16 Feminist Books to Read in 2016

posted: 03/09/16
by: Briana Finelli

Feminism: What is it? Are you a feminist? Should you be? Should we all be?

These can be tough questions to answer, and often, instead of exploring them, we find ourselves dismissing them completely. Feminism gets a bad rep in today's society, and it can be a scary thing to say, "I'm a feminist," if you aren't quite sure what that even means, right?

But feminism is having a moment -- Emma Watson is taking time off to learn about the topic! Whether you wear your feminist pride on your sleeve or you're still unsure about what it even means to believe in feminism, there's a book on this list for everyone. For the best mix of humor, culture, politics and the issues that women--and women alone--face in today's world, check out some (or all) of these wonderfully empowering feminist books.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Full of words to live by, Yes Please takes a comical, real and personal approach to feminism. This book is full of stories, poems, and advice that are just as inspirational as they are hilarious. If you're looking for more of a light-hearted read or a fun introduction to the world of feminism, this one might be the book for you.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The term "feminism" gets thrown around a lot, and many women are hesitant to label themselves a feminist because they aren't too sure what that means. The award-winning Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gives an insightful view into what it means to be a woman in the twenty-first century, and why each and every one of us should be a feminist. If your goal is to better understand why feminism exists and why awareness is so necessary, pick this book up.

The Complete Collected Poems by Maya Angelou

Heartbreaking and healing all at once, the elegant words of one of history's greatest poets and self-proclaimed feminists will make you want to be a better person--and feminist. You can find inspiration, motivation and maybe even your passion within these pages, so if you're looking to feel uplifted and moved, read this.

I Call Myself a Feminist by various authors

There's no single right or wrong opinion on feminism, and everyone is allowed to be skeptical. Is it a dirty word? Should you be one? Should you tell people you are one? Twenty-five women sound off in I Call Myself a Feminist about what being a feminist in the twenty-first century means to them. Topics in the book range from cultural differences to the world of politics, whether the Internet has had an effect on modern feminism and more. If you're looking to broaden your mind with new opinions and viewpoints, this book will definitely do the trick.

Fat is a Feminist Issue by Susie Orbach

A best-selling classic, this book focuses takes a bold stance on the importance of self-love in the twenty-first century. If you're interested in the side of feminism that combats conformity and promotes confidence in the face of a demanding society, you just might love this one.

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

This book is one that should be on every feminist's book shelf, and if you're on your way to becoming one, this is a great starting point. Lean In tackles what might be the toughest obstacle women face in today's society: leadership equality. Both humorous and largely inspiring, this book offers advice and sound insight into how women can navigate the struggles of perfecting both personal and professional development in a society that forces us to choose between the two.

How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

Irreverent and hilarious, this book tackles feminism and womanhood like no book before. Caitlin Moran gives a fresh view on feminism and really gets to the heart of the issues women face today. This book will make you think, nod along, and make you proud to be a woman.

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

You can love the color pink and have a passion for fashion and still be a feminist--which is a foreign concept for some. Feminism isn't about what you wear, but there's always more we can do to understand more about what holds us back as women in today's society. If you want to learn a little more about how feminism works for you and have some laughs along the way, add this to your bookshelf.

Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman's Guide to Why Feminism Matters by Jessica Valenti

For every woman who's ever thought, "Feminism is too political and it doesn't matter to me," let Jessica Valenti tell you why it does. If you want to truly understand the heart of feminist culture and get a better look at how feminism affects you, check this one out. You won't regret it.

#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso

Founder and chairman of Nasty Gal, Amoruso gives a unique insight into the atypical road to success, giving every woman the motivation to say, "This is what I want, and it doesn't matter how I get there, but I'm going to do it." People will always tell you that you can't do it, that there are things that will hold you back--and those people aren't worth your time or attention. Get motivated with #GIRLBOSS if you're ready to turn those "can'ts" into "absolutely cans."

The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan

Two words: Absolute. Classic. The Feminine Mystique was published over five decades ago, but Friedan's words still ring as true as they did in 1963. Women have come so far, but the only way to understand today's struggles is to fully wrap our heads around what our mothers, grandmothers, and great-great aunts struggled with. Let this book lay the foundation for your love of feminism if you're just getting started, or let it culturally ground you if you find yourself missing this essential piece of history.

The Color Purple by Alice Walter

If you're a fiction-lover like myself and are interested in understanding women's struggles through a literary lens, The Color Purple could be the perfect fit for you. Covering one woman's journey of self-discovery and empowerment, this novel will take your breath away, motivate you, and never let you put it down. (You can even cheat and watch the movie instead. We won't tell.)

My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem

One of the most prominent voices in the feminist arena, Gloria Steinem offers truth and wisdom (and a few laughs) in a candid account of her journey on the road to becoming a feminist in the wake of the women's equality movement. From start to finish, Steinem expresses how important the journey--not the destination--is to understanding ourselves, and more importantly, others.

All About Love: New Visions by bell hooks

As one of the most culturally provocative critics in the world of modern day feminism, bell hooks tackles love in the twenty-first century. In a society where sex and desire are stressed more than real connection and security, this book offers insightful commentary into the world of navigating finding and keeping real love, so if that catches your attention, pick this one up.

Redefining Realness by Janet Mock

This book is an essential one to understand the real diversity women face beyond simple gender inequality. As a voice of many communities--LGBT, minorities, and working class women--Mock offers exuberant insight into how women can unapologetically be themselves in a society that constantly pushes them not to. For a powerful vision and a look into a real, underrepresented feminist struggle, definitely add this to your must-reads.

No Turning Back: The History of Feminism and the Future of Women by Estelle B. Freedman

This feminist classic is just as relevant today as when it was first published, offering a counterargument to the claim that the need for feminism is dead--that sexism no longer exists. Freedman stresses the importance of understanding how vital our voices are today (and every day) as women attempt to march forward and reach equality. For a wide feminist lens encompassing critical history and a unique global perspective, you can broaden your horizons with this smart read.

Did your top picks make the cut? Let us know if you have any awesome additions to this list!