For Books’ Sake’s Bookish Feminist Gift Guide
10th Dec 2014
Feminists love books about bad girls, right? This collection of ‘femme-noir’ stories from four emerging women writers features a compelling, charismatic cast of damaged, brave, badass heroines who swing from fragility to ferocity with more speed and power than their weapons or getaway cars.
Fast-paced, escapist, blood-soaked and sexed-up, Cars & Girls is contemporary, authentic and uncompromising. In lurid Tarantino technicolour, its vengeance-driven protagonists fuck and fight better and harder than any man, making them the perfect company for a festive joyride to hell and back.
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
This is a fascinating account of the relationship between two young women. It places women’s lives and struggles at the heart of the narrative, discussing prejudice, oppression and the socio-political expectations of women in the aftermath of the First World War.
We’d recommend this one for fans of historical fiction and romance with a feminist, LGBT edge and a roaring mystery chucked in for good measure. Read our full review here.
The Road from Coorain by Jill Ker Conway
This is a memoir of growing up on an isolated sheep station in Australia during the 1950’s. It’s a good gift because it’s not the thing everyone else is giving — published in 1989, it’s still available, but there’s a good chance your feminist recipient hasn’t read it yet. It’s a fascinating look at a girlhood that most readers will find unfamiliar and enthralling.
Conway is the former president of Smith College, the largest women’s college in the the U.S. She is a widely respected academic and supporter of access to education for low-income women. The book is a story of hardship but also of a young girl’s total immersion in her unique environment. Conway’s subsequent arrival at the University of Sydney provided a rude awakening to the sexist academic culture of the 1960’s and shaped her goals of equity in education.
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was one of the first feminists I encountered on my journey to feminism. I’d fallen for the movement on a social level, but Adichie gave me a level of intellectualism that I was desperately in need of. She left me questioning both my rights as a woman and the ingrained cultural stigmas we pass down to younger generations.
‘We teach girls shame. Close your legs. Cover yourself. We make them feel as though by being born female, they are already guilty of something.’ – p.33, We Should All Be Feminists.
Adapted from her 2012 TEDx talk of the same name, Adichie explores (in just 48 pages!) the fundamentals of why we all need feminism. It’s short, pithy and succinct, free from stuffiness. She is the best ‘Happy African Feminist Who Does Not Hate Men And Who Likes To Wear Lip Gloss And High Heels For Herself And Not For Men’ that I have ever encountered.
If you’ve heard of intersectional feminism, but don’t quite understand the whys and hows, pick up a copy of Colonize This.
In a collection of brilliant, heartfelt essays, the young women of colour contributors discuss their experiences of being multiply marginalised, both within society as a whole, and by white-centric forms of feminism. The essays discuss a plethora of subjects; abortion, queerness, Middle Eastern feminism, Native American cultural revival, the importance of community and solidarity. Colonize This is an engaging and eye-opening alternative to mainstream feminist writing, and a life-changing read.
Angela Carter’s Book of Fairy Tales
Angela Carter’s interpretation of fairy tales from around the world is wickedly subversive, just like many of the original tales. With chapters such as ‘Good Girls and Where it Gets Them’ and ‘Brave, Bold and Wilful’, this collection is clearly anything but the schmaltzy moralistic tales that may come to mind whenever the words ‘fairy tale’ are mentioned.
From Inuit to Swahili, and with stores coming from Palestine to Jamaica to Ireland, these stories tell us what it is to live in certain societies and how stories can affect culture and vice versa.
Carter’s book is a celebration of the tales predominantly told by women in many countries over many years. It is also a celebration, as Carter says in her introduction, of the ‘perennially refreshed entertainment of the poor’. These are the voices of people who were unable to write their stories on paper. The recent-ish Virago hardback imprint is beautiful, making it a wonderful feminist Christmas gift.
– Kate Lunn
Anya von Bremzen’s experiences growing up in the former Soviet Union may be difficult to relate to for many of us, but the role food, food culture, and food politics play in her life manages to be nostalgic and relevant nonetheless.
At times funny and heartwarming, von Bremzen paints a picture of social injustices in the Soviet Union decade-by-decade by recreating meals with her mother in New York. Her analysis of gender, class and ethnic diversity in her homeland is illuminating, and reading about the food – even when it left her tummy grumbling – is mouthwatering. This book is a treasure.
With so much about Christmas being predictable, what better way to treat yourself or a friend than to a completely unexpected, unheard of, yet brilliant feminist novel?
Unjustly neglected for years, ‘I, Vampire’ by Jody Scott is an exuberantly clever and wildly iconoclastic feminist and SF take on vampires in fiction. If you thirst for something really witty, quirky, with bags of brains – and not much blood – this holiday, you will do no better than this wonderful novel.
Sterling O’Blivion is a bright, phenomenally well-read and irreverent 700 year old vampire. Now living in Chicago, she’s a bored instructor of a dance studio. But soon she’s on a madcap adventure spree, falling in love with a rejuvenated Virginia Woolf, dealing with Mr Spock (the Baby and Child Care one), and negotiating with multiple aliens up to no good.
Rave reviewed when first published by The Women’s Press in 1986 and since out of print, good, super cheap second hand copies – one Sterling penny! – are easily available online. Praised and loved by such SF mavericks as Theodore Sturgeon, Samuel Delaney and Barry N. Malzberg, why not satisfy your cravings this Xmas with something radically different and deliciously feminist?
And for the wonderful wordsmith or women warriors out there, what better gift than our very own Furies poetry anthology! We say you let loose with this one and buy a copy for all the family, cats and dogs, your work’s secret santa… the possibilities are endless.
A beautiful hardback collection of poetry from writers such as Patience Agbabi, Bridget Minamore and Claire Trévien would be a welcome present for any feminist. Edited by Eve Lacey, with a foreword from Jenni Fagan, this is the poetry of wronged and revolutionary women, the new verse that emerges when poets take a sinner and spin her anew.
You can buy a hardback or e-edition here.
We hope you all have a lovely, relaxing holiday! Leave us a comment with what feminist books are on your wish-list this Christmas…
[Photo Credit: Richard Gillin on Flickr]