Over the past five years, I’ve been hunting down the best feminist books I can find.
I’m a writer at heart, so naturally I love reading books. But books are a brilliant, inexpensive way to learn something new, expand your horizons, and grow in the most unexpected ways. For just $10-$20, you’re able to access someone else’s five or ten year body of work.
This is why I love books!
Women often ask me for a recommended list of books every woman should read in their life, and that’s exactly what this post is. A list of the best feminist books I’ve found my way to, that have transformed my life in countless ways.
There’s so much knowledge and wisdom out there waiting for us as women that we don’t know of. Our parents only teach us as much as they know, while school gives us a sub-par education on selective subjects that are deemed important enough. But there’s a world more out there waiting for you to discover it; waiting for you to reclaim your forgotten power.
Some of these books will be familiar to you, while others may not be. There’s a mix of modern titles along with some older classics, but all of them are most definitely inspirational books for women.
But don’t feel overwhelmed by this list. I recommend picking one or two feminist books that speak to you and where you are right now, and begin there. Set yourself a goal of reading one new book a month, or start a book club with your friends and work through the list together.
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Now, let’s get started on my list of the best feminist books every woman needs to read.
Please note that none of the books in this list are in any particular order. They are all wonderful in their own way, and I couldn’t possibly rank them as they are all so different!
50 Best Feminist Books Every Woman Should Read At Least Once
1. Women Who Run With Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés
Women Who Run With Wolves is my #1 pick on the list of best feminist books for women. It was one of the first books I read on this list, and the wisdom and power of it has stayed with me ever since.
It’s a deep dive into the female psyche, specifically the wild woman archetype. Wild woman is one of the four archetypes that we all cycle through as women on a daily, weekly, yearly and lifetime basis. But she is the most repressed of them all, often lurking in the shadows of our subconscious, which we have been taught to be afraid to explore. But as Clarissa Pinkola Estés explains, the woman and the wild can never be separated. We all have a deep longing to run free and untamed and return to our wild nature.
Through a collection of ancient myths and stories from around the world, combined with powerfully deep psychological explanations and revelations, this book will fill your yearning for all the feminine wisdom that has been forgotten and repressed over lifetimes.
This is the start of reclaiming our innate feminine power.
As Maya Angelou says, “everyone who can read should read this book.”
I hope you will go out and let stories, that is life, happen to you, and that you will work with these stories… water them with your blood and tears and your laughter till they bloom, till you yourself burst into bloom.
2. The Great Cosmic Mother by Monica Sjöö & Barbara Mor
The Great Cosmic Mother is a bible on feminism and the Goddess since the beginning of time.
I say bible because it’s close to 500 pages long, with small print, and may be challenging to read from start to finish. But it’s perfect for dipping in and out of whenever you feel called to explore one of the particular chapters or themes.
You’ll find a wealth of information on early matriarchal society, Goddess religion, and women’s culture; along with a deep look into how this knowledge and wisdom has been warped and buried over the years by the patriarchy.
Did you know that God used to be a woman? This doesn’t sit well with a lot of people today, and this book will show you why.
There’s also a particular graphic delve into the witch hunts which I found incredibly difficult to read, and felt my blood boiling as I turned each page; but it’s something everyone should be made to read. If a man ever tells you that feminism is bullshit and women have rights already, point him to this book and book mark this chapter.
Ancient moon priestesses were called virgins. ‘Virgin’ meant not married, not belong to a man—a woman who was ‘one-in-herself’. The very word derives from a Latin root meaning strength, force, skill; and was later applied to men: virle. Ishtar, Diana, Astarte, Isis were all all called virgin, which did not refer to sexual chasity, but sexual independence.
3. Vagina by Naomi Wolf
The title of this book is as bold as the words inside it.
Did you know that your vagina is connected to your brain, and can effect how you think and feel; including your confidence and creativity? And have you ever wondered why there’s such a lack of research on female sexuality? Or why the world struggles to say the word vagina?
Naomi Wolf explores misconceptions around female sexuality and anatomy, as well as how and why we’ve been taught to feel shame around our incredible body. If you’ve ever experienced sexual assault or rape, this is a brilliant book to read as it offers deep exploration into the effects this kind of trauma can have on you as a woman for years after.
Vagina will show you that the vagina used to be revered as sacred, but was stigmatised at the hands of the patriarchy. Plus, it shows us a way forward as women to liberate ourselves from the chains that we’ve been in, and reclaim the sexual pleasure that is our birth right.
This is one of the best feminist books I’ve ever read, and Naomi has written many more books that will undoubtedly speak to your soul.
Women are told for so long that our feelings—our internal sensations of pain, pleasure, joy, sadness, or anger—are too much, or wrong, or bad. So eventually we can’t stop thinking and thinking about these problems, trying to think them out, but we stop feeling our feelings about them.
4. We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
We Should All Be Feminists is a modified version of the TEDx Talk that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gave back in 2012. If you’ve not yet seen it, I highly recommend watching it. It’s incredibly inspiring and moving to watch this woman standing in her power.
What does it mean to be a woman today? And what does it actually mean to be a feminist?
The answers to these questions are the heart of Chimamanda’s book. She sheds light on the inequalities and subtle oppression that women all over the world continue to face today, in both rich and poor countries. She also raises an important point in this discussion (which I always raise myself)—both women and men suffer from gender inequality, not just women. Hence, we should all be feminists.
In my own work, I continue to face a backlash of men (I use that term very loosely) who continue to mock feminism in any way they can. What they fail to understand is that nobody benefits from women being kept away from their human rights or their power.
Some people ask: “Why the word feminist? Why not just say you are a believer in human rights, or something like that?” Because that would be dishonest. Feminism is, of course, part of human rights in general—but to choose to use the vague expression human rights is to deny the specific and particular problem of gender. It would be a way of pretending that it was not women who have, for centuries, been excluded. It would be a way of denying that the problem of gender targets women.
5. When God Was a Woman by Merlin Stone
When God Was A Woman explains why we’ve lived through 3,000 years of female subjugation and male domination, and what our world looked like before. Because if we’re being honest, 3000 years wasn’t that long ago. We know human beings have existed for much longer than this, which begs the question, what happened before patriarchy?
When God Was A Woman offers an in-depth look into how worship of the Goddess used to be widespread across the world; until it was suppressed and replaced by patriarchal Judeo-Christian cultures. This book details how the shift from matriarchy to patriarchy came about, and offers us a real (fully researched) account of the past—one you’re unlikely to ever get in history class anytime soon. It’s a complex book to digest, but well worth the read, and illustrated with some beautiful photos of ancient statues.
