Emily Baines Heidi Reed
May 22, 2016 11:06 am

It’s summer season — which means at some point we’ll want to relax by a pool or in a park with a good book. Below are 10 of our favorite wonderfully feminist beach reads, which will inspire the badass woman inside each of us to come roaring out as we relax.

A Room With A View by: E.M. Forster

Though this romance was written over 100 years ago, the societal critique is uniquely modern. And readers won’t help but admire the independent Lucy Honeychurch as she battles societal pressures in her pursuit of true love, what a perfect subject for the best of beach reads. It was also an incredible movie with a very young Helena Bonham Carter!

Curzon Film Distributors

Station Eleven by: Emily St. John Mandel

If your beach reads tend toward sci-fi, this book has been universally praised by critics and is a must-read for any lover of theater or dystopian novels. Set in the near future where a super virus kills off most of the world, protagonist Kirsten Raymonde travels the continent with her theater troupe in an effort to survive while spreading joy. We can’t recommend this book enough.


Bad Feminist by: Roxane Gay

This collection of humorous, poignant, and political essays by everyone’s favorite feminist Roxane Gay is a must read for any woman. It’s certainly not one of the more brainless beach reads, but it will keep you thinking and feeling on a personal journey.

Harper Perennial

The Signature of All Things by: Elizabeth Gilbert

This novel tells the tale of the feisty Whitaker family, specifically Alma Whittaker, a female botanist born in the Age of Enlightenment who live well into the Industrial Revolution. During this turbulent time Alma must face her dated assumptions about science, religion, commerce, and class. As Amazon describes the novel, “Written in the bold, questing spirit of that singular time, Gilbert’s wise, deep, and spellbinding tale is certain to capture the hearts and minds of readers.” Readers, prepare to have your minds not just captured, but blown.

Penguin Group USA

The Handmaid’s Tale by: Margaret Atwood

When we learned that Elisabeth Moss would star in an adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale, we clapped our hands with glee, and then immediately re-read Atwood’s prescient tale of Offred, a woman forced to live as a concubine for the wealthy elite. The novel explores the various means in which women attempt to gain agency. The novel is amazing, and a must read for any feminist.

Anchor Books

The Color Master by: Aimee Bender

This collection of often surreal stories by famed magical realist Aimee Bender are a sumptuous treat. Bender’s latest brims with the delightfully weird. It’s almost as if she is writing for the most lonely and fantastically-minded of us. As Scott Bradfield writes for The New York Times, “For many of Bender’s lost but not always forlorn characters, solid objects help establish their location in an otherwise overwhelming world, especially when it comes to dealing with some of the most confusing aspects of that world — other people.”

Anchor Books

Blonde by: Joyce Carol Oates

This retelling of Marilyn Monroe’s life story is gorgeously written and impossible to put down.


Rebecca by: Daphne Du Maurier

Sometimes a lady just wants to read books with a good old-fashioned mystery. This one happens to have both a fully fleshed-out female villain and protagonist. For those of you who have seen the Hitchcock film, the book is even better.

William Morrow Paperbacks

Euphoria by: Lily King

This New York Times Bestseller and 2014 Kirkus Prize winner based on the life of Margaret Mead tells the captivating story of three anthropologists caught up in a love triangle during the 1930’s.

Atlantic Monthly Press

State of Wonder by: Ann Patchett

State of Wonder is the story of medical researcher Dr. Marina Singh, who is sent deep into the Amazon basin to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of her lab partner who was sent out to find Dr. Annick Swenson, a professor developing a miracle fertility drug. This enthralling novel will keep you on the edge of your seat.

HarperCollins Publishers