Feminism is a collection of social, ideological and political movements with the common goal of ending gender discrimination and achieving equality between the sexes. Feminism is represented in many different fields, from politics to art and popular culture. Regardless of whether you would call yourself a feminist, everyone can benefit from learning about the movement and the experiences of those who have fought for equality and continue to do so today.

There are countless great books that discuss the feminist movement, clarifying its ideals and answering your questions. You’ll find books in various formats, from essays and instructional guides to adventure novels. In this article, we’ll help you to pick out the perfect book for you to learn more about feminism.

Key Facts

  • The ideology of feminism can be complex. For this reason, there are all kinds of books meant to introduce you to feminist concepts in a way that’s simple and understandable.
  • Feminist books expose you to new experiences and perspectives you might not have considered. They help to outline the issues faced by women and can inspire readers to work for a more equal world.
  • Feminism is important for both women and men. Feminist books are certainly not just for women readers, but rather for anyone looking to gain knowledge about the subject.

Ranking: 5 feminist books to introduce you to the genre

Feminism can seem like a complex and difficult topic to learn about. But luckily there are a number of great books for anyone who’s looking to venture into the subject but isn’t sure where to begin. Here, we’ve gathered five of the best books related to feminism to get you started.

No. 1: We Should All Be Feminists

This provocative essay by award-winning Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie provides a unique look at feminism in the twenty-first century. Adichie tackles the question of what it means to be a woman today, and makes the case for why everyone should be a feminist using her own personal experiences from adolescence and adulthood.

We Should All Be Feminists provides an inclusive definition of feminism, using a funny and insightful style that will engage readers of different ages and backgrounds. Critics describe this short book as nuanced, eloquent and inspirational.

No. 2: Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World

Author Ann Chen is an illustrator and graphic designer who brings a fresh take to feminist literature with this beautiful, illustrated book that discusses one hundred revolutionary women who shattered glass ceilings and made a difference in the world. Read about amazing artists, scientists and writers like political activist Angela Davis, pilot Amelia Earhart and musician Joan Jett.

This collection of illustrations paired with inspiring essays makes a great gift that will be a perfect addition to any library or coffee table. It’s an easy read that covers a wide range of stories and personalities to give any reader a solid look at feminism and some of the movement’s biggest names.

No. 3: Feminist Fight Club: An Office Survival Manual for a Sexist Workplace

This hard-hitting, entertaining book by Jessica Bennett is described as part manual and part manifesto, a guide of sorts that provides advice and support to today’s working women. It combines personal stories, in-depth research and statistics to explain a sexist system and the actions within it that impact women on a daily basis. Of course this book is not just for the women who experience the sexist behavior described, but also men who wish to learn about and better support their female colleagues.

Author Jessica Bennett is an award-winning journalist whose focus is on gender issues, culture and sexuality. She has appeared in Newsweek, TIME, the Washington Post and the New York Times, and was also a founding editor at LeanIn.org, an organization dedicated to helping women achieve their goals.

No. 4:The Handmaid’s Tale

This unforgettable novel by Canadian author Margaret Atwood presents a frightening picture of a future in which a far-right, mono-theocratic government rules the former United States. In this dystopian world, women are strictly controlled and designated to a handful of classes including handmaids, housekeepers and childless wives.

The Handmaid’s tale has been adapted into a popular Hulu television series, and it’s clear why: this novel is gripping, intense and moving—while also raising important themes present in feminist movements. Readers who enjoy this book will have many other options from Atwood to continue with, including award-winning fiction, poetry and critical essays.

No. 5:The Feminine Mystique

In the world of feminism, The Feminine Mystiqueis key. First published in 1963, this book set out to describe the “problem that has no name,” or the beliefs and systems in place that can undermine a woman’s confidence and restrict her potential.

Author Betty Friedan used anecdotes, interviews and insights in this book to spark what many consider a revolution at a time when the average woman got married in her teens. Friedan’s work is still as relevant today as it was back then, and is now published as a 50th-anniversary edition.

Shopping Guide: Everything you need to know about feminist books

If you’re browsing for your first feminist-themed book to introduce you to the subject, you probably have a lot of questions on the matter. Regardless of your interests or previous experiences, learning about something new can always be a challenge. In this section, we go through some of the most commonly asked questions regarding feminist books.

Understanding feminism is crucial to understanding our society, its history and its future.
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What exactly are feminist books?

Feminism is a movement that seeks to address systematic inequality and discrimination based on sex. A feminist book is generally one that addressing this struggle and puts women at the center of the narrative. There are many different ways to do this, such as by conveying the consequences of sexism in fictional or historic ways.

Feminist books may also present solutions and motivate their readers to actively work toward greater gender equality. They might include personal stories from the author’s life, or educational guides on the history of the feminist movement.

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There are feminist books for readers with all preferences, interests and levels of knowledge.

Why should I read feminist books?

Feminism has gained prominence in recent years, and is present far beyond politics. Feminism can be found in cinema, religion, art, music and literature. Feminist books are a great way to clarify seemingly complex concepts and answer any questions you may have. They also offer a glimpse into diverse points of view and experiences within the movement.

For many women in particular, reading feminist books can be therapeutic. Reading about inequality and discrimination that other women have faced may help them identify the problems they face and signals that they aren’t alone in facing sexism. Feminist books can be a kind of refuge. They give readers the strength to continue calling for equality, and they inspire new generations to join the cause.

