During the month of February, I decided to join in with Ellen Orange’s brilliant idea of reading feminist books. I made my own to-read list, and also some recommendations of fabulous feminist books I’d already read.
What makes a book “feminist”? I believe that feminism is a very personal thing. For me, it’s not just about believing in equality, it’s about behaving in ways that promote equality. So really it’s a way of life. With that definition in mind, what made me choose the books I chose? I was really looking for books that examined what women go through, in either a fictionalised account or a real life story. A couple of feminist subjects that are currently bothering me are rape, female sexuality, and racism, so I wanted to read about those topics, in an attempt to gain more understanding.
The Awakening by Kate Chopin was my first pick. It was free to download on Kindle, having been first published in 1899, and was an exquisitely progressive book for its time. And for our time. The Awakening discusses female infidelity, but also examines how living in a society that restricts women in so many ways is so very detrimental. You can read my full review here.
Then I read We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a very short, but very informative piece of work that really opened my eyes about Adichie’s brand of feminism. I really appreciate some feminists destroying the myth that being a feminist means you’re an ugly, fat, hairy-legged, bra-burning lesbian (but you can be all of those things, if you wish. I for one am hairy-legged and proud). It annoys me when people suggest that because I get my nails done, or wear make-up, I’m not a feminist. It almost buys into the “cool girl” trope, that because I wear mascara and have pink nails, I’m “not like other feminists”, I’m better. This nonsense needs to stop, and Adichie is one of the loudest voices against such rubbish. You can read my review here.
I started an Audible trial (free for 90 days for Prime members!), so I downloaded Unslut by Emily Lindin, and listened to it during my commute to and from work, and sometimes during my lunch hour. I’ve reviewed Unslut in full here – but proceed with caution, as I do discuss slut-shaming and sexual abuse in teens, which may be triggering to some individuals.
In the evenings, I flew through I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. I’d never read anything by Angelou before, and was quite disappointed about that fact. Feminism must be intersectional, else it is bullshit, and Angelou gives us a chance to confront our white feminism by displaying the clear racial tension in the US that is still, sadly, prevalent today. Reading accounts by people in different situations from ourselves allows us to open our minds to how, although we are still disadvantaged, we are privileged in other ways. It’s a great feminist lesson, and one I intend to keep on learning. You can read my review here.
I didn’t get around to reading The Color Purple by Alice Walker in February, but it’ll be the first audiobook I download when I get my Audible credit for March. I tried the Kindle sample of The Round House by Louise Erdrich, but couldn’t really get into it. Maybe I’ll try again another time. I also bought Paradise by Toni Morrison to get stuck into.
What did I get out of Feminist February? Well, I obviously got to read some amazing books. I liked the split between fiction and non-fiction. I’m not usually a big fan of non-fiction, but my choices for Feminist February were obviously good ones, because I enjoyed all of them.
I’ve also added some to my ever-growing to-read pile. Some of the books I’ve added to my wishlist are:
- Ain’t I A Woman: Black Women & Feminism by Bell Hooks
- Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay
- Men Explain Things To Me by Rebecca Solnit
- Sex Object by Jessica Valenti
- I’m Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl by Gretchen McNeil
- The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
- A Mercy by Toni Morrison
If you have any more recommendations to add to my list, let me know in the comments below! What did you read for Feminist February?