A GUIDE TO THE BEST FEMINIST BOOKS FICTION & NON!


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Hello everyone!

I am often asked by dudes who don’t know where to begin - what can they read to inform them about feminism, and women’s issues?  I asked my Twitter followers to send me their favorite books on the aforementioned topics and I threw in a few favorites of my own to make this list.  I kept it non-fiction mostly and books written by women. 

I included brief descriptions of each book so that you may scroll through and see what specific topic sparks your curiosity.  I did not write those descriptions - they are pulled from reviews and such. 

I hope that this list keeps on expanding - feel free to share this and add your own favorite books in the comments.  Please forgive any exclusion of any kind of feminist or woman - again let’s just keep adding to the list. 

I would encourage anyone to look to their favorite local bookstore to find these titles - Indiebound is a good website that can help with that. 

In no particular order here is the list that was complied with love and gratitude. 

Happy reading everyone! Love, Jen

Feminism Is For Everybody: Passionate Politics By Bell Hooks

What is feminism? In this short, accessible primer, bell hooks explores the nature of feminism and its positive promise to eliminate sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression. With her characteristic clarity and directness, hooks encourages readers to see how feminism can touch and change their lives—to see that feminism is for everybody.

America’s Women By Gail Collins

America’s Women tells the story of more than four centuries of history. It features a stunning array of personalities, from the women peering worriedly over the side of the Mayflower to feminists having a grand old time protesting beauty pageants and bridal fairs. Courageous, silly, funny, and heartbreaking, these women shaped the nation and our vision of what it means to be female in America.

Men Explain Things to Me By Rebecca Solnit

In her comic, scathing essay, “Men Explain Things to Me,” Rebecca Solnit took on what often goes wrong in conversations between men and women. She wrote about men who wrongly assume they know things and wrongly assume women don’t, about why this arises, and how this aspect of the gender wars works, airing some of her own hilariously awful encounters. This updated edition with two new essays of this national bestseller book features that now-classic essay as well as “#YesAllWomen,” an essay written in response to 2014 Isla Vista killings and the grassroots movement that arose with it to end violence against women and misogyny, and the essay “Cassandra Syndrome.”

Bad Feminist By Roxanne 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.

We Should All Be Feminists By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

In this personal, eloquently-argued essay—adapted from her much-admired TEDx talk of the same name—Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, award-winning author of Americanah, offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century, one rooted in inclusion and awareness. Drawing extensively on her own experiences and her deep understanding of the often masked realities of sexual politics, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman now—and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.

Unbought and Unbossed By Shirley Chisholm

Unbought and Unbossed is Shirley Chisholm’s account of her remarkable rise from young girl in Brooklyn to America’s first African-American Congresswoman. She shares how she took on an entrenched system, gave a public voice to millions, and sets the stage for her trailblazing bid to be the first woman and first African-American President of the United States. By daring to be herself, Shirley Chisholm shows us how she forever changed the status quo.

I Am Malala:  The Girl Who Stood Up For Education and Was Shot By The Taliban By Malala Yousafzai

Instead, Malala’s miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she became a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest nominee ever for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Revolution From Within: A Book of Self Esteem By Gloria Steinem

One of the founding mothers of contemporary feminism has written a self-help book that utterly transcends the genre. In lucid prose that is by turns brave and funny and tender, Steinem takes us on a journey of circles and spirals because, as she says, “If we think of ourselves as circles, our goal is completion … if we think of work structures as circles … progress means mutual support and connectedness.” Drawing from sources that range from Margaret Mead to Chief Seattle (Sealth), from Alice Walker to the Upanishads, as well as from her own life and the lives of her friends and colleagues, she provides a series of pathways to self-esteem. Steinem’s book unfolds like a flower: it offers literature, art, nature, meditation, and connectedness as ways of finding and exploring the self. Her message is that it is our very selves that we need to trust, despite educational and societal pressures that may denigrate the female experience. Her focus is women, but she is clear that what she has to say is for men, too, and she is neither strident nor dismissive. Recommended for all collections.

Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches By Audre Lordre and Cheryl Clarke

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.