Archaeological, mythological and historical evidence all reveal that the female religion, far from naturally fading away, was the victim of centuries of continual persecution and suppression by the advocates of the newer religions which held male deities as supreme. And from these new religions came the creation myth of Adam and Eve and the tale of the loss of Paradise.
6. The Holy Wild by Danielle Dulsky
The Holy Wild is a divine book that I continue to dip in and out of when I’m looking to re-connect with myself and the universe, explore my inner world, and weave ritual into my day. It’s split into five main sections using the elements: earth, water, fire, air and ether. Each section is filled with deep verses to devour, rituals to explore, and magick to play with.
The Holy Wild also offers a contrasting look at the patriarchal religions we have come to know and accept without question in our society today. It encourages us to pave our own spiritual path. Danielle sheds light on the divine feminine—who has been confined to the shadows for the past few thousand years—by exploring sacred feminine archetypes including the Goddess, the Crone and the Maiden. This book will help you reclaim all that has been forgotten, and all that has been lost along the way. It’s a remembering and an awakening in equal parts.
Danielle has filled the pages of this book with heartfelt wisdom. With each page you turn, you’ll feel understood, seen, and held as a woman in this world. I recommend taking your time with this book, devouring a couple pages at a time. Allow these deep truths to slowly seep in to every inch of your being.
To be heathen means to belong to the wild, to take our lessons from the natural world, and to be nourished by what we fundamentally are rather than what we are told we must be.
7. The Shadow King by Sidra Stone
The Shadow King is a fascinating book which explains that all women have an inner patriarch subconsciously influencing their beliefs; guiding them through life. This voice is the collection of thousands of year of patriarchal conditioning, combined with what we learned from our parents and wider society growing up. And it’s what we’ve needed to thrive in a patriarchal led world. But this world does not serve us as women or men, and change is on the horizon. But to create real change, we must begin with ourselves.
If you’ve ever found yourself feeling shame around your relationship status or sexuality, falling into victim mode or judging other women for their choices, lacking confidence in your career or believing you need to act like a “man” to be taken seriously, or believing your emotions make you weak and/or unstable, then you need to read this book. Everything will begin to make sense.
The Shadow King explains the inner patriarchs beliefs on power, relationship, sexuality, and emotionality; and how these voices can show up in how we think, feel and act. It then moves on to paving a new path for women where we embrace empowering qualities from both the inner patriarch and matriarch, and move beyond duality.
This book is for every woman who has put aside her own wisdom, deferred to others, and waited for permission to speak. It is also for her sister, the woman of power, who has learned how to speak up, but fears that in doing this she has sacrificed some intangible but precious aspect of her essential femininity.
8. The Power by Naomi Alderman
The majority of books on this list are non-fiction, but I couldn’t compile a list of the best feminist books without including The Power by Naomi Alderman. This is a story set in a world where gender dynamics are reversed. Women are the ones who have power over men.
Women are born with the ability to inflict pain on others simply by harnessing their natural gifts, and boys and men live in fear of this. Men are the ones scared of walking alone at night, and being assaulted or raped. Women are the ones heading powerful organisations and religions, which control what people think and do.
This is not a world we wish for. Because deep down we know that inequality of any kind does not serve us as a collective. But it’s a fascinating look at how easily roles can be reversed; people used to positions of power can find themselves as part of the “weaker” or “minority” group. It echoes the book Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman, which flips racial stereotypes around; black people are rich and powerful, while white people are treated as inferior.
It’s one of those books that will leave you thinking about it for months after you put it down. Just read it.
You have been taught that you are unclean, that you are not holy, that your body is impure and could never harbour the divine. You have been taught to despise everything you are and to long only to be a man. But you have been taught lies.
9. Witch by Lisa Lister
Lisa Lister was one of the first women who opened my eyes to the negative connotations surrounding the word “witch,” and encouraged me to reclaim it. A witch is not an evil old woman who owns a broom, dresses in black, and cackles in the moonlight. A witch is a wise woman rooted in her power; who works in harmony with mumma nature, and sees the magic in the world every day.
I’m a witch. You’re a witch. And we are the women they could not burn.
Witch guides you through a history of the term “witch,” and the persecution millions of women faced in what can only be described as a gendercide at the hands of the Church (the patriarchy). Lisa shares her own experiences growing up with witchcraft, along with a guide on how you can work with the energy of the moon and the sabbats of the wheel of the year, and infuse ritual and meaning into your everyday world. You’ll find plenty of information on creating rituals, and an explanation of elements, herbs, colours, and crystals and what they symbolise.
If you’re looking for an easy-to-read introduction on embodying what it means to be a witch, this book is it.
The essence of a witch is someone who trusts their inner authority and uses their own personal magic to navigate and negotiate the environment they currently find themselves in.
10. Initiated: Memoir of a Witch by Amanda Yates Garcia
Initiated is another wonderful book on embodying the true essence of what it means to be a witch. Amanda Yates Garcia takes us on a wild journey from her childhood to the present. Authentically sharing her own struggles and lessons on poverty, sexual assault, sex work and misogyny along the way; which have all shaped her story.
Initiated shows us that to be a witch means to reclaim your power. This is what magic is at its heart. And infusing spell work and ritual into your life are the physical tools to tap into this unseen force we each hold within.
I couldn’t put this book down and read it in a couple of days. It has the ease of reading a fiction book, except the stories you’re devouring are real, which makes them linger in your heart long after you turn the last page.
A creative act, magic brings richness to your life. When you’re cold and alone, your chants might be all you have to keep you alive. Even when it feels like all of civilization has conspired in its effort to take it from you, magic gives you hope, magic gives you pleasure, and most importantly, magic helps you remember you have power, even if you can’t see a way to use it yet. The fact that magic connects people to their power is the main reason most systems of oppression attempt to ban it.
11. If Women Rose Rooted by Sharon Blackie
I’m holding this book in my hand right now, and the number of pages I’ve bookmarked is off the charts! If this isn’t a sign of one of the best feminist books of all time, I don’t know what is.
If Women Rose Rooted echoes the rich feminine wisdom of Women Who Run With Wolves, but has a focus on native mythology originating within the United Kingdom and Ireland. It’s a beautifully written exploration of how women and the earth are one and the same; and a call for us to reclaim our feminine power, for the future of our world depends on it. Sharon travelled all across Scotland, England and Ireland to explore the powerful stories and wisdom rooted in the land. As she begins to awaken to her own potent magic, she encourages us to walk with her.
Women are the life-giving power of the earth. When we regain respect and sovereignty over ourselves, we will create a world where women are truly respected and free. This book shows us how.
And when you’re done, you’ll immediately want to book a trip to Europe and visit all the magical places she mentions.
