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Essential feminist books to read.

(41 Posts)
TinyRick Thu 22-Dec-16 04:07:58

As the title. I would like to start reading some books on feminism. What would you consider the 'must have' books on your bookcase?

Also any child friendly ones for a well read 11yo? Would she be too young for any Margaret Atwood books? At what age would you start her books?

Thanks smile

Seachangeshell Thu 22-Dec-16 08:34:07

11 is far too young for Margaret Atwood. The themes of her work are for adults. I doubt an 11 year old would like it anyway. Isn't there's loads of young adult fiction about that's feminist, like 'The Hunger Games '?

M0stlyHet Thu 22-Dec-16 10:28:14

Feminist books which made an impact and stayed with me - Germaine Greer's The Female Eunuch (didn't get on so well with Sex and Destiny, but I have a feeling I should re-read that with the benefit of being older and wiser), and Susan Faludi's Backlash.

As for your daughter - depends on what she's like. I read adult books from a very young age, if they grabbed me and I was interested. Some bits went way over my head, of course.

(FWIW I think even in my early twenties when I first read the Handmaid's Tale, I missed the central point: that the off-screen old school second wave mother was in fact a feminist hero, and her patronising dismissive daughter was the fool who'd passively taken her eye off the ball wrt women's rights till it was too late and she'd lost them. It hit me like a truck when I re-read it a few years ago, and now, as I watch Trump planning to strip American women of their reproductive rights starting January 21st 2017, after years of liberal feminists agonising over micro-aggressions and whether the most important think in the world is using choicy-choice feminism to defend people's sexual kinks rather than worrying about the gender pay gap, THT now reads like prophecy rather than fiction.)

Squirrelsmum Thu 22-Dec-16 11:01:49

Check out the Bright Lite magazine

DD is 11 and I've got her a subscription for Christmas.
For myself one of the first books I read that stuck with me was "The Cinderella Complex" by Collette Dowling.

zsazsagaboredom Thu 22-Dec-16 12:49:57

Recent additions to my bookcase - still mostly unread:
"The Trouble With Women" Jack Fleming
"There's a Good Girl" Marine Grabrucker
"Heartbreak" Andrea Dworkin
"The Female Eunuch" (particularly as GG recently described it as a terrible book; I'm intrigued)
"The Feminine Mystique" Betty Friedan
:The Second Sex" (extracts from...) Simon de Beauvoir
"Backlash" Susan Faludi
"Delusions of Gender" Cordelia Fine
"Female Erasure" Ruth Barrett

Tbh I've only managed to read "The Trouble With Women" thus far. Lots of pictures; not too many tricky words.

I now bookmark (and save in my reading list folder on my phone) any books mentioned or recommended by many of the posters on here.

zsazsagaboredom Thu 22-Dec-16 12:59:52

Btw "The Trouble With Women" would be ideal for an 11 year old. Not exactly a long read though...
I must must must reread "The Handmaid's Tale"
I remember reading "The Women's Room" by Marilyn French in my 20s (though little of its content).
Also "The Golden Notebook" by Doris Lessing.

TitaniasCloset Thu 22-Dec-16 16:35:09

Germaine Greer's The Whole Woman is an easy read and great book. I'm going to add some of these ideas to my Amazon wish list I think, I have found it hard to find good feminist books in the past.

AmberEars Thu 22-Dec-16 16:47:39

If you are interested in biographies of feminists, I really enjoyed 'Romantic Outlaws: the Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley' by Charlotte Gordon.

For your DD, I wonder if she would be ready for 'How to be a Woman' by Caitlin Moran. I enjoyed this but found it slightly 'feminism lite', so it might be a good starting point?

I've heard good things about Delusions of Gender (mentioned above) and We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie but haven't read them yet.

SpongeBobJudgeyPants Thu 22-Dec-16 16:54:18

Fat is a feminist issue, Susie Orbach.

zsazsagaboredom Thu 22-Dec-16 20:50:35

Parts of "How to be a Woman" irritated me immensely. (Again, my memory serves me poorly so unable to be more specific.)

Possibly just enough irritation for me to reassess my belief that I was a liberal feminist. I am not.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Fri 23-Dec-16 08:54:06

Also "The Golden Notebook" by Doris Lessing

For an 11 year old?

LassWiTheDelicateAir Fri 23-Dec-16 09:05:23

Oh sorry, I see OP was asking for herself.

zsazsagaboredom Mon 26-Dec-16 12:36:51

Well, I've received duplicate copies of The Feminine Mystique & Heartbreak.
If any of you would like to take either of them send me a message.
Amazon are confused (and not keen to have them returned..)