My Life on The Road By Gloria Steinem

To women “of a certain age” – a euphemism the author of this book would surely abhor – the idea that Gloria Steinem is a revolutionary thinker, a wonderful writer and a practical activist is not, perhaps, news. (But there is something joyful in the rediscovery of same.) To those who didn’t know or don’t remember the Steinem story – founding Ms. Magazine, fighting for reproductive rights, waiting to marry until she was in her 60s! – it might be a revelation. Long before Sheryl Sandberg leaned in at work, Steinem was preaching the gospel of empowered women by, among other things, travelling the country and the world listening to people, gathering stories and insights, offering support of the intellectual and emotional kind. From the very first page – in which she dedicates her book to the British doctor who ended Steinem’s pregnancy, illegally, in 1957 – to the tales of a supposedly shy woman who admitted she wanted to nail their sloppy husband’s tossed-anywhere underwear to the floor, Steinem recounts a life well-travelled in every sense.

A Cup of Water Under My Bed: A Memoir By Daisy Hernandez

In this lyrical, coming-of-age memoir, Daisy Hernández chronicles what the women in her Cuban-Colombian family taught her about love, money, and race. Her mother warns her about envidia and men who seduce you with pastries, while one tía bemoans that her niece is turning out to be “una india” instead of an American. Another auntie instructs that when two people are close, they are bound to become like uña y mugre, fingernails and dirt, and that no, Daisy’s father is not godless. He’s simply praying to a candy dish that can be traced back to Africa. A heartfelt exploration of family, identity, and language, A Cup of Water Under My Bed is ultimately a daughter’s story of finding herself and her community, and of creating a new, queer life.

Women Race & Class By Angela Davis

A powerful study of the women’s movement in the U.S. from abolitionist days to the present that demonstrates how it has always been hampered by the racist and classist biases of its leaders.

Cunt: A Declaration of Independence By Inga Muscio and Betty Dodson

An ancient title of respect for women, the word “cunt” long ago veered off this noble path. Inga Muscio traces the road from honor to expletive, giving women the motivation and tools to claim “cunt” as a positive and powerful force in their lives. With humor and candor, she shares her own history as she explores the cultural forces that influence women’s relationships with their bodies.

A Train in Winter:  An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France By Caroline Moorehead        

They were teachers, students, chemists, writers, and housewives; a singer at the Paris Opera, a midwife, a dental surgeon. They distributed anti-Nazi leaflets, printed subversive newspapers, hid resisters, secreted Jews to safety, transported weapons, and conveyed clandestine messages. The youngest was a schoolgirl of fifteen who scrawled “V” for victory on the walls of her lycée; the eldest, a farmer’s wife in her sixties who harbored escaped Allied airmen. Strangers to each other, hailing from villages and cities from across France, these brave women were united in hatred and defiance of their Nazi occupiers.

Ain’t I A Woman By Bell Hooks

A classic work of feminist scholarship, Ain’t I a Woman has become a must-read for all those interested in the nature of black womanhood. Examining the impact of sexism on black women during slavery, the devaluation of black womanhood, black male sexism, racism among feminists, and the black woman’s involvement with feminism, hooks attempts to move us beyond racist and sexist assumptions. The result is nothing short of groundbreaking, giving this book a critical place on every feminist scholar’s bookshelf.

The Woman Warrior By Maxine Hong Kingston

The Woman Warrior is a pungent, bitter, but beautifully written memoir of growing up Chinese American in Stockton, California. Maxine Hong Kingston distills the dire lessons of her mother’s mesmerizing “talk-story” tales of a China where girls are worthless, tradition is exalted and only a strong, wily woman can scratch her way upward. The author’s America is a landscape of confounding white “ghosts”–the policeman ghost, the social worker ghost–with equally rigid, but very different rules. Like the woman warrior of the title, Kingston carries the crimes against her family carved into her back by her parents in testimony to and defiance of the pain.

How To Be a Woman By Caitlin Moran

Caitlin Moran puts a new face on feminism, cutting to the heart of women’s issues today with her irreverent, transcendent, and hilarious How to Be a Woman. “Half memoir, half polemic, and entirely necessary,” (Elle UK), Moran’s debut was an instant runaway bestseller in England as well as an Amazon UK Top Ten book of the year; still riding high on bestseller lists months after publication, it is a bona fide cultural phenomenon.

