Reading List

KEY

@CamLib stands for books that can be found at Cambridge Central Library in Lion Yard, which is free to join. See Library information here: http://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/leisure/libraries/directory/cambridge_central_library.htm

TW stands for ‘Trigger Warning’ and is attached to fiction works to warn about content which may be triggering to survivors e.g. rape scenes

CLASSICS & BASICS

The Female Eunuch and its sequel The Whole Woman by Germaine Greer. @CamLib. Greer is such a passionate writer- for me these books completely override the negative media image we have been fed of her. It’s good to compare the two works- written about 20 years apart.

Gyn/Ecology by Mary Daly. The pinnacle of Daly’s work and her masterpiece. This book will change your life- the text functions as both an exploration of the way patriarchy works and its most infamous crimes and also as a linguistic resistance to that system. Its hard to get into at first- I’d skip the updated intro- its sometimes like reading another language, until you see that she is reconstructing language and reconstructing your own mental patterns as you read.

A Room of Ones Own by Virginia Woolf. @CamLib. This is such a brilliant lyrical book it hardly seems like politics at all. Its the beginnings of a feminist consciousness about women and their relationship with writing/making art, including the famous imaginative exercise about Shakespeare’s sister which pins down the fundamentals of female oppression. Its sometimes nice to go back to the roots, to see what has been achieved by feminists since Woolf and how much is still not done.

The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir. @CamLib

Three Guineas by Virginia Woolf

Backlash by Susan Faludi (Now at @CamLib because it was requested by TeaKirsten!)

Sexual Politics by Kate Millett. @CamLib

The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf. @CamLib. A fantastic introduction to why feminism might be relevant to you, if you’ve never thought about it before – I’ve given it to all my female friends who’ve asked me about feminism and every single one of them has been really positive about it.

MORE FEMINIST THEORY

Living Dolls by Natasha Walters. @CamLib. Good introductory feminist work, illuminating on the objectification and sexualisation of young women in modern British popular culture.
One Dimensional Woman by Nina Power. A short book which illuminates the relationships between patriarchy, capitalism and consumerism.
Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity by Julia Serrano

Sisterhood is Powerful: An Anthology of Writings from the Women’s Liberation Movement ed. Robin Morgan

Meat Market by Laurie Penny

The Equality Illusion by Kat Banyard. @CamLib. Published in 2005 it brings things right up to date. She tries to cover the most important issues, providing current statistics and evidence and clearly reasons it all out- so its good to read if you find yourself being asked to prove that there is such a thing as patriarchy or why feminism is even important anymore etc, or to give to someone who knows nothing about feminism.

Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine. Fine is a neuroscientist and the book is about debunking the shoddy science or ‘neurosexism’ that is currently being used to prop up/revamp ideas of biological determinism i.e. that men have the brains/hormones for advancing and maintaining human civilisation and women are ‘hardwired’ to cook and clean, and we should therefore stay in our proper gender roles and all is well with society. Basically, if like me, you know someone who has a copy of ‘Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus’ you can throw this book at them. To educate them. Not to hit them. Or both.

Life and Death by Andrea Dworkin– is a collection of her speeches, most of them quite short and to the point. Her writing style is a combination of unadulterated reason and enormous passion and power. It sometimes feels as if you have to take a break from reading- she deals with the most terrible visceral experiences and the absolute worst aspects of patriarchy- violence, sexual abuse, prostitution and porn. Reading her is like getting punched in the face… in the best possible way.

The Jews, Israel and Women’s Liberation by Andrea Dworkin. @CamLib

Right-Wing Women by Andrea Dworkin

Female Chauvinist Pigs by Ariel Levy

Women of Ideas [and What Men Have Done to Them] by Dale Spender

Gender [Polity Short Introductions] by R.W Connell

SEXUALITY

Female Sexuality by Shere Hite. @CamLib. The famous study of women’s attitudes and experiences of sex compiled in the 70’s- I believe it was the first study of women’s sexuality done by an actual woman and a feminist, before her it was all Freud and Kinsey making weird assumptions. It has a fascinating anatomical diagram of the internal structure of the clitoris- something I had never seen a diagram of before reading the book, despite getting sex ed at school in the 90’s. There are many many women’s accounts of their sex lives, in their own words, and I was struck how so very much of what they describe is exactly my own experience.

Intercourse by Andrea Dworkin

ANTI-PORN/PROSTITUTION

Big Porn Inc: Exposing the Harms of the Global Pornography Industry eds. Melinda Tankard Reist and Abigail Bray

Not for Sale: Feminists Resisting Prostitution and Pornography eds. Christine Stark and Rebecca Whisnant.

Stripping the Illusion: The Bare Reality of Lapdancing by Jennifer Hayashi-Danns

RELIGION

The Virgin’s Cage by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. @CamLib. Is a critique of Islams treatment of women and of multiculturalism in the west by the famous activist and politician who escaped an arranged marriage and fled to Denmark as a refugee from Somalia. In it is a transcript of the film she wrote and produced with dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh called ‘Submission’, a film for which he was murdered in Amsterdam by muslim extremists. Hirsi Ali now lives with bodyguards because of her criticism of Islam. The book also has a little ‘How to…’ guide for women escaping an arranged marriage.

Man’s Dominion by Sheila Jeffreys

The Church and the Second Sex by Mary Daly

PLAYS/POETRY

The Rover- Aphra Behn [TW includes scene of attempted rape]

Our Country’s Good- Timberlake Wertenbaker.

The Love of the Nightingale- Timberlake Wertenbaker. [TW for scene of rape]

Top Girls- Carol Churchill. @CamLib

My Mother Said I Never Should- Charlotte Keatley. @CamLib

The Vagina Monologues- Eve Ensler. @CamLib [TW account of rape]

Feminist Theatre- Helen Keysar

NOVELS/FICTION

Bitter Bitch- Maria Sveland. A really easy read which highlights the difficulties of marriage and family life, even in the supposedly egalitarian Sweden. The novel is translated from the Swedish and caused a huge stir when published there.

Orlando- Virginia Woolf

The Golden Notebook- Doris Lessing. @CamLib

The Good Terrorist- Doris Lessing

Woman on the Edge of Time- Marge Piercy

Vida- Marge Piercy

Lilith’s Brood- Octavia Butler

Parable of the Sower- Octavia Butler

The Disposessed- Ursula LeGuin

The Bluest Eye- Toni Morrison

SUB GENRE: BOOKS BY MALE WRITERS

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo [or The Men Who Hate Women] by Steig Larsson. @CamLib

The Bacchae- Euripides [play] @CamLib

A Doll’s House- Henrik Ibsen [play]

The Subjection of Women- J.S Mill

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One Comment on “Reading List”

  1. Thanks for this list! Found this blog through the ‘I am still shaking’ article link posted by a Facebook friend, making my way through these reading suggestions now.