Actress and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, Emma Watson, launched an online feminist book club this week: #OurSharedShelf. Rock on, Emma!
Top Feminist Reads for Emma’s Book Club
- Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. My love for Roxane Gay knows no bounds. This is the perfect
follow up to Watson’s first pick—Gloria Steinem’s
autobiography, My Life on the Road. Steinem
and Gay represent book ends to contemporary feminist history as well as
offering different racial perspectives (not universal obviously but their own anyway) as both a white woman and a black woman, respectively. And Gay is just funny and smart and generally
- Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society and Neurosexism Create
Difference by Cordelia Fine. Don’t be scared off by the academic title, Emma. This is a fierce, funny, important book about cultural stereotypes and
neurosexism, the myth that men and women’s brains are “wired differently” and
the subsequent dangerous repercussions caused by this belief in inherent gender
- The Handmaid’s Tale by
Margaret Atwood. Fiction may seem like a departure from the spirit of your
mission, Emma, but trust me when I say Margaret Atwood’s classic dystopian novel—about
a society that has dissolved to a point where fundamentalism is thriving,
sexual violence against women is the norm, and women are subjected to institutional
misogyny that makes them second class citizens with no control of their reproduction—will seem all
too real in light of current events. #StandwithPP. #TheEmptyChair #YesAllWomen #YouOKSis #BringBackOurGirls
- The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler. Adapted from Ensler’s
one-woman show inspired by over two hundred interviews with women from all
walks, races, religions, and occupations talking about, you guessed it,
their vaginas. Powerful. Painful. Hilarious. Victorious.
- What Will it Take to Make a Woman President by Marianne Schnall. The executive director of Feminist.com set out to answer her eight-year-old daughter’s
question, “Why haven’t we ever had a woman president?” Featuring interviews with politicians, leaders, artists, and activists such as
Gloria Steinem, Sheryl Sandberg, Nicholas Kristof, and Maya Angelou, Schnall addresses
what may prove to be one of the most important questions of this election year.
(Added bonus: Schnall uses this opportunity to encourage women to be leaders in
their lives and in the world.)
- Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde. I consider poet and writer
Audre Lorde’s collection of essays to be required reading for feminists. Through
her personal perspective as a black lesbian she takes on a universal discussion
of sexism, racism, ageism, homophobia, and class,
issues profoundly important to the feminist movement.
- The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty are Used
Against Women by Naomi Wolf. I don’t know the origins of the bumper sticker, “If
you’re not outraged, then you’re not paying attention,” but this book inspires this sentiment. The book’s title says it all.
- We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This Nigerian writer is so smart and
so right on in her definition of feminism for the twenty-first century in this beautiful
essay adapted from her Tedx talk of the same name.
- I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for
Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai. This is the autobiography of a young Pakistani
activist for female education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize
laureate. Her book offers and inspires discussion on a multitude of relevant topics including: the importance of education, global sisterhood, equality, female empowerment, and feminist activism.
- Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women by Elizabeth Wurtzel. A provocative title by a provocative
writer, best known for her memoir about drugs and depression, Prozac Nation. Though the book suffers presumably
from the author’s admitted drug binge during its writing and research, its premise and its faults are worthy fodder for conversations and debate about defiance, self destruction and
- The Guy’s Guide to Feminism by Michael Kaufman and Michael Kimmel. This pick is in honor of HeForShe, the UN’s campaign to bring men and boys into the movement to end inequality toward women and girls. Kaufman and Kimmel explain how understanding and supporting feminism improves men’s lives, too. They even received a nod from Gloria Steinem: “From sexist ads to honor killings, there are seventy-plus feminist issues explained…a relevant, inclusive, funny, and straight-to-the-point explanation of how and why feminism improves life for the male half of the world, too.“ Sing it, sister.
Thanks, Emma, for starting this conversation. I’m a big believer that books can change people’s lives (”This Book Will Change Your Life”); here’s hoping a book club can help change the world.