Your Holiday Reading List: Top 10 Feminist Books of 2015

‘Tis the season for holiday reading!

Whether it’s the weather outside (or the family inside) that’s frightful, holing up between the pages of your favorite feminist tomes can be sweeter than a slice of Grandma’s homemade apple crumble. So as a gift from Ms. to you, here’s a handful of must-read books to curl up with this holiday season—by some of our favorite feminist thought leaders! Put on your fancy PJs, grab a cup of cocoa and slip into some flannel sheets, friends. This is your feminist holiday reading roundup!

How To Grow Up by Michelle Tea (Memoir)

Queercore queen Michelle Tea’s latest work details her coming of age as a wannabe writer living la vie bohème in San Francisco, hopping from bar to bar, bed to bed and job to job, getting older but never quite growing up. Sharp, edgy and so freaking cool, Tea is the badass, counterculture older sister you never had, gifting readers with the hard-won lessons of her extended adolescence, but never losing her childlike sense of play.

Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution by Mona Eltahawy (Non-Fiction)

Based on her article “Why Do They Hate Us?” and inspired by conversations with Arab women and her experiences as a women’s rights activist in the Middle East, Egyptian American journalist Mona Eltahawy identifies the two revolutions women in the region must undertake in the wake of 2010’s Arab Spring: one fought alongside of Muslim men opposed to oppressive regimes, and another against the Arab world’s repressive political and economic system. Both hopeful and infuriating, Headscarves and Hymens is a rousing call to action you do not want to ignore.

Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories From Social Justice Movements Edited by Walidah Imarisha and adrienne maree brown (Science Fiction Anthology)

Shhh… I’m imagining a better world. So are the writers of Octavia’s Brood! Written by activists and organizers from around the globe, this otherworldly collection of visionary short stories employs some pretty radical speculative fiction to imagine worlds free from war, prisons, capitalism and oppression. For science fiction fans looking to explore the final frontiers of equality and social justice, this anthology will take you where no beings have gone before—out of this (unequal) world.

Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer (Non-Fiction)

Graphic and unsettling, author Krakauer’s in-depth examination of a string of sexual assaults at the University of Montana is a searing indictment of the U.S. justice system’s indifference towards the ever-growing campus rape epidemic. Told through the eyes of five women attacked by men they trusted, Missoula provides a sobering reminder of the prevalence of sexual assault on campuses nationwide and blows the whistle on institutions hellbent on protecting rapists while ignoring survivors’ cries for help.

Living in the Crosshairs: The Untold Stories of Anti-Abortion Terrorism by David S. Cohen and Krysten Connon (Non-Fiction)

With the spike in abortion clinic violence that followed this summer’s smear campaign against Planned Parenthood, the need understand the severity of threats against abortion providers could not be more critical. Featuring interview-based accounts of harassment, stalking and violence, Living in the Crosshairs shines a light on the courageous individuals who risk their lives to protect women’s right to a safe and legal medical procedure.

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (Autobiography)

Author, poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou remembers her painful childhood as black girl growing up in 1930s Arkansas. Rendered speechless by the murder of her rapist, a kind neighbor introduces Angelou to poetry, creating space for a new, stronger voice to emerge. Reissued in commemoration of the beloved author death last year, this American modern classic’s song of hope still resonates with readers today. (Want double the poetic power? Read 2015’s Maya Angelou: The Complete Poetry)

Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood (Fiction)

As if by magic, The Handmaid’s Tale scribe Margaret Atwood conjures a compilation of nine delightfully wicked and fantastically fantastical tales. Loosely linked, the yarns seamlessly knit together universal themes of aging, dying and the legacies we and future generations will leave behind on this “stone mattress” we call Earth.

My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem (Memoir)

The glorious Ms. Steinem retraces the roots of her wanderlust, drawing an emotional map of her journeys as a child taken for a ride by her nomadic father; then as a young woman traversing the globe to join Gandhian organizers in India; and later as a women’s rights activist crisscrossing the country connecting with women in “talking circles” and bringing their experiences to the forefront of public consciousness. Thoughtful and empowering, My Life on the Road is an ideal companion for aspiring organizers blazing their own trail.

Then Comes Marriage: United States v. Windsor and the Defeat of DOMA by Roberta Kaplan with Lisa Dickey (Non-Fiction)

When Thea Spyer died in 2009, she and her partner of 44 years, Edith Windsor, were still newlyweds, having married in Canada in 2007. But according to the federal government, Spyer and Windsor might as well have been strangers: Windsor’s inheritance from Spyer was withheld by invoking the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Written with a passion that comes right off the page, renowned litigator Roberta Kaplan testifies to the trials and tribulations she endured arguing for Windsor before the Supreme Court, which ultimately led to the dissolution of DOMA and paved the way for the embrace of same-sex marriage in the United States.

God Help the Child by Toni Morrison (Fiction)

Shunned by her light-skinned mother for her dark, blue-black complexion and desperation for attention, main character Bride falsely accuses an innocent woman of a heinous crime, sending her to prison. Now as an adult, Bride seeks restitution for her past sins, but she must first heal the deep, festering wounds of a childhood marred by abuse. A powerful and tragic modern fairy tale, God Help the Child illustrates how violence and cruelty impact children and alter the course of their futures.

What are you reading this holiday season? Share your favorites in the comments below!

Featured image via Shutterstock





Kitty Lindsay is a Ms. blogger and works at the Feminist Majority Foundation. She is also creator and host of Feminist Crush, a weekly podcast featuring conversations with feminist artists and activists. Follow her on Twitter!