Who chooses the books that go into the Feminist Book Box?

That’s us! We are a group of feminist book lovers who work for the international publisher Hachette and we are passionate about sharing the feminist books we love with you.

Books and sharing stories have been central to feminism throughout history, from groundbreaking manifestos like Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Women and bell hooks’ Ain’t I A Woman to novels like Fingersmith which put untold stories centre stage (while making readers gasp with one of the best twists in fiction ever) to women swapping quotes from inspirational activists on Instagram.

We asked our colleagues to send us their best feminist books, both new and old, fiction and non-fiction, famous and unknown, eye-opening and laugh-out-loud funny. Then we devoted our evenings and weekends to reading, thinking, comparing, watching author YouTube videos and investigating the story behind each book. Finally it was time to meet (online) and do battle. From our bedrooms, kitchen tables and home desks, we shared the books that had meant the most to us. We told each other about the books that had made us ugly cry and the ones that we’d immediately ordered for our mums or best friend. And after a couple hours of fervent discussion, a little bit of voting and then some more fervent discussion, suddenly it was clear: these were the books we wanted to share with you.

Our selection team will change every six months – it’s important to all of us that you hear from many feminist champions and different voices – so come back in the future to hear more. For now, read on to meet your current Feminist Book Box Selection panel – we’ll introduce ourselves and tell you what our favourite feminist book is. Please do get in touch and tell us yours on Instgram @feministbookbox.

Aashfaria

I work at Hachette Children’s Group in the marketing department, but outside work I love to play video games, listen to BTS, watch Studio Ghibli films and eat plenty of my family’s delicious Bengali food! I’m so proud to be part of bringing you lovely readers these fantastic feminist books and hope you enjoy them just as much as I do! My favourite feminist book has to be A Golden Age by Tahmima Anam, a stunning and heart-wrenching fictionalised story set during the Bangladesh War of Independence. It’s told through the eyes of Rehana Haque, a widowed mother, who would do anything to ensure her children’s survival. It’s one of the few accounts of this war detailing the tragic but inspiring experiences of women. I had always heard about this war from my own father, but this was the first time I felt I could understand what it may have been like for women and just how big a part women played in the victory of this war.

Claire

I’m the Executive Assistant at Orion and wrote an MLitt thesis on absent and ambivalent mothers in the works of Angela Carter. A favourite feminist book of mine is The Group by Mary McCarthy.

Ebyan

I’m Studio Manager for the art department of Headline Publisher and co-chair of THRIVE (Hachette’s BAME employee network). I would also consider myself an occasional illustrator – a recent project for 2021 has been creating daily doodles of black feminist writers. The work of black writers including Maya Angelou, Roxane Gay, Audre Lorde and Akwaeke Emezi have inspired me to see that feminism can and should thrive to be more inclusive. Recent books I would highly recommend are Fatima Ashgar’s If They Come for Us and Jacqueline Woodson’s Red at the Bone.

Eleanor

I am Publisher of Headline Review, where I publish fantastic commercial and reading group fiction. I’m the co-founder and host of Feminist Book Society (find out more at feministbooksociety.com). I have a shelf of favourite feminist reads, but if I really, really had to choose it would be these (sorry – I can’t whittle it down to only one). These two changed the way I see the world, and myself in it: Angela Carter’s Bloody Chamber and Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues. And this is the book I am currently recommending to everyone: White Feminism by Koa Beck.

Donna

I’m the Editorial Director of the Virago Modern Classics list. I have two children and one dog. My favourite feminist book is The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson. I have a very battered Faber edition that I bought second hand as a teenager. It’s much loved and soft with wear. These are poems that I’ve turned to again and again throughout my life. These are the words of a woman, writing for herself, not for an audience. And because of that she can shed the constrictions of her time and write without censure: she is uninhibited (‘wild nights!’), vulnerable (‘I felt a funeral, in my brain), playful (‘tell the truth, but tell it slant’), bold (‘no coward soul is mine’) – and her words chime powerfully across the centuries.

Hazel

I moved from Dublin to London in 2017 fuelled by a love of books and a desire to work in publishing. I am a Campaigns Officer for the publicity and marketing team at Octopus Books and my favourite feminist book is The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter.

Juliet

I am the Group Associate Publisher, Orion and I work on backlist across all the Orion imprints, finding ways to bring previously published titles to new readers. My favourite feminist book is Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston.

Katie

I work on the picture book team at Hachette Children’s Group. Because 32-page books are my limit at work, I have more time to read for pleasure, and feminist fiction is unsurprisingly my go-to. My favourite feminist book is The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd.

 

Katy

I’m Katy (my friends call me Kate, so you can too), and I work in Facilities at Hachette UK’s Distribution Centre in Didcot. My favourite feminist book has to be Glorious Rock Bottom by Bryony Gordon – the brutal honesty and sheer openness changed my perspective as a woman, and for women in society, and it will for you too.

Melissa

I am Editorial Director for Coronet where I have published, among other things, Palette by Funmi Fetto, the first beauty bible for women of colour, and I Want To Be Where the Normal People Are by Rachel Bloom. My favourite feminist book is A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf.

Sarah

I’m the Publisher of Virago, a feminist press founded in 1973, which is a huge honour and huge fun. I refuse to choose favourites but the feminist book I’ve probably read the most often is Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, a sensational page-turner which has a lot to say feminism and colonialism. It must be one of the reasons that I believe that books can be feminist in many different ways – a ghost story or a love story might teach you more about injustice than the latest manifesto. And on that note, the feminist book I’m recommending most often at the moment is Brit Bennett’s The Vanishing Half – again, it’s a story I defy you not to be totally absorbed by, but which also has an incredibly powerful argument about structural racism and sexism running throughout it.

The Feminist Book Box Team