The best books celebrating angry women

Who am I?

I’m fascinated by angry, feral, primal women. In my book, ten stories feature these women, the ones doing the things we’re not supposed to do, thinking and feeling and saying the things we’re not supposed to. I think we’re beyond powerful when we embrace our anger, nourish and cultivate it, channel it. So I write about these women in the hopes that I’ll get a bit of their strength. The books in this list have inspired me as a writer and thrilled me as a reader.


I wrote...

Dig Me Out

By Amy Lee Lillard,

Book cover of Dig Me Out

What is my book about?

Dig Me Out is ten deeply absorbing stories about the women who won’t smile: angry, aching women, and women returning to base instincts, primal fears, and mythic power. Across past, present, and future, around the midwest and the world, these women demand we witness as they work to break through, to defy, to become. It won’t be pretty, and it won’t be safe, but it will be real.

Spanning genres, continents, and eras, Dig Me Out takes on misogyny and homophobia, societal and climatological violence, and the specter of our technologized future — all with a punk rock literary twist.

The books I picked & why

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Dietland

By Sarai Walker,

Book cover of Dietland

Why this book?

This book is a knockout, one that pushed me to see through our dangerous diet culture (and got me all fired up). After years of being judged and mocked as a fat woman, Plum is fixated on weight-loss surgery as the way to live a better life. But when she catches a young woman following her, Plum discovers an entire underground community of women living lives out of bounds, and a guerrilla group terrorizing predatory men. The story is propulsive and exciting, and it’s all fueled by righteous anger. The women Plum meet are full of rage at our broken world but also infused with beautiful compassion. Both can be true; both are often true.  The book has stuck with me for years, and I often return to it as a template for writing a killer story that centers and celebrates angry women.


The Man Who Shot Out My Eye Is Dead: Stories

By Chanelle Benz,

Book cover of The Man Who Shot Out My Eye Is Dead: Stories

Why this book?

This story collection grabbed me right away from the title and stole my heart with some of the most exciting and visceral characters that I’ve read. In “West of the Known,” my favorite story, a young girl escapes violence to become an outlaw; in “The Diplomat’s Daughter,” a woman renames and reworks herself into a feared force of nature. I’ll be honest that reading this book inspired me and scared me; I wanted to write as powerfully and truthfully about anger and violence in women as Chanelle did. So when I asked her to read an early copy of my book, and she came back with lovely praise, I just about lost my mind.


Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women's Anger

By Rebecca Traister,

Book cover of Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women's Anger

Why this book?

The name of this book alone tells us what we need to know. And the timing was inspired; it came out during 2018, where women’s anger was making headlines. This book takes a step back, examining the political history of women’s anger in the last century. I particularly loved the analysis of how women’s anger is belittled and defused compared to men’s anger, how our anger is perceived differently based on race and class, and how it’s often turned inward and towards other women. It’s a complicated and infuriating book. But also one that reminds us that our fury is powerful – or else the world wouldn’t try so hard to bury it.


Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution

By Sara Marcus,

Book cover of Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution

Why this book?

In the early 1990s, a group of women-centric punk bands and their young fans created a radical feminist movement, one that is still deeply inspiring. This book of Riot Grrrl is a fascinating look at the interplay between music and revolt, as well as an enraging analysis of how media took young women’s anger and turned it poisonous. I have long been obsessed with Riot Grrrl; although I was of the age to participate at the time, I lacked information and access. So I look back now at my Gen X peers and celebrate the music and rage that created this holy thing. And in my book, some of my stories are based on these songs and the spirit of these girls.


Nightbitch

By Rachel Yoder,

Book cover of Nightbitch

Why this book?

A mother of a toddler thinks she’s turning into a dog. Sign. Me. Up. I love a weird and wild story, and this was everything I could ask for. And this mom has the perfect right to explore and embrace her animal side. She’s given up her dream job to be a full-time mom, she’s lonely and exhausted, and she’s overwhelmed and deeply sad. But when she taps into the anger beneath all of that, the rage at our culture that treats mothers with schizophrenic disdain, she becomes something otherworldly, deeply primal, and very powerful. The book is beautiful and hilarious and upsetting in all the right ways, and shows how our anger may actually make us into the people we want to be.


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