Blog – Posted on Monday, Oct 12
50 Best Feminist Books to Dismantle the Patriarchy
Throughout its turbulent history, feminist books have stood at the cutting-edge of feminism. Contemporary readers of landmark texts, such as The Feminine Mystique or Sister Outsider, found themselves swept up in a revolution, pioneered by radical female writers wielding a pen. Decades later, and joined by a legion of diverse new feminist voices, these fearless and passionate texts still feel like a call-to-arms — a rallying cry to all women trying to find their place or fight for liberation.
Whether you’re a fan of fiction or nonfiction books, memoirs, poetry, essays, or novels, the feminist books on this list will guide you along the winding path of the feminism — as experienced by women from all walks of life, of all races, ages, and identities — and into the 21st century.
1. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
A gold-standard of feminist fiction and now a critically acclaimed TV series, The Handmaid’s Tale follows Offred, a member of the fertile, female servant class that is treated as breeding stock by an oppressive, near-future society — all in the name of replenishing the diminished population. At a time when the reproductive rights of women are still politically contentious, this dystopian novel is a disturbing reminder of what society often considers a woman’s worth.
2. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
When Alcott told the story of Jo, Beth, Meg, and Amy in 1868, she may not have intended to write a feminist book; nevertheless, Little Women has danced its way into the hearts of feminists for generations. Certainly, in the 2019 film adaptation it’s given new feminist fire, as Greta Gerwig shows how Alcott’s bold, loving, unconventional sisters can teach us there are many ways to be a woman. Read the book. Watch the film. Do both — in any order. Just make sure you consume Little Women.
3. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Plath’s seminal novel tells the story of Esther Greenwood’s descent into mental illness in astute and haunting prose. An aspiring writer whose dreams are stifled by her misogynistic society, Esther’s story encapsulates the desire and disillusionment of being a young woman — which is why it has become a quintessential novel for young feminists. The Guardian has called The Bell Jar a ‘tormented footnote to Plath’s tormented poetry’; but it is also a work of undoubted literary brilliance that stands alone as a classic feminist book.
4. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Morrison’s debut novel immerses us in the tragic, torn life of Pecola Breedlove — a poor, young black girl living in 1940s Ohio. Internalizing the ugliness put on her by society, Pecola longs for blue eyes; and it’s this impossible desire that drives her to the point of breakdown. The Bluest Eye forces us to confront how damaging racialized notions of beauty can be and makes race (and youth) central to the discussion of gender disparity. Of course, it’s couched in what became the signature poetic prose of this Nobel Prize-winning author.
5. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Restless, twentysomething Edna is summering at a resort on the steamy coast of Louisiana when she catches the eye of the resort owner’s son — it’s the perfect backdrop for a romantic comedy, except this story of personal discovery and sexual intrigue has a dangerous undercurrent. Edna is a Victorian mother and wife, who had resigned herself to a languid life before the summer of her awakening. Now, she vibrates with the desire to have a room of her own, to smash a vase, to break the rules. Although The Awakening was published on the turn of the 20th century, this feminist book still hits its mark. A desire to smash the patriarchy? Relatable.
6. Wayward Girls & Wicked Women by Angela Carter
This marvelous collection of short stories was edited by titan of feminist books Angela Carter, and reflects her deliciously anarchic taste. From authors including Jamaica Kincaid, Katherine Mansfield, and Ama Ata Aidoo, every one of these subversive tales extols the female virtues of discontent, disruptiveness, and general bad-manners, and restores wayward girls and wicked women to their rightful position as role models. Because who wants to be ‘nice’ when you can be clever, cunning, and interesting?
7. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Another early feminist classic with enduring appeal, Gilman’s 6,000 word masterpiece tells the story of a young woman whose husband confines her to a nursery as treatment for postnatal depression. With a strict ban on reading, painting, and, if it can be managed, thinking (her secret diary being her only outlet), the narrator’s ravenous imagination is at the mercy of unnamed terrors.
Frighteningly, The Yellow Wallpaper was based on the author’s own experiences, and in 1890 its story caused feminist fireworks among women forced to be docile. But today, it takes on a new urgency, speaking to the current discussion of gaslighting and coercive control.
8. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Set in segregated Georgia, The Color Purple follows Celie, a young black woman born into poverty. As mother, sister, and wife, Celie suffers from unimaginable hardship, until she meets singer and magic-maker Shug Avery, who teaches her to harness the power of her own spirit and take control of her destiny. In this haunting and lyrical novel, Walker, who calls herself a ‘womanist’, portrays the oppression and triumphs of black women, the horrors of physical and sexual abuse, and the ongoing struggle to overcome the double jeopardy of racism and sexism.
9. Circe by Madeline Miller
An ancient Greek myth gets a fresh coat of feminist paint in this thoroughly modern retelling of Circe’s story. A player in the lives of both heroes and gods, Circe is a figure apart, a character steeped in magic and mystery, a source of fascination — and yet, one of the ancient world’s most deeply misunderstood deities. Until now. Madeline Miller, bestselling author of The Song of Achilles, returns to breathe new life into Circe, giving her the power to command her own story, and translating yet another male-centred myth into something startlingly feminine.
10. The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler
Keeping with the theme of the untraditional, Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues is an episodic play that gathers the stories of real women — from different ages, races, identities, and experiences — to explore female sexuality in all its complexity. Delving into topics as deeply essential as sexual consent, body image, sex work, and reproduction, Ensler’s work has become a major feminist touchpoint since its debut in 1996. Come for the incredible title, and stay to hear the eloquent and hilarious voice of womankind.
11. The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
From ancient myths to fairytales, a feminist take on a ‘tale as old as time’ will always be welcome on our shelves; and Angela Carter’s 1979 collection of darkly erotic stories contains some of the most fiercely imaginative examples of the style. In The Bloody Chamber you’ll find all the bedtime stories of your childhood newly configured as gothic tales of sex and violence. Their heroines — a murderous Red Riding Hood, a beastly Belle, a vampiric Sleeping Beauty — struggle out of the straitjackets of history and ideology, and turn the tables on tradition.
12. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
Though Lessing insisted The Golden Notebook was never intended to be a “weapon in the sex war”, her epic of the female experience spoke to the women’s movement of the 1960s with a visionary fire, and has since been hailed as a landmark feminist book.
Living in 1950s London, Anna Wulf is a divorced single mother, and a novelist struggling with writer’s block. Fearing chaos, formlessness, and mental collapse, she separates her life into four notebooks; but it is the fifth, the golden notebook, that will pull the wayward strands of her life together and open the door to freedom.
13. The Witch Doesn't Burn in This One by Amanda Lovelace
Amanda Lovelace calls all women to arms in her fiery poetry collection encouraging strength and resilience among women, and empowering them to reclaim their minds, their bodies, and their stories. In a world where women are still marginalized and oppressed, The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One provides a much needed rebellious spark. So give it a read; then tell all your friends to give it a read. This is the self-love potion we didn’t know we needed, but absolutely do.
14. The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson
Though exciting new voices like Amanda Lovelace are exploding onto the poetry scene, the poems of Emily Dickinson are as refreshing and relevant today as they were in 1840. Still one of the most daring voices ever to craft a couplet, Dickinson used her poetry to rebel against the dreariness of everyday life, and to rupture the boundaries between male and female writing styles. In doing so, she inspired generations of young women and laid the groundwork for a host of contemporary women writers. If you don’t want to read all of Emily Dickinson’s poems (though we can think of worse ways to spend our time), we’d recommend My Life had stood- a Loaded Gun.
15. The World's Wife by Carol Ann Duffy
Ask who was at the shops in the run up to Christmas and you might hear “Oh, the world and his wife”. But poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy challenges this patriarchal language picture with three simple words, the title of her 1999 collection, The World’s Wife. The cheeky, exuberant, subversive poems in this anthology hand over to the women behind the scenes, behind the throne, behind history. From the adoring Queen Kong to the lascivious Frau Freud, from the angry and ignored to the sure-footed and sexy, Duffy’s irresistible collection proves that behind every famous man there is in fact a great woman.
16. Dialectic of the Flesh by Roz Kaveney
Dialectic of the Flesh is a beautiful and intimate exploration of queer and trans existence through verse. Though Roz Gaveney’s collection is pocket-sized (31 poems in all), her poems run the gamut of emotions: elegies of abandonment and loss traverse pathways dark and guttural, while celebrations of love and sex are witty, exuberant, and wistful. Gaveney also showcases her versatility by dancing between carefully-constructed sonnet variations and villanelles, and free verse narratives. A collection not to be missed!
