About Time: You Read Top 10 Feminist Non-Fiction Books 2019By Megan Weal
The phrase “curling up with a good book” sounds idyllic: like you’re in bed surrounded by scented candles and reading about a long lost romance. These books won’t make you feel that way. They’re an aggravated rally cry. Informed and educated voices that are bouncing from the pages and taking you along for the protest. Voices that will teach you things that you did not know before and perspectives that you hadn’t yet tried to see from. You’ll be chewing these ones over long after the last page has turned.
Author: Mariam Khan
If there is one book that you read from this list, let it be this. It’s Not About the Burqa is an exquisitely authentic telling of what it is like to be a Muslim woman. According to the media, being a Muslim woman in the West is all about the burqa. Spoiler: it’s not. The essays in this collection are not subjected to a “white-filter”, or worse still, told from outside the minority. A Woman of Substance, written by Saimra Mir was the one I went back to first: honest and gut-wrenching, it raised the curtain on the harsh truths of divorce, dependency and independency – an inspirational and brave read. Listen to these women. It is their voice that we need to hear.
Author: Caroline Criado Perez
“Imagine a world where your phone is too big for your hand, where your doctor prescribes a drug that is wrong for your body, where in a car accident you are 47% more likely to be seriously injured, where every week the countless hours of work you do are not recognised or valued. If any of this sounds familiar, chances are that you’re a woman.” – I tried to put it better than that, but I couldn’t. This book is rage inducing. Perez has done her homework and produced a book packed with research that proves her point: that this world is designed by men, for men. An eye-opening read that exposes how women fall through the cracks of society and infrastructure at every level. Perez makes a compelling case for rethinking the “default male” as the representative for all humans, and instead taking the “radical” approach of listening to women. Required reading.
Author: Rebecca Solnit
The first essay of the collection, and the book’s namesake, walks us through a scene where a (white, middle-class) man simply cannot (or will not) hear that she is the author of the book that he is describing. The essay that provoked the creation of the term “mansplaining” (although she addresses the troublesome nature of the phrase in the afterword of that essay) is a starting point for feminism. The collection is fervent and shocking, with horrifying domestic abuse statistics, displays political abuses of power, an essay on Virginia Woolf and the nuclear family – and yet the collection refrains from being gloomy. It’s funny, it’s well-argued, enticing and it will anger you incessantly.
Author: Virgie Tovar
“We are taught that thin is synonymous with beauty, power, and love. But, in fact, it is not. Beauty is not something women earn; it is something people are,” writes Virgie Tovar. To describe a book in one word is usually a challenge, but not for Tovar’s You Have The Right To Remain Fat. The word would be fierce. Fiercely poignant, fiercely passionate and fiercely thought-provoking. It’s gloriously easy to read, though heartbreaking at points. A small, thin read that houses a mountain of power – it’s accessible, obvious with it’s facts and explains terms – like gaslighting and bootstrapping – with ease. A combination of academic theory with liberation feminism with personal essay, and a confronting challenge to the way that we feel about ours – or anyone else’s – body.
Author: Emily Bernard
A deeply personal yet written with pinpoint precision, Black Is the Body is a memoir written through important essays. Bernard shares the story of her stabbing, her black physical body and also her black cultural body experience – there are no holds barred. There is no self-pity here – even when she describes being stabbed for no reason; her willingness to share her vulnerability is apparent and appreciated. She talks about being one of the few black people in Burlington Vermont where she teaches African-American studies; of her reaction when one of her white friends admits that Emily is her only black friend. She shares what it is like to be married to a white man, and some of her experiences with motherhood, all while including stories from her mother’s and grandmother’s. These essays are a raw maze of minority experience.
Author: Amber Tamblyn
Amber Tamblyn’s Age of Ignition is one part feminist memoir and one part social justice exposition. She deals with the fast-paced rise of the #MeToo movement all while beautifully showing us how we can be ally’s to our fellow feminists. If you only know Hollywood Amber Tamblyn, you might think her place of undeniable economic and racial privilege might mean that this work is yet another for and about white women. And I was sceptical too. Very much so. But Tamber gives pages of her book to the voices of marginalised women (bolstering her honest critique of white feminism) and elevating the book to heights it couldn’t have succeeded on its own.
Author: Nikesh Shukla, Chimene Suleyman
“From Trump’s proposed border wall and travel ban to the marching of White Supremacists in Charlottesville, America is consumed by tensions over immigration and the question of which bodies are welcome,” reads the back of this book. And in a collection this varied, it’s rare that every single contribution works just as hard as the others – but all 26 contributors to The Good Immigrant USA offer a unique insight into what it is to be a immigrant in the US. It’s a wealth of experiences bound into chapters. It is in itself heartbreaking, funny, uplifting and deeply unsettling. In 2019, and with Trump’s America real and rife, this is a must-read. And now.
Author: Gina Rippon
What does it mean to be a woman? We subconsciously get fed the answer day by day; through how much we get paid, the toys and colours we’re told we should like and the career choices that are aimed at us. But Gina Rippon’s exploring what this actually means for the inside of our heads. After decades of scientists attempting to tell us that the female and male brain are completely different because of our sex, Rippon explains that there’s much more to it. “Brains reflect the lives they have lived, not just the sex of their owners.”, she writes. Don’t get me wrong, this book isn’t dismissing sex differences, but it challenges gender stereotypes with every word (and with her fantastic neuroscience background).
Author: Soraya Chemaly
Why are women so angry? So often we’re told to calm down and to resist our anger, but Rage Becomes Her is a narrative about how our anger is our own. As a gender we’re walking (not too heavily!!), talking (not too loudly!!!) contradiction: “We are underpaid and overworked. Too sensitive, or not sensitive enough. Too dowdy or too made-up. Too big or too thin. Sluts or prudes. We are harassed, told we are asking for it, and asked if it would kill us to smile.” So too right we’re angry, and yes it would kill us to smile. Literally. Chemaly’s manifesto is a call to arms: a persuasion that we should us our anger for positive change, and I’m on board.
Author: Juliet Jacques
The gripping Trans: A Memoir documents Juliet’s struggles with gender dysphoria, anxiety and depression, and ruminates on her experiences while undergoing sex realignment surgery. It’s a voice that we don’t hear enough, a pain that we’re not subjected to enough and a bias that we’re not expected to confront enough. We get her childhood, growing up on an unfriendly environment for acceptance, her issues gaining employment, how she reached out to football, music, film and writing to deal with her surroundings and coming to terms with herself, even if everything in mainstream media and UK society was telling her she shouldn’t.