Backlash:  The Undeclared War Against American Women By Susan Faludi

When it was first published, Backlash made headlines for puncturing such favorite media myths as the “infertility epidemic” and the “man shortage,” myths that defied statistical realities. These willfully fictitious media campaigns added up to an antifeminist backlash. Whatever progress feminism has recently made, Faludi’s words today seem prophetic. The media still love stories about stay-at-home moms and the “dangers” of women’s career ambitions; the glass ceiling is still low; women are still punished for wanting to succeed; basic reproductive rights are still hanging by a thread. The backlash clearly exists.  With passion and precision, Faludi shows in her new preface how the creators of commercial culture distort feminist concepts to sell products while selling women downstream, how the feminist ethic of economic independence is twisted into the consumer ethic of buying power, and how the feminist quest for self-determination is warped into a self-centered quest for self-improvement. Backlash is a classic of feminism, an alarm bell for women of every generation, reminding us of the dangers that we still face.

The Feminine Mystique By Betty Friedan

Landmark, groundbreaking, classic―these adjectives barely do justice to the pioneering vision and lasting impact of The Feminine Mystique. Published in 1963, it gave a pitch-perfect description of “the problem that has no name”: the insidious beliefs and institutions that undermined women’s confidence in their intellectual capabilities and kept them in the home. Writing in a time when the average woman first married in her teens and 60 percent of women students dropped out of college to marry, Betty Friedan captured the frustrations and thwarted ambitions of a generation and showed women how they could reclaim their lives. Part social chronicle, part manifesto, The Feminine Mystique is filled with fascinating anecdotes and interviews as well as insights that continue to inspire.

For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow is Enuf By Ntozake Shange

Passionate and fearless, Shange’s words reveal what it meant to be of color and female in the twentieth century. First published in 1975, when it was praised by The New Yorker for “encom­passing … every feeling and experience a woman has ever had,” for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf will be read and performed for generations to come.

The Sexual Politics of Meat:  A Feminist Vegetarian Critical Theory By Carol J. Adams

The Sexual Politics of Meat is Carol Adams’ inspiring and controversial exploration of the interplay between contemporary society’s ingrained cultural misogyny and its obsession with meat and masculinity. First published in 1990, the book has continued to change the lives of tens of thousands of readers into the second decade of the 21st century.

A Room of One’s Own By Virginia Woolf

In A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf imagines that Shakespeare had a sister—a sister equal to Shakespeare in talent, and equal in genius, but whose legacy is radically different. This imaginary woman never writes a word and dies by her own hand, her genius unexpressed. If only she had found the means to create, argues Woolf, she would have reached the same heights as her immortal sibling. In this classic essay, she takes on the establishment, using her gift of language to dissect the world around her and give voice to those who are without. Her message is a simple one: women must have a fixed income and a room of their own in order to have the freedom to create.

The Road of Lost Innocence: The True Story of a Cambodian Heroine By Somaly Mam

Written in exquisite, spare, unflinching prose, The Road of Lost Innocence recounts the experiences of her early life and tells the story of her awakening as an activist and her harrowing and brave fight against the powerful and corrupt forces that steal the lives of these girls. She has orchestrated raids on brothels and rescued sex workers, some as young as five and six; she has built shelters, started schools, and founded an organization that has so far saved more than four thousand women and children in Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos. Her memoir will leave you awestruck by her tenacity and courage and will renew your faith in the power of an individual to bring about change.

The Beauty Myth By Naomi Wolf

In today’s world, women have more power, legal recognition, and professional success than ever before. Alongside the evident progress of the women’s movement, however, writer and journalist Naomi Wolf is troubled by a different kind of social control, which, she argues, may prove just as restrictive as the traditional image of homemaker and wife. It’s the beauty myth, an obsession with physical perfection that traps the modern woman in an endless spiral of hope, self-consciousness, and self-hatred as she tries to fulfill society’s impossible definition of “the flawless beauty.”

The Second Sex By Simone de Beauvoir

Newly translated and unabridged in English for the first time, Simone de Beauvoir’s masterwork is a powerful analysis of the Western notion of “woman,” and a groundbreaking exploration of inequality and otherness.  This long-awaited new edition reinstates significant portions of the original French text that were cut in the first English translation. Vital and groundbreaking, Beauvoir’s pioneering and impressive text remains as pertinent today as it was sixty years ago, and will continue to provoke and inspire generations of men and women to come.

