This holiday season, would you like to give your loved one a gift that connects them with people all over the world? What about a gift that transcends space and time? A gift they can return to again and again and never get tired of? And, what if I said you could give all that for under $20?
That’s right. I’m talking about BOOKS!
Books move us, expand our imaginations, and allow us to learn and grow as a community. Plus they’re a great way to support feminist and equal rights causes in your holiday shopping!
According to the VIDA Women in Literature Count, women are continuing to make strides in the literary world, but female authors, and especially female authors of color, are still published, reviewed, taught, and read less than male authors. This limits earning and job potential, as well as the amount of female stories and perspectives reaching students and general audiences.
So what can we do about that? VIDA suggests counting the number of female-written books you own. Need a few more books by badass ladies on your shelves? Think your friends might need some, too?
Good Millennial has compiled a list of some of the best books by female authors to give this holiday season. With everything from classics to brand new works, you’re sure to find a book for everyone on your list – and maybe a few for yourself!
EPIC TALES OF FICTION
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Via the author’s website:
“Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion—for each other and for their homeland.”
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
“Superb . . . A work to stand beside literature of any time and place.” — San Francisco Chronicle
Currently running on Broadway, The Color Purple is a gorgeous and heart-wrenching story of family and what we will do for those we love. Once you and your friends read this seminal story, make sure you rent the film version to see Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah (yes, Oprah) in the performances of their lives. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, this is for lovers of literature and newbies alike.
How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez
“In this debut novel, the García sisters and their family must flee their home in the Dominican Republic after their father’s role in an attempt to overthrow a tyrannical dictator is discovered. They arrive in New York City in 1960 to a life far removed from their existence in the Caribbean. …For them, it is at once liberating and excruciating to be caught between the old world and the new. This novel sets the sisters free to tell their most intimate stories about how they came to be at home—and not at home—in America.”
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
Via the author’s website:
“Fates and Furies is a literary masterpiece that defies expectation. A dazzling examination of a marriage, it is also a portrait of creative partnership written by one of the best writers of her generation. With stunning revelations and multiple threads, and in prose that is vibrantly alive and original, Groff delivers a deeply satisfying novel about love, art, creativity, and power that is unlike anything that has come before it.”
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Reviewer Emilie Coulter describes this classic text:
“Like the Tree of Heaven that grows out of cement or through cellar gratings, resourceful Francie struggles against all odds to survive and thrive. Betty Smith’s poignant, honest novel created a big stir when it was first published over 50 years ago. Her frank writing about life’s squalor was alarming to some of the more genteel society, but the book’s humor and pathos ensured its place in the realm of classics–and in the hearts of readers, young and old.”
WHEN YOU WANT TO ESCAPE
Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding
“Bridget Jones is channeling something so universal and (horrifyingly) familiar that readers will giggle and sigh with collective delight.” —Elle
I’ve read this modern classic probably 700 times. If you have a friend who loves the glamour of Sex and the City but the realness of Tina Belcher, she needs to meet neurotic, hilarious, and incredibly relatable Bridget Jones.
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
“Exhilarating. . .powerful. . .By humanizing these formidable women, The Invention of Wings furthers our essential understanding of what has happened among us as Americans – and why it still matters.” – The Washington Post
If you know someone who loves historical fiction, this is a perfect choice. It’s based on the true story of Sarah Grimke’s journey from young Confederate socialite to pioneering feminist abolitionist. This book took me in and held me close. Get into it.
On Beauty by Zadie Smith
Via the AV Club:
“A boisterous novel about two warring families pitched on either side of the liberal-conservative divide, On Beauty works best as a chronicle of the families’ respective unravelings.”
PS. Listen to this author’s interview on the Women of the Hour podcast with Lena Dunham.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
This book is insane, and any thriller-lovers in your life will eat this book up (if they haven’t already). It keeps you guessing till the very end, and it’s infinitely better than the film version.
FUNNY AND POIGNANT PERSONAL ESSAYS
Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham
Everyone seems to have something to say about Lena Dunham, which to me means two things: 1. She must be saying some pretty good things, and 2. Maybe I should hear her out in her own words. Every twenty-something female in your life will find something about this book to connect to. It’s funny, honest, self-aware, and moving. I gave it to like 4 friends last year, and I am still friends with every single one of them.
Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
You don’t have to be an avid Mindy Project watcher to absolutely love Mindy Kaling’s essays. Her second book has all the cleverness of her first book with a dash of maturity and a little more wisdom. She writes with such a wonderfully specific voice that feels like you’re talking with an old (and hilarious) friend. Literally give this book to any woman (or man, honestly) you know. They will love it.