The world which men have made isn’t working. Something needs to change. To change the world, we women need first to change ourselves—and then we need to change the stories we tell about who we are. The stories we’ve been living by for the past few centuries—the stories of male superiority, of progress and growth and domination—don’t serve women and they certainly don’t serve the planet.
12. Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger by Soraya L. Chemaly
For centuries, women have been taught to bottle up their emotions and pretend like everything’s okay when it’s not. We’re taught to be quiet and good and accommodating and lady like. We learn this is what it means to be feminine; to be a “good” woman. But staying quiet has not served us as women, and it has not served anyone in our lives either.
This book is a call to women everywhere to stop repressing our anger and our rage, because it’s actually one of our most powerful tools in our fight for gender equality.
The message is, it’s okay to be angry. You have a right to your anger. And feeling and reflecting on your anger is actually one of the steps to your freedom and liberation as a woman.
The best feminist books are the ones that you read and have those huge ah-ha moments, shifts, and awakenings. This book is one of them.
Anger is an assertion of rights and worth. It is communication, equality, and knowledge. It is intimacy, acceptance, fearlessness, embodiment, revolt, and reconciliation. Anger is memory and rage. It is rational thought and irrational pain. Anger is freedom, independence, expansiveness, and entitlement. It is justice, passion, clarity, and motivation. Anger is instrumental, thoughtful, complicated, and resolved. In anger, whether you like it or not, there is truth.
13. Three Women by Lisa Taddeo
Three Women reads as a story of three separate women who do not know each other. It’s a work of non-fiction from research Lisa Taddeo did over the span of eight years; getting to know these real women and their stories intimately.
Lina is a woman who ends up married to a safe man who doesn’t make her feel desired or loved. Sloane finds herself in a relationship with a man who enjoys watching her have sex with other men. And Maggie is a student who has an on-off relationship with her teacher during high school.
The book follows the lives and stories of these three women. They share what led them to the place they find themselves in today, and how they really feel about themselves. It’s a moving book that gives these three women a voice when they have struggled their entire life to be heard. Every woman can relate to at least one moment, memory or desire these women have laid bare. I think that’s what makes it such a captivating read.
Women shouldn’t judge each others lives, if we haven’t been through one another’s fires.
14. Know My Name by Chanel Miller
In 2016, Chanel Miller posted an anonymous statement online of the letter she read out in court to the man who sexually assaulted her. If you haven’t yet read it, click here because you need to. I still remember reading it the weekend it was published, and being in awe of this woman’s courage and fire. I couldn’t help but imagine myself in her shoes; no doubt struggling to make it past the first paragraph without breaking down.
Chanel’s article was read by 11 million people in one weekend alone. And four years later, she has shared her full story, in the shape of Know My Name. It’s a powerful, moving body of work, and a beautiful lesson in transforming pain into power. This book takes a closer look at our patriarchal criminal justice system, which continues to perpetuate rape culture by protecting abusers while failing victims.
I, like millions of others around the world, will never forget Chanel’s words. And as heart-breaking as they were, they offer much comfort and strength to countless women who have walked in her shoes.
This is not just one of the best feminist books of 2020. It’s a movement. It’s a call for change.
When a woman is assaulted, one of the first questions people ask is, Did you say no? This question assumes that the answer was always yes, and that it is her job to revoke the agreement. To defuse the bomb she was given. But why are they allowed to touch us until we physically fight them off? Why is the door open until we have to slam it shut?
15. Untamed: Stop Pleasing, Start Living by Glennon Doyle
Untamed is part memoir, and part inspiration. A powerful book on how we learn to live small, scared lives in little cages, based on what society tells us is acceptable; and an invite to break free of these chains, and live a wild, untamed life.
This is a book about what it means to truly live.
Untamed dares to ask the questions we run and hide from for most of our lives.
Are my beliefs my own?
Do I really want this life that I have right now?
Who was I before the world told me who I had to be?
Untamed is a wake up call to stir you out of your comfortable slumber; and show you how to live a full, vibrant and vivacious life that aligns with who you truly are on a soul level. Glennon encourages us to tune in to and listen to that inner voice we’ve been taught to mis-trust and ignore; so we can finally live in alignment with our highest calling.
This journey won’t be easy, but it promises to be the most thrilling and rewarding one.
You are a human being, and your birthright is to remain fully human. So you get to be everything: loud quiet bold smart careful impulsive creative joyful big angry curious ravenous ambitious. You are allowed to take up space on this earth with your feelings, your ideas, your body. You do not need to shrink. And you do not need to hide any part of yourself, ever.
16. Goddesses in Everywoman by Jean Shinoda Bolen M.D.
Goddesses in Everywoman was born from Jean’s knowing that women used to be unaware of the effects of cultural stereotypes on them; and equally unaware of the powerful archetypes that can be found within us all.
This book takes a look at seven archetypal goddesses (or personality types), and the strengths and gifts each one embodies. Chances are, you’ll recognise parts of each Goddess in yourself, and identify with all of them. But there may be certain archetypes you default to or shun. Goddesses in Everywoman shows you how to tap into and harness the power of all of these archetypes, and move beyond the restriction of being either/or. Because the reality is we can do and be and have both.
We can have a thriving career, and be a wonderful mum to our kids. We can embody both feminine and masculine energy, and utilise the strengths of both. And we can be in a loving relationship, and still embrace and nourish our wild sensuality.
And this is the key to living a life of more joy, creativity, confidence, happiness and wholeness.
The true cost of anything is what we give up in order to have it. It is the path not taken. To take the responsibility of making the choice is crucial and not always easy.
17. Red Moon by Miranda Eve Gray
Red Moon is a beautiful look into the way our ancestors used to view the menstrual cycle. Today, it is still a source of shame and stigma; but originally, it was seen as a powerful, sacred communion with the divine mother.
Women honoured and celebrated their cycle, and embraced the creative, sexual, physical, spiritual and emotional gifts that it provided. Many women don’t know that the menstrual cycle mirrors that of the moon. It’s a 29 day cycle (on average), with natural peeks and dips of energy. When we work with this natural flow, we feel in harmony, and we can actually achieve more, instead of pushing against the tide.
Red Moon takes a deep dive into the ancient magic that can be found in our sacred bleeding, and will transform the way you think of your cycle, your body, and your entire life. If you’ve ever battled with your menstrual cycle and struggled to find the beauty in it, this is one of the feminist books on this list that you must read ASAP.
‘I am the guardian of the tree.’ Its small jewelled eyes glinted in the moonlight. ‘If you take this fruit, you will become a woman and will inherit all the powers which womanhood brings. You will bleed with the moon; you will become cyclic, never constant, always changing with the phases of the moon. Within your body will awaken the powers of creation and destruction and in your intuition you will hold knowledge of the inner mysteries.’
