2017 Recap: Our Favorite Feminist Books

This week we’re wrapping up 2017 with a look back at some of the good that came out of this year. Here are our favorite books of the year.

9781101971062Juliana: Like everyone else on the internet, I found Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing to be incredibly entertaining, challenging, and satisfying. The book follows the journeys of two sisters born in Ghana and separated by the slave trade, one enslaved and sent to the United States and one to stay in Ghana and work with slave traders. Each chapter follows the story of one of their descendants through colonization, Jim Crowe, independence movements, and civil rights movements. It’s incredible how each character is so fully realized on their own, but contributes to the beautiful and painful tapestry of the book.

Senti: Oh god I just loved Jenny Zhang’s short story collection Sour Heart about first generation Chinese immigrant girlhood in New York City. These stories are jarring, obscene, wild, beautiful, and totally unexpected. They’re about familial devotion and love and loneliness and made me think so much about my immigrant parents, all they left behind, and how meaningful it is to read something that honestly explores the complexities of being a teenage girl.

41mZSWH7DiL._SX360_BO1,204,203,200_Barbara: I devoured Danez Smith’s second collection of poems, Don’t Call Us Dead, and after I finished reading, I bought copies for all of my closest friends.

Mahroh: Oof – Sarah Schulman’s Conflict is Not Abuse: Overstating Harm, Community Responsibility, and the Duty of Repair has done what few books do: significantly reshape how I understand my interactions with human beings. Schulman reflects on interpersonal relationships and violence, Canada’s criminalization of people with HIV, and Palestine to reveal how people — all the way from the individual to the nation-state — mischaracterize ‘conflict’ with ‘abuse’ in order to legitimize overly punitive responses. It’s complicated but fascinating and — I think — a necessary read. I also absolutely loved Tell Me How it Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions by Valeria Luiselli; it’s a short (~100 pages), moving, and incisive essay about the lives of undocumented youth (from their homes to migration to their fight for survival in New York City).

cover_9781609452339_880_600Sejal: In long Feministing tradition, this year I devoured the Neapolitan Novels, Elena Ferrante’s quartet about two lifelong friends who grow up in a impoverished neighborhood of Naples, those who leave, and those who stay. I read them in the spring and spent the rest of the year thinking about Ferrante’s insights into female friendships, class mobility, family and leaving home, and the Left’s failed promises to working women. Read it before it gets adapted for TV!

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New Haven, CT

Dana Bolger is a Senior Editor at Feministing and the co-founder of Know Your IX, the national youth-led organization working to end gender violence in schools. She's testified before Congress on Title IX policy and legislative reform, and her writing has appeared in a number of outlets, including The New York Times, Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. She's also a student at Yale Law School, and you can find her on Twitter at @danabolger.

Dana Bolger is a Senior Editor at Feministing and a student at Yale Law School.

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