My Not-So-Accidental Month of Feminist Reading

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Ashley Holstrom

Staff Writer

Ashley Holstrom helps make books at Sourcebooks. She lives near Chicago with her cat named after Hemingway and her bookshelves organized by color. Newsletter: Crooked Reads. Twitter: @alholstrom.

With March being Women’s History Month, and March 8 being International Women’s Day, my corner of the internet was chock full of lists of fabulous feminist lit. So I sort of, accidentally, not really, read almost only women in March. It was a month of feminist reading.

And it was awesome.

Here’s what I read. Each one is excellent, and now that they’re all lined up here, I see it’s a wonderful bell curve of feminist lit: I read some soft books and then got into ferocious feminism and ended with not-so-ferocious feminist books. I recommend each one, not necessarily in this order, but also, maybe in this order.

why not me by mindy kalingWhy Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

Because Mindy is fun and sassy and great. She was the accidental tip-off for the month.

Grace’s Guide: The Art of Pretending to Be a Grown-up by Grace Helbig

This “guide” is cute and fun. Just like her YouTube channel! Except we learn a lot more about her and a whole lot about growing up being a woman in this mad, mad world.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

It is so important. Read it. Listen to the TED Talk. Listen to the bits played in that Beyonce album. And then do something.

Spinster- A Life of One’s OwnSpinster: Making a Life of One’s Own by Kate Bolick

I foolishly expected some quirky memoir about being a happy “spinster.” This is much better than that. Bolick goes into the history of the word, the culture, and the experience of being a single woman. She looks up to strong women who were ahead of their time, and shares some of their work. This is a really lovely step into feminist reading, with lots of recommended books inside.

Bitch Planet by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Val De Landro

A Book Riot favorite. Women who don’t subject themselves to men’s wishes are deemed Non-Compliant and literally sent to another planet. They are badasses.

you don't have to like me by alida nugentYou Don’t Have to Like Me: Essays on Growing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding Feminism by Alida Nugent

Nugent’s voice is excellent, and she puts to words the things women deal with every day that we maybe don’t even think about. Like comments from older women about our bodies and our makeup and our hair and our lack of babies and our lack of husbands and whatever else we are supposed to do as women.

Asking for It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture and What We Can Do about It by Kate Harding

There’s a line about college women making a pact to stick together when they go out for a night of drinking, saying no girl gets left behind. And it’s compared to army men going into battle. Because women going out to drink is akin to going into battle. To avoid rape. Yup. That about sums it up.

the thing around your neck by chimamanda ngozi adichie The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Hot damn is Adichie an amazing writer. Each of these short stories is so complex, and I felt like I was a character in every one. She deals with every sort of drama and romance and heartbreak there is in the world.

I, Justine: An Analog Memoir by Justine Ezarik

Maybe a memoir from an internet goofball like Ezarik may not seem feminist, but how about this? She’s been in a mostly male field of tech geeks for a decade and is regularly degraded for being a hot girl who can’t possibly like playing video games and should just get back in the kitchen. Of course, her stories are still goofy. But she doesn’t overlook the misogyny she endures regularly.

Did my month of no men teach me anything? Oh yeah. I deleted dating apps from my phone when I read Spinster. I got ragey about feminist issues while I read Asking For It. I thought I was a social media diva when I read I, Justine. And my TBR pile got a hefty boost from being inspired by all of these women.

Side note: Bless the angel who created this list on Goodreads of all (or at least most) of the works mentioned in Spinster.