Books are like food for the mind.
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Are feminist books okay for children?

It is certainly worthwhile to introduce younger readers to the concept of feminism. If children can learn about equality at their age, they will grow up to be more conscious of just and unjust actions. Of course, as with any type of book, not all options are suitable for a young audience. Nonetheless, there are many feminist books written with children and teens in mind.

Many of these books are great for readers of all ages, but they’re especially beneficial for children. It’s a good idea to look for feminist books that inspire young women to be themselves and to dream big. One feminist book geared toward children is Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls.

Reading feminist books is a great way to expose yourself to different points of view.
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Are there feminist books in different literary genres?

Certainly. A feminist book could be fiction or non-fiction. It might contain poetry, stories, scientific research or essays. Feminism isn’t exactly a literary genre of its own, but instead can be seen an approach to all kinds of genres and subgenres. For a book to be considered feminist, it should reflect ideals or goals of the feminist movement.

Although many classic feminist titles are in the form of essays or poetry, feminist novels are also very popular. There’s a huge number of feminist fiction books, including the successful category of feminist science fiction. In our ranking above, we included one of the most acclaimed fiction titles, The Handmaid’s Tale.

Reading along with a cup of tea or coffee is one of life’s greatest pleasures.
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What feminist books can be given to men?

It is worth remembering that feminism is not a movement for women only. Both women and men are affected by gender inequality and injustice, so it’s very important for men to become familiar with feminism. Although many feminist works feature inspiring women as their primary characters or subjects, this doesn’t mean men can’t also enjoy and learn from them.

Books including We Should All Be Feministsand Feminism for Beginnersare a great start for men looking to get an introduction to feminism. Furthermore, there are feminist books specifically tailored to a male audience. These books often seek to explain how sexism affects men too, and how men can contribute to the fight against sex-based discrimination.

Shopping criteria

Feminist books represent a vast range of literary categories. Although they all share certain ideals, they nonetheless come in very different forms. There books for all preferences, interests, issues and needs. When looking for the right book to approach the topic, you may want to consider the following criteria.

  • Knowledge on the topic
  • Age
  • Literary genre
  • Interests
  • Reading time

Knowledge on the subject

We know that feminism can be a complex and confusing subject. It’s hard to decide where to begin learning. Luckily, there are countless books written just for those who want to get an introduction to feminism. These readers should steer clear of dense theory and instead look for dynamic and fun books that can help to clarify questions and keep you entertained while learning.

Two books that we recommend, We Should All Be Feministsand Bad Girls Throughout History are good examples of books for readers who are eager to learn about feminism but aren’t quite sure where to begin. If you already have extensive knowledge on the subject, we recommend that you explore the classics or some modern novels. There are feminist books out there for all levels and tastes.

Age

As with any type of book, there are feminist works appropriate for different age groups. As we explained earlier, it is important to bring both men and women, and indeed boys and girls, into the fight for equality. To do this, you should keep an eye out for instructional books that are focused on explaining feminism to a younger audience and expowering girls.

If you’re looking for a book for a teen, we’d recommend science fiction novels, which are very popular among that age group. Another good option is a comic book or graphic novel. These books can explain complex issues in a simple and entertaining way.

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Books that deal with more complex themes related to feminism, like abuse and sex work, may be best suited to adult readers.

Literary genre

Feminist books aren’t designated to a genre of their own. The feminist approach appears in different genres: fiction, nonfiction, poetry and essays. We advise you to look for feminist books in whatever genre you enjoy. If you’re excited about novels, look for feminist fiction. If poetry is your thing, try a feminist collection of poems.

Essay is a very common genre within feminist texts. This genre allows for authors to analyze the topic in-depth and assess various issues within the movement. For this reason, feminist essays are great for people who are just starting to learn about feminism.

Interests

Even though all of these books reflect feminist ideals, each one does so in a different way. The feminist approach gives authors the opportunity to deal with a huge diversity of topics. So when you’re looking for a feminist book, you can look to the books that you usually like as a guide.

As mentioned previously, there are feminist science fiction, fantasy and romance novels. For those who are interested in the consequences and  causes of feminism, there are many fiction and nonfiction books about the political and economic impact of and on sexism.

Reading time

When picking a book, you should also consider how much time you’re looking to spend reading feminist works. It isn’t necessary to devote all of your time to the topic in order to understand the key concepts. You can start by reading shorter books and then move on to longer and more complex works down the road.

There are some very short but still fascinating options, like We Should All Be Feminists. There are also longer novels that will grasp your attetion for several days, like The Handmaid’s Tale. Its author, Margaret Atwood, announced that she will publish a sequel in 2019, so you’ll have another great option after you finish the first.

Summary

Understanding feminism is critical to understanding our society, its past and its future. Although it may at times seem like a complex and difficult theme, the books we recommend in our ranking above are all great options to introduce yourself to the subject. They aren’t dry technical books, but instead inspiring, gripping novels and funny essays.

Each and every book is unique. What these ones have in common is that they support the principles of the feminist movement. To read feminist literature is to expose yourself to a diverse range of viewpoints. Learning about the ideals of feminism can help you to articulate your own experiences and discover that you aren’t alone in your struggles or stance. Finally, they inspire us all to work towards a world that is fairer for all women and men alike.

We hope that our article has encouraged you to delve into feminist literature and learn more about the feminist movement. If you found the article useful, please share it on social media. And don’t forget to let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

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