18. Priestess by Julie Parker
The Priestess walks the bridge between the seen and unseen worlds. She represents mystery, fertility, and the feminine. She is highly intuitive, and in sync with the natural cycles of the moon. And she was held in high regard by her community, and often asked for guidance.
She is a lover, a mother, a witch, and a crone. She is a seeker, a keeper, and a mystic. And she is both a peace maker and warrior of the world. Her heart is full with kindness and compassion for all beings. She grounds herself in nature, and lives in flow with the cycles of the moon. She holds space, listens deeply, and responds. And she walks the path of her soul, daring to journey into the wild.
Today, she is a guide, teacher, coach, leader, energy worker, writer, and mystic.
Priestess is one of my favourite modern feminist books on feminine wisdom; filled with ancient wisdom from the wise women who walked this earth long before us. It’s a look at how we can use their spiritual practices to ignite our own magic, and walk the path of the priestess. This book will inspire you to re-connect with the Goddess, Mumma nature, sisterhood, and your own sacred soul path. This is how we can find true meaning in our lives, and empower the people around us.
This is the path of the Priestess.
No matter whether you identify as a priestess now, are excitingly exploring your possibilities as one, or are simply curious about your calling in life as a spiritual being, Priestess will inspire you to fall deeply in love with your own healing path, the Goddess, your cyclic nature and beauty, Mother Earth, true sisterhood, and your infinite capacity to meaningfully touch the lives of those around you.
19. Sacred Woman by Queen Afua
Sacred Woman is a compilation of powerful meditations, affirmations, and sacred rituals, designed to infuse spirituality and sacred feminine wisdom into all areas of our lives. Queen Afua shows us that when we do, we find our way back to harmony with the natural rhythms of the earth. We heal and transform ourselves, which enables us to do the work we came here to do.
We can show up as stronger, more authentic, loving and conscious versions of ourselves. And through our own healing, we can heal the people around us too. We can heal the feminine wound that we have carried with us for more than 3000 years.
You are a sacred woman, whether you know it yet or not; and this is your mission.
This is one of those feminist books you don’t see appearing on many book lists, but it’s a cult favourite across the world.
You have to live good health because it comes from the inside out. It comes from what you bring to your life: positive, empowering thoughts, prayers and affirmations, uplifting company, and high-quality, life-giving foods. To have excellent health you must invest time and energy into the transformation of your Sacred Body Temple. And once you’ve acquired excellent health, you must maintain it vigilantly. That’s the true divine challenge—one that you can and must meet.
20. Mary Magdalene Revealed by Meggan Watterson
You’ve probably never heard of Mary Magdalene’s gospel, and that’s because it was intentionally buried in the Egyptian desert in the 4th century. But it’s as ancient and as true as all of the other gospels in the Christian bible. And it will come as no surprise to many that this gospel is perhaps the most powerful of all; because it centres on radical love.
This book gives a theologically accurate depiction of who Mary Magdalene actually was (she wasn’t a prostitute); and how the words of her gospel can help us all practice and experience an endless love, that has the power to transform our lives.
Sin in Mary’s gospel is not about a long list of moral or religious laws; it’s not about wrong action. Sin is simply forgetting the truth and reality of the soul—and then acting from that forgetful state. The body then, the human body, isn’t innately sinful. “Sin” is when we believe we are only this body, these insatiable needs, these desires and fears the ego conjures. “Sin” is an “adultery,” or an illegitimate mixing, a mistaking of the ego for the true self, rather than remembering that the true self is the soul. The soul lives in the silence, the stillness we have to meet with inside us.
21. Wild Power by Alexandra Pope & Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer
Wild Power is another life-changing read on our list of best feminist books. It takes a deep dive into the rhythm of your sacred menstrual cycle. Sadly, most of us have a very narrow and distorted view of our cycle, which means we’re underutilising our inner power.
This book centres on reclaiming this power. This is important for our health and general wellbeing. But it’s also vital from a spiritual and emotional perspective. Wild power re-writes the stories we’ve inherited as women around our cycle, and replaces the narrative with one of feminine power.
Your menstrual cycle is split into four main parts, and each one mirrors one of the four main phases of the moon, one of the four seasons, and one of the four main female archetypes. This book explores this and more in detail; helping you to harness your inner power, and work with the natural flow of energy available to you.
If it were up to me, this book would on every school reading list in the world, for both girls and boys.
The menstrual cycle is a vital and vitalizing system in the female body, yet our understanding of and respect for this process is both limited and distorted. Few women really know about the physiology of their cycle, and many do not see it as an integral part of their health and wellbeing, let alone as a potential guide to emotional and spiritual empowerment.
22. Sex Object by Jessica Valenti
Jessica Valenti has become one of my favourite writers over the past few years. She consistently writes fierce, feminist articles and books I wish I could have written first; filled with home truths and revelations on what it’s like living as a woman today.
In her memoir, Jessica shares her own experiences on being objectified, which she was entirely oblivious to for most of her life. As she points out, it’s something we now come to expect as women. We learn that being catcalled in the street, and being groped in a club happens. It’s part of being a woman, right? We also learn that being assaulted or raped, while horrific, is also something that just happens. Men rape women. We comment on often lenient sentences, yet we don’t address the real issue. Why are men continuing to rape women, and why have we accepted this as the norm?
Sex Object is a brilliant, easy read, packed with shocking stories, and an exploration of how sexism deeply effects a woman’s health on all levels.
Still, somehow, inexplicably, “man-hater” is a word tossed around with insouciance as if this was a real thing that did harm. Meanwhile we have no real word for men who kill women. Is the word just “men”?
23. Men Who Hate Women by Laura Bates
Men Who Hate Women is a look at the misogynistic world we currently live in today. Patriarchy has a firm grip of us all, and acts of violence and harm are committed against women on a daily basis. Boys learn to see girls not as human beings, but as objects for their own pleasure. And this culture of toxic masculinity does not serve any of us—not women, and not men.
As Laura notes, we talk about women being raped. The focus is firmly on something happening to women. We’re blasted with figures of the numbers of women assaulted, which continue to rise each year. What we fail to talk about is the number of men committing rape. There are large groups of misogynist networks and communities spreading depraved and disillusioned sexist ideologies. And they’re doing a fantastic job of reaching impressionable minds. Nobody likes to talk about the shadows that plague our world today, but they’re growing darker each day. So it’s time to face them, and talk about them openly.
