Bookmarks: 11 Great Fall Reads for Feminists

This post is excerpted from the latest issue of Ms. Subscribe today to read more.

Reproductive Justice: An Introduction by Loretta J. Ross and Rickie Solinger

This powerful primer introduces a movement that looks beyond pro-choice activism. Its authors critique america’s dark history of population control policies and demand reproductive equity regardless of gender, class or race. Using international human rights standards, they envision marginalized women gaining the right to health care, day care and contraception; the right to mother; and the right to raise children in a safe and healthy environment.

Just a Journalist: On the Press, Life and the Spaces Between by Linda Greenhouse

Greenhouse, who won a Pulitzer reporting for The New York Times, describes journalism’s ongoing evolution from the old-school goals of “objectivity” and “balance” to actual truth-telling in an era of fake news. She was an inadvertent player in this controversial shift: Her speech critical of the George W. Bush administration at a private gathering of Radcliffe alumnae generated fury from the journalism establishment, as did her joining a pro-choice march. Greenhouse asks: Can’t one be both a journalist and a member of society?

Kiss Me Someone by Karen Shepard

Shepard’s short stories explore relationships and familial love in all their messy complexity. from the high school kids in “Popular Girls” who sneak out to nightclubs to the 49-year- old in “a fine life” who meets her former Red Guard father 25 years after she abandoned her family in China, Shepard’s unapologetically flawed characters make this collection an honest portrayal of womanhood.

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Ward, a National Book award winner, uses a rural Mississippi setting to address the real-time problems of racism, marginalization and poverty. Her novel about an addicted black mother of two who takes her children across the state to meet their white father, who’s just out of prison, offers a hopeful take on resilience and the power of family ties.

Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

Sandberg, facebook’s COO and author of the bestseller Lean In, partnered with psychologist Grant to chronicle her journey through grief and despair following the sudden death of her young husband. Grant’s research, Sandberg’s diary entries and anecdotes of recovery and resilience make for a book that’s both deeply personal and helpful to those facing adversity.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Shaker Heights, Ohio, is ardently planned, from its architecture to the maximum height for grass. Elena Richardson grew up with its perfectionism ingrained in her every fiber and was happy in that bubble—until the Warrens arrived. Single mother Mia and her daughter Pearl represent freedom and chaos, enticing Elena’s children and threatening her idealized life. Ng’s powerful novel incorporates universal themes of race, family and identity.

The Newcomers: Finding Refuge, Friendship and Hope in an American Classroom by Helen Thorpe

Thorpe follows 22 immigrant teenagers in the beginner-level English language acquisition class at Denver’s South High School. Meticulously documented and exquisitely written, her book describes students from countries plagued by war, violence, drought and famine as they discover their voices and create a space for themselves in their occasionally hostile new country. She argues that embracing refugees is integral to the preservation of our humanity.

A Uterus is a Feature, Not a Bug: The Working Woman’s Guide to Overthrowing the Patriarchy by Sarah Lacy

Despite Silicon Valley’s misogyny, women in tech can overcome obstacles, as did Lacy, founder of the news company PandoDaily. She argues that the key may be motherhood, that mothers make the best workforce—and even that working women with several children are more focused and decisive than those with only one or none.

The Twelve-Mile Straight by Eleanor Henderson

In southern Georgia circa 1930, two babies are born: a daughter as fair as her teenage mother, a son whose skin is dark. accused of raping the white mother, an innocent black farmhand is lynched. Family secrets long buried come to light, exposing the worst of patriarchal indignities. Henderson’s novel is a complex and startling story of desperation, desire and shame.

A Secret Sisterhood: The Literary Friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot and Virginia Woolf by Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeny

Sisterhood tells the stories behind four famous storytellers, examining the bonds each enjoyed with a less renowned peer, even though the social boundaries of their respective eras kept such exchanges from the public sphere. Their interactions—from Austen’s relentless editing of her manuscripts with her friend Anne Sharp to Woolf’s estrangements from, and reunions with, her friend and rival Katherine Mansfield—reveal little-known influences on these trailblazing novelists.

Coming to My Senses: The Making of a Counterculture Cook by Alice Waters

Legendary chef Waters reflects on the unlikely influences that shaped her Berkeley, California, restaurant Chez Panisse, including the free speech movement and her years as a Montessori teacher. This surprisingly political memoir moves from a childhood eating canned sauerkraut to her culinary awakening in Paris to the opening of her revolutionary restaurant in 1971.

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Comments

  1. Looking forward to reading these

  2. James Wilcox says:

    Love these selections. I’m looking forward to a couple of these that I hadn’t taken note of yet.

    For short story readers, I’d also recommend Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body & Other Parties. Strong, feminist stories with subtle (and overt) social commentary, twists on urban legends, older storytelling tropes, and solid, individual narrator-voices throughout.

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