100 Must-Read Feminist Books

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Nicole Froio

Staff Writer

Nicole Froio is a Brazilian journalist currently based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She writes about feminism, human rights, politics, mental health issues, pop culture, books and the media. She was born in São Paulo but moved a lot as a kid, which hinders her ability to root down in only one place in adulthood. Her favorite genres of book are fantasy, YA fiction, romance and any book that requires the main character to find themselves. An avid intersectional feminist, her tolerance for bigotry is extremely low. Blog: Words by Nicole Froio Twitter: @NicoleFroio

While we at the Riot take some time off to rest and catch up on our reading, we’re re-running some of our favorite posts from the last several months. Enjoy our highlight reel, and we’ll be back with new stuff on Tuesday, January 3rd.

This post originally ran October 25, 2016.

 Sponsored by A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas.

study-in-scarlet-womenDiscover the new Sherlock Holmes inspired series from bestselling author Sherry Thomas.

While the inquisitive Charlotte Holmes has never accepted the demureness expected of women in London society, even she did not predict that she would become an outcast.

When the city is struck by a series of unexpected deaths, suspicion falls on her sister and father. Charlotte is determined to find the true culprits. She’ll have some help, but in the end, it’s up to Charlotte, a brilliant mind wrapped in a most feminine package, to challenge society’s expectations and solve the mystery under the assumed name Sherlock Holmes.

A few notes on my choices: I didn’t want all of these feminist books to be heavily academic, so I did include a few fiction books that I feel illustrate women’s experiences in feminist ways – or, in the case of scifi, re-imagines women’s experiences in feminist ways. While academic feminist books are wonderful sources, I don’t think feminist fiction should ever be disregarded. Also, although I tried to stay away from exclusionary literature, I think none of these books come without problematic aspects. The point here is to make the reader think in deeper ways about gender inequality and feminism – and I hope these titles help achieve this goal. (And a side note: I love bell hooks and it was really difficult to choose which one of her works is essential so I may have included more than one… Sorry, not sorry.)

  1. Borderlands/La Frontera by Gloria Anzaldua
  2. borderlands la fronteraAll the Women are White, All the Blacks are Men: But Some of Us are Brave, edited by Gloria T Hull, Patricia Bell Scott and Barbara Smith
  3. Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture and the Body by Susan Bordo
  4. Gender Trouble by Judith Butler
  5. Full Frontal Feminism by Jessica Valenti
  6. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
  7. Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit
  8.  Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West
  9. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
  10. Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a sexual Revolution by Mona Eltahawy
  11. We Should All be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde
  • Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism by bell hooks
  • The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity and Love by bell hooks
  • A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Wolf
  • If I Was Your Girl by Meredith RussoIf I Was Your Girl Meredith Russo
  • Witches, Midwives and Nurses by  Barbara Ehrenreich, Deirdre English
  • The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
  • The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
  • The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf
  • Les Guerrileres by Monique Wittig
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • This Bridge Called My Back by Cherrie Moraga and Gloria Anzaldua
  • The Hidden Face of Eve: Women in the Arab World by Nawal El Saadawi
  • A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft
  • Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and Literary Imagination by Toni Morrison
  • The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston
  • The Meaning of Freedom and Other Difficult Dialogues by Angela Y Davis
  • Little Women by Louisa M. Alcott
  • The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  • I-Know-Why-the-Caged-Bird-Sings-Maya-AngelouI Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  • Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape by Susan Brownmiller
  • Intercourse by Andrea Dworkin
  • Cunt: A Declaration of Independence by inga musclo
  • Bitches, Bimbos and Ballbreakers: The Guerilla Girls’ Illustrated Guide to Female Stereotypes
  • Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture by Ariel Levy
  • Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity by Julia Serano
  • Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love and So Much More by Janet Mock
  • Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women and the Rest of Us by Kate Bornstein
  • Separate and Dominate: Feminism and Racism After the War on Terror by Christine Delphy
  • Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
  • Second Class Citizen by Buchi Emecheta
  • Brown-Girl-in-the-Ring-Nalo-HopkinsonBrown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson
  •  Milk and Honey by rupi kaur
  •  Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
  • Oranges Are not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
  • Asking for It by Louise O’Neill
  •  Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  •  Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism by Natash Walter
  • The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory by Carol J. Adams
  • The Narrative of Sojourner Truth by Sojourner Truth
  • Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur
  • Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
  • Sexual Politics by Kate Millett
  • Playing the Whore by Melissa Gira Grant
  • Woman’s Estate by Juliet Mitchell
  • Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty by Dorothy Roberts
  • The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante
  • Female Man by Joanna Russ
  • sultanas-dreamSultana’s Dream by Rokeya Sakhawat Hussain
  • The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Easy by Tamara Webber
  • Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor
  • Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi
  • The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson
  • Wild: A Journey From Lost to Found by Cheryl Strayed
  • All the Rage by Courtney Summers
  • Our Bodies, Ourselves by Judy Norsigian
  • The Women’s Room by Marilyn French
  • Feminism and Sexuality: A Reader edited by Stevi Jackson
  • Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women by Susan Faludi
  • Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison
  • Fear of Flying by Erica Jong
  • The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
  • The Sex Which is Not One by Luce Irigaray
  • Obasan by Joy Kogawa
  • the-awakeningThe Awakening by Kate Chopin
  • From Black Power to Hip Hop: Racism, Nationalism, and Feminism by Patricia Hill Collins
  • Intersectionality (Key Concepts) by Patricia Hill Collins and Sirma Bilge
  • Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates
  • The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler
  • Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women by Elizabeth Wurtzel
  • Sisterhood is Powerful: An Anthology of Writings from the Women’s Liberation Movement, by Robin Morgan
  • Woman Hating by Andrea Dworkin
  • The Queer Art of Failure by Judith Halberstam
  • Fat Activism: A Radical Social Movement by Charlotte Cooper
  • Straight: The Surprisingly Short History of Heterosexuality by Hanne Blank
  • Undoing Gender by Judith Butler
  • Gender and the Media by Rosalind Gill
  • What Can A Woman do with a Camera? Photography for Women by Jo Spence and Joan Solomon
  • Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature by Donna Haraway
  • Feminism Without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity by Chandra Talpade Mohanty
  • the color purpleThe Color Purple by Alice Walker
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  • Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism, edited by Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Ann Russo and Lourdes Torres
  • Unsportsmanlike Conduct: College Football and the Politics of Rape by Jessica Luther
  • Black Feminist Though by Patricia Hill Collins
  • Vagina by Naomi Wolf