Welcome to the first ever Feminist Book Fortnight, how exciting! We’ve got some fantastic books and feminist treats to win – get involved…
It’s the inaugural Feminist Book Fortnight and we’re EXCITED! For two weeks, independent book shops across the UK will be celebrating feminist writers and literature with events aplenty. And WE are celebrating too – with a competition giving you the chance to win a curated selection of new and classic feminist books plus lovely feminist gifts!
We’ve asked five book shops taking part in the event to suggest the books they’d recommend reading during Feminist Book Fortnight – and you can WIN all of them! We’ve also got some goodies from Some Home Truths – who make beautiful products inspired by mighty women. Read on to see what you can win in celebration of Feminist Book Fortnight… First up – our book shops recommend their favourite classic and recent feminist reads.
Pages of Hackney
While the author famously shunned its classification as a feminist work, our favourite classic feminist book is Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook. For Lessing, this novel is a playful experimentation with form, and its exploration of the female psyche and experience is utterly prescient of much contemporary feminist thought. Those who take her feminist disclaimer and some of her more perplexing and apparently reactionary statements to heart would do well to return to the original to find a compelling, early insight into what it means to be a woman in the modern world.
Deborah Levy’s second instalment of her ‘living memoir’, The Cost of Living, cements her status as one of the clearest and most poetic feminist voices of the moment. Ruminating on writing, mothering and inhabiting after divorce and her mother’s death, Levy encounters her life in a new guise and with this comes a renewed understanding of what the true cost of living entails.
For more information on Feminist Book Fortnight events at Pages of Hackney, see the store’s website. Pages of Hackney is also hosting an event on The Cost of Living…
Drake The Bookshop
Charlotte Gordon’s Romantic Outlaws – The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley is a hugely informative biography of two women who were inspirational in their fight for women’s rights. Though mother and daughter never met, Mary Wollstonecraft sadly died just days after giving birth to Mary Shelley, Gordon cleverly interleaves their stories giving a fascinating insight into the lives of both women, and demonstrating how Shelley was greatly influenced by the mother she never met.
Gordon is an excellent story teller, bringing both women to life in such a novelistic manner – showing us that their lives consisted of very things they wrote about – the horrible situation of a battered, unwed pregnant and/or emotionally abused woman. As the title suggests, both women stepped outside society’s lays by following their hearts. Society looked the other way, and most women, joined the powerful male authority structure in blaming the victim. What else could they do when all in their lives depended on a husband or father? It’s a very full book – but well worth the read.
Home Fire is a worthy winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction. Shamsie draws on the Greek classic Antigone to create a very story of love, betrayal, power and politics, which is bang up to date. The book is a powerful portrayal of the plight of the modern Muslim and the human impact of terrorism but done through the nuanced and insightful lens of family life. Home Fire focuses on family and in particular the strength of women and the sacrifices women always make in the name of war and terrorism.
For more information on events at Drake The Bookshop in Stockton-on-Tees, see the store’s website.
News From Nowhere
In terms of classic feminist titles, we would recommend the works of Audre Lorde. Although a new book, we love the the recent collection of her essays and poems as it combines a lot of essential Lorde reading – Your Silence Will Not Protect You (Silver Press). Lorde uses the power of language to address issues of injustice and to fight for change, as well as exploring identity and how we define ourselves. We love the honesty of her writing, and although she passed away in 1992, her writing is still hugely relevant. As modern feminism looks towards the importance of intersectionality and inclusion, we recommend people look to her as a great starting point.
A new feminist work we would suggest is Nasty Women (404 Ink) – a collection of essays, interviews and accounts by a fantastic list of women writers. Nasty Women gives a window into what it means to be a woman in the 21st century, covering a wide scope of issues that have an impact on women today. The book was funded via a Kickstarter campaign by an indie publisher in response to the election of Trump (amongst other things). They sought to twist a phrase used by the US president and make something that gave a voice to women, which we think is fantastic. As well as the content of the book, the way the book was created highlights the wealth of talented women that we have around us.
For more information on Feminist Book Fortnight events at News From Nowhere in Liverpool, see the store’s website.
We would recommend a new book that is also a feminist classic… Audre Lorde is a great feminist hero, and her work has finally been bound & republished by a UK publisher in the beautiful Your Silence Will Not Protect You, with an introduction by Sara Ahmed and a forward by Reni Eddo-Lodge – two of the most exciting feminists writing in Britain today. A classic that never gets enough air time is Nawal El Saadawi’s The Hidden Face of Eve: an incredibly powerful study of the oppression of women in the Muslim world, it is a a timeless and hugely important piece of writing by one of the Arab word’s leading feminist and iconoclast.
And a relatively new and very accessible book on feminist economics is Katrine Marcal’s Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner? This is a succinct, punchy wee book that highlights the hidden contributions of women to the economy, unpacks why these remain hidden, why women continue to be written out of both academic and mainstream economics and what can be done to address that.
For more information on Feminist Book Fortnight events at The Lighthouse Bookshop in Edinburgh, see the store’s website.
Called “the longest love letter in the English language,” Virginia Woolf’s Orlando is novel in every sense, a gender- and genre-bending gift that has kept giving for nearly a century. A fictional biography of her lover Vita Sackville-West and her ancestors embodied in the immortal and
ever-youthful protagonist, it is also a witty history of English attitudes to gender, sexuality, culture and empire, as Lord Orlando the hapless diplomat awakens from a long sleep in Istanbul, halfway through the novel, to find herself transformed. Woolf gives Orlando both a room of her own – and freedom to roam, as the author does in her freewheeling prose.
Sara Ahmed’s Living a Feminist Life is not just a book but a phenomenon, driven by Ahmed’s unique presence online through her Feminist Killjoy blog and Twitter. Her account, related in real time, of hitting institutional walls as she worked to make change, drew in thousands of readers facing the same – and Living a Feminist Life is a handbook for exactly that. From the tiny detail of a broken cup handle in George Eliot’s Mill on the Floss to a world-making act of speaking truth to power, Ahmed shows how intersectional feminists have turned facing trauma into creating resistance – and how we can too.
For more information on Feminist Book Fortnight events at Burley Fisher in London, see the store’s website.
And there’s more…
We discovered Some Home Truths and fell in love! Who could fail to be seduced by such beautiful homewares and elegant stationery, al inspired by ‘mighty women. “This is a feminist brand because this world still wants women to keep quiet and stay humble,” explains Home Truths designer Heather Elliott. “As a researcher and writer, I work with words all day. When my courage fails or my energy flags I need the women I read and listen to by my side – not just on my bookshelf. Women like Betty Friedan, Dolly Parton and Beyonce. So I put their words on the things I use everyday – coffee cups, pencils and tea towels.”
What better way to celebrate Feminist Book Fortnight than with beautiful products to provide subtle reminders to speak up, stop apologising and get out of the kitchen? When you’re not glued to a feminist book, let these powerful words remind you, give you space and time to think about feminism, about equality and about how to be aware – and maybe even be proactive rather than reactive. Can you make the world a more equal place? Yes you can. So when you dry the plates, sip your AM cup of Darjeeling or note down your to-do list, take a moment to consider why you’re a feminist, the women who fought hard for the vote, and every single time someone steps out of their comfort zone and stands up for women’s rights and equality.
How to take part? Follow Reading in Heels on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter – like the photo post, tag a friend and hashtag #feministbookfortnight. That’s it! The competition is open to UK entrants only, closing Thursday 21st June at MIDNIGHT! For more information on Feminist Book Fortnight, see the event’s website.