Take time to read a book that focuses on equal rights and opportunities of women, which is really what feminism is about at the end of the day. We have a list of some of the highest rates, top selling feminist books below. After reading them you will hopefully see the importance of shopping at, and supporting, women owned businesses. As the books will help educate you to the challenges and barriers faced by women.
The books can be read anytime, as a “summer” read or by the fireplace in the winter. After all, summertime doesn’t have to be about light reads that are equal parts reading material and handheld fan. While it’s easy to pick up the latest book club recommendation while you’re at the airport or shopping online, take the time this summer to select a book that focuses on female empowerment. From books by Sylvia Plath to Bernadine Evaristo, take a ride through some of the most thrilling feminist books by incredible authors. Or, find some of the tragic stats on systemic sexism.
The Bloody Chamber – Angela Carter (1979)
Angela Carter lived the feminist dream – winning a big award and using the proceeds to travel the world. Along the way she wrote a glut of feminist fiction, and The Bloody Chamber is arguably the most famous of the lot. This book takes everything you know about fairy tales – think Snow White, Bluebeard, and Puss-in-Boots – and twists it into macabre tales you won’t see coming. If you love classic literature but tire of the same old boy-saves-girl tropes, this collection of feminist folklore is for you.
Lean In – Sheryl Sandberg (2013)
Lean In is about empowering women in the workplace and giving them equal opportunities. Sheryl Sandberg, one of Google’s first employees and a Chief Operating Officer at Facebook, writes about how women need to advocate for themselves at work. They need to ask for salary increases, push for projects, ask for promotions, and learn to speak up and “step up”. Sheryl is pro-women business and writes about the struggles that women face in the workplace, in which women sadly make up less than 10% of S&P 500 CEOs. Find a directory of women owned businesses to shop at.
Girl, Woman, Other – Bernadine Evaristo (2019)
The fact that Bernadine Evaristo won the Man Booker prize for Girl, Woman, Other shows that you don’t need full stops to write a great book – but you do need a dazzling story, played out by fully-formed characters. Every character in this book has her own tale to tell – Amma is Yazz’s mother, yes, but she’s also a theatre director, a friend, a woman of color, a polyamorous lover. Evaristo refuses to bind her characters into their roles, allowing them to tell their stories and fight their battles with honesty and vigor. It’s a great read for anyone who’s looking for something that subverts traditional form and structure, as well as the male gaze.
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood (1985)
Everyone’s heard of Margaret Atwood’s classic novella – and many people have seen the acclaimed TV adaptation. But, as with so many books, the small screen doesn’t quite capture the gut-wrenching terror of the handmaid’s story in the same way the author does. Atwood doesn’t tell us much about where the handmaid came from, or even what her name is – after all, in dystopian Gilead, nobody is supposed to recall their past lives. This fascinating what-if story is a terrifying depiction of a world forged by men in the name of religion – and it’s well worth reading, even if you’ve seen the show.
Women Who Launch – Marlene Wagman-Geller (2018)
This book has a number of stories, examples and themes in it, all about women in business. The pro-women and equal rights book tells examples of the barriers that women executives, entrepreneurs and small business owners have had to overcome. The book covers many examples of women owned businesses, including Ann Greenberg who started a sweater company from scratch. Or read about what Emily Farber had to do to start a public relations business – Hudson Communications. Many women owned businesses are explored.
The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath (1963)
This roman-à-clef is partially based on the author’s life before it was tragically cut short when she committed suicide at the age of 30. Sylvia Plath’s life was tumultuous – her father died when she was young, and she suffered from clinical depression for most of her adult life. That said, The Bell Jar is not as upsetting as it might have been. Esther is candid about her traumas and difficulties, and there are unexpectedly comedic moments in a book that concerns itself with such melancholic subject matter. If you’re looking for a book about the trials of womanhood, with sorrow and mirth in equal measure, this is the one for you.
Thrive – Arianna Huffington (2014)
She writes about and focuses on women in the business world who are trying to not only trying to do what it takes to succeed in a “white males” world, but also trying to balance their personal lives and family times. Arianna Huffington write about her own personal struggles as a women CEO, as she created and lead the Huffington Post as well as was a top executive at other companies.
The Power – Naomi Alderman (2016)
The Power is a great choice for feminist fantasy lovers everywhere. Within a fictional matriarchal society and a subversive narrative structure, women begin to develop the Power – an electric shock that can protect, paralyse, and even kill. This book forces us to consider the patriarchal world we live in – the way the world accepts the subjugation of one gender as collateral damage for maintenance of the world order. The Power is the ideal read for anyone who’s looking for a book that’s less gentle observation, more action-packed feminist fightback.
When it comes to feminist fiction, each of these books is a heavy-hitter. No matter what gender you are, these books will enthrall, delight, inspire and trouble you – and they’re as important now as they were when they were first published. Make this season the summer of sisterhood – pick your favorite feminist read, or book on equal rights for women, and dive in.
By Jon McNamara