Redfining 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. Though undoubtedly an account of one woman’s quest for self at all costs, Redefining Realness is a powerful vision of possibility and self-realization, pushing us all toward greater acceptance of one another—and of ourselves—showing as never before how to be unapologetic and real.

Bi: Notes For A Bisexual Revolution By Shiri Esner

The research Eisner has done for this book is clear from the beginning and the result is an incredible historical review of the bisexual movement from a whole host of perspectives and views, as well as clear ideas for revolutionizing it from here on out. With chapters on bisexuality, monosexism and biphobia, privilege, feminism, women and men, trans*, radicalization and what Eisner calls the “GGGG movement,” or the Gay-Gay-Gay-Gay movement, readers are exposed to the major issues that have impacted bisexuals over the years and those that are affecting us today.”

Sexual Politics By Kate Millett

A sensation upon its publication in 1970, Sexual Politics documents the subjugation of women in great literature and art. Beginning in 1830 and targeting four revered authors—D. H. Lawrence, Henry Miller, Norman Mailer, and Jean Genet—Kate Millett builds a damning profile of literature’s patriarchal myths and their extension into psychology, philosophy, and politics. Her eloquence and popular examples taught a generation to recognize inequities masquerading as nature and proved the value of feminist critique in all facets of life.

Girls To The Front By Sara Marcus

Girls To the Front is the epic, definitive history of Riot Grrrlthe radical feminist uprising that exploded into the public eye in the 1990s and included incendiary punk bands Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, Heavens to Betsy, and Huggy Bear. A dynamic chronicle not just a movement but an era, this is the story of a group of pissed-off girls with no patience for sexism and no intention of keeping quiet.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton: An American Life By Lori D. Ginzberg

Elizabeth Cady Stanton was a brilliant activist-intellectual. That nearly all of her ideas—that women are entitled to seek an education, to own property, to get a divorce, and to vote—are now commonplace is in large part because she worked tirelessly to extend the nation’s promise of radical individualism to women. In this subtly crafted biography, the historian Lori D. Ginzberg narrates the life of a woman of great charm, enormous appetite, and extraordinary intellectual gifts who turned the limitations placed on women like herself into a universal philosophy of equal rights.

Against Our Will:  Men, Women and Rape By Susan Brownmiller

Rape, as author Susan Brownmiller proves in her startling and important book, is not about sex but about power, fear, and subjugation. For thousands of years, it has been viewed as an acceptable “spoil of war,” used as a weapon by invading armies to crush the will of the conquered. The act of rape against women has long been cloaked in lies and false justifications.

Femininity By Susan Brownmiller

Writing with great passion, warmth, and wit on a subject that’s never been explored in these terms before, Susan Brownmiller draws on the many manifestations of femininity through the ages, and demonstrates in beautiful and telling detail the many powerful nuances of that one word.

Shock Treatment By Karen Finley

Finley’s Shock Treatment is more than just ‘art.’ It remains a searing and necessary indictment of America, a call to arms, a great protest against the injustices waged on queers and women during a time in recent American history where government intervention and recognition was so desperately needed. Twenty-five years on, Finley’s work continues to shock and provoke readers and audiences, demonstrating the powerful cultural and political impact her work has had on modern American art and performance art.

Unbending Gender By Joan C. Williams

In Unbending Gender, Joan Williams takes a hard look at the state of feminism in America. Concerned by what she finds–young women who flatly refuse to identify themselves as feminists and working-class and minority women who feel the movement hasn’t addressed the issues that dominate their daily lives–she outlines a new vision of feminism that calls for workplaces focused on the needs of families and, in divorce cases, recognition of the value of family work and its impact on women’s earning power.

When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women From 1960 to the Present By Gail Collins

A comprehensive mix of oral history and Gail Collins’s keen research–covering politics, fashion, popular culture, economics, sex, families, and work–When Everything Changed is the definitive book on five crucial decades of progress. The enormous strides made since 1960 include the advent of the birth control pill, the end of “Help Wanted–Male” and “Help Wanted–Female” ads, and the lifting of quotas for women in admission to medical and law schools. Gail Collins describes what has happened in every realm of women’s lives, partly through the testimonies of both those who made history and those who simply made their way.

