Here we have Hermione’s list of books to read to celebrate feminist literature. These are works covering a range of genres, backgrounds, and perspectives, but it is, of course, by no means an exhaustive list. For this list, we’re moving away from the classic and famous titles like The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf, and The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (although they’re great too!). It’s time to pump up those TBR lists and learn about some of the great feminist stories – and authors – out there!
1. We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This is one of today’s benchmark feminist nonfiction works. It mixes the personal with the political and has a more global outlook on feminist issues as we take a journey with Adichie through her experiences in both America and Nigeria. This first pick also teaches a very important lesson about the value of intersectionality, understanding the role that race, sexuality, and other experiences can have on the female experience. As a Nigerian writer living in America, Adichie provides that intersectional perspective as well as widens the conversation on feminism. Also, if you love Adichie’s works as Hermione does, then her fictional novels such as Americanah should definitely be added to your list.
2. The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
This book has been described as a feminist version of Game of Thrones – and for good reason. There’s political intrigue, conflict, and some beautifully written romances (and of course, dragons). But more than that, Samantha Shannon creates a culturally and racially diverse world. This is on top of her well-thought-out, complex, and overall badass characters, most of whom are female. Also, the sapphic romance in it is so beautifully crafted and adds another really great layer of representation. This is a mammoth of a story, but well worth the read!
3. Wordslut by Amanda Montell
This nonfiction book is a really interesting dive into the power and history of words, showing how words have been used to shape and define the way the female experience is represented in the English language. It makes you realize how entrenched some of the issues around the treatment of women, minorities, and LGBTQIA + communities are within things as simple as the words we use every day.
4. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
This is one of those books that is simply on another level. It’s heartbreaking, gut-wrenching, and deals with a lot of dark themes. But it is also such an important book, intersecting race and homosexuality with the female experience. It’s a book about discovering inner strength, quiet power, and certainty of one’s identity despite all the darkness and devastation that the world can throw at you. It’s an absolute classic.
5. One Hundred Days by Alice Pung
One Hundred Days is written by Asian-Australian author Alice Pung and follows a complicated mother-daughter relationship. It’s deeply moving, exploring the complexities of bonds between family and the way love can manifest itself. This story is about navigating culture, race, family, and gender expectations. Perhaps a little less overtly feminist, this book is nonetheless a must-read as it brings so many deep emotions and intersections between gender and culture to the forefront.
6. The World’s Wife by Carol Ann Duffy
Poetry is an often underrated area of feminist literature. There are so many powerful female poets and poems out there, from the work of Emily Dickinson to Maya Angelou. Poetry and poetry collections can be great because there’s such a range of female experiences out there, and poetry can really get to the heart of the emotions and deep thoughts behind these female poets. The World’s Wife by Carol Ann Duffy is one such collection, with female characters from famous fairy tales, historical figures, and even women from Greek mythology getting a chance to tell their sides of the story. It’s emotional, full of rage and dry wit, thought-provoking, and definitely worth a read.
7. Circe by Madeline Miller
There’s been a trend in historical fiction lately of retelling myths and history from the female perspective, and Madeline Miller certainly meets the mark with this novel. Inspired by Homer’s Odyssey and the mythological character of Circe, Miller weaves a brilliantly told story of female power and self-realization in a heavily patriarchal society. The characters are beautifully complex and the writing is bright and vivid. It’s a great story, even for readers who do not know much about Greek mythology.
Hopefully, this list has boosted your own TBR list for 2022 and given you some new favorite books to dive into. It is so valuable to celebrate the works of various authors and their perspectives, whether they be modern or historical, famous or a little-known gem; it gives all of us a broader view of what it means to be a woman in this world. And who knows? Perhaps even the most knowledgeable feminist might learn something.