In celebration of International Women’s Day ♀️ (8th March), I wanted to share some of my favourite female-centric books. As someone that identifies as a woman, reading books that capture the diverse voices and experiences of women across the globe is very important to me. In these recommendations there will be a mix of books from different genres so hopefully there will be something for everyone to enjoy.
Emma (Jane Austen)
Most of you are probably familiar with Emma even if you’ve never read it. But for the benefit of those that aren’t familiar with it, this novel follows the title character, Emma, a wealthy young girl living with her father who enjoys match-making couples. Like all Austen novels, there’s lots of romance but the focus is on Emma’s character and her development throughout. There’s also a lovely female friendship between Emma and Harriet and fantastic social commentary on issues surrounding gender, feminism and marriage.
Eloquent Rage (Brittney Cooper)
Eloquent Rage is a memoir which interweaves discussion, academic research, reflection and personal experience to explore intersectional feminism from the perspective of a black woman. Cooper’s voice is fresh and distinctive and she discusses topics which are often neglected in other feminist literature such as the toxicity in the black community (particularly the abuse of women at the hands of black men), the place of men in feminism and the judgement that comes with being a straight feminist in a relationship with a man . She also examines racism and sexism from a structural perspective which I appreciated, since a lot of literature on the topic of race and gender tends to place blame for the existence of prejudice and discrimination on the individual and fails to recognise how the sytems in our society perpetuate certain ideologies and favour particular groups.
A Thousand Splendid Suns (Khaled Hosseini)
Genre: Historical Fiction
This is the only book on this list which is written by a male author, but it is 100% deserving of making a feature. Set in Afghanistan, it follows two women – Mariam and Lilah – who are in a plural marriage with the same husband. It is a heartbreaking and emotional tale about female solidarity, facing adversity, motherly love and the importance of hope even in the darkest of times.
The Yellow Wallpaper (Charlotte Perkins Stetson)
This novella is short enough that you can fly through it in an hour or less. Despite how short it is, it packs one hell of a punch. It’s a fascinating tale which draws on metaphors and imagery to deconstruct ideas surrounding female mental health in the 19th century. Women’s mental health is a topic which of personal interest to me historically speaking, and so this spoke to me directly. There’s so much to deconstruct and analyse with this book and it has so much hidden depth and meaning.
Feminists Don’t Wear Pink and Other Lies (ed. Scarlett Curtis)
Feminists Don’t Wear Pink and Other Lies is a collection of (informal) essays from a variety of public figures who identify as female. Each contributor was given freedom to write on a topic related to feminism that meant something to them so there’s a wide variety of topics and styles. The quality of the essays differs quite a lot with some being fantastic and others underwhelming, but I appreciated this for the range of voices it captures. It’s also accessible for general audiences and a great introduction to feminism for those that are perhaps intimidated/dislike academic feminist texts.
Girl, Woman, Other (Bernardine Evaristo)
I shared this book in my previous recommendation post for LGBT History Month, but I had to share it again, because in terms of feminist fiction this is a shining example. It has a wide cast of female characters from a variety of backgrounds, each with their own unique story, voice and characterisation. There’s so many well-written relationships between women and every character is fleshed out.
There we have it, my recommendations of female-centric books. What female-centric books would you include on your list? Please share in the comments, I’m always on the hunt for new feminist/female-centric books!
Stay safe, my lovelies and keep reading.