As a writer who is part of amazing and supportive communities like HelloGiggles, I have to say: I truly love being a woman in 2014. Sure, we have our ups and downs. A month ago, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby. Misogyny still, unfortunately exists. And the war on street harassment is still burning brightly.
BUT we are incredibly strong, and we don’t put up with BS so easily, which is why I’m insanely proud of us. There are so many female role models who have gone against the grain, spoken out against patriarchal ideals, and campaigned against sexism and the unfair treatment of women. This activism has often taken the form of great literature, manifesting itself in strong female protagonists or hilarious memoirs. SO many women have written books that have profoundly shaped the way I view womanhood. And these reads make me feel infinitely lucky to be a lady.
1. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
I know we can’t shut up about her, but Roxane Gay is one of the best things to have ever happened to the Internet and my bookshelf. With the (horrifying) growing popularity of Women Against Feminism, I seriously think Bad Feminist may be our antidote. In her book and in a lot of essays Gay has written online, she unapologetically professes her love for pop culture. She discusses race and gender, women in academia, sexual violence, and basically how it’s impossible to be a “bad feminist.”
2. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
Way, way back in the day, women didn’t really have the opportunity to become writers because they lacked the resources. In response to this, Virginia Woolf wrote A Room of One’s Own like a true badass. A Room of One’s Own is a super long essay that examines the role of a woman who should be entitled to her own workspace. Even if it’s just your bed, which I totally consider my workspace.
3. The Collected Poems by Lucille Clifton
Lucille Clifton’s poetry is anything but ordinary. Check out this stanza from “Sisters: For Elaine Philip on Her Birthday” and swoon:
me and you
let our hair go back
be loving ourselves
be loving ourselves
only where you sing
4. Rise of the Trust Fall by Mindy Nettifee
Mindy Nettifee’s poems feel like really personal (and sometimes hilarious) confessions. Most of her poems are about the struggle to find one’s inner-strength. She writes about how even when we feel small, or like everything is just falling apart, we are the solution to our problems. The coolest part about Mindy Nettifee’s poetry (and poetry in general), is that it can speak to you however you want it to. Read this snippet from “I Hate That Pattern” for an idea of what Mindy is all about:
Every woman’s closet is a museum of her insecurities.
Also, in fairness, her unique assortment of sensory processing disorders.
Rule #1: don’t look at what is there.
Look at what isn’t.
5. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
Before you see the movie, you should definitely read the book first. First of all, Cheryl Strayed is one of the funniest, smartest ladies I’ve ever not actually met. If you haven’t checked out her advice column on The Rumpus (Dear Sugar), you should totally acquaint you with the genius that is Cheryl Strayed. Her memoir, Wild, chronicles her real-life epic journey through the rugged Pacific Coast Trail—a challenge she decided to take after losing everything. Faced with grueling physical and emotional obstacles, Strayed’s long-distance hike reveals the challenges and triumphs of survival.
6. #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso
As a Nasty Gal shopaholic, I totally had to pick up this book, which turned out to be hilarious, helpful, and super entertaining. Sophia Amoruso’s path to success wasn’t clear-cut, but she never let anyone stop her from doing what she wanted to do. Outspoken, intelligent, and intuitive, Amoruso created the insanely successful Nasty Gal e-commerce site with sheer creativity and resilience.
7. The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood
Not only is Margaret Atwood’s work still totally and utterly relevant now (and forever), she is bitingly funny. The Edible Woman is a story about a recently engaged woman who finds herself being eaten alive by her relationship. This metaphor explores our identities when we’re in relationships, and how important it is to establish our independence.
8. Gathering Blue by Louis Lowry
If you read The Giver and absolutely loved it, you will appreciate Gathering Blue, its companion novel. The book is about Kira, an orphan who lives in a dystopian society. Born with a disability, she was supposed to be cast out of her tribe, but her mom fiercely protected her. Unfortunately, after her mom dies, all Kira has is herself and her passion for sewing and dyes. At its core, it’s an inspiring story of a young woman’s resilience against all odds.
9. I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley
This book will make you feel better about any glitch, bump, or failure in your life (because admit it, sometimes those just happen). Crosley’s stories about work, moving, school, and life are super funny, and super hilarious. I love that one of the main messages to take away from this memoir, is that it’s TOTALLY normal to mess up sometimes. And that our life isn’t going to be clean. Nor is it going to be perfect. And that’s OK, because our imperfections are what makes us amazingly human.