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12 Feminist Books You Need To Read This Summer

Take a holiday and read about smashing the patriarchy - just girly things.

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1. Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde

Sister Outsider is a collection of essays and speeches by activist Audre Lorde. The essays are on sexism, racism, ageism, homophobia and class, and discuss how social difference can be a vehicle for change. Because it's broken down into individual speeches, the book is easy to put down and come back to, in between margaritas and trips to the beach (though it's so inspiring, you probably won't want to).

2. Women in Clothes edited by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits and Leanne Shapton

With a mix of serious, insightful journalism and humorous self-reflection, Women in Clothes is a multi-form anthology on the way women present themselves. The editors surveyed 639 women include Roxanne Gay and Kim Gordon, and this one is the perfect long-read to blast through summer. Full of relatable accounts on personal style, you'll find yourself truly immersed in this book.

3. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Despite clocking in at 477 pages, Americanah is a book you'll be hard pressed to put down until you've read it all. Not only is it a engrossing love story, Americanah is also a provocative exploration of structural inequality, gender roles, immigration and race. Both funny and dark, this novel will re-awaken the feminist in you.

4. Whipping Girl by Julia Serano

Whipping Girl is an account of Serano's life and looks at the discrimination trans women face, as well as our society’s preference for masculinity over femininity. She writes on the fear, suspicion, and dismissiveness toward femininity and how this shapes our attitudes toward trans women, and gender and sexuality as a whole. Despite tackling challenging concepts and theory, Whipping Girl is a clear and easy-to-read memoir: essential for every feminist this summer.

5. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood's famous novel is difficult to put down - no matter how many times you re-read it. The Handmaid's Tale was inspired by rising anti-feminist sentiment in the 1980s and is set in a terrifying dystopian future where women are completely subordinate to men. This book is very readable, yet filled with thought-provoking symbolism and ideas. If you're looking to get engrossed in a novel this summer - this one's for you.

6. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay's Bad Feminist is everything you could want in a feminist book: an amalgamation of theory and personal anecdotes, and it is both hilarious and heartbreaking. The book looks at the state of modern feminism and Gay addresses gender, sexuality, race and pop culture. The essays examine culture, contradictions in her personal feminism, race in contemporary film, and insights into HBO’s Girls and the Fifty Shades trilogy. Intelligent, honest and funny, you'll fly through this book on the beach.

7. Embroideries written and illustrated by Marjane Satrapi

Embroideries is funny and insightful look into the intimate lives of Iranian women. The short book features Marjane and her grandmother, mother, aunt and friends discussing their experiences with love and sex. This graphic novel is infused with discussion on Iranian culture, history, and humour, and you'll feel as though you're right there with them, drinking tea and gossiping.

8. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing

Published in 1962, The Golden Notebook is still as breathtaking and innovative as it was fifty years ago. Lessing explores communism, women's liberation, motherhood and mental breakdown in a radical, intricate format. The book examines the brokenness of relationships, of politics, of wealth, and of personal existentialism, clouded by a false sense of organisation and control. A hefty read, The Golden Notebook is a perfect novel for anyone feeling lost.

9. Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit

Men Explain Things to Me is a collection of essays on, among other things, 'Mansplaining'. Witty and scathing, Solnit describes the relatable and frustrating phenomena of women having their expertise instantly dismissed because they're, well, women. This book quickly delves into the darker side of silencing women so fair warning: this isn't a light read.

10. Women, Race and Class by Angela Davis

To be honest, this entire list could be books by Angela Davis because everything she writes is just so good. In Women, Race and Class, Davis examines the history of the feminist movement in the United States, and provides a look into individual lives, issues and relationships within the context of a larger history. Full of detail and research, this book is ideal to get stuck into this summer.

11. A Cup of Water Under My Bed by Daisy Hernández

In her coming-of-age memoir, Hernández writes of struggling with conflicting identities. She discusses the difficulty of continuing cultural traditions for her family, while trying to remain true to herself. In this lyrical book, Hernández explores life as queer Latina and as the daughter of immigrants. If you're looking for a delicate, poignant feminist novel to read, you've found it.

12. Redefining Realness by Janet Mock

Janet Mock tells her coming-of-age story and places it alongside the intersections of the queer and trans community, and women of colour communities. Redefining Realness is clear and well-written, thanks to Mock's aim that everyone, regardless of age or educational access, can read this book. A powerful book, this is definitely one you should make time for this summer.

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