Young Adult Fiction
17. Asking For It by Louise O'Neill
Asking For It is the kind of book you devour, but not the kind you enjoy. Not because it isn’t well written — Louise O’Neill is fearless and moving — but because it tells a devastating story about rape culture and victim blaming that is uncomfortable and heart-breaking to read (while still incredibly important). Its discomfort is in part due to the fact that O’Neill doesn’t write about a sweet girl in the wrong place at the wrong time. Asking For It is about Emma O’ Donovan, a nasty, shallow girl, a bully, liar, and cheat, and even the reader can’t help but wonder, if only for a terrible, fleeting moment, whether she was at fault on the night she was assaulted.
18. Things a Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nicholls
Nicholls breathes new life into the story of the Suffragette and Suffragists movements in her historical YA novel, Things a Bright Girl Can Do. She sees the rallies and marches, the freezing prison cells, the East End slums, and the stifling drawing rooms of Edwardian Britain through the eyes of three courageous young women who join the fight for the vote. Though they come from different walks of life, they all dream of a world where women are considered equal. Nicholls imbues this exhilarating era of change with gripping drama that brings the past fiercely to life.
19. Furious Thing by Jenny Downham
If Before I Die did not cement Downham’s reputation as an influential voice in young adult fiction, then this explosive novel certainly will. Furious Thing follows Lexi, a girl who is angry for reasons she cannot understand. Though she tries to swallow her temper, it simmers below the surface just waiting to erupt. What will happen if Lexi decides to take up space and make herself heard?
A sensitive and thought-provoking narrative about modern issues, including anger-management and gaslighting, Furious Thing roars with anger at an unfair world that is constantly letting girls down.
20. Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde
In recent years, the call for intersectional feminism has been louder than ever, with an increasingly diverse range of voices contributing to the ongoing conversation. A lot of that is down to the work of writers like Audre Lorde, whose iconic collection of essays and speeches is considered a cornerstone of intersectional feminism. Sister Outsider reflects on sexism, racism, class, and homophobia; it also discusses the use of anger, the problems inherent in white feminism, and her own experience as a Black lesbian; but ultimately, Lorde’s message is one of hope.
21. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Millions of women have fallen in love with this story, whether because of Julia Roberts’ winning smile, or Gilbert’s writing, which propounds a kind of literary incarnation of a best friend. An intimate memoir of breakdown and recovery, Eat Pray Love follows Gilbert on a voyage to find her true self: from her bathroom floor and the end of a perfect marriage, to Italy, India, and Indonesia, three beautiful backdrops against which she explores aspects of herself that have been missing. Pleasure in Italy, devotion in India, and balance in Indonesia — a powerful trinity for the 21st century woman.
22. A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf
Virginia Woolf’s transgressive and mischievous essay is now a landmark work of feminist literary critique, but it started life as a series of lectures given to Cambridge’s female colleges. Woolf takes on the established thought of the time — that women are inherently lesser writers — by asserting women’s creative originality and pointing to the systemic education and economic failures that stifled them. Her analysis is light, glancing, and even funny, despite its urgency and passion. At a juncture in her argument she offers the key to female creative liberation: A Room of One’s Own.
23. Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit
If you’ve ever used the term “mansplaining” to describe the condescending efforts of a man to explain something to a woman, then you’ve got Rebecca Solnit to thank. Her collection of hilarious, rage-inducing essays, Men Explain Things to Me, not only coined this iconic term, but has also come to be considered as one of the best feminist books.
Solnit delves into some of the biggest themes of the modern feminist experience, including marriage equality, the erasure of women from history, and the titular topic of having your expertise explained to you, often in patronizing terms. According to Solnit, it’s due to a combination of “overconfidence and cluelessness”. I think we all know a guy.
24. The Second Sex by Simone De Beauvoir
Published in 1949, The Second Sex began as an autobiographical essay in which author and philosopher Simone De Beauvoir explored why she had always thought of herself as a woman before anything else. As she combined personal observation with critical theory, it grew into a groundbreaking study of the unequal treatment of women throughout history, and “the problem of woman,” which, as De Beauvoir put it, “has always been the problem of men.” The Second Sex is an essential feminist book.
