In light of yesterday being International Women's Day and March being Women's History month, I thought it only fitting to discuss some of my favorite novels and books that are written by powerful women, about accomplished women, and for brilliant women (I'm talking about all women, if that isn't clear). “Women's Literature” is an ambiguous, complicated topic, because it begs the question: Why do women need to have their own genre? Yet, if women weren't recognized separately, we might not be mentioned at all. Few women writers have historically been considered canonical writers, and even fewer of those women actually write about women. Due to that misrepresentation, I am always trying to find talented women writers to support. I love all of these writers and am confident that each of these feminist works will inspire you.
The Bell Jar, Sylvia PlathI've always felt myself to be a feminist, but after reading Plath's novel I found myself leaning more and more towards advocating for women's rights. The voice of Esther, the protagonist, is brilliant - introspective, questioning, funny - and the fire she will light inside you is one that I have yet to extinguish (nor do I want to). In addition to the feminist undertones, Plath's journey with mental illness is an eye-opening look into depression, as well as a relatable read for anyone struggling with similar downfalls.
Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale HurstonIf white women are removed from the canon, women of color are even further removed. Hurston's novel was almost lost completely until Alice Walker discovered it and pushed it back into its deserving spot on the bestseller list. This story is an important look into one woman's journey navigating marriage and love, in addition to advocating for Black Feminism and the inclusion of women of color in the feminist movement.
Milk and Honey, Rupi KaurKaur's collection of poetry felt like it could be my own journal entries. I'm confident in saying that every single woman can relate to at least one of the poems in this collection. Not only is Kaur's writing absolutely beautiful, soul-searching, and powerful, but it also inspired me to better my relationships, mindset, and self-love. I also love the bonus of abstract, simple drawings throughout the book.
Bossypants, Tina Fey/Yes Please, Amy Pohler/Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy KalingThe lumping of these three together may seem like I'm trying to reduce their importance, but it's actually just so I can cheat and include more than five works. All three memoirs were incredibly fun reads, but more importantly gave me three new role models. Each strong woman fought for her career in a male-dominated industry and kicked ass while doing so. I love having such wonderful women to look up to that make me strive to achieve more.
The Yellow Wallpaper, Charlotte Perkins GilmanReading this short story was another eye-opening look into the way mental illness and sickness in general used to be seen by society. Before postpartum depression became widely known and accepted, women were thought to be insane. This unfair treatment happened much too frequently, and Gilman's depiction of a misunderstood woman in a man's world is unnervingly beautiful and hauntingly relatable. A quick, but meaningful read.
To Be Read:
Fear of Flying, Erica JongAfter reading an article about this book many years ago, I have wanted to pick it up. The story was groundbreaking when it was published in the early 70s, and has continued to be listed as a pivotal feminist read ever since. The story is an inspiring look into womanhood, feminity, and independence.
Bad Feminist, Roxane GayThis collection of essays is a commentary on the modern definition of feminism, and I am looking forward to learning Gay's interpretation of the movement. Feminism has changed greatly since its beginnings and I think it's important to recognize the differences in today's world.
We Should All Be Feminists, Chimamanda Ngozi AdichieThe New York Times Bestseller is adapted from Adichie's popular and well-known TEDx talk by the same name. After hearing countless beautiful quotes from this talk and book, I am inspired to read the entire thing.
As an iconic feminist read, I feel like Beauvoir's work is not one to miss. I read a very interesting chapter from the novel in a literature class that motivated me to read the whole book.
The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
I am beyond ready to read this book. Some of my absolute favorite quotes were written by Maya Angelou, and I can't wait to read through her journey of emotions.
Feminism is an important issue for all people, not just women. Educating yourself on the issues, past and modern, that women have had to deal with is necessary for creating an accepting and progressive world. Be sure to check out these works, and catch up on my last reading list.
What are your favorite feminist works?