky: “A playful and play-filled ode to strong women, BOSS BABES is a coloring and activity book filled with fun facts and whimsical black-and-white line drawings celebrating female powerhouses from Beyonce to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Dolly Parton to Malala, Tina Fey to Serena Williams.”
  68. Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future by Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards: “In the year 2000, girl culture was clearly ascendant. From Lilith Fair to Buffy the Vampire Slayer to the WNBA, it seemed that female pride was the order of the day. Yet feminism was also at a crossroads; “girl power” feminists were obsessed with personal empowerment at the expense of politics, while political institutions such as Ms. and NOW had lost their ability to speak to a new generation. In Manifesta, Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards brilliantly revealed the snags in each feminist hub, all the while proving that these snags had not imperiled the future of the feminist cause.”
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