25. The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
Betty Friedan confessed in 1973 that until she started writing The Feminine Mystique, she wasn’t even conscious of “the woman problem”: “I thought there was something wrong with me because I didn’t have an orgasm waxing the kitchen floor,” she said. In fact, many American women felt the same, and just as writing this book opened Friedan’s eyes, the women who read it were swept up in a new wave of feminism. The Feminine Mystique captured the frustration of middle-class American housewives afraid to ask themselves the question “Is this all?”, and exhorted them to make change happen for themselves.
26. Women, Culture, and Politics by Angela Y. Davis
A scholar and an activist, Angela Davis earned herself a place among the most important feminist voices of our era with her brilliant, biting prose, and Women, Culture and Politcs is perhaps her best feminist book. A collection of speeches and essays penned in 1989, it addresses the political and social shifts of the late 20th century, and the ways in which they changed conversations around the struggle for racial, sexual and economic equality.
27. This Bridge Called My Back
This Bridge Called My Back is a collection of personal essays, criticisms, poetry, and visual art from radical women of colour, including influential feminist writers such as Naomi Littlebear Morena, Audre Lorde, and Barbara Smith. Together they explore the intersections between gender, race, sexism, and class, and how these intersections influence the way they understand the world, as well as how the world understands them. This anthology is considered one of the landmark texts of Third Wave feminism, and continues to shape today’s feminist landscape.
28. The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer
When Greer’s landmark feminist book, The Female Eunuch, hit the shelves in 1970, it immediately made waves with its shocking conclusion: that the traditional nuclear family is a tool of female oppression, and that the key to female liberation is sexual liberation. Erudite, outrageous, and sensible, Greer’s unflinching polemic transformed women’s lives. Sure, her call for women to taste their own menstrual blood might not have caught on, but if you’re asking whether The Female Eunuch still speaks to the modern feminist — the answer is yes.
29. Redefining Realness by Janet Mock
One of America’s most recognizable trans activists, Janet Mock relays her experiences growing up as a multiracial, poor, trans woman in her brave and moving autobiography, Redefining Realness. Though this is undoubtedly an account of one woman’s experience of womanhood, and her own quest to a sense of self, Mock manages to break ground for anyone and everyone who is marginalized and misunderstood, and is fighting to define themselves on their own terms.
30. Gender Outlaw by Kate Bornstein
In a society that insists we be either ‘man’ or ‘woman’, Kate Bornstein describes herself as a “nonbinary transfeminine diesel femme dyke”. On the surface, Gender Outlaw is the story of her transformation from being viewed as a heterosexual male to realizing she was a lesbian female; but below the surface, Bornstein never stops questioning our rigid expectations of a gender binary, and gently pushing us towards the furthest borders of the gender frontier. Though Gender Outlaw is a provocative and radical investigation into the notions of ‘man’ and ‘woman’, it is also funny, fearless, and wonderfully scenic.
31. The Madwoman in the Attic by Sandra M. Gilbert
Gilbert and Gubar’s The Madwoman in the Attic is a classic feminist book of literary criticism that looks at the portrayal of female characters by Victorian women writers. By applying a feminist lens to these 19th century novels, the authors not only change the way we think about the books themselves and their female characters, but also force us to look again at the grandes dames of English literature, whom, they suggest, have distinctly feminine imaginations. Originally published in 1979, The Madwoman in the Attic continues to tread the path for scholars some four decades later.
32. Colonize This!
It has been decades since women of color first turned feminism on its head, calling out the movement of the 70s for being white and exclusive. Colonize This! offers a much-needed refresh in its gripping and intimate portraits of American life, as seen through the eyes of young women of color. Daisy Hernandez and Bushra Rehman have gathered a brilliant and diverse group of young feminist voices who speak to the concerns of a 21st century feminism — one that fosters freedom and agency for women of all races.
33. On Intersectionality by Kimberlé Crenshaw
As well as looking forward to the feminism of the future, sometimes it is just as important to look back at key turning points in its history. In 1989, Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term intersectionality — a hugely influential approach to understanding discrimination in a society whose members experience bias in any combination of ways, as a result of race, gender or sexuality. In this collection of Crenshaw’s writing, readers will find essays and articles that provide a comprehensive and accessible introduction to a brilliant theorist and her critical work.
