The 20+ Must-Read Feminist Books

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Every ideology out there has their sacred books. The tomes that preserve and teach to their prospective adherents the values, principles, and guidelines that make them who they are as a group. Feminism is no different.

While stopping short of calling them “sacred”, we have a selection of books that are considered important to read to understand the core of what feminism truly is.

Rest assured, you won’t find any denouncing or discriminatory language towards any group in them. That’s not who we are! We are about equality, something that you can learn by reading these must-read feminist books.

#1 So Here I Am by Anna Russell

So Here I Am is speeches by great women to empower and inspire. The first dedicated collection of seminal speeches by women from around the world, So Here I Am is about women at the forefront of change – within politics, science, human rights and media; discussing everything from free love, anti-war, scientific discoveries, race, gender and women’s rights.

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#2 Grit and Grace by Quotabelle

Grit & Grace is a collection of quotes, stories and sage advice from female trailblazers, creatively designed to inspire modern-day leaders. Grit & Grace is the perfect companion for dreaming up fresh possibilities and translating vision into action. Its pages pair sourced quotations with the uncommon stories of a host of remarkable women, readying today’s leaders to imagine new futures.

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#3 Women with Money by finance expert Jean Chatzky

An award-winning personal finance expert and journalist, Chatzky’s latest book outlines the truly unique relationship women have with their finances and examines crucial topics including how this money relationship affects our personal relationships, how to find our money personality, and how our “money story” affects their financial habits.

Coming to life through a series of “Happy Hour” conversations and one-on-ones Chatzky conducted with women across the country, Women with Money delves into the one conversation the majority of females find most difficult: money.

The book is filled with spot-on information and outlines a fantastic three-part plan and tangible solutions for women to get paid what we deserve, become inspired to start or grow businesses, invest for tomorrow, make our money last, use our money to secure relationships, raise independent, confident children, care for aging parents, and more.

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#4 Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit

In [this book] she describes her own hilarious personal experience where a man tries to mansplain a book to her, ignoring her repeated statements of, Yes, I already know that, I wrote that book. The book includes essays that explore gender equality, how women’s accomplishments have been undermined through the writing of history, and other areas of unfortunate male vs female dichotomy.

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#5 Belladonna Magic By Christine Sloan Stoddard

This book combines poetry and photography for a range of empowering female narratives and slices of life, portraying an expansive view of womanhood that’s as vulnerable as it is magical. (Plus, one of the poems was included in Ms. Magazine last year!)

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#6 Fanny on Fire by Edith G. Tolchin

This is a kick-ass feminist book about a no-nonsense women’s libber who came of age in the 1970s in New York City. The protagonist, Fanny Goldman, is a strong yet funny woman who becomes the star of an ethnic-themed cooking show on the FUC channel because she slept with the executive producer some forty years prior. Fanny says what she feels and is totally uninhibited.

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#7 The Power by Naomi Alderman

This book is a modern day feminist masterpiece, which enables readers to imagine a world where women across the globe suddenly develop dominant, powerful, and fantastic abilities. What changes when the balance of power shifts? I can guarantee you that this book will illuminate your eyes to the possibilities in a way that can only be experienced by reading it. For any feminist, it’s a useful thought-space for contemplating what having power really means.

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#8 Badass Affirmations: The Wit and Wisdom of Wild Women by Becca Anderson

If you affirm yourself every day, you can rule the world. More importantly, you can live a life filled with love, joy, fulfillment, and satisfaction thanks to your own positive self-regard. Badass Affirmations is the ultimate motivating, encouraging, and uplifting book to enjoy and share.

Create your own ideal life and build your self-esteem with these positive daily affirmations. These very wise words have the power to touch our hearts, build confidence, make us laugh, and alleviate our stress―all while realizing the vast potential life has to offer.

