I love a good female centric book and lately I’ve read SO many good ones. The books on this list focus on books that I feel like empower girls and women that not only give you the warm and fuzzies, but also have nuance and depth beyond the go-get-em spirit. This is definitely a short list and there are SO many other amazing feminist books that this list just grazes the surface. This is just a list of a few that I’ve read recently and are some of my favorites.
Lumberjanes Vol. 1: Beware The Kitten Holy
by Noelle Stevenson and Shannon Watters
I couldn’t leave Lumberjanes out of this list. It’s a graphic novel that I think all young people should read, especially young girls. It’s the classic story about a group of girl friends who spend their summer at camp, fighting supernatural three-eyed foxes and uncover mysteries around the camp. It’s a really bad ass group of girls who do everything in the name of friendship. The group is diverse, the characters are fun, smart and flawed. There’s a lot of representation in this series without it being forced. It’s everything you want for your teenage girl without sacrificing the fun and story line. It’s absolutely beautiful and I think everyone should give it a go.
I have two books on this list by Roxane Gay for a really good reason. She’s so real, funny and insightful. I guess Bad Feminist was my first book I bought specifically when I started searching for books on feminism. Bad Feminist is a collection of essays Gay writes exploring her personal experiences, pop culture, intersectionality, what being a woman has meant to her, sexual violence and a lot of other topics. She talks about what the current state of feminism is to her. It’s very insightful for anyone just learning about feminism and why some people find that word leaving a bad taste in their mouths. I love pop culture, so some of my favorite essays were commentary on Twilight and 50 shades of Grey. If you’re into that kind of thing, I would recommend this collection of essays. One thing I constantly try to do is diversify my reading materials. That includes reading authors who have very different life experiences than I’ve had or authors I’ve read from in the past. I don’t know what it’s like to be a black woman with Haitian decent, so I wanted to read more from her.
That being said, I picked up An Untamed State. Where Bad Feminist was more of a collection of thoughts, collected together in one place, An Untamed State will definitely appeal to you if you don’t like essays or if you just like reading novels instead. The story focuses on a woman named Mireille who was born in the US to immigrant Haitian parents. In the first few pages of the book, she is kidnapped while she is in Haiti and tells the story of her kidnapping and flashes back to her childhood and the rest of her life. This was absolutely gripping and it was the kind of book that I stayed up until 2 am to finish. I definitely will warn you that it is graphic and has some really terrible violence. I cried buckets and it definitely left me with so much heaviness in my heart. A lot of people will sum of this story as a tale of a woman and her kidnapping but it’s so much more than that. It’s a story about resiliency. It tells a lot about a slice of Haiti and the United States. It’s a story about family. It’s about how women need each other. It’s a hard book to read but if you can get through it, it’s definitely worth it.
You probably know Rupi Kaur from that infamous instagram photo she posted with period stains on her pants and sheets as a part of a series she was working talking about the taboo around menstruation that was taken down because it didn’t “follow Community Guidelines.” Anyway, Milk and Honey is a collection of her poetry and it’s absolutely gorgeous. She talks about her family, her relationships with other people and herself, abuse, love and trauma. It’s emotional and raw. I don’t know much about poetry to be honest, but there are some poems that broke me into a million pieces. Her poetry will make you feel uncomfortable and then question why you do.
A classic. Little Women was one of my favorite books in grade school. Jo March was my hero and I thought she was the coolest characters ever. If you’ve never read Little Women as a child, I read it recently as an adult and it 100% still holds up as a good bad-ass woman book. The story focuses on the girls in the March family and their growth from little girls waiting for their father to return from the Civil War to strong women who hold each other up. It was one of the formative books that cemented for me that girls can and must pave their own way and make their own decisions. If I have children, Little Women will definitely be on their shelves.
This book was given to me by my amazing boyfriend during a really tough time in my life where I felt uninspired, stifled and filled with so much self hatred and self doubt. He gave this to me hoping to inspire me. And if you need to light a fire under your butt, definitely give this a read. Ruth Bade Ginsburg is an amazing woman who has literally helped shaped the United States as we know it in her work in gender equality and civil rights. She’s a feminist pioneer who will make you question what you’re doing with every hour of your day. RBG is a bad ass and this book inspired me to reevaluate how I want to spend my time and who I answer to.
I know this one is predictable, but I’m ok with it. I have this as a physical copy, but if you don’t want to go out and buy it, you can watch it on her TEDx talk. It’s an amazing talk on gender that is nuanced, beautiful and inclusive. It’s short, smart and reflects about why feminism is for all and everyone benefits from equality and how gendered expectations are dangerous.
What are you favorite girl power books?