books on feminism

Friedan, Betty.  The Feminine Mystique, W.W. Norton, 1963.  A classic that helped launch Second Wave feminism and is still relevant today.


Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi.  We Should all be Feminists.  Vintage Reprint, 2014.  Adapted from her TEDx talk, Adichie redefines feminism for the 21st century.



Atwood, Margaret.  The Handmaid’s Tale.  Anchor Books, 1986.  Set in an alternate reality where the birth rate has significantly declined and women are not allowed to read.  Women who can still bear children are controlled by the   government. 


Chopin, Kate. The Awakening.  Elibron Classics, 1899.  Regarded as one of the first feminist    novels, the leading female character starts to question her marriage and society’s     expectations. She seeks new experiences that were taboo at the time and eventually finds independence. 


Clifton, Lucille.  The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton.  BOA Editions Ltd., 2012.  Nominated twice for a Pulitzer Prize for poetry and Poet Laureate of Maryland from 1979-1985, Clifton works to breakdown the stereotypes of blackness and the African-American female body. 


De Beauvoir, Simone.  The Second Sex.  Vintage, 1949.  Influential to feminist existentialism and feminist theory, The Second Sex explores women’s oppression and otherness in   Western culture and poses questions still relevant.


Eltahawy, Mona.  Headscarves and Hymens:  Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution.  Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2014.  A look at how politics, culture, andreligion keep women oppressed in the Middle East and North Africa. Eltahawy calls for outrage and action while unabashedly portraying life for women in the Middle East. 


Faludi, Susan.  Backlash:  The Undeclared War Against American Women. Broadway Books, 1991.  Faludi exposes mainstream media’s inaccurate claims targeting career women in the 1980s-90s. Unfortunately many of these issues are still prolific today.


Gay, Roxane.  Bad Feminist: Essays.  Harper Perennial, 2014.  Amusing essays that work to widen the scope of what a feminist can be and looks at how culture shapes who we are.


Hooks, Bell. Feminism is for Everybody:  Passionate Politics.  South End Press, 2000.  Written in an approachable manner, Hook provides a history of the movement and proposes a feminism for for all races and classes where debate and respect for all are paramount. 


Kingston, Maxine Hong.  The Woman Warrior.  Vintage, 1975.  A memoir of growing up Chinese-American, recounting the stories passed down from her mother and the contrasting rigidity of both Chinese and American culture. 


Lorde, Audre.  Sister Outsider.  Crossing Press, 1984.  Lorde writes from her perspective as an African-American, a lesbian, a mother, and a poet, and challenges us to not only act and speak our own experiences, but to     extend ourselves to other’s experiences as well. 


Millet, Kate.  Sexual Politcis.  University of Illinois Press, 1970.  Helped to fuel second wave feminism,    Millet establishes patriarchy as a social construct and reveals its pervasiveness in our culture. 


Moran, Caitlin.  How to be a Woman.  Ebury Press, 2011.  With humor, Moran looks at the everyday sexism and the persistent expectations women continue to face in society. 


Orbach, Susie. Fat is a Feminist Issue. Arrow, 1978.  Investigates pressures of body image and weight women experience in American  society. Although written in the 1970s, it is still applicable. 


Pepe, Victoria, eds. et al.  I Call Myself a Feminist.  Virago, 2017.  Twenty-five women under the age of thirty describe what being a feminist means to them. 


Sandberg, Sheryl.  Lean in: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.  Knopf, 2013.  Examines women’s continued lack of leadership presence using data and personal   anecdotes and provides solutions to help empower women and promote change in the workplace. 


Valenti, Jessica.  Sex Object:  A Memoir.  Dey Street Books, 2016.  Uses personal experiences to help show how everyday and institutionalized sexism impacts and shapes women. 


Wolf, Naomi.  The Beauty Myth.  Harper Perennial, 1991.  Wolfe argues that a major restriction women currently face is society’s unrealistic expectations of “beauty” and physical perfection.


Wollstonecraft, Mary.  A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.  Penguin Classics, 1790.  One of the first feminist manifestos that argued for women’s education.


Yousafzai, Malala.  I am Malala: The Story of the Girl who Stood up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban.  Little, Brown and Company, 2012.  One of the first feminist manifestos that argued for women’s education.  up for girl’s education, being attacked by the Taliban to show an individual's impact and inspire change.


You probably have thought of a dozen more.  If so, send me an email at  As this guide is updated, we will add more books.