I am particularly vocal online when it comes to women’s issues, and I have experienced a slice of the special kind of hate that is reserved for women like me; women who dare to open their mouths and speak up about the subtle oppression of women. But, as Laura notes, the problem is far wider than a few people sitting in their parent’s basement and trolling online.
Men Who Hate Women is shocking at times, but there’s no doubt that it’s needed. This is one of those books that every feminist should read.
Were any other crisis to cost the lives of more than two people every week in the UK―or to threaten one third of the entire world’s population―it would be considered an international emergency. But the rape, assault and murder of women by men is enshrined in our international history. It is so common that it has become an accepted part of the wallpaper.
24. Mother God by Sylvia Browne
Mother God is a book exploring the suppression of the Mother Goddess, and how the majority of our world now thinks of God as a masculine energy. But God, Source, the Divine, our Creator—whichever word you most align with—has always been both the masculine and feminine principles. Somewhere along the way, the Mother Goddess was suppressed by modern, patriarchal religions.
This book is a compilation of well-researched facts and accounts to show that She does exist; and how we can bring her back into our lives and harness this potent feminine power that awaits us. Because we need both the masculine and feminine principles to live a whole life.
If, like me, you’ve ever felt uncomfortable with the idea of God as an old, white, bearded man, this is one of the feminist books you have to read.
Using a combination of historical data and poignant and heart-warming stories revealing the power and miracles attributed to the Mother God, Sylvia leads us from the question of “Does She exist” to the logical, fact-based conclusion that She does . . . and then shows us how to call upon Her to help us in our everyday lives.
25. Burning Woman by Lucy H Pearce
Burning Woman takes a look at how strong, powerful women have been burned by our patriarchal society since the witch trials; and continue to be burned today through online trolling, harassment, and shaming.
Why does our feminine power threaten so many people? And why is it more important than ever that we reclaim and unleash it in our world today?
This book tells all. Lucy explains how fire is used to control the feminine today, and how we can build our inner power, harness it, and not be destroyed by it.
This is one of Lucy’s best feminist books of all time, but she has many more which explore other feminine archetypes and energies. This includes the moon cycle, the Creatrix, and Medicine Woman (also known as Wild Woman).
Who is She? She is your power, your Feminine source. Big Mama. The Goddess. The Great Mystery. The web-weaver. The life force. The first time, the twentieth time you may not recognize her. Or pretend not to hear. As she fills your body with ripples of terror and delight. But when she calls you will know you’ve been called. Then it is up to you to decide if you will answer.
26. Warrior Goddess Training by Heatherash Amara
Women today are made to feel like they have to do and be everything. They have to climb the career ladder, make time for their partner, raise their kids, socialise with friends; and look amazing while doing all of the above. These expectations are not only overwhelming, but they’re also unrealistic and unattainable. We’re expected to be perfect, and we know that nobody ever is.
This leads to us judging ourselves for where we fall short. Warrior Goddess Training is a much needed reminder that you are enough. When we let go of expectations placed on us, we can finally see ourselves clearly; and recognise the beauty, courage and wisdom we all hold within.
This book is split into ten lessons including “Energise Your Sexuality & Creativity,” “Speak Your Truth,” and “Choose Your Path.” It’s based on ancient wisdom from Buddhism, the Toltec tradition and Goddess spirituality. You’ll find a mix of personal stories, rituals and exercises to weave into your life, so you can become the Warrior Goddess you were always destined to be.
When we bring our attention back to discovering who we are on the inside—not who we wish we were or who we think we should be—we begin a sacred path of transformation toward our innate, authentic, embodied power. This is the path of the Warrior Goddess.
27. Wild Feminine by Tami Lynn Kent
Next on our list of the best feminist books of all time is Wild Feminine. Tami—a woman’s health physical therapist—takes a holistic approach in her work; and explores how balancing the body, healing spiritual wounds, and nourishing ourselves can help us reconnect with the sacred feminine.
Our female body is our greatest connection to Her, but over time we have forgotten this, and become disconnected; from our own bodies and from Source. Which, by the way, was no accident. This inner knowing and connection has literally been beaten out of us, and buried a little deeper underground with each generation of women. But we are starting to see the collective feminine rising, and we are slowly awakening to our power.
This book offers a guide to pelvic bodywork, stories of healing, visualisations, rituals and many exercises helping us to explore the wisdom within. This is how you can discover your full feminine range, and finally celebrate your wild femininity.
Each time we deny our female functions, each time we deviate from our bodies’ natural path, we move farther away from our feminine roots. This can create distress within our bodies and can set the scene for further problems, physically and emotionally, for ourselves and our families.
28. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman was penned by Mary Wollstonecraft back in 1791; establishing her as the mother of modern feminism. Because this book was written so long ago, it can be a little difficult to read in places through old English language. But it’s worth it if you have the patience to read between the lines.
More than 200 years ago, Mary created this declaration of female independence, attacking the narrow patriarchal definition of femininity. She demanded equal education for girls and boys, an end to slavery and hierarchy, and for women to not be defined by their partner and be individuals in their own right.
At the time, her writing was both admired and refuted. But 200 years later, we find ourselves still having to fight for equal pay, gender equality, and a right to basic education and human rights all over the world. Women are still judged on their looks before anything else, and taught to fit into the small little box the patriarchy likes to place us in. A box where we are quiet and submissive and exist solely to serve men.
Mary dreamed of and demanded a world where women would be treated equally. All the women on our list of best feminist books continue to carry her torch today.
I do not wish them [women] to have power over men; but over themselves.
29. Feminism is for Everybody by Bell Hooks
Bell Hooks was a woman interested in women’s studies and feminist concepts for most of her life. But what she noted was that a lot of the ideas and theories were too complex to be accessible by everyone. And that’s how this book, Feminism is for Everybody was born.
Bell breaks down feminism into a variety of topics including race and class, sexual violence, reproductive rights, and work; examining where contemporary feminism has both succeeded and failed in our pursuit for true equality.
Perhaps most importantly, she reminds us that feminism (and feminist books) is for everybody. Men and women. Because we need everyone to be a part of this conversation, and demand an alternative to the patriarchal culture we’ve come to accept without question. This is how we create a different future, one where women are valued and respected and free.
Cultures of domination attack self-esteem, replacing it with a notion that we derive our sense of being from dominion over another. Patriarchal masculinity teaches men that their sense of self and identity, their reason for being, resides in their capacity to dominate others.
30. The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler
The Vagina Monologues is a collection of interviews Eve did with hundreds of women about their relationship with and beliefs around their vaginas. At the time it was published, printing the word Vagina on a book cover was a bold thing to do, because the world was deeply uncomfortable with that word, and the idea of a woman being a sexual being.