34. Headscarves and Hymens by Mona Eltahawy
Egyptian-American journalist and activist Mona Eltahawy is a fearless fighter for women’s rights. After making headlines in 2011 when she was arrested, beaten and sexually assaulted during the Egyptian revolution, she wrote a brave and impassioned article titled “Why Do They Hate Us?” — where “they” is Muslim men and “us” is women. Headscarves and Hymens is a book-length expansion of this article, in which she takes aim both at religious misogyny in the Middle East and at western liberals who mistake this misogyny for cultural difference. This fearless roar-to-arms sets her own experiences alongside those of dozens of other women, giving a laceratingly honest account of what it’s like to be a woman in the Muslim world.
35. Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny by Kate Manne
What is misogyny? Who deserves to be called a misogynist? How does misogyny differ from sexism? Kate Manne explores all these questions in her forensic analysis of the logic of misogyny; but her guiding question, more straightforward and more troubling, is “Why is misogyny still a thing?”
Manne argues that we should put individual men to one side, that we should stop treating hostility towards women as a psychological characteristic, and that we should put the focus on how women who challenge male dominance are policed by society. Down Girl is an essential feminist book for the #MeToo era.
36. Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik
When it comes to modern feminist icons, few spring to mind more readily than Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Even those of us who were born long after her appointments to the Supreme Court have fallen in love in recent years with her tenacious spirit, drive for equality, and sharp humor. In Notorious RBG, Carmon and Knizhnik bring what was once a playful Tumblr blog into a fully realized portrait of this fiercely inspiring woman. Through a fascinating combination of narrative, photographs, interviews, and even Justice Ginsburg’s own dissents, this book shows you a beloved icon in a new light — one that paints her as, somehow, even more remarkable than we already knew she was.
37. I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
These days, it’s hard to imagine that one person has the power to change the world, but reading I am Malala may just leave you feeling hopeful. This personal and deeply inspiring tale recounts Malala’s fight for a proper education — a fight she never should have had to enter into, but one that she braved with such fierce determination that her name is spoken with reverence in all corners of the globe. Through her own words, Malala recalls the now infamous shooting, her recovery, and the unparalleled journey of advocacy and feminist championing that followed.
38. Bossypants by Tina Fey
Endlessly talented and wickedly funny, Tina Fey has been entertaining and inspiring women for years. From her often-too-relatable portrayal of Liz Lemon to her years mixing it up on SNL, it seems there’s no comedy role that’s beyond her. Now, in Bossypants, we get a glimpse behind the many faces she’s worn over the years and discover, to our delight, that she’s every bit as amazing as we were always hoping she would be. Full of behind-the-scenes insight into all our favorite Fey moments, Bossypants will delight from first page to last.
39. Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates
Perhaps one of the most frustrating things to explain about sexism is that it doesn’t always come in the overt, chauvinist-pig wrapper that society likes to wrap it in. In fact, it normally hits us in quiet, everyday sort of ways that are almost impossible to explain, but that every woman knows. Started as a website in 2012, Everyday Sexism is one woman’s attempt to gather what it really looks like, through shared anecdotes of women from all walks of life, who’ve been told in subtle and pervasive ways that they’re “less than.” Both eye-opening and all too familiar, this book is not to be ignored.
40. This Will Be My Undoing by Morgan Jerkins
We all know that living with a marginalized identity is hard. But try combining those identities — in Jerkins’ case, being both Black and a woman — and suddenly the ante is raised even higher. With aggressions coming at you from all sides, the simple act of living your life becomes political. In this interconnected series of essays, Jerkins takes you through the raw reality of her life, exposing the double standards, hypocrisy, and demonization Black women face every day. This Will Be My Undoing is a vital piece of writing, and one that feminists, especially white feminists, should be sure to pick up and take to heart as they strive to build a better world for all women.
41. Gender Trouble by Judith Butler
Judith Butler is synonymous with the feminist movement: since the 1970s, the trailblazing philosopher has written over 20 influential books that challenge traditional gender conventions and defy gender performativity. Though each is a must-read, we recommend that you start with Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. A foundational work in feminist and queer theory, Gender Trouble disrupts the gender binary, arguing that “gender” itself is a performative construct. Written in 1990, its groundbreaking arguments are as important — and relevant — to understand now as they were then.
