10 Essential Feminist Books

Welcome to Feminism 101.

I believe it is critical for all women to educate themselves about women's rights, gender equality, and women's experiences in society, and feminist literature is a literary work form that examines and addresses all of these problems. Although feminist literature is a much more diverse and richer body of literary works, I have not yet had the time to read but here are my top ten feminist books I've read and believe are essential for every woman to read.

Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype by Clarissa P. Estés

Jungian analyst Clarissa P. Estés offers a new perspective on the myth of the ''Wild Woman''. Wild Woman myth is a recurring archetype in mythology and folklore and it is portrayed as a scary or destructive force. However, Estés depicts the Wild Woman archetype in this book as an instinctual element of a woman's psyche and presents the archetype as a powerful leader that every woman should follow on their healing journey. Women Who Run with the Wolves evaluates the archetype of the "Wild Woman" through a compilation of myths and stories. It has been a seminal work of feminist literature that inspired and empowered many women, including myself. 

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou's autobiography, published in 1969, was a game changer for me. This literary work is not only a remarkable example of autobiography, but Angelou's uncompromising honesty in evaluating themes like racism, discrimination, sexism, trauma, and identity is just astonishing. The book was groundbreaking in terms of its realistic portrayal of black women in America. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings has become a classic of feminist literature as well as American literature because of its literary and historical relevance and it is still widely read.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

The semi-autobiographical book The Bell Jar by American poet and author Sylvia Plath examines issues of mental illness, identity, gender norms, and the hardships of a woman in mid-20th-century America. The story is portrayed through the eyes of Esther, a young intern at a New York City magazine. The main theme is Esther's descent into mental illness as she struggles with emptiness and a sense of detachment. In the context of mental health and feminist literature, the work has become a classic.

A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf is perhaps one of the most significant and well-known authors in the subject of feminist literature and her essay ''A Room of One's Own" is regarded as a key piece of feminist literary critique. In this book, Woolf discusses the limits that women face in the literary world, highlighting how women authors have been disregarded and how their work has been ridiculed or underestimated. The essay is still a prominent piece of feminist literature, inspiring generations of women authors and academics.

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft

"A Vindication of the Rights of Woman" by Mary Wollstonecraft is a prominent and fundamental piece in feminist literature. Wollstonecraft is a well-known English writer who played a key role in the feminist movement by presenting revolutionary ideas that defied the social norms of the time and fought for more gender equality and justice. The importance of education for women is a major theme of the novel. According to Wollstonecraft, one of the main reasons for the subordination of women is a lack of education. She advocates for equal access to education, claiming that educated women make better wives, mothers, and citizens.

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

"Bad Feminist" is a collection of articles written by American writer and cultural critic Roxane Gay. The book has received a lot of attention because of Gay's honest, genuine, and often humorous approach to contemporary feminist issues. Many of the articles in the book are based on Gay's recollections. She explores body image, relationships, and the challenges of being a feminist in a culture that sometimes fails to align with feminist ideas. 

Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit

American author and activist Rebecca Solnit's 2014 book Men Explain Things to Me is a compilation of essays. The book has established itself as a classic piece of feminist literature and is best known for popularizing the word "mansplaining." In this book, Solnit explores topics such as gender inequality, women's voices, and the ways in which women have been excluded and silenced in social and cultural contexts. Reflecting Solnit's personal experiences with wit and humor, the book digs into major aspects of the modern female experience. 

Ain't I a Woman? by bell hooks

Ain't I a Woman? is a book written by bell hooks, a renowned American feminist thinker and writer. Titled after Sojourner Truth's "Ain't I a Woman?" speech, the book examines the civil rights movement and feminist movements from suffrage to the 1970s. The book is regarded as a ground-breaking work in the field of feminism and black feminist literature since it addresses topics such as the intersection of race, gender, and class and the experiences of Black women in America. 

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

One of the most widely read and celebrated works in contemporary feminist literature, "We Should All Be Feminists" is based on Adichie's 2012 TED Talk of the same name. The essay criticizes conventional gender norms as well as the damaging assumptions that limit both men and women. Adichie argues that feminism is not a danger to men, but rather a movement that seeks to benefit everyone by questioning and deconstructing gender-based structures. The book is widely recognized and influential, thanks in part to its inclusion in Beyoncé's song "Flawless," which sampled elements of her TED Talk. The book also found a place in pop culture, receiving widespread attention and influence as a result of its use in Beyoncé's song "Flawless" which sampled fragments of her TED Talk.

Women, Race, and Class by Angela Y. Davis

Women, Race, & Class is a book written by Angela Y. Davis, well-known American political activist and author. In the book, Davis analyzes the complex intersections of race, class, and gender in the context of women's struggles for equality and freedom, providing a historical analysis of the women's suffrage movement in the US and examining the experiences of women from different socioeconomic and racial backgrounds. The book contributes to a better understanding of the complexities of social justice movements, making it one of the most significant works in feminist and intersectional studies.