Your 2016 Summer Feminist Book Guide

By Killian McDonald
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Whether you are finding yourself stuck on the single track D.C. metro for two hours on the way home or finding yourself relaxing on the beach, the summer is a great time to catch up on your feminist reading.  Check out some of our favorite new (and old) feminist readings. From the autobiographies of some of our favorite funny feminists, to the classic books that defined the feminist movement, there is a book here for everyone.

Autobiographies

Caitlin Moore

How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

“What do you think feminism is, ladies? What part of ‘liberation for women’ is not for you? Is it freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man you marry?”

A British best seller that Vanity Fair hails as “the U.K. version of Tina Fey’s Bossypants.” Moran tackles modern issues women face today intertwined with humor and her own personal experiences. The end result is a hilarious yet relatable commentary on life as a woman and what it means to be a feminist.

Why Not Me by Mindy Kaling

Why Not Me? is Kaling’s second book and is focused on her experiences as a curvy Indian American in Hollywood. It chronicles her life and struggles she has experienced with body issues and trying to “fit in” with Hollywood stars. The book is a great read to empower girls to go from questioning “why not me” to asserting it.

Check out these autobiographies by our favorite best friends:

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Bossypants by Tina Fey

 Social Commentary

Mansplain

Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit

Rebecca Solnit tackles the issue of “mansplaining” in which some men incorrectly assume they know things and incorrectly assume women do not. Using her own terrible conversations as hilarious examples, Solnit attempts to explain these gender dynamics and the silencing of women. Solnit creates a compelling argument for the necessity of modern feminism and shines light on daily inequalities women face.

What will it Take to Make a Woman President? By Marianne Schnall

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In an exploration to answer the question “why haven’t we ever had a woman president?”, Schnall compiles interviews and ideas from leading politicians, writers, thinkers, and activists. The book looks at current politics and American culture to find solutions and empower women to become leaders. It’s a book that Beyoncé encourages her younger fans to read.

Also check out:

We Should all be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Enlightened Sexism by Susan J. Douglas

Essay Collection

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

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Bad Feminist” is a collection of essays in which Gay discusses modern culture, politics, and women’s issues that paint a picture of modern feminism. Gay discusses her own life and experiences as a woman of color in a funny, thought provoking manner. Her essay collection is a criticism of modern consumer culture and a call to modern feminist.

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You Don’t Have to Like Me: Essays on Growing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding Feminism by Alida Nugent

An unapologetic take on modern culture, Nugent’s essays critique modern social issues many women face. Nugent reflects on her own past experiences, such as her battle with bulimia and buying Plan B, in order to examine larger cultural forces women face. Nugent is hilarious and insightful as she leads her readers on a journey towards feminism.

Also check out:

A Little F’d Up: Why Feminism is not a Dirty Word by Julie Zeilinger

Sex Object by Jessica Valenti

 Fiction

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A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

The Afghanistan war brings together two very different women and an unlikely story of a thirty-year friendship is created. Surviving the increasing dangers of life in Kabul together, the two women form a relationship that changes their lives and the lives of the next generation. A Thousand Splendid Suns is story of love and sacrifice that follows Afghan history through two strong female protagonists. From the author of The Kite Runner comes a compelling story of the power of women.

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For Today I am a Boy by Kim Fu

Fu’s debut novel introduces us to Peter, the only son in a traditional Chinese family growing up in Ontario. Peter’s father has a strict idea of western masculinity that he imposes on Peter. However, Peter realizes that he can never fit his father’s version of a “man” because he is a girl. In a house of order and obedience, Peter’s sisters leave the house and leaving Peter to his own journey of self-identification and understanding.

Also check out:

Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

Classics

The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedman

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Friedman introduces us to the “problem that has no name”, pushing us into the second wave of feminism. This book exposes the institutions that kept a generation of women in home with their children. Friedman shed a light on how women could reclaim their own voices and lives therefore making this book a classic in the feminist movement.

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The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Atwood’s dystopian novel focuses on the protagonist Offred, a handmaiden to the Commander. Offred lives an extremely policed life and, as a handmaiden, is valued on the viability of her ovaries. A biting satire, the novel examines the role and treatment of women in society. The novel is funny and horrifying but remains as a warning for the need of societal reform for women.

Also check out:

The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Bonus

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

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Satrapi’s memoir documents her life growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. This graphic novel gives a detailed description of every day life in Iran during the tumultuous transitions from the Shah’s regime, the Islamic Revolution, and the war with Iraq. Satrapi gives a brilliant account of war and political repression through the eyes of a relatable young girl. Emma Watson recommended Persepolis for her feminist book club, which you can read more here!

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Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Woodson’s memoir is a beautiful collection of poems about her childhood growing up during the 60s and 70s in South Carolina and New York as a black girl. She explores her place in the world during a time period of the Civil Rights Movement and the remains of the Jim Crow laws. A powerful memoir recommended by Marley Dias, the eleven year old behind the #blackgirlbooks movement (check it out here)!

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Grab your favorite feminist book (or books) and enjoy your summer!

By Killian McDonald

Killian is a campus and government relations intern at the Feminist Majority Foundation. She is a southern girl from South Carolina that loves sweet tea, cats, and reading in the sunshine.

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