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June 22, 2024

My reading list for budding feminists

By JULIA DEVARTI | November 6, 2014

As any good feminist knows, you don’t become a feminist by chance. Often, women read an empowering book and discover feminism, or they hear someone speak about womanhood and find it inspiring. And once someone claims the name “feminist,” there’s still a lot to learn and read and use to help you grow as a woman.

To give any and all a starting place, I’ve compiled my personal feminist reading list. These include books I’ve finished, books I’ve only read a part of and even things that aren’t even books in the traditional sense. I hope that you all can find something on this list that makes you want to claim feminism as your own and something that can empower you each in your own fight.

1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin

This is one of the original feminist novels. Austin doesn’t explicitly mention feminism, but her strong and fierce leading ladies can’t help but inspire. If you’re looking for fiction to help you dip your toes into the feminist pool, look no further than Pride and Prejudice. It’s beautiful and smart and witty.

2. Our Bodies, Ourselves by the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective

This book should become your body bible. It’s a frank, no-frills book that addresses everything from yeast infections to birth control. It doesn’t skirt around hard subjects and it doesn’t unnecessarily sexualize topics. Our Bodies, Ourselves is a classic manual and an empowering resource. Seriously, go out and buy this book right now.

3. This Bridge Called My Back

Published in 1984, this is a classic collection of writings by women of color. It contains beautiful pieces by women who weren’t considered a part of the mainstream in their time. The parts I’ve read demonstrate so much strength from these writers, and it’s truly incredible to read.

4. The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler

This collection of women’s testimonies should be seen performed live, but if you can’t find a performance near you, reading the monologues is still incredible. They’re all about the relationship between vagina and self. My personal favorites include a piece about the smell of vaginas and one about female orgasms and making women moan.

5. Americanah by Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie

Have you heard Beyoncé’s “***Flawless”? If you have, you’ll probably remember the feminist speech sampled over Beyoncé’s calls to “Bow down, b*tches.” Well, that speech is by Adichie, who wrote this incredible book. Americanah is the story of a Nigerian woman who moves to America and struggles for the first time with being black. It’s an incredible story that touches on a lot of intersecting issues. Plus, it’s a beautiful love story, so if everything else hasn’t convinced you to read this, maybe that will.

6. Black Girl Dangerous

Black Girl Dangerous started as a blog by Mia McKenzie, but it has expanded to include a number of writers interested in the topics of feminism, race and queerness. The posts on this blog are harsh critiques of society; they don’t pretend the world is fine and dandy, because it’s not. Instead, Black Girl Dangerous shows you what’s true and what’s real, and it creates a space for voices uncommon in other feminist outlets.

7. Let’s Queer Things Up

This is another great blog, written by Sam Dylan Finch. Sam hits on all sorts of queer and trans* issues, while also being an ardent voice for feminism. He brings visibility to a lot of intersecting issues, and his posts are definitely worth a read.

8. SCUM Manifesto by Valerie Solanas

Feminism is not about destroying men. But at the same time, sometimes it can be fun to imagine. SCUM stands for the Society for Cutting Up Men, and it is an intense, angry read. The Manifesto calls for the literal destruction of men, and it’s certainly worth reading to get some perspective. While a little absurd, Solanas makes some interesting points, and it’s a pretty short read.

9. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

This book is where it’s at. Bad Feminist is a very recent collections of essays on feminism, race, the media and life in general. The writing is extremely accessible for people of any feminist background or none at all, and because the topics are so recent and fresh, it’s all extremely engaging to read. Roxane Gay is literally my new obsession. If you read one thing on this list, pick up Bad Feminist.

10. Sex+ by Laci Green

This one isn’t actually something to read. Sex+ is a tumblr and a video blog that collects all the funniest, truest, hardest feminist musings on tumblr. Laci also makes incredible videos on everything from “vagina hacks” to sexual assault awareness. I’m an avid follower, and her videos are always really empowering to watch.

11. Any slam poem ever (mostly)

Slam poetry is an incredible art form that has really become the voice of a lot of silenced people. Women, writers of color and queer writers have all become huge voices in the slam community. If you’re looking for a few poems to help you dive into the slam world, I recommend looking at “Burning Water,” “Dear Straight People,” “The Period Poem” and “Shrinking Women.”

I could honestly let this list go on for pages, but I’m going to cut myself off here. This list isn’t exhaustive; it’s a jumping off point. I hope you can find something here that leads you to look deeper, to examine further and to excite your inner feminist. Go forth and read on!

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