5 Feminist Fiction Books You Can’t Miss

The weather is warming up, which means the pools are starting to open and people are starting to pack the books they’ve been meaning to read into their beach bags and log some summer reading time.

If you’re getting ready to sit outside with a book you can’t put down, don’t miss these amazing feminist fiction books. From fabulous female heroines to women trying to make their ways in the world around them, you won’t regret adding these books to your summer reading list.

Photo Credit: Supermac1961

No, this is not related to the fan-favorite, “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Ruta Sepetys’ “Between Shades of Gray” is a historical fiction novel about Stalin’s mass exodus of Lithuanians to work camps in the mid-20th Century. The narrator and protagonist, Lina, is a teenage girl coming of age in 1941 when Soviet officers enter her house and force her family to pack a few belongings and board a train.

They don’t tell them where they are going, but they end up in Siberia, having to work together to stay alive through the bitter winters. The story of the Lithuanian holocaust is one that is rarely told because Stalin ordered victims never to speak of it, but thankfully Sepetys has done countless hours of research to bring the story to us. Feminist readers will appreciate Lina as a young heroine, and her mother as the glue that holds them all together.

Book Cover Image Credit: betweenshadesofgray.com

No feminist fiction list is complete without a little Margaret Atwood. For this list, I chose my personal favorite, “The Blind Assassin.” This book is epic in every sense of the word, and it is refreshing for us feminists to find an epic novel with a female protagonist. While the book is dauntingly long, once you read the first sentence, you will not be able to stop.

The narrator, Iris, walks us through almost 60 years of family and relationships, but what makes it even more interesting is that the novel eventually becomes a book within a book — we read the science fiction novel “The Blind Assassin” intermittently as Iris explains the happenings within her family. Trust me, you will love this book.

Book Cover Image Credit: Amazon.com

If you are interested in literature even a little bit, you will love Paula McLain’s “The Paris Wife.” This popular book is told from the perspective of Hadley Richardson, Ernest Hemingway’s first wife. Hadley and Ernest meet in 1920s Chicago in the heart of the Jazz Age and quickly fall deeply and madly in love. They marry and move to Paris in order for Ernest to launch his writing career.

Things quickly go south for the couple, however, and McLain’s adept prose shows us how it all unravels. Hadley is the unsuspecting heroine of her own story in this version of historical events. The book is so fascinating because we are not, in fact, reading her autobiography, though it seems like we are. The relationship between Hadley and Ernest is like a train wreck: we can’t look away, and we know how it ends, though we are rooting for them to make it work all along.

Book Cover Image Credit: Amazon.com

The Tiger’s Wife” is Tea Obreht’s beautiful first novel. It has reached such wild popularity as a book club favorite because of its stunning prose and gripping plot line. The book centers around Natalia, a doctor who is searching for answers about her grandfather’s death. Interspersed in Natalia’s narrative is a story about her grandfather’s youth and his friendship with the tiger’s wife herself. Feminists will dive into analyzing the gender roles in these pages, but, by the end, this book will leave you asking what is truth and what is reality, and whether or not that even matters at all.

Book Cover Image Credit: teaobreht.com

If you enjoy reading books about the Holocaust, then Anita Diamant’s “Day After Night” is the perfect book for you. “Day After Night” is based on the true story of the liberation of Atlit, an internment camp run by British military for “illegal” immigrants. Four extraordinary women — Shayndel, a Polish Zionist; Leonie, a Parisian beauty; Tedi, a hidden Dutch Jew; and Zorah, a concentration camp survivor — tell their stories of how they escaped from Nazi Europe and made it to Israel, becoming unlikely friends along the way. This powerful book is not only about history and survival, but also about the positive power of female friendships.

What feminist fiction will you be reading this summer? Tell us in the comments!

Related Stories:

The Feminist Summer Reading List
Franken Asks Where Are the Fictional Feminists?
Fiery Feminist Virginia Woolf – LGBT History Month

Book Cover Image Credit:books.simonandschuster.biz


Sarah M.
Sarah M6 years ago


Anne S.
Anne S6 years ago

Thanks so much

Beth Buczynski
Beth B6 years ago

Great suggestions! I hope to get at least one from the library soon :)

Margaret G.
Margaret Garside6 years ago

There has been some confusion about 'Between Shades of Grey' ( a book I plan to read) and that other book (which I don't). Some schools that have offered 'Between' have gotten complaints about 'pushing porn on our kids' and parents' groups yelling that the author should be banned from speaking. Ruta Sepetys has taken this all in stride, though. It's giver her LOTS of free publicity. Seems many people knew nothing about Stalin's crimes in the Baltic states.

Debbie L.
Debbie L6 years ago

Thanks for the list! I'm looking forward to reading them :)

ILEANA LIEL6 years ago

Thank you for adding "Shades of Gray" to this list. It may be historical fiction, but it depicts quite realistically the fate of thousands of the Baltic peoples (Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians) who were forcibly deported in 1941 as well as those rounded up after the Soviet reoccupation in 1944 that started another 50 years. of suppression.

Kerrileigh Grady

I hope a list of feminist popular fiction is forthcoming.

Wendy S.
Wendy S6 years ago

I might read "Day After Night" because I also enjoyed "The Red Tent". I really enjoy Atwood's novels but that one is so long. I might read it anyway.

melanie blow
melanie b6 years ago

Shan D.- you're absolutely right on all accounts, and I can only hope that if we in the US fall to a theocracy this next year, you and your friends will be kind enough to launch a Mayday movement.

Past Member
Past Member 6 years ago

Probably the best Feminist book I've read was The Awakening by Kate Chopin - especially considering it's over 100 years old.