The most recommended books about feminist

Who picked these books? Meet our 34 experts.

34 authors created a book list connected to feminists, and here are their favorite feminist books.
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Book cover of Other Powers: The Age of Suffrage, Spiritualism, and The Scandalous Victoria Woodhull

Theresa Kaminski Author Of Dr. Mary Walker's Civil War: One Woman's Journey to the Medal of Honor and the Fight for Women's Rights

From my list on 19th-century women’s rights activists.

Why am I passionate about this?

My expertise: I specialize in writing about scrappy women in American history. I started with a trilogy of nonfiction history books about American women in the Philippine Islands who lived through the Japanese occupation during World War II. Then I found a biographical subject that combined the fascinating topics of war and suffrage, so I wrote Dr. Mary Walker’s Civil War: One Woman’s Journey to the Medal of Honor and the Fight for Women’s Rights. The next woman who grabbed my attention was a big name in Hollywood in the 20th century. Queen of the West: The Life and Times of Dale Evans is due out in 2022. 

Theresa's book list on 19th-century women’s rights activists

Theresa Kaminski Why did Theresa love this book?

Goldsmith vividly recreates the life and times of Woodhull, a shrewd manipulator who traded on her physical beauty and her intellect to run a successful brokerage firm after the Civil War. Woodhull, along with her sister Tennessee Claflin, used some of her profits to publish a women’s rights newspaper that supported suffrage and other women’s rights causes. Stanton and Anthony, initially intrigued by her keen business sense and her suffrage commitment, soon shunned her for her radical views on sexuality. Woodhull pushed all sorts of boundaries designed to contain women, even political ones--she ran for president in 1872.

By Barbara Goldsmith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Other Powers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Barbara Goldsmith's portrait of suffragette Victoria Woodhull and her times was hailed by George Plimpton as "a beautifully written biography of a remarkable woman" and by Gloria Steinem as "more memorable than a dozen histories."

A highly readable combination of history and biography, Other Powers interviews the stories of some of the most colorful social, political, and religious figures of America's Victorian era with the courageous and notorious life of Victoria Woodhull--psychic, suffragette, publisher, presidential candidate, and self-confessed practitioner of free love. It is set amid the battle for women's suffrage, the Spiritualist movement that swept across the nation in…


Book cover of Two or Three Things I Know for Sure

tammy lynne stoner Author Of Sugar Land

From my list on queer books across time & genre.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a serial mover, living in 18 cities in three countries (so far) – though that has settled down (kinda) now that my lady and I find ourselves with three kids + a fish, kitten, and 100-pound dog. Wherever we land, we single-handedly support the entire local restaurant industry. My debut novel was lucky enough to do well and has inspired a short film, which will hopefully usher it down the long road to TV series… 

tammy's book list on queer books across time & genre

tammy lynne stoner Why did tammy love this book?

As with most of Dorothy Allison's work, Two or Three Things I Know For Sure lives in the dramas and intersections around abuse and anger and hope, fueled by her gritty, emotional lyricism. With this explosive, unapologetic narrative about herself and her “trash” family, Two or Three Things has the southern pacing that creeps up and swallows you. And in it we really learn who Allison is: a gritty, rugged, loving survivor in the truest sense.

By Dorothy Allison,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Two or Three Things I Know for Sure as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Bastard Out of Carolina, nominated for the 1992 National Book Award for fiction, introduced Dorothy Allison as one of the most passionate and gifted writers of her generation. Now, in Two or Three Things I Know for Sure, she takes a probing look at her family's history to give us a lyrical, complex memoir that explores how the gossip of one generation can become legends for the next.

Illustrated with photographs from the author's personal collection, Two or Three Things I Know for Sure tells the story of the Gibson women -- sisters, cousins, daughters, and aunts -- and the…


Book cover of Dietland

Amy Lee Lillard Author Of Dig Me Out

From my list on celebrating angry women.

Why am I passionate about this?

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.

Amy's book list on celebrating angry women

Amy Lee Lillard Why did Amy love 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.

By Sarai Walker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dietland as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Dietland will be adapted into AMC's 10-episode straight-to-series starring multiple-Emmy winner Julianna Margulies and Joy Nash.