How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran
From the author’s website:
“Why are we supposed to get Brazilians? Should you get Botox? Do men secretly hate us? What should you call your vagina? Why does your bra hurt? And why does everyone ask you when you’re going to have a baby?
Part memoir, part rant, Caitlin Moran answers these questions and more in How To Be A Woman – following her from her terrible 13th birthday (‘I am 13 stone, have no friends, and boys throw gravel at me when they see me’) through adolescence, the workplace, strip-clubs, love, fat, abortion, TopShop, motherhood and beyond.”
MEMOIRS THAT WILL BREAK YOUR HEART IN A GOOD WAY
Just Kids by Patti Smith
This book wrecked me. And therefore I must share its glory with the world. Historic punk musician and all around creative visionary Patti Smith chronicles her relationship with the late photographer Robert Maplethorpe with beautiful prose, stark frankness, and truly stirring intimacy. For anyone who loves memoirs, music, art, or simply a well-told story, this book is definitely a winner.
Negroland by Margo Jefferson
“Ever provocative and insightful, the cultural critic Margo Jefferson bravely directs the focus inward to her own life and times as a child of the rigid and nearly invisible world of black elites in pre-Civil Rights, mid-century America. By turns, melancholic and hopeful, raw and disarming, she weighs the psychic toll of constructed divisions at the intersection of race, gender, caste and privilege. A moving memoir that is an act of courage in its vulnerability.”
PPS. I heard a great interview with the author on Fresh Air – can’t wait to read this one.
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
Subtitled “a family tragicomic,” Fun Home is the story of Alison Bechdel, a lesbian cartoonist whose closeted father stepped in front of a truck when she was 19. With dark humor and warm richness, Bechdel shares her family’s story and the trajectory of her life, relationships, sexuality, and work through an inspiring medium. So inspiring, in fact, that the book was the basis for a Tony-winning Broadway musical. For anyone in your life who likes graphic novels, memoirs, or for anyone with a family as weird or even weirder than your own.
My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem
Feminist demi-god Gloria Steinem explores how her travels influenced her life and work in this new road book. At the age of 81, Steinem is still as revolutionary as ever. The dedication alone still brings me to tears. For any badass lady, history buff, or Jack Kerouac-lover in your life.
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive. Instead, Malala’s miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey, and at sixteen, she became a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest nominee ever for the Nobel Peace Prize.
I AM MALALA is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls’ education, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.”
Yes Please by Amy Poehler
We all know it, but lest we forget: Amy Poehler is life. Amy Poehler is love. And her book of essays is equal parts hilarious, informative, and truly lovely. Sharing gratitude and praise for everyone from her idols to her babysitters, she gives us a little sliver of what it means to be a golden goddess of comedy. For anyone who laughs and has a heart, which is hopefully everyone you know.
ADDITIONS TO THE FEMINIST LIBRARY
If you need a short feminist primer that packs a punch:
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
““Some people ask: “Why the word feminist? Why not just say you are a believer in human rights, or something like that?” Because that would be dishonest. Feminism is, of course, part of human rights in general—but to choose to use the vague expression human rights is to deny the specific and particular problem of gender. It would be a way of pretending that it was not women who have, for centuries, been excluded. It would be a way of denying that the problem of gender targets women.”
For the meme-loving feminist in your life:
Notorious RBG by Irin Cameron and Shana Knizhnik
The iconic website spawned this informative and enriching chronicle of one of the most important women of our time. This is on my real Christmas list I gave to my mom. Fingers crossed!
“[W]hen I’m sometimes asked when will there be enough [women on the supreme court]? And I say ‘When there are nine.’ People are shocked. But there’d been nine men, and nobody’s ever raised a question about that.”
For those passionate about reproductive rights:
Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights by Katha Pollitt
I have always considered myself a feminist, but this book propelled me into action. Through impeccable investigation, active and sometimes darkly funny narrative, Katha Politt will inform and inspire you to do something. Her writing encapsulates the no-nonsense honesty the movement needs to succeed. I can’t recommend it enough.
“Why must the woman apologize for not having a baby just because she happened to get pregnant? It’s as if we think motherhood is the default setting for a woman’s life from first period to menopause, and she needs a note from God not to say yes to every zygote that knocks on her door.”
A more in-depth feminist primer:
Feminism Is For Everybody by bell hooks
“Feminist thinking teaches us all, especially, how to love justice and freedom in ways that foster and affirm life.”
Now all you have to do is head to your local bookstore and pick up something for everyone on your list! After asking for suggestions for this post, I have about 1000 books I need to pick up. Or if you’re looking for yourself, don’t forget about your local library.
Happy Holidays, Good Millennials!
Be cool! Give a book!
Did we miss your favorite female author? Have more ideas to share? Hit us up on the socials!
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