BOOK REVIEW: Empowering Feminist Books

Naomi Alderman: The Power

Naomi Alderman’s The Power contains thought-provoking themes, setting up a world where women are the dominant gender, and men are fearful of women. The cleverly-written concept on gender dynamics compels the reader to question what this dystopian world could mean for women. Alderman explains gender as a ‘shell game’, she asks: ‘What is a man? Whatever a woman isn’t. What is a woman? Whatever a man is not.’ It is these gender dynamics which make the novel so captivating, as the role and purpose of gender is questioned and explored. This smart book is a must-read for anyone looking for an empowering novel.

Carol Ann Duffy: The World’s Wife

Carol Ann Duffy’s The World’s Wife takes stories and crafts them into poems told from a feminist perspective. ‘Little Red Cap’ is one example: it follows a young girl entering the woods and meeting a wolf. Duffy transforms the usual story of Little Red Riding Hood, and the female becomes the more dominant character in comparison to the wolf. Duffy remodels the original foolish young girl into an independent young woman, who kills the wolf and is the hero of her own story.

Virginia Woolf: A Room of One’s Own

Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own is a more classical approach to feminist empowerment. The novel examines the role of women within the creation of literature. A particularly interesting concept which she explores is the possibility of Shakespeare having a sister. Woolf investigates what life would have been like for ‘Judith’, who is as gifted as Shakespeare but not given the same educational opportunities as him. This novel offers a critical view of the limited opportunities female writers previously had, including the effects of being denied education.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: We Should all be Feminists

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s book was originally her TED talk. It is more of an essay than a book, exploring the subject of gender equality. Adichie elevates the importance of feminism. Her own definition of a feminist is someone who says ‘yes, there’s a problem with gender as it is today, and we must fix it, we must do better.’ Beyoncé’s track ‘Flawless’, incorporates snippets of the essay and has somewhat reintroduced Adichie’s messages. It also highlights concerning phenomena, including, teaching ‘girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller’. Her honest and relatable arguments empower women to recognise their importance in society.

Naomi Wolf: The Beauty Myth

Naomi Wolf’s book The Beauty Myth is an honest portrayal of how the beauty industry influences society. Wolf explores the emotions of dislike women have towards themselves. In an honest account, she describes the ‘dark vein of self-hatred, physical obsessions, terror of ageing, and dread of lost control’. This book was a bestseller in 14 countries—and although it is slightly outdated (1990)—it remains an essential feminist reading. The Beauty Myth accurately depicts a world in which people are obsessed with their physical appearances.

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