After spending some time with a fellow feminist friend of mine, I realized that I needed to put together a beginners list. Okay, she asked for one and I wanted it to share it with everyone. This is not a comprehensive list, but it’s as intersectional as I can provide. There is a serious lack of a Latina perspective and I recognize that. I’ve looked, unsuccessfully, for books on Latin women to incorporate into my reading. If you have a suggestions, I will happily look at it. The list is also composed of books I’ve actually read, so that’s unfortunately limiting as well, for now. Hopefully, the list will be updated yearly, but I dare not count on the future just yet.
Note: Links go to reviews/recommendations I’ve posted. I created a shelf for these books on booklikes and Goodreads to help readers find the books.
Let’s start with a little herstory on activism, for ourselves or otherwise:
- The Second Sex – Simone de Beauvoir – over 800 pages, but worth it if you have the time. Beauvoir captures a range of the female experience that I could never have imagined and has some pretty compelling insights into some of the issues that surround women’s rights, like abortion.
- The Feminine Mystique – Betty Friedan – Friedan sheds a light on the problem with no name and some other problems that still hit a little too close to home for my comfort.
- At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance–A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power – Danielle L. McGuire – McGuire brings us the herstory of the women who were in the Civil Rights movement and their struggle with both race and gender. There will be parts that are familiar from school, but that had lost their texture in the watered-down way they are taught.
- Reimagining Equality: Stories of Gender, Race, and Finding Home – Anita Hill – a fascinating look at home ownership and integration of races and genders in our communities as an essential part of the way we perceive our equality with others along with a history of how poorly we’ve handled integrating new identities into our communities in the past.
- Transgender History – Susan Stryker – A history of the movement to recognize the transgender community, their humanity, and their rights.
- Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science-and the World – Rachel Swaby – to remind me that women have been around and changing the world for far longer than we have been credit for.
Now, in order to better understand the research we are presented with:
Religion and feminism are not mutually exclusive, really:
- Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible’s View of Women by Sara Bessey
- Women of the Wall by Phyllis Chesler and Rivka HautParadise Beneath Her Feet: How Women are Transforming the Middle East
- Love is an Orientation by Andrew Marin and Brian McLaren
Women’s rights are human rights:
- Paradise Beneath Her Feet: How Women are Transforming the Middle East (yes, again, because the women are using religion to make others realize this same thing)
- Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide – updated
- A Call To Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power by Jimmy Carter
There is still much to do in the world of business:
- Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
- Nice Girls Still Don’t Get the Corner Office: Unconscious Mistakes That Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers by Lois P. Frankel
- The Abramson Effect by Debora Spar
- Gender, Work, and Economy by Heidi Gottfried
I know there’s this whole thing about feminism and men’s issues and whatever. We cannot expect the amount of change we want in the direction we want without addressing some things that plague them too, even if we wanted to:
- Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- Gender Oppression: A Bloke’s Perspective on the Struggled for Gender Equality by Allan-Stuart J. McLeo – not what you think. I’ve read the books that go try to pretend that men are suddenly on bottom, but this isn’t that. This is a look at those places where there is an importance set on women’s side of the issue that simply isn’t there for men, such as male homelessness which is higher and the default way that mothers get the children in some places still.
- Lonely at the Top: The High Cost of Men’s Succes by Thomas Joiner, PhD – there is a serious problem out there with men and retirement and suicide. When you spend your life identified by your job, what do you do when the job is over? An interesting read and an issue that needs to be addressed so that our sons don’t end up in the same boat as our fathers.
We also cannot expect changes at work without changes at home:
- Reimagining Equality: Stories of Gender, Race, and Finding Home – Anita Hill (yes, again, it makes the same point that change needs to take place at home as much as it does at work for us to actually have equality)
- Gender, Work, and Economy by Heidi Gottfried (and again here too because some fabulous points are made on how the one effects the other)
- Love Between Equals: How Peer Marriage Really Works by Pepper Schwarts, PhD – not everyone can achieve peer marriage, and not everyone really wants to. There are some pitfalls but there are some great benefits as well.
- The Unfinished Revolution: Coming of Age in a New Era of Gender, Work and Family by Kathleen Gerson – just in case you aren’t sure what the real problem is when attempting the peer marriage mentioned above.
Paving the way forward:
- All the Rebel Women: the Rise of the Fourth Wave of Feminism by Kira Cochrane
- Unspeakable Things: Sex, Lies, and Revolution by Laura Penny
- Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Fundamentalism by Karima Bennoune – in case you thought that there weren’t activists on the ground, fighting fundamentalism with both religion and secularism already, check this out.
- Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity by Julia Serano – a fascinating look at how femininity is still frowned upon as well as a multitude of trans issues. I loved every minute of it.
For the courage to keep speaking up and bring brave, even though it’s horribly uncomfortable for me, I turn to Dr. Brene Brown. Probably anything she’s written, but these are the books of hers that I’ve read:
- Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead
- Rising Strong
- The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are
Do you know any good books for new feminists to read? Okay, or old feminists who haven’t caught up yet like me.
If you’re interested in any of these books, check out my shelves in the Menu. You will be transferred to BookLikes, which has places to purchase the books, but don’t forget your local libraries!