2019 Mar 22
This month, we’re delving into spectacular books that have had an incredible impact on the progress of feminism, are inspiring, and give a voice to things rarely spoken of. Here are 9 empowering books you should read this month.
1. #GIRLBOSS – Sophia Amoruso
Amoruso spent her teens hitchhiking, committing petty theft, and scrounging in dumpsters for leftover bagels. In her twenties, Sophia decided to start selling vintage clothes on eBay. Flash forward to today, and she’s the founder of Nasty Gal and the founder and CEO of Girlboss. Sophia was never a typical CEO, or a typical anything, and she’s written #GIRLBOSS for other girls like her: outsiders (and insiders) seeking a unique path to success, even when that path is windy as all hell and lined with naysayers.
A New York Times Bestseller, #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso tells the tale of how she went from dumpster diving to creating one of the fastest-growing retailers in the world. The book is honest, down-to-earth, funny, and is a perfect read for every business-driven woman out there; filled with the inspiration you didn’t know you needed – from ups and downs to reaching success. What makes #GIRLBOSS so unique is that Sophia Amoruso doesn’t focus on gender, rather on entrepreneurship in general, making it more feminist than ever.
2. The Feminine Mystique – Betty Friedan
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.
The Feminine Mystique was first published in 1963, and was (and still is) a groundbreaking piece of literature. During a time when women’s confidence and intellectual capabilities were constantly underestimated, enforcing the oppression of women to the home, The Feminine Mystique was bold, daring, and unfortunately, is still relevant in many parts of the world.
3. Men Explain Things To Me – 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. This book features that now-classic essay with six perfect complements, including an examination of the writer Virginia Woolf’s embrace of mystery, of not knowing, of doubt and ambiguity, a highly original inquiry into marriage equality, and a terrifying survey of the scope of contemporary violence against women.
In her classic essay, 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 is a relatively quick read with a number of funny anecdotes that the modern feminist can relate to easily. The book that inspired the term ‘mansplaining’, Solnit’s collection of essays showcases her fierce opinions on rape culture, sex scandals and issues that patriarchal cultures may not even acknowledge as issues at all.
4. Hidden Figures – Margot Lee Shetterly
Set amid the civil rights movement, this is the never-before-told true story of NASA’s African-American female mathematicians who played a crucial role in America’s space program. Before Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of professionals worked as ‘Human Computers’, calculating the flight paths that would enable these historic achievements. Among these was a coterie of bright, talented African-American women. Segregated from their white counterparts, these ‘coloured computers’ used pencil and paper to write the equations that would launch rockets and astronauts, into space.
Historical women who have accomplished incredible things were rarely given recognition for their work. In Hidden Figures, Margot Lee Shetterly unfolds one of these incredible stories. A #1 New York Times Bestseller, the story of the five women who changed history is one that must be read, made popular, and given the acknowledgement it deserves.
5. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now…
The Handmaid’s Tale is now undeniably incredibly popular ever since the release of its incredible TV adaptation. Now it’s time to pick up the book that inspired it all! Margaret Atwood painted a world that is both terrifying and yet possible, making it all the more relevant in today’s day and age. Although the story focuses on the hardships that the characters face, it has been increasingly important in raising awareness and drawing parallels between fiction and the real world.
6. I Am Malala – Malala Yousafzai
I come from a country that was created at midnight. When I almost died it was just after midday.
When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education and almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive. 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 has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
The legendary story of Malala and her fight for girls, her country, and freedom is one that will be etched into history forever. Yet, no matter how much you may have heard of her story, I Am Malala is a must-read, being one of the most inspiring and undeniably feminist books out there. The read is indeed a journey that will change your perceptions forever.
7. Yes Please – Amy Poehler
Yes Please offers up a big juicy stew of personal stories, funny bits on sex and love and friendship and parenthood and real life advice (some useful, some not so much), like when to be funny and when to be serious. Powered by Amy’s charming and hilarious, biting yet wise voice, Yes Please is a book full of words to live by.
One of the more lighthearted reads in this list, Yes Please is for the modern woman, navigating life in this crazy 21st century world. With funny tidbits, stories, and more, Yes Please will have you laughing, inspired, and is as relatable as ever.
8. The Beauty Myth – 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.”
Addressing current modern day sexist issues which are swept under the rug or not considered as important by many, Naomi Wolf’s bestselling book looks at the everyday pressure on women to conform physically. The Beauty Myth is eye-opening and well worth the read.
9. Bad Feminist – Roxane Gay
“Pink is my favorite color. I used to say my favorite color was black to be cool, but it is pink—all shades of pink. If I have an accessory, it is probably pink. I read Vogue, and I’m not doing it ironically, though it might seem that way. I once live-tweeted the September issue”. In these funny and insightful essays, Roxane Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman of color while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years and commenting on the state of feminism today.
Focusing on both her journey as a woman and the state of feminism today, Roxane Gay addresses the many modern day problems women face, for although we have seen much progress, underlying sexism still prevails. Tackling these ideals is not easy – yet Bad Feminist handles it in a way that is both insightful and makes for a light read.