Miffer Tue 27-Dec-16 14:00:17

The Lie Tree, Frances Hardinge.

Talks about womens roles in Victorian times but is a bit more nuanced that the usual fare. I especially enjoyed how the typical "gold digger" trope was dealt with.

abeandhalo Tue 27-Dec-16 14:01:53

I recommend the website For Books' Sake, it's got a huge catalogue of feminist book reviews to inspire you!

LassWiTheDelicateAir Tue 27-Dec-16 14:21:36

The Lie Tree is a cracking read. I hope she does a sequel. I would like to know what happened next to the surviving characters.

about womens roles in Victorian times but is a bit more nuanced that the usual fare. I especially enjoyed how the typical "gold digger" trope was dealt with.

Yes , that was interesting.

There is currently a beautiful hardback edition illustrated by Chris Riddell.

hotmail124 Tue 27-Dec-16 17:13:17

Fat is a Feminist Issue Susie Orbach I agree spongebob
Anything by Virginia Woolf, especially Mrs Dalloway
Beloved Toni Morrison
Sassafrass, Cypress and Indigo by Ntozake Shange
Purple Hibiscus Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie ( was on GCSE list before non white writers banned by M Gove)
The Golden Notebook Doris Lessing , I agree zsazsagaboredom
Read alongside NW by Zadie Smith who was somewhat influenced by Lessing.
Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy ( not an officially feminist book, but I thought he captured dichotomy of female hood elegantly)
I read The Group by Mary Mc Carthy when I was about 12
The Women's Room Anne Oakley
Great thread, thanks!
At 11 you should start to start to read everything, why not!

hotmail124 Tue 27-Dec-16 17:16:20

Correction: The Men's room Anne Oakley
Love reading is good website for teen readers with sample books and extracts.

hotmail124 Tue 27-Dec-16 17:18:20

A Question of Courage Marjorie Darke
The Endless Steppe: Growing Up in Siberia by Esther Hautzig
Specific teen girl books

hotmail124 Tue 27-Dec-16 17:22:14

M0stlyHet on the money there re THT. Realised too late that Stepford wives and Handmaiden's Tale were predictive texts on 2016/17 life.
Attwood's The Edible woman's a good read too.

rivierliedje Tue 27-Dec-16 18:44:04

Would The Handmaid's tale be okay for a 15th birthday present? I'm looking for things for my goddaughter. (she's religious, from an atheist family)
Persepolis is good. I had no idea that women's rights/liberation could go backwards as well as forwards in real life until I read that. It made the handmaid's tale seem more realistic somehow.
A woman's place by Ruth Adam is really interesting non fiction
No surrender by Constance Maud is a non fiction account of suffragete struggles, written by a contemporary
Round about a pound a week by Maud Pember Reeves; a study on how women who lived just above the poverty line in the early 20th century managed, and how expectations placed on them restricted them and made their lives harder. It was a report for the Fabian's Women's group.
Those last three are from Persephone books (they have lots of fab fiction and nonfiction about, by and for women).
My own story by Emmeline Pankhurst, quite an easy read really.
The F word is a primer on feminism which is easily read.

AnnaFiveTowns Tue 27-Dec-16 19:02:24

The Beauty Myth, Naomi Wolf.

MrsMarigold Tue 27-Dec-16 19:05:48

I read Cat's Eye at 12, I enjoyed it but a lot passed me by, I re-read it as an adult and thought bloody hell!

LassWiTheDelicateAir Tue 27-Dec-16 19:45:33

Anything by Virginia Woolf, especially Mrs Dalloway
Beloved Toni Morrison
Purple Hibiscus Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Golden Notebook Doris Lessing
NW by Zadie Smith
Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy ( not an officially feminist book, but I thought he captured dichotomy of female hood elegantly)
The Group by Mary McCarthy

Oddly I have read and loathed all of the above, especially The Golden Notebook.

I thought Anna Karenina (along with ^Mme Bovary^) was fabulous when I read them at 18- rereading at 35 I thought Anna and Emma were both spoilt, tiresome , selfish and deeply irritating.

I would be quite happy never to read another word by Margaret Atwood. I don't think I've found any of her books other than a toil.

hotmail124 Tue 27-Dec-16 20:01:02

Wifework by Susan Maushart
A Life's Work by Rachel Cusk
Family Politics Paul Ginsborg

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