I am back with even more book recommendations because all I do at the moment is read…
I decided not to put feminism in the title because some of these books tackle that issue but the term ‘women empowerment’ fits these books better. While some may think they’re the same thing, they’re actually different things. Feminism is defined as the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes. Where as to empower women is to raise the status of women through education and raising awareness, allowing women to make life changing decisions through the different problems in society. So one is about equality and rights and the other is more about the process of empowering women.
As a feminist I tend to gravitate towards books that discuss the subject, I love to read classics that describe what it was like in the past as well as modern views on it. I have compiled a pile of books that I think may interest you if you are interesting in reading about it as well! We’ve got a couple of classics, some more contemporary and a couple of more factual books as well. There’s something here for everyone!
I think it’s also important to note that everyone has a different view and opinion on feminism and women empowerment. You may not agree that some of these books should be included or you may even disagree with the messages of some of these books and that is absolutely fine because everyone is entitled to their own opinion!
A Rooms of Ones Own – Virginia Woolf
I doubt there’s anyone out there who has not heard of Virginia Woolf or this book because it’s a classic. I’m pretty sure this is one of the earliest examples of feminist literature, with it being written back in 1929.
I absolutely love this book! I have to admit that it is quite a hard read because the language used is different to today’s so some bits are harder to understand, I found myself rereading a lot of the sentences a few times. But regardless, it has some very important messages in it. It gives us an insight into what life was like for her back then as a woman, for example she couldn’t even go into certain buildings without being escorted by a man. While everyone else follows society, she express a lot of her confusion and also anger at society and why she can’t do certain things, she’s speaking out against traditional hierarchies.
She writes the book as if she were sitting down having a conversation with you which I love because it gives us insight into her thoughts and frustrations. The title of the book makes sense if you read it because she keeps coming back to this thought of if a women wants to be a writer then she must have money and a room of her own. So not following the typical path of marriage I guess.
The Bell Jar -Sylvia Plath
If you have read this or are familiar with the story then you may be questioning why I have decided to include this because it’s not typically seen as feminist literature but it does touch on issues such as the rejection of traditional women’s roles back then. This was written in 1963 and the focus is on mental health and suicide as it follows a young girl through these things. I would actually describe this book as being a little dark because they’re quite heavy subjects to read about, I would make sure you’re in the right mindset before reading this.
Despite that I think that this is such an important book because it tells the reality of what it is like to live with suicidal thoughts and shows that you can be someone who has great opportunities and be top of the class and then have everything crumble down upon you. This is semi-autobiographical and she writes about what is like being in a mental hospital at that time, obviously if you were to write a similar book now then it would be very different because of how people approach the subject of mental health.
I think both of these writers (Woolf and Plath) are extremely influential because they’re speaking the truth about such important things which you don’t see as much in books nowadays, you see it on social media. In some ways writing was their way of speaking out about something in the same way that we would write a tweet or something.
How To Build A Girl – Caitlin Moran
This was published in 2014 and is set back in the 1990s. It follows a teenage girl who is basically sick of her working class life and wants to reinvent herself to become the next big music writer and reviewer. This is definitely a women empowerment book and it tackles a lot of subjects that you don’t read about usually, sex and masturbation, but this is from a women’s viewpoint not a mans. It also discusses the role of women in the magazine industry.
I think the reason I resonate so much with this book and enjoyed it so much is because the main character is a teen and was a similar age to me when I first read this. The fact that she did something drastic and changed her life to do what she wanted to do even though people told her not to was kind of inspiring for me. It shows that you can go out there and take control of your life which is definitely something I needed to hear a few years ago.
While she does end up reinventing herself and becoming this whole new girl, it wasn’t all rays of sunshine. She still kept coming back to her past, her family home and town, which shows that you can become someone new but your past will always be a part of you, which may sound sad but I think it’s an important lesson.
They also releasing a film adaptation of this, this year sometime so that will be exciting to see!