Today, not much has changed. Some of us use specific terms like “clitoris,” “labia,” and “vulva,” but the majority of the world still cringes at these words. This is exactly why every woman (and man) should read this book. It teaches us not to be afraid of the word vagina, and to make sure we use it instead of vague, dismissive terms like, down there.
The Vagina Monologues honours a woman’s sexuality and helps us return to feeling alive and free and powerful in our bodies.
What are we saying about our bodies if we can’t say vagina.
31. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
I have to admit I started reading Little Women when I was in my teens, and for some reason never finished it! But I couldn’t compile a list of the best feminist books of all time without including this one.
Little Women is a story of four sisters (Jo, Beth, Meg and Amy), set in Civil War New England. The book was originally published in 1868, but has quickly become a classic that transcends generations. The sisters are all transitioning into adulthood, and navigating the restrictions placed on them as women in their time. It’s a story based on Louisa’s real life (and real sisters), which makes it that more poignant.
It’s a story reflecting the friction between meeting cultural expectations, and living a life of personal freedom and liberation. A story that all women can relate to, regardless of the time and place they were born, or the family they were born into.
I’ve got the key to my castle in the air, but whether I can unlock the door remains to be seen.
32. Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit
Like so many of the best feminist books out there, Men Explain Things To Me is both a brilliant and at times difficult read. This is the book that inspired the term mansplaining; although you won’t find this within its pages.
Rebecca collates a collection of short feminist essays on women’s issues, from male violence to rape culture to colonialism. She includes facts and statistics that are shocking to hear, For example, the world-wide leading cause of death in women aged 15 – 44 years is male violence. Did you know that? Because I didn’t. There are also many parts of the US where a rapist has more rights than his victim does. I knew this one, but it doesn’t make me any less furious.
Rebecca has a beautiful way with words, and poetically covers these hard issues; pairing them with humour and personal stories and a tonne of fierce grace. I know I keep saying this, but Men Explain Things To Me is one of those books every feminist (and every woman) should read.
Every woman knows what I’m talking about. It’s the presumption that makes it hard, at times, for any woman in any field; that keeps women from speaking up and from being heard when they dare; that crushes young women into silence by indicating, the way harassment on the street does, that this is not their world. It trains us in self-doubt and self-limitation just as it exercises men’s unsupported overconfidence.
33. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Next on our list of best feminist books every woman should read is The Bell Jar. It’s a fictional story about a woman who wins an internship at a New York fashion magazine in the 1950s. But quickly she finds out it’s not the life she expected it to be. She dreams of being a writer, but struggles to live in a society that refuses to take her ambitions seriously as a woman.
The book was originally published in 1963 under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas. It’s widely known that much of the main character—Esther Greenwood—is based on Sylvia’s real life and experiences. There’s a deep look into the challenges of dealing with mental health issues at the time, and a lack of empathy and understanding of them. And although our knowledge is better today, many people continue to suffer from the same issues Sylvia did more than 70 years ago. This is a must read for all women, and anyone who has ever wrestled with mental health difficulties.
I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.
34. In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens by Alice Walker
In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens is Alice Walker’s first foray into non-fiction, with a collection of 36 essays, articles and speeches. The themes here range from personal to political pieces on womanhood, creativity, civil rights, war, childhood trauma, anti-Semitism, and women of colour; with womanist theory running through the entire book.
As a black woman, writer, mother, and feminist, Alice puts forward her definition of “womanist” theory as a black feminist. She also writes about the many women and men she has crossed paths with, who have made a significant impact on her. Reading this book will give you a clearer sense of who Alice Walker really is, and the people who shaped her life.
There’s been a lot of controversy over feminism recently, and how it’s told from a white woman’s perspective; while ignoring women of colour. For me, it was important to include a wide range of women in this list of the best feminist books, because feminism is for all women (and men). If a man wrote an empowering book on feminism, I would happily include it in this list.
No person is your friend (or kin) who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow and be perceived as fully blossomed as you were intended. Or who belittles in any fashion the gifts you labor so to bring into the world.
35. The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
In 1957, Betty Friedan created a questionnaire for her former female college classmates. The results revealed shared frustrations going straight from education to assuming assigned roles as mothers and housewives. But this was simply what women were expected to do at the time.
There’s also additional research in the book to back up the research Betty conducted herself. Research that showed women struggling to find meaning and fulfilment in their lives solely as homemakers and mothers. And being lulled into conforming to the narrow, prescribed role of what a woman should and should not do.
The Feminine Mystique led Betty to become a leading force of the “Second Wave” of feminism, where women demanded equal employment rights, and indirectly demanded reproductive rights. This is one of the feminist books that was powerful (and controversial) at its time of publication, but is just as relevant today, more than 50 years later.
This book also reminds me of a 2016 Amazon TV series I watched last year called Good Girls Revolt, which was also based on a book. Set in the 1960s in New York, it’s about a group of women working at a newspaper who struggle to be given the same opportunities as their male counterparts; and continually face sexism and discrimination. It’s a brilliant show and I would really recommend giving it a watch. The only downside is they only made one season, and chances are you’ll be left wanting more!
Each suburban wife struggles with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night- she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question— ‘Is this all?’
36. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid’s Tale was originally published in 1985, but rose into the bestseller list again when Donald Trump was elected as President. It’s one of those feminist books that offers a dark, chilling look at what the future could look like for women if our bodies and rights continue to be controlled the way they currently are.
In the book, a woman’s only function is to reproduce. She is a placed as a servant to the man of the household, and if she refuses to enter into sexual servitude, she will be hung.
The book also became an award-winning Channel 4 TV series in 2017.
We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories.
37. The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
The Second Sex sums up the book in its title. It’s a journey into how women have become less valued in society over time, and taken on the role of the “second sex.” Simone discusses many different leading factors including biology, psychoanalysis, history, and philosophy.
When it was published in Paris in 1949, it sold 20,000 copies in its first week alone. Over time, it has earned admiration worldwide, and earned its place as one of the best feminist books that every woman should read at least once in her life. Although it’s a long and sometimes challenging read, it’s worth it for anyone who believes in gender equality. Simone’s message in The Second Sex was just as relevant in the 40s as it is today.
Read this book, and you will no longer think of women the same way again.
Representation of the world, like the world itself, is the work of men; they describe it from their own point of view, which they confuse with absolute truth.
38. Women & Power by Mary Beard
Next on our list of best feminist books is Women & Power. Mary Beard takes a look at how powerful women have been treated over the course of history. She includes prominent examples of public figures throughout time, from Athena to Margaret Thatcher.
We live in a world that tries to silence women and keep them from their power. And the women who do find themselves in positions of power believe they need to change themselves to fit into a stereotypical version of a man in power. Think shapeless trouser suits, stern faces, and deep voices. But power does not equal man, so why are we doing this?
