while everyone knows (i hope!!) i have an online Drive folder with loads of queer academic texts accessible to all—if you don’t, it’s tinyurl.com/queerlibrary—, i’ve been asked a lot to also compile a list of feminist/queer books i liked that are a bit more “reader-friendly,” that is to say less academically pompous and easier to understand. i finally found some time to do that (instead of reading academia for uni, oops), so here you go.
i tried to go for a collection of books that have really helped me define my feminism and somehow influenced me and my thinking. if you’re wondering why there are some books that at first glance don’t seem to have that much to do with feminism – we’re going intersectional here, hun! and in order to be intersectional, our feminism must acknowledge how race, class, sexuality, or ability comes into play too!
(all books with * are available for download with my online queer library!)
We Should All Be Feminists and Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
these two are in my view the best intro to feminism as told from personal experience; simple language, easy to read, translated into many languages. might seem a bit basic/obvious for those already very invested in feminism but i find this a great resource to refer to when trying to educate/inform someone about the basics of feminism. great gifts to folks who are very feminist in their actions but never considered their involvement in the movement.
Can We All Be Feminists?
by June Eric-Udorie
while Adichie says we all should be feminists, is it really possible for everyone or does the movement itself prevent it to many people? even though i just started reading this book, i’m already in love – it is a collection of essays exploring feminism from points of view of various marginalized folks (of different religions, abilities, classes, being cis or trans), presenting a truly diverse and intersectional take on feminism.
Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism*
by bell hooks
there is a lot of great Black feminist writers and it’s really difficult to choose which one i’d recommend the most, but this book was the first one i got my hands on, and plus i love bell hooks’ writing so much! the book goes into depth without being exhaustive or too “clever,” but if you’d still like a shorter, more to-the-point intro to the Black feminist movement, check out The Combahee River Collective’s A Black Feminist Statement* for sure!
Under Western Eyes*
by Chandra Talpade Mohanty
this is a short(-ish) essay that’s part of a book called Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism edited by Mohanty, Ann Russo and Lourdes Torres; but it was really eye-opening and incredibly inspirational to me. Mohanty focuses on the problematic behaviors of white feminism, such as fetishizing the “Third World” and oversimplifying and generalizing the narrative of “women’s experience.” i am really grateful my teachers made us read Mohanty’s and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s works a lot because they were absolutely ground-breaking to me, and helped in shaping the feminism i believe in now.
Women, Men, and Society
by Claire Renzetti and Daniel J Curran
basically a handbook (and it really is written in the style of a schoolbook) full of handy study results, analyses, and investigations that explore how discrimination based on gender, sexuality, race, class, or ability limits folks in our society. it’s really lengthy (around 700 pages i think?) but pretty easy to read. there’s 12 chapters that explore the relation of gender to different spheres of everyday life, ranging from health and intimacy to crime and politics, so you can also just pick whatever interests you the most.
So You Want to Talk About Race
by Ijeoma Oluo
again, more of a resource, and this time precisely aimed (mostly) at white people. it is literally a guidebook of everything you need to know if you want to stop engaging in racist behavior and want to understand how deep-rooted racism is in our society. honestly a must-read for every white person!!
by Edward Said
another eye-opening piece for me. explores the dissection of the (“educated,” “developed,” “civilized”) West and “the rest.” again a must-read for anyone from the West so that we can all unlearn the harmful stereotypes about the “Orient.”
Discipline and Punish*
by Michel Foucault
ok, this is not an easy piece, and it’s definitely not a leisure time book; it is a legit piece of hardcore philosophy. but i am just really in love with the theory of the Panopticon prison transferred to real life and how it explains the structures of our society, and honestly find it so mind-blowing. i’d say just googling Sparknotes or sth explaining Foucault’s theory could be fine too, but i just love Foucault so much – i mean, i even have a Discipline and Punish-themed tattoo, so here you go.
Queer Sex: A Trans and Non-Binary Guide to Intimacy, Pleasure and Relationships
by Juno Roche
this book was just such a pleasant and healing read i got to include it in this list. Juno explores her post-op journey to becoming a sexual being, and while i am not trans and haven’t undergone a surgery, i still identified so much with her struggle of understanding her own sexual needs and wants, body that didn’t work the way she wanted or the society expected it to work, and living outside of normative sexual scenarios. it felt like a warm hug i very much needed.