Bookmarks: 10 Feminist Books to Read This Spring

This piece appears in the Spring 2018 issue of Ms. Become a Ms. member today to get a copy before it hits newsstands.

We Are All Fast-Food Workers Now: The Global Uprising Against Poverty Wages by Annelise Orleck

Orleck has written what she calls “an urgent history of now,” an accounting of the ravages of global capitalism on low-wage workers—predominantly women—and their resistance through collective action. she describes victories worldwide by new insurgencies and alliances: the fierce garment workers in Bangladesh who use social media to expose workplace injustices, the women-led farm-worker movement La Via Campesina that fights corporate land grabs, the Fight for $15 minimum-wage campaign in the U.S. As labor abuse leaks into a widening circle of jobs, Orleck reminds us that it’s not just “their” problem. It’s everyone’s. (You can read an excerpt of We Are All Fast-Food Workers Now on the Ms. blog.)

You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld

The first and last of the 10 short stories in this collection pivot around the Trump election, a clue that Sittenfeld will focus on the alarming times in which we now live. Her characters inhabit the privileged end of the economic spectrum, and in their twisted efforts to navigate today’s complicated rules, they make some decidedly regressive and uncool moves

Tomorrow Will Be Different: Love, Loss, and the Fight for Trans Equality by Sarah McBride

When McBride came out as transgender, she was certain that life as she knew it was over; instead, her path as an advocate for LGBT rights had just begun. McBride’s memoir includes her rocketing rise to the national stage, from her viral coming-out note on Facebook in 2012 to her speech at the 2016 Democratic national Convention, the United States’ first major-party convention address by a trans person. (And don’t miss the Ms. interview with McBride about her memoir and what comes next.)

A False Report: A True Story of Rape in America by T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong

In prose that rivals that of a suspense novel, two Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists describe the tragic effects skepticism can have on victims of sexual assault. They investigate a 2008 Seattle-area case in which police disbelieved a teenager’s account of a brutal rape. Officials accused her of lying and charged her with the criminal act of false reporting, thus enabling the rapist to go on for years, honing his technique for attacking women until a female police detective connected some lucky dots.

Sister Love: The Letters of Audre Lorde and Pat Parker, 1974-1989, edited by Julie Enszer

Lorde and Parker had a lot in common: Both were black lesbian poets who left indelible marks on the civil, gay and women’s rights movements. Their 15-year correspondence— Lorde was in new York, Parker in California— reveals a powerful friendship that sustained both through arduous movement-building and personal heartache. They exchanged vacation tales and career advice, grappled with family issues and faced down cancer. What shines is the same compassion and insight that defined their work. (Enszer opened up about editing this anthology in a recent blog post for Ms.)

Sharp: The Women Who Made an Art of Having an Opinion by Michelle Dean

Equal parts literary criticism and intellectual history, Sharp looks at 10 women whose outspokenness enraged some audiences, amused others and made everyone think. From the rapier wit of early-20th-century satirist Dorothy parker to the pointed critiques of Susan Sontag to the finely honed bons mots of screenwriter Nora Ephron, their opinions have influenced many decades (and counting) of literature, film, art and politics.

Healing From Hate: How Young Men Get Into—and Out of— Violent Extremism by Michael Kimmel

Whether Klansmen, neo-nazis or islamic terrorists, violent extremists are almost exclusively young men, notes Kimmel, an authority on masculinity. He identifies a male sense of entitlement that, when thwarted by economic and political shifts, inspires teenage boys and 20-something men to reclaim “manhood” by joining hate groups. some extremists age out of this destructive dead end; Kimmel describes a better escape route: a different
kind of connectedness, a “new” masculinity.

Heads of the Colored People by Nafissa Thompson-Spires

Thompson-Spires’ dazzling collection of short fiction addresses black identity in the so-called post-racial era. Her stories dive abruptly into the lives of uncomfortable characters heading in unexpected directions: A pair of colleagues, one black, share the same office space and hate each other’s habits; the moms of the only two black children in a primary school classroom exchange spiteful remarks about each other’s kids. Transgressive and wildly funny, Heads announces a major new talent.

Make Trouble: Standing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding the Courage to Lead by Cecile Richards

Before presiding over Planned Parenthood, a job from which she recently announced she’d be stepping down, Richards was a longtime social justice soldier. In this impassioned memoir, she shares behind-the-scenes war stories, including the kangaroo-court-like congressional hearing in which Republicans falsely accused Planned Parenthood of selling fetal tissue. Her most chilling account? A swank breakfast meeting with Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, who offered a deal they assumed Planned Parenthood couldn’t refuse. (The golden couple obviously didn’t know Cecile Richards.)

Song of a Captive Bird by Jasmin Darznik

Forugh Farrokhzad’s short life brimmed with controversy and rebellion: Daughter of a military officer, she was married off at 16, divorced by 19 and, by the time she died at 32, on her way to becoming the Persian language’s most beloved woman poet. This feminist icon inspired Darznik’s imaginative debut novel: the story of a gifted iconoclast defying gender expectations in mid-20th-century Iran.


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