Becca Anderson, bestselling author of The Book of Awesome Women, serves up a memorable and inspirationalbanquet of positive self-affirmations, delicious bon mots, quips, and unforgettable quotes from movie stars, musicians, politicians, and women writers. Everyone from Malala to Madonna to Michelle Obama weighs in on the meaning of life with badass wit and timeless wisdom.

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#9 Badass Women Give the Best Advice by Becca Anderson

Women’s Studies scholar Becca Anderson has gathered the wisdom from a chorus of fabulous femmes for this one-of-a-kind advice book. From housewives to Hollywood starlets, from standup comedians to startup entrepreneurs, from feminists to Facebook queens, these badass women offer unvarnished and unabashed opinions about love, life, word, men, and sex and share their very frank and forthright thinking on the wild world of relationships.

This delightfully dishy gathering of gal pals is like having a heart-to-heart with 200 of your closest friends. Garrulous girls and loquacious ladies of from every walk of life unleash their wicked wit in this humorous and enlightening compilation and tell it like it is.

Topics include What the World Needs Now, Love Hurts, Lost Love, and Are Men Really Necessary and cover sex, personal ads, blind dates, break ups, weddings, and the prerequisites for the perfect kiss. Sidebars include quizzes, love and sex bucket lists and topics like “Size Really Does Matter,” and “Cry Me a River, The Weepiest Romantic Movies Ever.”

Wait, there’s more–true tales about wild women of yore that entertain as much as they enlighten. From Anais Nin to Lily Tomlin, from Amy Bloom to Dorothy Allison, from Drew Barrymore to Chrissy Teigan and beyond, there’s no shortage of sass, sarcasm, or sizzle and a few shocks along the way!

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#10 Backwards and in Heels: The Past, Present And Future Of Women Working In Film by Alicia Malone

Women have been instrumental in the success of American cinema since its very beginning. One of the first people to ever pick up a motion picture camera was a woman-as was the first screenwriter to win two Academy Awards, the inventor of the boom microphone and the first person to be credited with the title Film Editor.

Throughout the entire history of Hollywood women have been revolutionizing, innovating, and shaping how we make movies. Yet their stories are rarely shared. This is what film reporter Alicia Malone wants to change. Backwards and in Heels combines research and exclusive interviews with influential women and men working in Hollywood today, such as Geena Davis, J.J. Abrams, Ava DuVernay, Octavia Spencer, America Ferrera, Paul Feig and many more, as well as film professors, historians and experts.

Think of Backwards and in Heels as a guidebook, your entry into the complex world of women in film. Join Alicia Malone as she champions Hollywood women of the past and present, and looks to the future with the hopes of leveling out the playing field.

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#11 The Book of Awesome Women by Becca Anderson

Women hold up half the sky and, most days, do even more of the heavy lifting including childbearing and child-rearing. All after a long day at the office. Women have always been strong, true heroes ─ sheroes, oftentimes unacknowledged.

As we shake off the last traces of a major patriarchal hangover, women are coming into their own. In the 21st Century, all women can fully embrace their fiery fempower and celebrate their no-holds-barred individuality. It is time to acknowledge the successful women of the world.

From the foremothers who blazed trails and broke barriers, to today’s women warriors from sports, science, cyberspace, city hall, the lecture hall, and the silver screen, The Book of Awesome Women paints 200 portraits of powerful and inspiring role models for women and girls poised to become super women of the future.

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#12 The Female Gaze by Alicia Malone

From Mary Herron’s film American Psycho garnering a reputation as a Classic to Greta Gerwig’s film Lady Bird dominating the Golden Globes and the National Society of Film Critics Awards, it is about time women in film were more thoroughly discussed.

Alicia Malone is determined to grow the conversation about both the lack of women behind the scenes and in the history books through her own book, The Female Gaze. In the mini-essays written by female film critics, discover brilliantly talented and accomplished women filmmakers, both world renowned and obscure, who have shaped the film industry in ways rarely fully acknowledged.

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#13 The Feminist Financial Handbook by Brynne Conroy

Sometimes the best way to stick it to the man is by doing well for yourself. There’s just one problem: it’s hard to do well for yourself when systemic oppression has placed innumerable hurdles between you and your aspirations.

