For anyone still not sure about feminism, books is a good place to start. Through out the history of feminism, it’s the written word that’s stood revolutions and the test time, documenting change as it happened. Books have been at the edge of ideas and evolution, driving change among younger generations. In fact words make it a lot easier to under what feminism is through its lived experiences, and beats patriarchy at the root of its culture. Here’s is a list 22 essential feminist books to read to get a wide-ranging and diverse grip on feminism.
22 Absolutely Must Read Feminist Books
1.Women & Power: A Manifesto- Mary Beard
In the book Mary Beard discusses about the gender agenda with more insights on rape, consent and how the discussion is taken on after the #metoo movement assumed limelight.
2. All the Single Ladies by Rebecca Traister
All the Single Ladies is about the twenty-first century phenomenon of the American single woman. It was the year the proportion of American women who were married dropped below fifty percent; and the median age of first marriages, which had remained between twenty and twenty-two years old for nearly a century (1890–1980), had risen dramatically to twenty-seven.
3. Bad Feminist: Essays- Roxane Gay
The collection of essays in the book is witty, generous and relatable. In the story, Gay calls out to the females to form a tribe and feel the pride in calling themselves ‘ bad feminist’ as it more humanly and humans are messy. So true !
4. Chandrabati’s Ramayana- Translated by Nabaneeta Dev Sen
In this version of Ramayana the author tells the story from Sita’s (Lord Ram’s wife and the female protagonist of the epic) point of view. She adds more situations and contexts to already prevailing legend and tries to provide all of them with new interpretation – that of a gendered lens.
5. Lifting the Veil- Ismat Chughtai
The book is collection of fiction and non-fiction stories of Chughtai. Lifting the Veil explores the power of female sexuality and mocks tyranny of middle class life. The rare insight into public and private life of woman is described with perfection.
6. That Long Silence -Shashi Deshpande
The story by Deshpande is set in 1970s India where women were deprived of the rights and did not even have chance to speak about the atrocities. Jaya’s journey on finding her own self and inner conflicts is relatable through description of Deshpande.
7. These, Our Bodies, Possessed by Light – Dharini Bhaskar
The poetic prose by Dharini is about women looking at the crossroads in their life. The story carries three generations in a frame which is entwined by tradition. The story of woman who get effected by decisions of men in there life is something every woman can relate to
8. Men Explain Things to Me – Rebecca Solnit
The collection of seven essays by Solnit shows how the pre conceived notions on woman has taken the roots in society. She jots the impact and statistics of various female movement around the globe. The book has used lots of data but it is all to justify the issues effecting women.
9. Pinjar – Amrita Pritam
It shows story of women who were mistreated by the society in India and Pakistan during partition. How a woman changes religion, tries adapting to a new tradition and at the same time tries recovering from horrendous past is something which has to be read in historical context.
10. Staying Alive- Vandana Shiva
Vandana gives us the topic of “maldevelopment” through the book. It explains how destruction of environments sets in ground for exploitation and injustice along with the marginalisation of women. The book highlights the role and insights of women towards struggle for environment protection.
11. The Palace Of Illusions – Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
The story of Panchali sets forth the discrimination faced by women since centuries. The story wants us to delve into the past and understand the pain of a woman during that era. It also takes up the task of sensitising men to understand the issue faced by women relevant even today.
12. Living A Feminist Life -Sara Ahmad
The story that Sara puts forward may be painful to read at times. It is kept real and raw on “how feminists become estranged from worlds they critique—often by naming and calling attention to problems”. She gives examples from the past to justify how feminist are been looked upon.
13. All The Lives We Never Lived – Anuradha Roy
It is the story of Gayatri set in pre war era where she pursues her hobby of singing, painting, dancing. It is one of the perfect books depicting woman’s sense of emotion and decision making, creating a perfect female character of Gayatri through her writing.
14. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
It is the story of regime ruled by “men only”. The best part about the book is the “real “story which may start to disturb you once you reach the ending of the book as it is the reality. How women are reduced to mere reproductive apparatus is the focus of the writing.
15. The Girl With The Louding Voice – Abi Daré
The book was shortlisted for British Book Awards Debut of the Year 2020. The story of Nigerian girl Adunni having no control over her own life decision makes you feel helpless while reading it. It also gives us an idea of how we must make best of every opportunity given to us so that we can make best of everything.
16. We Should All Be Feminists –
“A feminist is a person who believes in the economic, political and social equality of the sexes.”- The apt definition provided by Adichie will make you stick through the entire book. She uses example from our own regional culture and tradition and brings to the discussion table. She takes up the cause of woman been looked down upon since ages due to lesser physical strength regardless of their population.
17. Gendering Caste: Through A Feminist Lens- Uma Chakravarti
The book unravels the tyranny of castes and gender both in pre independent and post independent era. Uma being a famous female historian in University of Delhi, writes the book on how the dominant system of caste which is entrenched in Indian society is causing the subordination of women folklore in the country.
18. Feminist Fight Club – Jessica Bennett
It a piece written on confronting the sexism at workplace. It gives us with tips to take upon the inequalities of society. While you learn, you will also laugh and that’s the best part, even when you reading on such a illuminating and serious topic.
19. How to Raise a Feminist Son: Motherhood, Masculinity, and the Making of My Family -Sonora Jha
The story is about the woman of colour trying to raise a American feminist son through her struggles and triumphs. The book gives an insight on how to raise son by making him understanding the complexity of society, hardships of woman and respecting the woman in general.
20. Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning- Cathy Park Hong
Cathy brings out the aspect of what it is in 21st century to be Asian American. Her essay revolves around her family, relation with English, depression and relationships with other women. The story brings more to the limelight of “racial consciousness”.
21. Feminist Rani by Shaili Chopra and Meghna Pant
Feminist Rani is a collection of interviews with path-breaking and fascinating opinion leaders–Kalki Koechlin, Tanmay Bhatt, Gul Panag, Aditi Mittal, Gauri Sawant, and many more. These are women and men who have advocated gender equality and women’s rights through their work. These compelling conversations provide a perspective on the evolving concept of feminism in an age when women are taking charge and leading the way.
22. Seeing Like A Feminist by Nivedita Menon
For Nivedita Menon, feminism is not about a moment of final triumph over patriarchy but about the gradual transformation of the social field so decisively that old markers shift forever.
Read more on “Books For Feminism” by SheThePeople