Sex Among The Rabble: An Intimate History of Gender and Power in the Age of Revolution 1730-1830 By Clare A. Lyons

Placing sexual culture at the center of power relations in Revolutionary-era Philadelphia, Clare A. Lyons uncovers a world where runaway wives challenged their husbands’ patriarchal rights and where serial and casual sexual relationships were commonplace. By reading popular representations of sex against actual behavior, Lyons reveals the clash of meanings given to sex and illuminates struggles to recast sexuality in order to eliminate its subversive potential.

Witches, Midwives, & Nurses:  A History of Women Healers By Barbara Ehrenreich & Deirdre English

Witches, Midwives, and Nurses, first published by The Feminist Press in 1973, is an essential book about the corruption of the medical establishment and its historic roots in witch hunters. In this new edition, Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English have written an entirely new chapter that delves into the current fascination with and controversies about witches, exposing our fears and fantasies. They build on their classic exposé on the demonization of women healers and the political and economic monopolization of medicine. This quick history brings us up-to-date, exploring today’s changing attitudes toward childbirth, alternative medicine, and modern-day witches.

Our Bodies Ourselves By Judy Norsigian

America’s best-selling book on all aspects of women’s health With more than four million copies sold, “Our Bodies, Ourselves” is “the” classic resource that women of all ages can turn to for information about every aspect of their well-being.

Delusions Of Gender: The Real Science Behind Sex Differences By Cordelia Fine

This is a vehement attack on the latest pseudo-scientific claims about the differences between the sexes - with the scientific evidence to back it up. Sex discrimination is supposedly a distant memory. Yet popular books, magazines and even scientific articles increasingly defend inequalities by citing immutable biological differences between the male and female brain. Why are there so few women in science and engineering, so few men in the laundry room? Well, they say, it’s our brains. Drawing on the latest research in developmental psychology, neuroscience, and social psychology, “Delusions of Gender” rebuts these claims, showing how old myths, dressed up in new scientific finery, help perpetuate the status quo.

Making Face, Making Soul/Haciendo Caras: Creative and Critical Perspectives by Feminists of Color By Gloria Anzaldua

A bold collection of creative pieces and theoretical essays by women of color. New thought and new dialogue: a book that will teach in the most multiple sense of that word: a book that will be of lasting value to many diverse communities of women as well as to students from those communities. The authors explore a full spectrum of present concerns in over seventy pieces that vary from writing by new talents to published pieces by Audre Lorde, Joy Harjo, Norma Alarcón and Trinh T. Minh-ha.

Pro:  Reclaiming Abortion Rights By Katha Pollitt

Forty years after the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, “abortion” is still a word that is said with outright hostility by many, despite the fact that one in three American women will have terminated at least one pregnancy by menopause. Even those who support a woman’s right to an abortion often qualify their support by saying abortion is a “bad thing,” an “agonizing decision,” making the medical procedure so remote and radioactive that it takes it out of the world of the everyday, turning an act that is normal and necessary into something shameful and secretive. Meanwhile, with each passing day, the rights upheld by the Supreme Court are being systematically eroded by state laws designed to end abortion outright. In this urgent, controversial book, Katha Pollitt reframes abortion as a common part of a woman’s reproductive life, one that should be accepted as a moral right with positive social implications.

Governing Girls:  Rehabilitation in the Age of Risk By Christie L. Barron

Recognizing the significant media hype and moral panic over assaults and violent crimes perpetrated by young women in recent years, this investigation reveals how Canadian governmental response to control crime overall and provide citizen protection has taken various—and often contradictory—forms. The current research agenda is explored, revealing how it focuses on risk assessment for controlling youth violence while ignoring the very concept of “risk” as a sociocultural phenomenon.

Feminist Theory:  A Reader By Wendy Kolmar

Feminist Theory: A Reader represents the history, intellectual breadth, and diversity of feminist theory. The selections are organized into six historical periods from the 18th century to the late 2000s and include key feminist manifestos to help readers see the link between feminist theory and application. The collection presents feminist through from its inception as the province of women of different races, classes, nationalities, and sexualities in order to demonstrate the continuity in feminist theory discussions.

