The best books that put the fun in feminism

The Books I Picked & Why

Cassandra Speaks: When Women Are the Storytellers, the Human Story Changes

By Elizabeth Lesser

Cassandra Speaks: When Women Are the Storytellers, the Human Story Changes

Why this book?

We know that the classics - from Adam and Eve, to Greek myths, and fairy tales - were written by men. But I had no idea how much we take them for granted, how much they influence us in how we think and live. So when Lesser tells these stories from a woman’s point of view, it’s a revelation. Now, instead of taking for granted that Eve was weak and immoral when she bit that apple, an assumption of original sin that influences how women have been seen for centuries, I can interpret it as agency, an intelligent sense of curiosity that compelled her to take action. That makes Adam content to just laze around in Paradise, like a dude on a Barcolounger, drinking a beer on game day. Crazy, right? That may be the most controversial example, but all of them make you think. I’d love to sneak this book onto the desk of every English teacher in the land. 


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Wordslut: A Feminist Guide to Taking Back the English Language

By Amanda Montell

Wordslut: A Feminist Guide to Taking Back the English Language

Why this book?

Ok sure, she had me at the title. But Montell dives deep into the language we use every day that, yes, often demeans women. Many of our body parts were taken from Latin words that dudes used to describe them. And the meanings weren’t always flattering. She also explains the positives of Valley Girl-Speak such as “like” and of vocal fry, and women are so fast to say “sorry.” Did you know that “hussy” used to mean housewife and “slut” meant a messy person that could be a man? Or that “bitch” used to be a gender-neutral name that had nothing to do with dogs? And why are some words considered feminine and others, male? Read this book to find out. 


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Here She Is: The Complicated Reign of the Beauty Pageant in America

By Hilary Levey Friedman

Here She Is: The Complicated Reign of the Beauty Pageant in America

Why this book?

I’ve been watching the Miss America pageant since elementary school, when I wore a tin foil crown, a towel pinned as a cap, and stuffed my swimsuit with tennis balls for boobs. So learning the history – how suffragettes used beauty pageants as a way to get attention – was fascinating. Friedman is a sociology professor whose mom was Miss America 1970, so there is no greater expert. We get both sides here: the sparkly benefits plus a dive into the body-shaming and bulimia of the 80s when they printed measurements in the program. A Boob’s Life, covers the history of breast implants in the contest, so I quote her as a source. But I would have read it just for fun.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

You Play the Girl: On Playboy Bunnies, Stepford Wives, Train Wrecks, & Other Mixed Messages

By Carina Chocano

You Play the Girl: On Playboy Bunnies, Stepford Wives, Train Wrecks, & Other Mixed Messages

Why this book?

You’d think the subtitle says it all, but nope. Chocano loved reading bedtime stories to her daughter, but when even Alice and Wonderland proved problematic, she peered through the looking glass to see why. She explores the challenges of raising a female in a world of Disney Princesses, Playboy bunnies, and popular TV shows and movies. She even takes aim at the female manifesto, Eat Pray Love, bless her heart. I met Chocano at a reading of this book when I was nervously submitting A Boob’s Life to publishers. I was thrilled to find overlap with such a kindred spirit. You’ll find Chocana’s byline in major magazines featuring celebrity interviews, but without the snark. Personally, I love the snark - it makes the facts more fun.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot

By Mikki Kendall

Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot

Why this book?

As much as I like to poke fun to express the angst of fighting for equal rights with men, we can’t overlook the fact that so many women aren’t equal to other women. The title of this book refers to the fight for women of color to get basic necessities of access to food and shelter. Kendall combines her own personal struggle for health care with challenges of generations born into “the hood” where the struggle has always been real. In researching A Boob’s Life, I already knew that the suffragettes fought for civil rights long before they got the vote and when they did, women of color were left behind. But Hood Feminism brings us right up to the present, as voting patterns continue to undermine progress. It proves the importance of inclusive feminism, the need to work together for the good of all. Only then can any of us truly put the fun in feminism. 


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Random Book Lists