As a vocal feminist, Mary argues we should stop trying to change ourselves to fit into these archaic definitions of power; and redefine what power actually means to us as a society.
In every way, the shared metaphors we use of female access to power—’knocking on the door’, ‘storming the citadel’, ‘smashing the glass ceiling’, or just giving them a ‘leg up’—underline female exteriority. Women in power are seen as breaking down barriers, or alternatively as taking something to which they are not quite entitled.
39. Milk & Honey by Rupi Kaur
We couldn’t compile a list of best feminist books without including at least one of Rupi’s. You’ve probably stumbled on one of her poems on Instagram at some point.
Milk & Honey was her debut poetry collection, and is a raw and real look at the struggles of womanhood we experience across the world today. She writes about abuse, violence, sexuality, body image, love, loss and femininity. Many of the poems are accompanied by a simple yet powerful sketch, also created by Rupi.
Her writing has an authenticity to it, and shows wisdom and vision beyond her years. Milk & Honey is a quick read, but a book you’ll want to visit again and again. There are poems here that will speak to you in ways that words have never managed to before. This is Rupi’s gift. She manages to reach and capture the heart of women with just one artfully penned sentence.
You tell me to quiet down cause my opinions make me less beautiful but i was not made with a fire in my belly so i could be put out i was not made with a lightness on my tongue so i could be easy to swallow i was made heavy half blade and half silk difficult to forget and not easy for the mind to follow.
40. My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem
Gloria Steinem has brought us many incredible feminist books, all of which I believe every woman (and man) should read. My Life On The Road is slightly different from the rest. It’s a memoir, and a collection of stories from her travels, from her childhood to the present. She has always spent much of her time away from home, and enjoyed living her life like one great adventure.
In this book, she shares experiences of being on the campaign trail in the U.S, organizing and leading feminist movements, though to social activism in India. Her journey is both thrilling and enlightening, and an inspiration to us all. Gloria is without a doubt one of the greatest feminist powerhouses of our time, and there’s a lot to be learned from her unique perspective. She has dedicated her life to creating a more equal and peaceful world, and you can’t help but want to ride alongside her on this journey.
Long before all these divisions were opened between home and the road, betweens a woman’s place and a man’s world, humans followed the crops, the seasons, traveling with their families, our companions, animals, our tents. We built campfires and moved from place to place. This way of traveling is still in our cellular memory. Living things have evolved as travelers, Even migrating birds know that nature doesn’t demand a choice between nesting and flight.
41. Wayward Girls & Wicked Women by Angela Carter
Wayward Girls & Wicked Women is a collection of stories centred on women who do not fit the prescribed female quality of “nice.” In fact, they couldn’t be further from it.
You’ll find stories from a wide variety of talented authors including Ama Ata Aidoo, Jane Bowles, Angela Carter, Colette, Bessie Head, Jamaica Kincaid, Katherine Mansfield and many more.
Angela’s wish for the book was to show women in a different light; offering them other characters and stories from the typical ones we’re so used to. You’ll find women with real spirit here, courageous women who break the rules and create their own ones, and resilient women who do not dare to follow the crowd. These are “wayward” girls, the adventuresses and revolutionaries. And this book is a celebration of their strength and ferocity.
It’s not a typical pick for a list of feminist books, but it’s a fierce book that deserves a place here.
She was no malleable, since frigid, substance upon which desires might be executed; she was not a true prostitute for she was the object on which men prostituted themselves.
42. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The Color Purple is without a doubt a classic book about growing up as a black woman, born into poverty and segregation in America. But I need to mention that it is a haunting book, covering sensitive topics including rape, incest and abuse. This has led to the book being banned in many schools, but I would argue that these are real life issues, many of which affect people all over the world. Covering them up and failing to address them will only allow the darkness to grow.
But with all darkness, there is also light. This is a story of a young black woman finding her way out of the darkness, and reclaiming the power of her spirit. It’s a celebration of what it means to be a woman, a black woman. The Color Purple also gives you an inside look into how women were mistreated (and still are in many cases), yet there is always hope. The message is one of hope, courage, and freedom. It’s one of those sensational books every feminist should read.
I am an expression of the divine, just like a peach is; just like a fish is. I have a right to be this way, I can’t apologize for that, nor can I change it, nor do I want to… We will never have to be other than who we are in order to be successful… We realize that we are as ourselves unlimited and our experiences valid. It is for the rest of the world to recognize this, if they choose.
43. The World’s Wife by Carol Ann Duffy
The World’s Wife is a collection of witty poems that takes prominent male figures and stories known all over the world, and re-tells them from a female point of view. Ann Duffy takes inspiration from the saying, “behind every great man is a great woman,” and shines the spotlight on these women who have been hidden in the shadows throughout history.
There are poems on Mrs Darwin, Frau Freud, Queen Kong and Delilah to name just a few. Each woman has her own equally great story to tell, and this book finally gives them a voice. The word “wife” doesn’t scratch the surface when it comes to these women. This is one of the more light-hearted feminist books on our list, and a great way to dip your toes into feminism.
I’m not the first or the last
to stand on a hillock,
watching the man she married
prove to the world
he’s a total, utter, absolute, Grade A pillock.
44. Asking For It by Louise O’Neill
Asking For It is the story of an 18 year old girl called Emma. She’s the kind of girl in school every other girl wants to be, and every guy wants to be with. Until she goes to a party that changes her life forever.
It’s a novel that tackles uncomfortable issues including rape, consent and the shaming of women worldwide. Issues that are very real, and effect women’s lives today. This is why I chose to include it in our list of best feminist books. It’s both gripping and horrifying to read. A weighty reminder that we still have a long way to go when it comes to addressing rape culture; in a society that continues to blame victims instead of persecuting abusers.
Every girl, boy, man and woman needs to read this book, and understand that nobody is ever asking to be raped. Alcohol, drugs, and mini skirts are not an invite for rape. We perpetuate a culture of rape when we continue to teach women how to not be raped, instead of addressing the real issue which is why men continue to rape.
When I was writing this novel, friend after friend came to me telling me of something that had happened to them. A hand up their skirt, a boy who wouldn’t take no for an answer, a night where they were too drunk to give consent but they think it was taken from them anyway. We shared these stories with one another and it was as if we were discussing some essential part of being a woman, like period cramps or contraceptives.
Every woman or girl who told me these stories had one thing in common: shame. ‘I was drunk, I brought him back to my house, I fell asleep at that party, I froze and I didn’t tell him to stop . . .’ My fault. When I asked these women if they had reported what had happened to the police, only one out of twenty women said yes. The others looked at me and said, ‘No. How could I have proved it? Who would have believed me?’ And I didn’t have any answer for that.