How To Be Famous – Caitlin Moran
You may have guessed that this is in fact the sequel to the last book that was only released a couple of years ago, and is set a couple of years after the last book. While the last one showed her reinventing herself, this one shows her in her new life of living in London. The whole book is based around sexual assault basically as a sex tape of her gets spread around and she has to deal with the hate surrounding that. It really affected the character mentally, and this is explained in a lot of detail in the book. Obviously it’s not a light hearted topic to read about but I think it amazing that she’s writing about things like this.
Caitlin Moran writes about subjects that people don’t know a lot about unless they’ve experienced it so it means you can put yourself in other people’s shoes and understand more what it’s like. She also writes from a women’s perspective, which is important.
I must say, I do prefer the first one because this one is a bit heavier in terms of the subject. However I would highly recommend these books, especially to young people. Reading it now, at 20, I feel like I get less from it than when I was 16 but it’s worth a read nonetheless!
What Would The Spice Girls Do? – Lauren Bravo
Now the Spice Girls may have been a couple of years before my time but I absolutely love them! Their music is so cheesy that I just have to sing and dance along! Did I purely buy this book because it was about them? Yes I did. But it’s a lot more than that because it basically explains how the girl band had an impact on young girls and the feminist movement.
You may not think about it, but they actually had such a huge impact on the girl power movement. They kickstarted a lot of new conversations surrounding feminism that are common conversation nowadays. It gave me an insight into the recent history of feminism because I had no idea any of it was going on because I was so young, but if you were to speak to people who grew up with them I’m sure they’d repeat a lot of what is in this book.
We all know the phrase ‘what would Beyonce do?’ so this is supposed to be a play on words from that, because I believe the Spice Girls were before the whole Beyonce movement. We have them to thank for a lot of things that you may not think about. I absolutely loved this book and will definitely be reading it again! I actually did a book review on it when I first read it which you check out HERE.
#GirlBoss – Sophia Amoruso
I remember when this was released back in 2014 it was huge! Literally every YouTuber and Blogger was reading and they always included in the back of their photos. I am traditionally late to the party so only gave into the hype and bought it a couple of years ago and I’m very glad I did!
So this book is half Sophia Amoruso talking about how she built her fashion empire, NastyGal, from the ground up pretty much on her own, and the other half is tips on how she did that and how you can be a Girl Boss. She started off selling secondhand clothing on eBay and build a fashion brand from that which is definitely not something that is as easily done today just because of the shear amount of people trying to do that. But as someone who wants to go into fashion, it was very interesting and useful to read about this and gain some insider knowledge.
If you’re interested in business or fashion or building your own company then this is definitely what you should read! I truly admire what she did, she’s managed to build a huge brand in a reasonably short amount of time. I wouldn’t shop from Nasty Gal now as I don’t buy fast fashion, but I still admire what she has done. I did a more detailed book review of this a few years back if you want to read that HERE.
Work Like A Woman – Mary portas
I have just finished reading this and it’s not quite what I expected but it’s great nonetheless! I imagined this to be more in the format of a self-help book but in reality it’s more autobiographical, sort of similar to GIRLBOSS.
It basically speaks the truth of what it’s like working in the business world as a female. She maps out her career from the 80s up until now basically and she discusses how she overcame all the obstacles (a.k.a. men) to get the top and build a very successful business. In some ways it pretty much the same as GIRLBOSS it’s just from the perspective of someone who has more experience in the business world and talk about work from back in the 80s up until now.
This was released back in 2018 so she talks more about the current girl power movements which were not really around in 2014 (a lot has changed this decade). It was really interesting to read, from a women’s perspective, about working in a place where there is a clear gender divide. It makes me quite sad that there’s still a gap now. Reading this made me feel incredibly lucky to work in a place where I am treated equally to my male colleagues.
Again, if you are interested in business then this is extremely useful, I’ve taken a lot away from this book that I will be able to use in the future and will definitely be reading this again when I’m out of education.
I know this has been quite a long post, but I had a lot to say! I hope that you have found at least one book that you would like to go and read! There’s so many feminism and women empowerment books out there, I have only just touched the surface here but if I end up reading loads more then you can definitely expect a part 2 sometime in the future.
Which book off this list would you read? Do you have any recommendations of feminism books that I should read?
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