So many brilliant feminist authors, so little time! But here are a few books to start with; The FBB team have pulled together a selection of the feminist reads that line our bookshelves – tell us what we need to add to this list on Instagram @feministbookbox.
The Colour Purple by Alice Walker
The classic, Pulitzer-winning novel that made Alice Walker a household name. Set in the deep American South between the wars, THE COLOR PURPLE is the classic tale of Celie, a young black girl born into poverty and segregation. Raped repeatedly by the man she calls 'father', she has two children taken away from her, is separated from her beloved sister Nettie and is trapped into an ugly marriage. But then she meets the glamorous Shug Avery, singer and magic-maker - a woman who has taken charge of her own destiny. Gradually Celie discovers the power and joy of her own spirit, freeing her from her past and reuniting her with those she loves.
Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
A darkly comic and bitingly subversive take on life, love, race and family, Queenie will have you nodding in recognition, crying in solidarity and rooting for this unforgettable character every step of the way. A disarmingly honest, boldly political and truly inclusive tale that will speak to anyone who has gone looking for love and acceptance and found something very different in its place.
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
In these funny and insightful essays, Roxane Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman (Sweet Valley High) of colour (The Help) while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years (Girls, Django in Chains) and commenting on the state of feminism today (abortion, Chris Brown). The portrait that emerges is not only one of an incredibly insightful woman continually growing to understand herself and our society, but also one of our culture.
Bad Feminist is a sharp, funny and sincere look at the ways in which the culture we consume becomes who we are, and an inspiring call-to-arms of all the ways we still need to do better.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person's decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.
Book of Wayward Girls, Wicked Women by Angela Carter
A collection of stories that extols the female virtues of discontent, sexual disruptiveness and bad manners Here are subversive tales - by Ama Ata Aidoo, Jane Bowles, Angela Carter, Colette, Bessie Head, Jamaica Kincaid and Katherine Mansfield among others - all have one thing in common: the wish to restore adventuresses and revolutionaries to their rightful position as models for all women.
Reflecting the wide-ranging intelligence and deliciously anarchic taste of Angela Carter, some of these stories celebrate toughness and resilience, some of them low cunning: all of them are about not being nice.
Trans Like Me by C.N. Lester
In this eye-opening book, CN Lester, academic and activist, takes us on a journey through some of the most pressing issues concerning the trans debate: from pronouns to Caitlyn Jenner; from feminist and LGBTQ activists, to the rise in referrals for gender variant children - all by way of insightful and moving passages about the author's own experience. Trans Like Me shows us how to strive for authenticity in a world which often seeks to limit us by way of labels.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
In this first volume of her seven books of autobiography, Maya Angelou beautifully evokes her childhood with her grandmother in the American south of the 1930s. Loving the world, she also knows its cruelty. As a Black woman she has known discrimination, violence and extreme poverty, but also hope, joy, achievement and celebration.
Equal by Carrie Grace
Equal pay has been the law for half a century. But women often get paid less than men, even when they're doing equal work.
Mostly they don't know because pay is secret. But what if a woman finds out? What should she do? What should her male colleague do? What should the boss do?
Equal is the inside story of how award-winning journalist Carrie Gracie challenged unequal pay at the BBC, alongside a wider investigation into why men and women are still paid unequally. It's a book that will open your eyes, fix your resolve and give you the tools to act - and act now.
The Guilty Feminist
From inclusion to intersectionality, #MeToo to men's rights, rom-coms to pornography, Deborah Frances-White tackles urgent questions for the modern woman. Featuring interviews with activists, businesswomen and all-round inspirations, The Guilty Feminist examines how women can abandon their guilt, say No (when they mean it), say Yes (when they want to), and to change the world - and ourselves - for the better.
The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell
An intense, breathtakingly accomplished story of a woman's life stolen, and reclaimed. Set in Edinburgh in the 1930s, the Lennox family is having trouble with its youngest daughter. Esme is outspoken, unconventional, and repeatedly embarrasses them in polite society. Something will have to be done.
Years later, a young woman named Iris Lockhart receives a letter informing her that she has a great-aunt in a psychiatric unit who is about to be released.
Iris has never heard of Esme Lennox and the one person who should know more, her grandmother Kitty, seems unable to answer Iris's questions. What could Esme have done to warrant a lifetime in an institution? And how is it possible for a person to be so completely erased from a family's history?