Plum Kettle does her best not to be noticed, because when you're fat, to be noticed is to be judged. Or mocked. Or worse.

But when a mysterious woman starts following her, Plum finds herself involved with an underground community of women who live life on their own terms. At the same time, a dangerous guerrilla group called "Jennifer" begins to terrorize a world that mistreats women. As Plum grapples with her personal struggles, she becomes entangled in a sinister plot, the consequences of…


Book cover of Dressed for Freedom: The Fashionable Politics of American Feminism

Leora Tanenbaum Author Of I Am Not a Slut: Slut-Shaming in the Age of the Internet

From Leora's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Slut-shaming expert Intersectional feminist

Leora's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Leora Tanenbaum Why did Leora love this book?

I’m currently writing about the reasons young women today choose a sexualized aesthetic (crop tops with tight leggings, sexy selfies on Snapchat and Instagram) and the backlash they face from parents and others. Dressed For Freedom showed me that women have long been criticized for wearing clothes that make them feel independent—and that clothes are a way for women to assert their autonomy.

Who knew that flapper fashion a century ago was so scandalous? Anyone criticized for wearing tight leggings in public should read this fascinating and entertaining history book because it will help them understand that today’s battle over women’s clothes—and bodies—is just a continuation of longstanding attempts to curb women’s political rights. 

By Einav Rabinovitch-Fox,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dressed for Freedom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Often condemned as a form of oppression, fashion could and did allow women to express modern gender identities and promote feminist ideas. Einav Rabinovitch-Fox examines how clothes empowered women, and particularly women barred from positions of influence due to race or class. Moving from 1890s shirtwaists through the miniskirts and unisex styles of the 1970s, Rabinovitch-Fox shows how the rise of mass media culture made fashion a vehicle for women to assert claims over their bodies, femininity, and social roles. She also highlights how trends in women's sartorial practices expressed ideas of independence and equality. As women employed new clothing…


Book cover of Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood

Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman Author Of Sounds Like Titanic

From my list on memoirs with an unconventional structure.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a reader, writer, and professor specializing in memoir writing. I think every single person has a fascinating life. But, when writing it down, it can be difficult to find a narrative structure that allows the story to feel as unique as the human being writing it. I am drawn to memoirs that have fresh, creative ways of organizing their material—memoirs that go beyond or subvert the conventional, straightforward, chronological approach. After all, our memories are often scattered, fragmented, interrupted, non-linear, or just bizarre; memoirs that capture not only the person’s lived experience but also the messiness of memory itself feel more powerful and true to me. 

Jessica's book list on memoirs with an unconventional structure

Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman Why did Jessica love this book?

Because my first introduction to bell hooks was through her scholarly writing, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this memoir. A few pages in, I was already dazzled, challenged, and addicted to her storytelling genius—I read it in one sitting and immediately began reading it again. The perfect memoir for those who are looking for unconventional storytelling, hooks uses techniques like point-of-view shifts to paint a realer-than-real-life portrait of her childhood in rural Kentucky.  

By bell hooks,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bone Black as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Stitching together girlhood memories with the finest threads of innocence, feminist intellectual bell hooks presents a powerfully intimate account of growing up in the South. A memoir of ideas and perceptions, Bone Black shows the unfolding of female creativity and one strong-spirited child’s journey toward becoming a writer. She learns early on the roles women and men play in society, as well as the emotional vulnerability of children. She sheds new light on a society that beholds the joys of marriage for men and condemns anything more than silence for women. In this world, too, black is a woman’s color—worn…


Book cover of Wounds of Passion: A Writing Life

Kendra Allen Author Of The Collection Plate: Poems

From my list on finding inspiration and motivation.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a person who reads solely for pleasure regardless of research, I make it a mission while writing to read books I actually enjoy on topics I wanna learn more about. I chose the books on this list because I’m also a person who reads multiple books at once in various genres, it keeps me honest; aware of holes and discrepancies in my own work and pushes me towards some semblance of completion. All the writers on this list do multiple things at once and I admire their skill and risk in coupling creativity with clarity.

Kendra's book list on finding inspiration and motivation

Kendra Allen Why did Kendra love this book?

