Feminist Book Binge | Part 1

NON-FICTION

I Call Myself a Feminist: The View From Twenty-Five Women Under Thirty – edited by Victoria Pepe, Rachel Holmes, Amy Annette, Martha Mosse and Alice Stride

This is the feminist book I have been waiting for. It isn’t completely comprehensive, but it doesn’t claim to be. As Kathleen Hanna said, and as is quoted in the book: “There’s just as many different kinds of feminism as there are women in the world.” This book hears from twenty-five women, all of them under the age of thirty. It covers such a diverse range of topics, from female genital mutilation and acid attacks in Pakistan to workplace sexism and women in engineering, and is peppered with inspiring quotes from the feminists who came before us and those who are still fighting. This book is a call to action, for the feminists of now and of the future to claim the word for their own.

He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut, and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know – by Jessica Valenti

A good starting point for anyone curious (or disbelieving) about the patriarchal double-standards that dictate the silencing of women. In popular culture, in the workplace, on the streets. By no means exhaustive, but an easy read and a good place to start.

Girl Up – by Laura Bates

WHERE WAS THIS BOOK WHEN I WAS A TEENAGER!?!?. Laura Bates is inspiring and encouraging, and I would urge any young woman to read this book. I would urge mothers to buy it for their daughters/nieces/babysitees. I would urge teachers to buy it for their students. This book is well-researched, informative, interesting, funny. You may know Laura Bates from her previous book Everyday Sexism, or the Everyday Sexism Project website and twitter account, or her Ted Talk on everyday sexism – she is a feminist powerhouse and I cannot recommend this book enough. It’s got statistics, diagrams, useful resources and advice, puns, and doodles of dancing vaginas. What more could you want?

 

FICTION

Life is Wonderful, People Are Terrific – by Meliza Bañales

Queer Mexican punk stripper moonlighting as an ordinary college student in Santa Cruz. A world of squatters, Neo-Nazis, Riot Grrrl feminism, the emergence of the third wave and the Northern California punk scene. Incredibly relatable, and written in exactly the sort of messed up mile-a-minute train of thought way that every eighteen-year-old’s mind works. It is also so refreshing to finally read a YA novel that isn’t about white, attractive, middle-class high school students. Bañales doesn’t fall back on cliches or stereotypes; these characters are real, and so is their suffering.

Blue Is the Warmest Color – by Julie Maroh

I expected this beautifully-penned graphic novel to be uplifting, encouraging, and powerful. Boy, was I wrong. This book, set in Lille over the span of over two decades from 1994 to 2008, covers the entire relationship between the closeted and uncertain Clementine, and the out-and-proud Emma. From the first page, we know that by the end of the book, Clementine will be dead. Her struggle to understand and accept her sexuality, her tumultuous relationship with the others in her life, and the difficulty of her political surroundings, is all the more painful because the reader knows her fate throughout. It is disturbing, yet absolutely fascinating, to know the ending when the narrator does not. This book broke my heart.

Dietland – by Sarai Walker

 1. Plum Kettle, an overweight woman who has wasted most of her life thus far with fad diets, unsatisfying work, and a mantra of self-hate. A cautionary tale about the importance of self-love, the perils of the diet industry, and the importance of sisterhood.
2. Jennifer – a single person, or an organised feminist terrorist group? 12 rapists dropped out of a plane, ransom demands for the replacement of Page 3 with dicks, and a ‘penis blacklist’ of 100 men who no woman should bed, lest she pay with her life (and his).
This book excels at both of these things with unbelievable creativity and mirth, and somehow their completely different yet equally complex plots work seamlessly side-by-side. Its description as a ‘feminist revenge fantasy’ is exceptionally accurate.

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