So, as an ardent feminist, I think there are a several books that anyone who believes in equal rights or enjoys a good read, should buy, devour and love.
So, as an ardent feminist, I think there are a several books that anyone who believes in equal rights or enjoys a good read, should buy, devour and love. Or as in my case, have placed around my flat to scare off anyone who isn’t quite so up on the times.
Now there is also the option of seeing The Guardian’s list as well, so there’s no excuse for missing out on your much needed feminist quota of great books – check them out here.
Here are some of the books that I wish I could have included on my top 10 Feminist books: Emma by Jane Austen, Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, Oroonokoby Aphra Behn [actually this is a play], I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, Travels with Myself and Another by Martha Gellhorn, Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert, The Women’s Room by Marilyn French and The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf.
And here’s the real list.
Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale
The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian story of one woman’s struggle. It looks at fertility and the ghastly consequences of attempting to control women’s reproductive rights. Mixes beautiful language and imagery, love, the questioning of motherhood and class. An enjoyable, meaningful and wonderfully written novel, and well worth the top ten spot. Just don’t watch the Natasha Richardson version, although it is quite funny and terribly dated.
Caitlin Moran, How To Be A Woman
Probably the most recent books on this list, Moran’s biting dialogue and sharp insights into a growing woman’s mind, makes this reflective, hilarious autographical tale both a useful insight into a modern woman’s mind whilst addressing complicated issues like class, sex, siblings, abortion and children.
Andrea Dworkin, Pornography: Men Possessing Women
There’s been an awful lot written by Dworkin and therefore quite a lot to pick from, but personally I feel this heavily researched and passionately written manifesto covers it best. Dworkin’s viewpoint and verve for her subject matter is key to addressing the violence and aggression in the sex industry and how this plays out for women.
Emile Zola, Therese Raquin
The only male author on this list, Therese Raquin, looks at a young woman forced into matrimony with her cousin, who falls in love with a painter and kills her husband to be with her lover. Whilst it weaves in the classic adultery tale [see Madame Bovary, Lady Chatterley’s Lover or Anna Karenia] this book goes further than the others as it addresses the poverty in Therese’s situation both financially and emotionally, and it is her choices and mistakes that come to define her as a heroine.
Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Women
Because she’s the mother of the women’s movement and the first writer to put pen to paper [in the English language] to say that half the populace deserve equality. Because she was brave enough to not care in a world of men and risk being a writer in her own right. Because her daughter wrote Frankenstein and because of this: “Strengthen the female mind by enlarging it, and there will be an end to blind obedience.”
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Infidel
On this list Ayann Hirsi Ali is probably one of the most remarkable and brave women alive today. She abandoned her religion and family, risked life and limb [and she still does] to expose FGM, misogynyin Islam and in political system in Holland. And is her story of escape.
Virginia Woolfe, A Room Of One’s Own
There were too many novels to pick from, so I thought it would be good to remember Woolfe in her real feminist mode and that, is as an essayist. A Room Of One’s Own not only captures the rigid and wrought social climate of the late 1920s but also delves into the passion and difficulties of being a female artist.
Of course Mrs Dalloway, The Waves and Orlando are all beautifully written and do address feminism [in different ways] but it is in essay form we get to truly hear Woolfe’s author voice and that is a joy.
Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
Because no matter what my English lecturer said I will never agree that Villetteis a better book than Jane Eyre. Never. The reason for that is here for the first time we truly see the female voice, boundless, expressive, joyful and growing before our eyes on the page. And because you have to have a Brontë on the list and as much as I love The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Jane is just a better character.
Susan Brownmiller, Against Our Will
There are some books you won’t forget reading. Some books you wish you could. Brownmiller’s treads the line between the two on a pinpoint. This book from the 1970s taps straight into the heart of why women fear men and never wavers from showing us the brutal history. An exploration of rape and the culture it exists in, sadly this brilliant book and its findings are still relevant today.
Simone De Beauvoir, The Second Sex
She didn’t want to write just another book on feminism, so instead Simon De Beaviour wrote THE book on feminism.
What do you think? What would you add to the list? Have your say in the comments section below.