The Feminist Financial Handbook provides real motivation and resources for real women who may be struggling―not only those who have already accumulated wealth. In this book, author Brynne Conroy provides actionable tips for women in business to overcome these obstacles without dulling the visceral experience of the real-life struggles women face as they try to master their money management and their lives.

Because women’s experiences don’t exist in a vacuum relegated to their gender, the handbook explores financial issues with anecdotes and perspectives of women of different races, sexual orientations and abilities.

Whether you want to learn more about general financial planning principles, like saving or earning a higher income, or delve into issues that disproportionately affect women, like the wage gap or the long road to economic recovery after experiencing domestic violence, The Feminist Financial Handbook has stories and advice from women who have been there, worked through the struggle, and achieved personal success.

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#14 Great Second Acts: In Praise of Older Women by Marlene Wagman-Geller

Antony said of Cleopatra, “Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale/Her infinite variety.” Shakespeare’s sentiment can be applied to the women profiled in Great Second Acts, who refused to be defined by the dates on their birth certificates. Their lives are testimony that one can be feisty after fifty, and to those who think otherwise, in the words of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, “I dissent.”

Marlene Wagman-Geller, author of Once Again to Zelda and Behind Every Great Man, presents a fascinating collection of biographical vignettes of dozens of older women who have excelled, inspired and achieved. Learn how these women changed their respective fields of art, politics, science, mathematics, media, literature, activism, education, and more.

From actresses, yoga teachers and folk artists to business women, prime ministers, monarchs and authors, these exceptional women will illustrate that women can achieve anything, no matter their age.

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#15 Still I Rise by Marlene Wagman-Geller

When Nelson Mandela was imprisoned in South Africa’s brutal Robben Prison, he tirelessly turned to the poem Invictus, the inspirational verse by the Victorian William Ernest Henley, penned on the occasion of the amputation of his leg.

Still I Rise takes its title from a work by Maya Angelou and it resonates with the same spirit of an unconquerable soul: a woman who is captain of her fate. Just as Invictus brought solace to generations, so does Angelou’s contemporary classic. Still I Rise embodies the strength of character of the inspiring women profiled.

Each chapter will outline the fall and rise of great women heroes who smashed all obstacles rather than letting all obstacles smash them. The book offers hope to those undergoing their own Sisyphean struggles. Intrepid women heroes are the antithesis of the traditional damsels in distress: rather than waiting for the prince, they took salvation into their own hands.

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#16 Women Who Launch by Marlene Wagman-Geller

Dorothy Parker observed, “It’s a man’s world”; the lady entrepreneurs and game-changers profiled in Women Who Launch would beg to differ. Unlike many matrons of the 1950s, these kick-ass females left their DNA in the annals of time. Julia Ward-Howe showed what’s good for the goose is good for the gander when she created the Girl Scouts of America.

Sara Joseph Hale, authoress of Mary had a Little Lamb, convinced Lincoln to launch a national day of thanks, while Anna Jarvis persuaded President Wilson to initiate a day in tribute of mothers. Estee Lauder revolutionized the cosmetics industry. The tradition of these Mothers of Invention continued when, compliments of knitter Krista Suh, the heads of millions were adorned with pink, pussy-cat ears in the largest women’s march in history.

Women Who Launch is filled with inspiring true stories of women activists, artists, entrepreneurs who launched some of the most famous companies, brands, and organizations today and changed the world. It is at once a collection of biographies and a testament of female empowerment. These women who launched prove, in the words of Rosie the Riveter, “We can do it!” Find motivation in your career and life with the amazing history of women entrepreneurship, activism, and leadership.

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#17 Intermission: How Fervor, Friendships and Faith Took Me to The Second Act By Mindie Barnett

In this funny and inspiring memoir of change and growth, publicist Mindie Barnett shares the secrets to keeping the faith and managing to thrive while starting your own second act. After finding the courage to leave her perfect-on-paper marriage, Mindie Barnett shifted the spotlight to herself.