What bell hooks has shown me about the possibility of personal narrative and memoir writing is endless because she consistently shows that your story is never-ending. But mostly bell hooks likes to hurt me on purpose. This is my favorite memoir by her because it centers on two of my favorite topics: words and whirlwind romance that refuses to interfere with the words at stake, and I knew this book would be one I would return to in order to figure out my own priorities once I read, “I’m willing to give up everything I love if it means I won’t be crazy.”

By bell hooks,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Wounds of Passion as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“bell hooks’s brave memoir of struggling to find her own work, love, and independence.” ―Gloria Steinem
With her customary boldness and insight, brilliant social critic and public intellectual bell hooks traces her writer’s journey in Wounds of Passion. She shares the difficulties and triumphs, the pleasures and the dangers, of a life devoted to writing. hooks lets readers see the ways one woman writer can find her own voice while forging relationships of love in keeping with her feminist thinking. With unflinching courage and hard-won wisdom, hooks reveals the intimate details and provocative ideas of the life path she carved…


Book cover of Women Build the Welfare State: Performing Charity and Creating Rights in Argentina, 1880-1955

Ángela Vergara Author Of Fighting Unemployment in Twentieth-Century Chile

From my list on the history of the welfare state.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historian of Latin America and a professor at California State University, Los Angeles. I write about Chile’s labor and social history in the twentieth century. As a historian, I am especially interested in understanding how working people relate with public institutions and authorities, what they expect from the state, and how they have organized and expanded social and economic rights. While my research centers in Chile and Latin America, I also look to place regional debates in a transnational framework and see how ideas and people have moved across borders. I like books that bring working people’s diverse voices and experiences. 

Ángela's book list on the history of the welfare state

Ángela Vergara Why did Ángela love this book?

My first choice is a book about the origins of the welfare state. If many see the Great Depression as the catalyst of the welfare state, Donna Guy traces it back to the social policies and institutions of the nineteenth century. Looking at the case of Argentina, she tells the story of how philanthropic, immigrant, and women groups assisted the needy, especially children and mothers.

By Donna J. Guy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Women Build the Welfare State as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this pathbreaking history, Donna J. Guy shows how feminists, social workers, and female philanthropists contributed to the emergence of the Argentine welfare state through their advocacy of child welfare and family-law reform. From the creation of the government-subsidized Society of Beneficence in 1823, women were at the forefront of the child-focused philanthropic and municipal groups that proliferated first to address the impact of urbanization, European immigration, and high infant mortality rates, and later to meet the needs of wayward, abandoned, and delinquent children. Women staffed child-centered organizations that received subsidies from all levels of government. Their interest in children…


Book cover of You Want Women to Vote, Lizzie Stanton?

Robert H. Mayer Author Of In the Name of Emmett Till: How the Children of the Mississippi Freedom Struggle Showed Us Tomorrow

From my list on history that engage and even excite young readers.

Why am I passionate about this?

First a memory from my twelve years as a high school teacher: One day one of my ninth-grade history students remarked, “You are a nice guy Mr. Mayer. You can’t help it if you teach a boring subject.” That comment energized me, pushing me to show my students just how exciting the discipline of history was. I wanted my students to come to know historical actors, to hear their voices, and to feel their humanity. I then took that same project into my twenty-nine years as a teacher educator and finally into my life as a writer of historical non-fiction for young people. 

Robert's book list on history that engage and even excite young readers

Robert H. Mayer Why did Robert love this book?

When I taught, I hoped to engage students by making historical figures as human as possible. At the time I wish I had known the writing of Jean Fritz who brings the people of history to life. Magnificently.  

Peppering her books with oddball information about her subjects, she allows them to become more human. And in Jean Fritz books, people talk and act. These features are present in Fritz’s wonderful biography of the women’s rights activist, Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

The reader comes to know Ms. Stanton intimately, her warm friendships with fellow activists, her tensions with her father, her overall independent spirit. And we get a wonderful history of the early American women’s movement. 

Jean Fritz delivers for younger readers and makes history engaging, human, and, yes, exciting.

By Jean Fritz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked You Want Women to Vote, Lizzie Stanton? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

This biography of Elizabeth Cady Stanton is as spirited as the women's rights pioneer herself.

