Five Feminist Reads for the Summer

Even if oppression doesn’t go away for the summer, maybe heavy feminist theory isn’t what you want to read on the beach. Here are five books that will fire your feminist ire without putting your brain into overdrive:

We Should All Be Feminists, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

At 48 pages, this book will take you a morning on the beach. Inspired by her 2013 TED talk by the same name, this extended essay makes a convincing argument for feminism. By the end of the text, you won’t understand why you ever eschewed the identity of “feminist.” Pass the book around to all of your girlfriends, and by the end of the week at the shore you will be able to have a great conversation over drinks. If you haven’t read National Book Award winning Adichie’s fiction, pick that up for the summer as well.

And if you need more convincing, Adichie’s text got the attention of Beyonce.

Female Chauvinist Pigs, Ariel Levy

Want to make sense of the Girls Gone Wild phenomenon you are witnessing before your eyes this summer? Then read Levy’s smart, funny collection unpacking the idea that flashing one’s body qualifies as agency. Does flashing for a camera to get a free t-shirt mean the woman is in control of the situation? Even though some of her examples feel outdated, the issues she discusses are still relevant.   Think twerking. Thinks MANSWERS.

Yes Please, Amy Poehler

If you haven’t read this memoir/feminist treatise complete with pictures yet, then now is the time. Poehler’s thoughtful story makes the reader think and laugh and want to cry. A paean to working, mothering, laughing, and striving, Yes Please offers the reader a simultaneously light, deep read. She will want you to strive to be a better everything.  She makes us all want to be smart girls.

Bad Feminist: Essays, Roxane Gay

This New York Times Bestseller compiles Gay’s essays about culture and media into bite-sized chapters perfect for either prolonged reflection or binge consumption. Once you read the collection, you can be part of a larger discussion about what a feminist is and who gets to decide on the definition of its identity.

feminism is for everybody: passionate politics, bell hooks

If you already have a steady diet of feminist thinker bell hooks, this text is not for you. But if you want to dip your toes into her work while you dip your toes into a pool, then this book is for you. As the title suggests, the audience for this text is not feminist scholars but anyone interested in learning about feminism. In clear, non-jargony language, hooks offers the reader many ideas to contemplate while staring at the horizon.

And a bonus suggestion…

Join me in reading Men Explain Things To Me this summer. Rebecca Solnit promises to offer an antidote to mansplaining, when a man explains something to the “little ladies” around him. I haven’t read it, so I can’t add it to the list, but as someone subjected to mansplaining in academia, I can’t wait to spend some time with this book on the beach.

Happy reading!


Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

Colleen Clemens, Ph.D., assistant professor of Non-Western Literatures at Kutztown University, earned her Ph.D. in Post-Colonial Literature with a focus on Gender Studies at Lehigh University. Before pursuing her doctorate, she earned an M.Ed. while teaching twelfth grade English in a public high school. Her academic work on world literature and gender theory has been published in several journals and encyclopedias. She is the co-editor of three books of non-fiction including Philadelphia Reflections: Stories from the Delaware to the Schuylkill and has published short essays in various collections. Online, she is a staff writer for bitchflicks and noodle. She lives with her partner, two dogs, and daughter.

Colleen teaches, parents, writes, and loves feminism.

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