5 New Books That Will Make You a Better Feminist

photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths

photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths

There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé by Morgan Parker
February 14, 2017

When I saw Morgan Parker read in Washington D.C. a few weeks back, she opened with a comment about how Adrian Grenier is a Brooklyn gentrifier (“I see him all the time in my neighborhood!”) and a shrug, and then went on to knock the air out of the room with her reading. Her second collection of poetry is a series of raw, unflinching examinations of race and womanhood, much of which does, in fact, revolve around Beyoncé. The title reflects the nuance, complexity and contradiction inherent in Parker's work; she wants you to take umbrage with it and she’s not stopping to argue with you. Take a sneak peek at one of the poems in the collection, “The President Has Never Said the Word ‘Black’”, which ran in the New York Times Magazine.

The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy
March 14, 2017

“I wanted what we all want: everything. We want a mate who feels like family and a lover who is exotic, surprising. We want to be youthful adventurers and middle-aged mothers. We want intimacy and autonomy, safety and stimulation, reassurance and novelty, coziness and thrills. But we can’t have it all,” the New Yorker writer muses in her second book. A-freaking-men, right? Levy’s memoir details the era in her life when she felt she had it all—38 years old, employed by one of the most esteemed publications in the world, pregnant, and married—and how that all fell apart within a month. Levy’s wheelhouse is the paradox of freedom and the inevitable messiness of feminism (in case the title of her previous book, Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture, didn’t tip you off).

Why I Am Not a Feminist by Jessa Crispin
February 21, 2017

Outspoken critic Jessa Crispin isn’t here to make nice and you're probably not going catch her rocking a Future is Female t-shirt (though, to be sure, contrary to the title of her new book, she is a feminist). Crispin puts pop-feminism under the blacklight as she examines what’s been lost in making the movement more accessible to those with more moderate views. No doubt, the book is intended to provoke, challenge and incite arguments among feminists about what constitutes progress and what basically adds up to a thinly veiled hand job for the patriarchy. Even if you don’t think you’ll agree wholeheartedly, Crispin’s writing is guaranteed to make you think. And laugh. 

All the Lives I Want: Essays About My Best Friends Who Happen to Be Famous Strangers by Alana Massey
February 7, 2017

Run in the opposite direction of Jessa Crispin and you might bump into Alana Massey, who brings to the table sharp, imaginative examinations of the lives of famous female figures—Sylvia Plath, Lil’ Kim, Amber Rose and Britney Spears, to name a few—and why we are perenially obsessed. Spoiler alert: It’s complicated. The essays manage to be raucous fun and heartbreaking all at once, with the general aim of acknowledging that yes, shit’s fucked up and impossible, and yeah, we’re all walking contradictions, but in the end that’s okay(ish)! 

The Mother of All Questions by Rebecca Solnit
March 7, 2017

In a follow up to her widely read Men Explain Things to Me, prolific cultural critic Rebecca Solnit brings incisive observation and wit to the task of sizing up the patriarchy and answering, "Nope." Unrelated to her book, but further proof of Solnit's badassery: In the bio section of her Amazon page, it reads "She encourages you to shop at Indiebound, your local independent bookstore, Powells.com, Barnes & Noble online and kind of has some large problems with how Amazon operates these days." 

-Deena Drewis

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