An expert at helping her clients pivot and put their best foot forward, it was now time to focus on her own second act. She committed herself to opening her heart and mind and bringing uplifting experiences into her life-even as it turned upside down.

From tap lessons at her daughter’s dance school to a mid-life Bat Mitzvah ceremony, from running a half-marathon to seeking help from beyond the grave, from traditional talk therapy to consulting the angels, her journey covered all the bases as she juggled owning a business, the kids’ new schedules, and dating all over again in the age of texts and Tinder. Sometimes, the show must stop before it can go on. In Intermission, Mindie provides an inspirational guide to kick-starting your life that will resonate with women everywhere facing big life changes.

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#18 Death in Ten Minutes by Fern Riddell

Kitty Marion, Author and historian Fern Riddell tells the story of this incendiary woman through her never-before-seen diaries, perfectly capturing a time when women in the US and UK were fighting for the right to vote using any means necessary.

Kitty’s subsequent arrests and record number of force-feedings while in prison put her on a path of dedicated radical activism, leading her across the ocean to New York City, where she joined Margaret Sanger in advocating for birth control. Telling a new story of the women’s movement in light of new and often shocking revelations, Death In Ten Minutes (3/5/19) asks the question: Why has the life of this incredible woman, and the violence of the suffragettes, been forgotten? And, one hundred years later, why are women suddenly finding themselves under threat again?

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#19 Homeland Maternity by Natalie Fixmer-Oraiz

There is a new book that is hot off the press. Homeland Maternity- US Security Culture and the New Reproductive Regime, by Natalie Fixmer-Oraiz. The author illuminates a series of disturbing trends in contemporary reproductive politics, offering insight into the relationship between nationalism and reproductive rights and a path forward for those who care about women’s lives and dignity. This is a must read for feminist activists and scholars.

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#20 Natir Whitebridge: A Grain of Respect by Ameel Koro

In this book, Natir begins her adventure as a badly violated young woman reeling beneath chains of slavery, years of abuse, and a primal society oppressive to women. For women to be seen as persons is a rarity in her world and to be treated with the respect of an equal is unheard of. Natir’s fear of cheap forfeit of her life and the life of her child, in footsteps of what happened to her mother, is the fabric of her nightmares. It is weighing her down to the limit of denying her own self-worth and stands barrier in the way of becoming the entity she was destined to be. But it was her chance encounter with Alfred, a strange and cruel man who saw in Natir much more than she seems to be, is what’s about to change all of that.

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#21 JaneAusten: The Secret Radical by Helena Kelly

Every time we think of Jane Austen, we think of period dramas featuring polite young men and decent women doing pas de deux, a courtship. An English writer who first gave the novel its emphatically modern character through her ordinary people’s treatment in everyday life.

But, Jane Austen: The Secret Radical has displayed Jane Austen from a different angle.

It is a brilliant and well-read book by Helena Kelly who shows how Jane Austen was deliberately using her novels – commenting on the larger issues of the day, including slavery, feminism, contemporary currents of political totalitarianism, and the hypocrisy of the Church of England.

The Secret Radical is an illuminating reassessment of the life and work of Jane Austen that shows how she has been misapprehended for the past two centuries. and how inflammatory, daring, and truly radical a writer she was.

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Contributors to this article
Anna Russell from The Quarto Group

Quotabelle from The Quarto Group

Kayce McGehee from Triple 7 PR

Stacy Caprio from Her.CEO

Christine Sloan Stoddard from Quail Bell Magazine

Ken Robinson from Fanny on Fire

Charlie Brook from HerMeOut

Christina McCall from Mango Publishing

Brielle Perry from MB and Associates Public Relations

Amanda Harkness from Quercus

Kristin Baird from Baird Group

Ameel Koro

Josefin Bjorklund from Topp Casino Bonus

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