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. The book went on to inspire a new generation of female readers, and has become a classic of contemporary feminist literature.

Sister Citizen:  Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

In this groundbreaking book, Melissa V. Harris-Perry uses multiple methods of inquiry, including literary analysis, political theory, focus groups, surveys, and experimental research, to understand more deeply black women’s political and emotional responses to pervasive negative race and gender images. Not a traditional political science work concerned with office-seeking, voting, or ideology, Sister Citizen instead explores how African American women understand themselves as citizens and what they expect from political organizing.

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings By Maya Angelou

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings captures the longing of lonely children, the brute insult of bigotry, and the wonder of words that can make the world right. Maya Angelou’s debut memoir is a modern American classic beloved worldwide.

Gender Trouble:  Feminism and the Subversion of Identity By Judith Butler

One of the most talked-about scholarly works of the past fifty years, Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble is as celebrated as it is controversial. Arguing that traditional feminism is wrong to look to a natural, 'essential’ notion of the female, or indeed of sex or gender, Butler starts by questioning the category 'woman’ and continues in this vein with examinations of 'the masculine’ and 'the feminine’.

Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture By Ariel Levy

Meet the Female Chauvinist Pig—the new brand of “empowered woman” who wears the Playboy bunny as a talisman, bares all for Girls Gone Wild, pursues casual sex as if it were a sport, and embraces “raunch culture” wherever she finds it. If male chauvinist pigs of years past thought of women as pieces of meat, Female Chauvinist Pigs of today are doing them one better, making sex objects of other women—and of themselves. They think they’re being brave, they think they’re being funny, but in Female Chauvinist Pigs, Ariel Levy asks if the joke is on them.

The New Feminist Agenda:  Defining the Next Revolution For Women, Work, And Family By Madeleine Kunin

Feminists opened up thousands of doors in the 1960s and 1970s, but decades later, are U.S. women where they thought they’d be? The answer, it turns out, is a resounding no. Surely there have been gains. Women now comprise nearly 60 percent of college undergraduates and half of all medical and law students. They have entered the workforce in record numbers, making the two-wage-earner family the norm. But combining a career and family turned out to be more complicated than expected. While women changed, social structures surrounding work and family remained static. Affordable and high-quality child care, paid family leave, and equal pay for equal work remain elusive for the vast majority of working women. In fact, the nation has fallen far behind other parts of the world on the gender-equity front. We lag behind more than seventy countries when it comes to the percentage of women holding elected federal offices. Only 17 percent of corporate boards include women members. And just 5 percent of Fortune 500 companies are led by women.

The Hidden Face of Eve: Women in the Arab World By Nawal El Saadawi

This powerful account of brutality against women in the Muslim world remains as shocking today as when it was first published, more than a quarter of a century ago. It was the horrific female genital mutilation that she suffered aged only six, which first awakened Nawal el Saadawi’s sense of the violence and injustice which permeated her society. Her experiences working as a doctor in villages around Egypt, witnessing prostitution, honour killings and sexual abuse, inspired her to write in order to give voice to this suffering. She goes on explore the causes of the situation through a discussion of the historical role of Arab women in religion and literature.Saadawi argues that the veil, polygamy and legal inequality are incompatible with the just and peaceful Islam which she envisages.

The Vagina Monologues By Eve Ensler

A poignant and hilarious tour of the last frontier, the ultimate forbidden zone, The Vagina Monologues is a celebration of female sexuality in all its complexity and mystery. In this stunning phenomenon that has swept the nation, Eve Ensler gives us real women’s stories of intimacy, vulnerability, and sexual self-discovery.

He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut, and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know By Jessica Valenti

In 50 Double Standards Every Woman Should Know, Jessica Valenti, author of Full Frontal Feminism, calls out the double standards that affect every woman. Whether Jessica is pointing out the wage earning discrepancies between men and women or revealing all of the places that women still aren’t equal to their male counterparts—be it in the workplace, courtroom, bedroom, or home—she maintains her signature wittily sarcastic tone. With sass, humor, and in-your-face facts, this book informs and equips women with the tools they need to combat sexist comments, topple ridiculous stereotypes (girls aren’t good at math?), and end the promotion of lame double standards.

Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman’s Guide to Why Feminism Matters By Jessica Valenti

Full Frontal Feminism is a smart and relatable guide to the issues that matter to today’s young women. This edition includes a new foreword by Valenti, reflecting upon what’s happened in the seven years since Full Frontal Feminism was originally published. With new openers from Valenti in every chapter, the book covers a range of topics, including pop culture, health, reproductive rights, violence, education, relationships, and more.

Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer & Sex Changed a Nation At War By Leymah Gbowee & Carol Mithers

In a time of death and terror, Leymah Gbowee brought Liberia’s women together–and together they led a nation to peace. As a young woman, Gbowee was broken by the Liberian civil war, a brutal conflict that tore apart her life and claimed the lives of countless relatives and friends.

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman By Mary Wollstonecraft

In an era of revolutions demanding greater liberties for mankind, Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) was an ardent feminist who spoke eloquently for countless women of her time. Having witnessed firsthand the devastating results of male improvidence, she assumed an independent role early in life, educating herself and eventually earning a living as a governess, teacher and writer.

Outrageous Acts & Everyday Rebellions By Gloria Steinem

Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions–a phenomenal success that sold nearly half a million copies since its original publication in 1983–is Gloria Steinem’s most diverse and timeless collection of essays. Both male and female readers have acclaimed it as a witty, warm, and life-changing view of the world–“as if women mattered.”

The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity & Love By Bell Hooks

Everyone needs to love and be loved – even men. But to know love, men must be able to look at the ways that patriarchal culture keeps them from knowing themselves, from being in touch with their feelings, from loving. In The Will to Change, bell hooks gets to the heart of the matter and shows men how to express the emotions that are a fundamental part of who they are – whatever their age, marital status, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.

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.

The Feminist Utopia Project: Fifty-Seven Visions of a Wildly Better Future By Alexandra Brodsky & Rachel Kauder Nalebuff

In this groundbreaking collection, more than fifty cutting-edge voices, including Melissa Harris-Perry, Janet Mock, Sheila Heti, and Mia McKenzie, invite us to imagine a truly feminist world. An abortion provider reinvents birth control, Sheila Bapat envisions an economy that values domestic work, a teenage rock band dreams up a new way to make music, Katherine Cross rewrites the Constitution, and Maya Dusenbery resets the standard for good sex. 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.

Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture & What We Can Do About It By Kate Harding

In Asking for It, Kate Harding combines in-depth research with an in-your-face voice to make the case that twenty-first-century America supports rapists more effectively than it supports victims. Drawing on real-world examples of what feminists call “rape culture"—from politicos’ revealing gaffes to institutional failures in higher education and the military—Harding offers ideas and suggestions for how we, as a society, can take sexual violence much more seriously without compromising the rights of the accused.

The Woman in the Body By Emily Martin

A bold reappraisal of science and society, The Woman in the Body explores the different ways that women’s reproduction is seen in American culture. Contrasting the views of medical science with those of ordinary women from diverse social and economic backgrounds, anthropologist Emily Martin presents unique fieldwork on American culture and uncovers the metaphors of economy and alienation that pervade women’s imaging of themselves and their bodies.

Dirty River: A Queer Femme of Color Dreaming Her Way Home By Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarashina

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.”

Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment By Patricia Hill Collins

In spite of the double burden of racial and gender discrimination, African-American women have developed a rich intellectual tradition that is not widely known. In Black Feminist Thought, Patricia Hill Collins explores the words and ideas of Black feminist intellectuals as well as those African-American women outside academe. She provides an interpretive framework for the work of such prominent Black feminist thinkers as Angela Davis, bell hooks, Alice Walker, and Audre Lorde.

Everyday Sexism By Laura Bates

In 2012 after having been sexually harassed on London public transport, Laura Bates started a project called Everyday Sexism. Astounded by the response from all over the world, she quickly realized that the situation was far worse than she’d initially thought.  In a culture that’s driven by social media, for the first time women are using this online space, now in 19 countries, to come together and to encourage a new generation to recognize the problems that women face.