In case you didn’t know, it’s Women’s History Month! So, one of the things we decided to do at The Feminist Circle HQ, is scour our extensive bookshelves (seriously, Bryony owns more than physical 450+ books in a fairly small apartment), and pick out ten amazing reads from female authors.
Bryony picked five, and Anna picked five. They’re not in any particular order, and our choices will be muddled together. See if you can guess which choice is whose!
Clan of the Cave Bear
by Jean M. Auel
Set in the neolithic era, the Clan of the Cave Bear tells the story of Ayla, a strong-willed Cro-Magnon girl, with a gift for healing. The series is unapologetic in it’s approach to sex, women’s pleasure, women’s leadership, and relationships, as well as weaving the world of prehistoric Europe in a beautifully visceral manner. It’s a refreshing take to see these subjects explored and brought to life.
How To Be A Woman
by Caitlin Moran
I was introduced to fourth wave feminism by this book. It is bold, it is honest. It uses the word “c*nt” and talks about periods, masturbation, abortions, and sex in grizzly detail. It was important for me to read about these things and realise the shame attached to them is a part of the patriarchal society we live in. Moran helped me go a long way to beating that shame.
by Charlotte Brontë
At a time in my life when I was watching one too many a rom-com, this book was a healthy reminder that no matter how much you love somebody, your values and integrity are too high a price to pay. A pretty progressive message considering it was published in 1847! The first few chapters are slow going, but if you can make it through those I promise you the rest is absolutely worth it.
The Handmaid’s Tale
by Margaret Atwood
A dystopian novel by one of my all-time favourite authors. Set in a totalitarian society (think: the patriarchy on steroids), Atwood explores women’s subjugation and their attempts to free themselves. It’s dark, engrossing and will likely make you uncomfortable for all the right reasons. The series is supposed to be very good too, and there’s a sequel to the novel coming out in September.
by Mary Shelley
A book written for a bet that became one of the best works of Gothic Literature ever. This book is exquisite in it’s detail and I adore the dark and moody tone to it. It also has some deep morality lessons for the reader to think on along the way.
by Patricia Highsmith
Reading this book sort of made me feel the way reading Call Me By Your Name made me feel. Set in the 50s, it’s a love story between two women inspired by Highsmith’s experience working as a Bloomingdales clerk and the woman in a mink coat who ordered a doll from her. The language is delicate and tender, and makes this story a joy to read. The ending is a lot more satisfying than that of Call Me By Your Name too!
The Fifth Season
by N.K. Jemisin
A fantasy book! Written by a woman of colour! Starring a woman of colour! Seriously though, we don’t get enough of this. The Fifth Season is the first book in a gripping trilogy about a woman with supernatural powers who leaves home to save her daughter after her son is murdered. Oh, and it’s set in a world destroyed by catastrophic climate change. Timely, no?
by Laura Bates
A book I believe all teenage girls (and boys) should read. It lays bare the realities of teenage/young-womanhood, whilst explaining steps that can be taken to support young women, and change the sexist status quo. Laura Bates is the inspirational founder of the Everyday Sexism movement, a platform that has allowed many women to have their voices heard. This book is an accessible insight into feminism.
The Bloody Chamber
by Angela Carter
With casual horror and rich, vivid descriptions, this is a collection of fairytales and folk tales like you’ve never read them before. Carter’s viewpoint is unashamedly feminist and her retellings are not for the squeamish. My favourites were The Erl-King and The Courtship of Mr Lyon – but really, they’re all good.
Milk and Honey
by Rupi Kaur
The first poetry collection written by Indian born poet Rupi Kaur. The poetry is written in a style to reflect the Gurmuki script, and touches on a lot of issues to do with growing up as a woman, or things that affect women day to day. It is also a brilliant way to break into poetry, if you’d always considered it something you might not like. It’s brilliant, accessible, and very thought-provoking.
Have you read any of the books on this list? Which was your favourite? Which incredible book by a female author inspired you, and why would you recommend it? Let us know in the comments!
(Also, whose favourites were whose, d’you reckon?)