45. Women, Culture, and Politics by Angela Y. Davis
Women, Culture, and Politics is a collection of essays and speeches centred on race, sex and equality. Angela Davis is an American political activist. She devoted much of her work to achieving social progress through highlighting the flaws in our systems and ways of thinking, and paving a new path forward.
This book is derived from speeches given by Angela in the 80s. But many of her comments on social problems are just as valid today. It’s also a great look into all aspects of women’s liberation, from voting to art to medical practice. Like all the feminist books on this list, Angela’s message is needed.
I recommend dipping in and out of the book, and reading one chapter at a time, giving yourself space to let the ideas and messages really sink in.
The roots of sexism and homophobia are found in the same economic and political institutions that serve as the foundation of racism in this country and, more often than not, the same extremist circles that inflict violence on people of color are responsible for the eruptions of violence inspired by sexist and homophobic biases. Our political activism must clearly manifest our understanding of these connections.
46. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
A Room of One’s Own is a humorous journey Virginia Woolf takes us on, as she tries to explain why men have historically produced more art than women.
Originally published in 1929, this book is based on a collection of lectures she gave at two women’s colleges at Cambridge University. It’s regarded as a feminist book because Virginia explores the need for women to have time and space to create, the same way that men do. But because women have bared the brunt of domestic responsibilities, they have often not had the opportunity to explore their creative gifts.
At the time of writing, women’s talents were completely disregarded, and deemed inferior in comparison to the work of many mediocre men. It wasn’t fair, but this is just the way things were. And while many women have more creative freedom and opportunities today, there are many who do not.
It makes you wonder, how many great books, plays, and movies have we missed out on from women? All because they didn’t have the freedom to unleash their creativity.
Women have served all these centuries as looking glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of man at twice its natural size.
47. The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf
The Beauty Myth might just be Naomi Wolf’s most popular book so far. She confronts the beauty industry for brainwashing women (and society) to be obsessed with their physical appearance.
This book was written in the early 90s. And there has been some criticism of some of the statements and statistics Naomi cites here. But overall, this is an eye-opening look into the beauty driven world we are born into. And it’s only getting worse. Cosmetic surgery procedures are now through the roof. Instagram influencers are selling us diet lolly pops and diarrhoea teas. And self-esteem has hit an all time low among girls and women.
We’re so focused on physical appearances, that it consumes much of our time; leaving us believing that our worth is tied to the size in the back of our jeans or how big our breasts are. We’re being controlled but in a very subtle, manipulative way that often goes unnoticed.
The Beauty Myth is not just one of the best feminist books out there. It’s a wake up call for us all; and a reminder that perfection does not exist. So why are we devoting our lives to attaining this illusion?
Women are insatiable. We are greedy. Our appetites do need to be controlled if things are to stay in place. If the world were ours too, if we believed we could get away with it, we would ask for more love, more sex, more money, more commitment to children, more food, more care. These sexual, emotional, and physical demands would begin to extend to social demands: payment for care of the elderly, parental leave, childcare, etc. The force of female desire would be so great that society would truly have to reckon with what women want, in bed and in the world.
48. Headscarves and Hymens by Mona Eltahawy
I am so thankful that Mona wrote Headscarves & Hymens, because it’s much needed. Unfortunately, misogyny is often mistaken and/or ignored on the basis of religion or cultural differences. And this is exactly what’s happening in the Middle East.
Women are forced to cover themselves from head to toe, without being given a choice. Guardianship laws mean girls are passed from their father to their husband like property. Women were refused the right to drive until only very recently, which a Saudi cleric claimed was because it damages their ovaries. Female genital mutilation is still an issue across the ME, along with child brides.
Reading this book, like most of the feminist books on this list, will not be easy. But this is real. This is what’s happening in our world today. And continuing to ignore it or dismiss it as a cultural issue is not helping women reclaim their power.
Why do those men hate us? They hate us because they need us, they fear us, they understand how much control it takes to keep us in line; to keep us good girls with our hymens intact until it’s time for them to fuck us into mothers who raise future generations of misogynists to forever fuel their patriarchy. They hate us because we are at once their temptation and their salvation from that patriarchy; which they must sooner or later realize hurts them, too. They hate us because they know that once we rid ourselves of the alliance of State and Street that works in tandem to control us, we will demand a reckoning.
49. Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny by Kate Manne
Down Girl is an academic look at what misogyny is, and how it’s different to sexism. Kate explains who deserves to be labelled a misogynist; and why misogynism continues to exist even though sexist gender roles are fading.
In a nutshell, misogyny is about trying to control any woman who poses a threat to patriarchy, and male dominance. For example, when you speak out about a feminist issue on social media, and you’re met with a backlash of men hurling abuse at you, or telling you why you’re wrong. This is not sexism, it’s misogyny. The women who step out of line and dare to challenge the status quo are punished, in an attempt to silence them, and anyone else who’s thinking of breaking free.
A key takeaway of Down Girl is how Kate encourages us to identify misogyny as the costs we bear as women as a result of the attitudes and actions of men; instead of the motives of the men involved. This is one of the more challenging to read feminist books on the list, because of its academic nature. But if you’re up for a challenge, I say go for it.
Sexist ideology will tend to discriminate between men and women, typically by alleging sex differences beyond what is known or could be known, and sometimes counter to our best current scientific evidence. Misogyny will typically differentiate between good women and bad ones, and punishes the latter. Overall, sexism and misogyny share a common purpose—to maintain or restore a patriarchal social order.
50. Great Goddesses by Nikita Gill
Finally on our list of best feminist books is Great Goddesses. I first discovered Nikita Gill when I began writing for Thought Catalog back in 2016, where Nikita shared some of her earlier work. She is another powerhouse in the poetry sphere, and every one of her books is a gem. But Great Goddesses is perfect for our list of the best feminist books. It tells the stories of the incredible Greek Goddesses who have often been over-shadowed by the Gods of the time.
From Medusa to Circe to Athena and Persephone, this book will bring this ancient world to life once more. Only this time, it’s on fire with feminist magic. These are the stories that have remained untold for thousands of years. These are the stories of the creatrix, the warriors, the priestesses, and the witches.
Alongside Nikita’s beautiful, soul stirring poems are stunning illustrations to help your imagination run wild.
Maybe that’s why you demonised them,
turned them into monsters,
because you think monsters are easier
to understand than women who say no to you.
And that’s my list of the best feminist books every woman needs to read at least once.
Are there any other feminist books you love that you believe deserve to be added to our list? Let us know in the comments below!