In a follow-up to our fiction Feminist Bookshelf, Kavya Sharma recommends five empowering non-fiction reads to curl up with this winter.
Becoming by Michelle Obama
The memoir of one of the most iconic, powerful and inspirational women of our time. Michelle Obama takes us through her personal journey from her childhood in Chicago all the way up to her time in the White House, where she balanced her very public role with her strong sense of motherly responsibility. The warmth of her story makes this such a compelling read – sharing both her successes, disappointments and most importantly, her voice. Michelle Obama truly made the role of First Lady her own; launching her own initiatives, expressing her passions, and defying all expectations. But this memoir makes her out to be not just this inspirational female figure, but paints her as warm, witty, and human. I highly recommend the audiobook as Obama reads it herself, making the words even more impactful.
Feminists Don’t Wear Pink (And Other Lies): Amazing Women on what the F-Word Means to Them curated by Scarlett Curtis
An incredible collection of essays written in collaboration with the “Girl Up” UN campaign. The joy here is in hearing the personal stories of various women, from Hollywood star Saoirse Ronan, to activist and Black Lives Matter founder Alicia Garza, as well as fictional characters like Bridget Jones. What makes this book so special is understanding the individual routes to a woman’s understanding of what feminism actually means, and the personal significance this word holds in the lives of very different, very important women. The sheer range of people writing their stories means that at least one of them is sure to resonate and stand out to you, so everyone will gain something insightful from this beautiful read.
Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado-Perez
Shocking. This describes a world where 50% of the population are ignored, not valued in the workplace, and systematically discriminated against. Sadly, this is our reality. Perez accounts for the bias in government policy, media, technology, healthcare and the numerous ways that women are simply forgotten about. This is a ridiculously powerful and insightful book, that is sure to uncover and reveal a darker truth about the world we live in and the impacts these prejudices have on our own lives.
Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay
This is the paradigm of all modern feminist books, and adds a sense of humour to the stark issues facing feminism in the modern age. Gay’s collection of essays describe the evolution of a woman of colour in the world today, and presents the idea that understanding yourself is a continuous process. What is great about this collection, is the range of essays and loose feminist ideals promoted in all of them, some on race, class, pop culture and memoirs. If you enjoy this book, then “Eloquent Rage: a Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower” is the next step!
Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by Brittney Cooper
A must read for Black History Month, this book explores intersectional feminism in a new light. It’s for anyone who calls themselves a ‘feminist’, calling out white feminism and black misogyny, and opening the eyes of the reader even wider. Cooper writes with humour, elegance and accessibility on the internal rage of a black woman. It is a constant reminder that women should not be satisfied with less, but rather unapologetically demand equality on all fronts. This collection of essays is not something that could or should be read – it must be read; the issues of race and stereotyping are central in developing our understanding of feminism.
Artwork by Aggie Tate.