42. The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf
Called the “most important feminist publication since The Female Eunuch” by Germaine Greer, The Beauty Myth tackles the perennial question of beauty, which was complicated further in the 1990s by the rise of mass media. Though it’s slightly dated by now, this is nevertheless a classic and masterful deconstruction of the myth of beauty in the context of the patriarchy: an important read for anyone who wants to understand the increasingly complex intersection between female identity, beauty, and society.
43. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
In an essay for The Guardian, Gay writes: “I am failing as a woman. I am failing as a feminist. To freely accept the feminist label would not be fair to good feminists. If I am, indeed, a feminist, I am a rather bad one.” In this modern day and age, what makes a “good enough” feminist? Bad Feminist is Gay’s critically acclaimed, witty, and powerful exploration of this very question. Covering a broad range of topics from politics to race and entertainment, this is a future classic that’s instrumental in the complicated and evolving conversation regarding what it means to be a feminist.
44. Feminism is for Everybody by bell hooks
As the modern feminist movement rose in profile in the 21st-century, it also gained its fair share of detractors, who decried its supposed “anti-male” stance. It is this crowd that hooks aims to address in Feminism Is For Everybody, published in 2000. With steady candor and precision, she dispels the myths most commonly associated with feminism and compellingly argues why feminism is for everyone — yes, for you, too.
45. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft
For those who want to start at the very beginning of the movement, start with A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Written by the brilliant author-activist Mary Wollstonecraft — now acknowledged as one of the founding feminist philosophers — A Vindication of the Rights of Woman is one of the earliest works of feminist theory. A commanding manifesto that birthed the tenets of modern feminist thought, it defied the prevailing notion at the time that women were naturally inferior to men, arguing instead that education for women (or the absence thereof) was a key inhibitor to equality. Today, it reminds us of the distance we’ve traveled since 1792 — and the work that is still to be done.
46. Fat Is A Feminist Issue by Susie Orbach
Originally published 40 years ago, Fat is a Feminist Issue is one of the first revolutionary anti-diet books to address body image and body variance. Less a critique and more a step-by-step guide on overcoming emotional eating, it was ahead of its time when it was published. And much of it is still relevant today, in a society that is only becoming more obsessed with the “ideal” body.
47. We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
In December 2012, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie delivered an explosive TEDx talk entitled “We Should All Be Feminists” that generated 6 million views and ignited a worldwide conversation. This personal essay, which covers similar ground, is as much a must-read as the TEDx talk is a must-watch. With characteristic poise and wit (Adidchie is also a bestselling novelist and the recipient of the 2008 MacArthur Genius Grant), she distills the definition of modern feminism in clear prose, and delivers perhaps one of the most convincing arguments for why it would do all people good to rally around the movement.
48. The Future is Feminist
The Future is Feminist presents a stunningly empowering collection of essays that tackle feminism from all angles (including an entire essay on resting bitch face). As provocative, smart, and funny as its star-studded cast of diverse authors, this book is easily one of the most accessible introductions to feminism out there. Perhaps most importantly, it will offer inspiration and fire moving forward, as its authors from the past and the present — including Salma Hayek, Mindy Kaling, Sojourner Truth, and Mary Wollstonecraft — give us a glimpse of a more equal future.
49. Marxism and the Oppression of Women by Lise Vogel
If you stand at the cross-section of Marxism and feminism, Marxism and the Oppression of Women is essential reading. Whether you’re a Marxist wanting to venture into feminist thought or a feminist wanting to venture into Marxist theory, Vogel offers a concise overview on the topic that breaks down key Marxist concepts in clear, digestible prose. But she remains focused on the main critique at the core of the book: an analysis of the material basis of women’s oppression within a Marxist framework, and why Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx failed in that regard to account for it in their foundational Marxist texts.
50. Moving Beyond Words by Gloria Steinem
One of America’s greatest feminist icons, Gloria Steinem delivers yet another defiant and powerful essay collection. Building on Steinem’s past experience spearheading the American feminist movement in the 1960s and 1970s, these six essays move fluidly between the personal and the critique, all the while challenging societal notions of femininity and gender norms. If you’re short on time, you might want to skip to the “What if Freud were Phyllis?” essay: a brilliant take-down of sexist Freudian philosophies that re-imagines Freud as a woman.
Hungry for more? Check out this list of inspirational books for women.