The Feminist Summer Reading List

Last week, an interview with Senator Al Franken inspired a list of feminist fictional heroines in books and movies that sparked quite a debate. 

But it’s summer now, and lots of people are looking for good books to wade into while they relax, vacation, or take in some sun.  We’ve compiled a list of good feminist reads from the members of Women Action and the Media (WAM!), who had enough great reads to keep us busy summer after summer for the next few decades at least.

General Feminist Non-Fiction:
Backlash: the Undeclared War on American Women – Susan Faludi
The Body Project – Joan Jacobs Brumberg
Catfight! – Leora Tanenbaum
Click: When We Knew We Were Feminists – Courtney Martin and Courtney Sullivan
Englightened Sexism – Susan J. Douglas
Everything You Wanted to Know About Feminist But Were Afraid to Ask – Rachel Fudge (read online here)
The Feminine and The Sacred - Catherine Clemant
The Feminist Promise – Christine Stansell
Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics – Bell Hooks
Feminist Theory from Margin to Center – Bell Hooks
Full Frontal Feminism – Jessica Valenti
He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut – Jessica Valenti
Men and Feminism – Shira Tarrant
The Mermaid and the Minotaur – Dorothy Dinnerstein
No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power – Gloria Feldt
Reading Lolita in Tehran – Azar Nafisi
Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV – Jennifer Pozner
Reasonable Creatures – Katha Pollitt
Reproductive Justice Briefing Book: A Primer on Reproductive Justice and Social Change (read online here)
Sexism in America: Alive, Well, and Ruining Our Future – Barbara J. Berg
Sisterhood Interrupted – Deborah Siegel
Slut!  -  Leora Tanenbaum
Taking on the Big Boys, or Why Feminism is Good for Families, Business and the Nation – Ellen Bravo
Where The Girls Are – Susan J. Douglas
When Everything Changed – Gail Collins
The World Split Open – Ruth Rosen

Women of Color:
Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism – Bell Hooks
Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism – Daisy Hernadez
Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black – Bell Hooks
Undivided Rights: Women of Color Organize for Reproductive Justice – Jael Silliman
Virginity or Death – Katha Pollitt
Words of Fire: An Anthology of African American Feminist Thought – Beverly Guy-Sheftall
Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power & A World Without Rape – Jaclyn Friedman

Feminist Parenting:

The Courage to Raise Good Men – Olga Silverstein & Beth Rashbaum
The Curse of the Good Girl – Rachel Simmons
Dads and Daughters – Joe Kelly
Free to Be You and Me – Marlo Thomas and Friends
How To Say It To Girls – Nancy Gruver
Live-Away Dads – William Klatte
Reviving Ophelia – Mary Pipher

Feminist Literature (single book/work):

The Awakening – Kate Chopin
Beloved – Toni Morrison
The Bluest Eye  – Toni Morrison
Book of Dead Birds – Gail Brandeis
The Book of Salt – Monique Truong
Crescent – Diane Abu-Jabar
The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted and Other Stories – Elizabeth Berg
A Doll’s House – Henrik Ibsen
For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow is Enuf – Ntosake Shange
Fun Home  – Alison Bechdel
The Golden Notebook – Doris Lessing
The Great Gilly Hopkins – Katherine Paterson
Half of a Yellow Sun – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The House of Mirth – Edith Wharton
The House on Mango Street – Sandra Cisneros
If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This – Robin Black
In the Time of the Butterflies – Julia Alvarez
Leaving Rock Harbor – Rebecca Chace
Like One of the Family - Alice Childress
Living My Life – Emma Goldman
Love and Rockets – Jaime Hernandez
The Magician’s Assistant – Ann Patchett
A Map of Home – Randa Jarrer
Maud Martha – Gwendolyn Brooks
My Bird – Fariba Vafi
My Year of Meats – Ruth Ozeki
Persepolis – Marjane Satrapi
Purple Hibiscus – Chimamanda Ngozi AdicheReading Lolita in Tehran –
The Red Tent – Anita Diamant
The Rose and the Beast – Francesca Lia Block
The Salt Eaters – Toni Cade Bambara
Scottsboro – Ellen Feldman
Speak – Laurie Halse Anderson
Sula – Toni Morrison
A Testament of Youth – Vera Brittain
Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston
The Thing Around Your Neck – Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
This Child’s Gonna Live – Sarah Wright
Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories – Sandra Cisneros

Feminist Fiction Writers/Playwrites (multiple works):
Margaret Atwood
Jane Austen
Aimee Bender
Octavia Butler
Angela Carter
Edwidge Danticat
Ursula Le Guin
Audre Lorde
Suzan Lori-Parks
Grace Paley
Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Wendy Wasserstein
Jeannette Winterson
Virginia Woolf

Feminist Poetry:
Margaret Atwood
Anne Carson
Sandra Cisneros
Lucille Clifton
Audre Lorde
Grace Paley
Adrienne Rich

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Anteater Ants
Anteater Ants4 years ago

Of course, Fi!

Anteater Ants
Anteater Ants4 years ago

thank you

Fi T.
Past Member 4 years ago

Not exclusively for the ladies

Julie Botsch
Julie Botsch5 years ago


Past Member
Past Member 6 years ago

No feminist reading list, or list of feminist authors, should even exist without Marilyn French's novels, in particular The Women's Room . . . which I will be re-reading for the umpteenth time this summer. It is of my era, and says more to me than any other feminist novel of any era.

Ambi Victoria
Ambi Victoria7 years ago


Abbe A.
Azaima A7 years ago

What a wonderful resource. Thank you so much!

Nicki R.
Nicki R.8 years ago

Nice list, but you left out one hugely important book in this category -- "Infidel" by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. This is her astounding life story, being raised a fundamentalist Muslim, then rebelling later in life, and the staggering toll that had on Ali, her family, and countless Muslims. This book is a MUST READ. You may be outraged, but you will also want to stand up and cheer. An utterly unforgettable book about a fiercely courageous woman.

Ellen W.
Ellen W8 years ago

Thanks for the list.

Ellen W.
Ellen W8 years ago

Thanks for the list.