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5 Feminist Books that You’ve Never Read but Definitely Should


By Hanna Smithson

I’ll admit that I’m a huge nerd when it comes to reading for pleasure; not only do books allow you to step into another world and live alternate lives, they can also be extremely useful when it comes to understanding your own life, culture, and experiences. 

One of the best ways to educate yourself on any topic is through reading about it. As a woman, I find it helpful to read about the ups and downs in the lives of other women. There are undoubtedly thousands of titles out there that are dedicated to feminism and the female experience. However, with so many to choose from, it can be hard to know which are right for you. While it’s probably impossible to read every single book that will change your life or make you say “OMG, relatable,” I’ve taken the time to compile a list to start you off. Here are five non-mainstream feminist titles that need to find a place on your bookshelf:

What a Time to Be Alone: The Slumflower’s Guide to Why You Are Already Enough by Chidera Eggerue

Let’s start off with a book that is bound to make you proud to be a woman. This quirky, no-bullshit nonfiction piece comes from the founder of the #saggyboobsmatter movement, Chidera Eggerue, aka The Slumflower. Set up as a self-help book, What a Time to Be Alone teaches women that we are enough despite living in a society that tells us we aren’t.  The Slumflower explains how being alone is not only okay — it may just be the best damn thing for us. What makes this piece of literature so unique is that it’s interlaced with the perceptive Igbo proverbs that Eggerue grew up hearing from her mother. To put it bluntly, celebrating yourself and erasing the toxicity in your life has never been made so simple. You’re in charge of you, and no one can tell you otherwise. In the words of The Slumflower, “You’re bad as hell.” After reading this gem, Beyonce’s “Run the World (Girls)” will be the soundtrack to your life. 

The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood

Okay, so you probably have heard of this one, or at least of the author. Sixteen years before she published her influential hit, The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood wrote The Edible Woman, a novel about Marian—a young woman whose desperate attempts to remain ordinary are battled against her ever-growing urge to rebel. Before she knows it, Marian’s experiencing an identity crisis right before she’s married to her dull, stoic fiancé. Through ample metaphors and witty writing, Atwood tells Marian’s story as she unfolds the truths about societal oppression, marriage, and gender roles. Simultaneously, Marian spirals further into mental instability as she realizes that she can be literally eaten. What does that even mean? You’ll have to read the book to try and figure it out. The Edible Woman encompasses ahead-of-its-time feminist theory while also accurately depicting the mysoginist fifties mentality. What does it mean to feel like an outsider in a world that makes all the rules? This book is perfect for fans of comedic story-telling with underlying messages that pack a punch. 

When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice by Terry Tempest Williams

This next book is guaranteed to make you start thinking about your life as a woman in a new, philosophical light. Artistic and raw, this memoir tells the story of author Terry Tempest Williams finding her late mother’s personal journals. Without spoiling too much, the journals are nothing like Williams expected them to be. However, she makes the most of what she’s given and slowly uncovers the truths that lie within nature, culture, and the voice of women. With each chapter serving as a journal entry, this book flows like poetry. Williams’ profound words captivate and demand deep examination and reflection. When Women Were Birds is definitely not a light read, but this piece of literature will undoubtedly leave insightful thinkers feeling light and optimistic, making it worth the trudge.

Girl Culture by Lauren Greenfield

Who says picture books are just for children? If you’re looking for a unique addition to your bookshelf, Lauren Greenfield’s Girl Culture is the way to go. This is not like any other picture book you’ve had before. Comprised of over a hundred photos, this monograph depicts how severely girls are influenced by American culture and media. Heavily impactful because of how visual it is, this book captures both the beauty and raw vulgarity of young women’s lives. Throughout the book are candid testimonials from various young women, which serve to further Greenfield’s perspective of the psychology of the female population. Girl Culture is known for being an emotional shocker that hits close to home; it reminds readers that, as young women, we’ve all struggled to find our place in society in one way or another. So, pull out the tissue box and prepare for a trip down memory lane as you take in all the ways in which girls are battled against culture. 

I’m Fine...and Other Lies by Whitney Cummings

Okay, so let’s face it: most of us know what it’s like to feel NOT fine, including even the most upbeat, inspirational, and put-together queens (yeah, I’m talking to you!). Despite her career success in the entertainment industry, Whitney Cummings is no exception. In her book I’m Fine...and Other Lies, the comedian unveils the most painful events she’s experienced in her life journey so far. Interwoven throughout her brazen anecdotes and shameless cries for help is real advice for how to tackle your own demons. Tips for nipping anxiety in the butt have never been funnier, but beneath the humor lies important conversations about societal norms and the unhealthy pressure that women feel to maintain a certain image. What is a red flag? Why are people jerks? How can I live with elements that are out of my control? Find out in I’m Fine...and Other Lies. Laugh and cry with Whitney because, despite what society will have women believe,  it’s okay to have unpretty emotions.

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