Who says women shouldn't speak in public? And why can't they vote? These are questions Elizabeth Cady Stanton grew up asking herself. Her father believed that girls didn't count as much as boys, and her own husband once got so embarrassed when she spoke at a convention that he left town. Luckily Lizzie wasn't one to let society stop her from fighting for equality for everyone. And though she didn't live long enough to see women get to vote, our entire country benefited from her…


Book cover of The Agitators: Three Friends Who Fought for Abolition and Women's Rights

Theresa Kaminski Author Of Dr. Mary Walker's Civil War: One Woman's Journey to the Medal of Honor and the Fight for Women's Rights

From my list on 19th-century women’s rights activists.

Why am I passionate about this?

My expertise: I specialize in writing about scrappy women in American history. I started with a trilogy of nonfiction history books about American women in the Philippine Islands who lived through the Japanese occupation during World War II. Then I found a biographical subject that combined the fascinating topics of war and suffrage, so I wrote Dr. Mary Walker’s Civil War: One Woman’s Journey to the Medal of Honor and the Fight for Women’s Rights. The next woman who grabbed my attention was a big name in Hollywood in the 20th century. Queen of the West: The Life and Times of Dale Evans is due out in 2022. 

Theresa's book list on 19th-century women’s rights activists

Theresa Kaminski Why did Theresa love this book?

Wickenden’s three agitating friends were Harriet Tubman, Frances Seward, and Martha Coffin Wright, women who likely first connected through their work on the underground railroad. Of this estimable trio, Tubman remains the most well-known to history as the formerly enslaved woman who regularly risked her life to guide enslaved people out of bondage before and during the Civil War. Seward, the wife of Lincoln’s secretary of state, used her wealth and power to fight for the rights of Blacks and women. Wright, a Quaker, was the sister of Lucretia Mott, and the two of them helped plan the first women’s rights conference, held at Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848. Wickenden skillfully excavates existing source material to craft this compelling group biography.

By Dorothy Wickenden,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Agitators as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the intimate perspective of three friends and neighbors in mid-nineteenth century Auburn, New York-the "agitators" of the title-acclaimed author Dorothy Wickenden tells the fascinating and crucially American stories of abolition, the Underground Railroad, the early women's rights movement, and the Civil War.

Harriet Tubman-no-nonsense, funny, uncannily prescient, and strategically brilliant-was one of the most important conductors on the underground railroad and hid the enslaved men, women and children she rescued in the basement kitchens of Martha Wright, Quaker mother of seven, and Frances Seward, wife of Governor, then Senator, then Secretary of State William H. Seward.

Harriet worked for…


Book cover of No Rules: A Memoir

Rita Dragonette Author Of The Fourteenth of September

From my list on the Vietnam War era by women writers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been fascinated by the role of women in war: men may be on the front lines, but women deal with its impact and often struggle to have equal standing. I was inspired by stories told by my mother who was a nurse in World War II and participated in surgery under gunfire and helped liberate a POW camp in Germany. Yet, no one wanted to hear from her because she was “just a nurse.” Fast forward to Vietnam where women were still being marginalized. I wrote The Fourteenth of September to even the playing field by telling a story that was largely based upon my own experience in college during l969-1970.

Rita's book list on the Vietnam War era by women writers

Rita Dragonette Why did Rita love this book?

When a girl is stuck between generations in the early days of feminism:

A classic coming-of-age memoir of the early ‘70s, where a 16-year-old who thinks she has it all figured out, hits the road. She is forced to learn fast as she encounters dropouts, draft dodgers, and communal living, all the while running up against the sexism that masqueraded as freedom and love as she discovers by trial and error, the liberated woman she wants to be.

By Sharon Dukett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked No Rules as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this coming-of-age memoir, Sharon takes you with her on a nail-biting adventure through the early 1970s after leaving her sheltered home life at sixteen years old to join the hippies. Yearning for freedom, she lands in an adult world for which she is unprepared, and must learn quickly in order to survive.

As Sharon navigates the US and Canada-whether by hitchhiking, bicycle, or the back of a motorcycle-she experiences love and heartbreak, discovers whom she can and cannot trust, and awakens to the growing women's liberation movement while living in a rural off-grid commune. In this colorful memoir, she…