These Feminist Books Are The Perfect Gifts For The Brilliant Women In Your Life


Just a quick announcement to strike panic into the hearts of those of you who celebrate Christmas: you have one month and one day only to complete your present shopping (or less, actually, presuming your office Secret Santa isn't taking place in your family home on Christmas Day). Might I suggest, to the hyperventilating gift shoppers among you, planting yourself firmly in a bookshop with this article in hand? I've selected five of the best feminist books to give as Christmas gifts, and all I require in response is a handwritten thank you note from each and every recipient delivered directly to whichever coffee shop table I've occupied for the past eight hours!

I'll preface this list with an admission: not all of these books were published this year. But all of them, from the poems and essays of Audre Lorde to the short stories of Carmen Maria Machado, demand to be read as 2018 draws to a close, and each one will speak urgently to the feminists in your life. Choose one for your sister, or your best friend, or your mum, or your infuriating coworker who's desperately in need of a thorough feminist education. And to celebrate once you're done? Buy all five for yourself.

"Your Silence Will Not Protect You" by Audre Lorde


British feminists should be familiar with Audre Lorde, who described herself as a "Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet," but this 2017 collection is the first by a British publisher to compile in one volume her major poems, essays, and speeches. Lorde's work, prefaced here by Reni Eddo-Lodge and introduced by Sara Ahmed, addresses the urgent need for intersectionality, the pernicious failure of white feminism to acknowledge the oppression of Black women, and the necessity of speaking out to effect change.

Buy Your Silence Will Not Protect You from Amazon.

"Exposure" by Olivia Sudjic


Exposure is stocking filler sized, but no less powerful as a result. After the publication of her debut novel Sympathy, author Olivia Sudjic saw her anxiety worsen to a debilitating degree. It's through the lens of this anxiety, and the various ways it's impacted by our social media age, that Sudjic explores the gendered scrutiny and depreciation inflicted on female writers.

Buy Exposure from Foyles.

"Her Body & Other Parties" by Carmen Maria Machado

A confession: I've written about Her Body & Other Parties for Bustle before. But as it's the book I've recommended perhaps more than any other this year, it seemed only right to include it here, confident as I am that any recipient will text you a week later to rhapsodise about it. Machado's short stories use horror, sci-fi, fairytale, and more to explore women's experience; they're incisive and erotic and funny and violent, and completely impossible to stop ruminating over.

Buy Her Body & Other Parties from Amazon.

"The Things I Would Tell You" by Sabrina Mahfouz (ed.)

Mahfouz compiles short stories, essays, poems and plays in this collection of writing by British Muslim women, created to dispel the narrow image of what a Muslim woman — particularly a British Muslim woman — looks and lives like," as she writes in the introduction. Two excellent places to start: Aisha Mirza details the impact of European racist oppression on the mental health of its targets in "Staying Alive Through Brexit: Racism, Mental Health and Emotional Labour," while Leila Aboulela's play "The Insider" follows the lives of the unnamed Arab characters in Camus' The Outsider.

Buy The Things I Would Tell You from Amazon.

"The Empathy Exams" by Leslie Jamison


Reading this year's The Recovering, Jamison's take on alcohol addiction and its cultural interpretation, encouraged me to revisit the essay collection that first introduced me to her extraordinary talent. In The Empathy Exams, she examines women and pain: the way we experience it, the way we make sense of it, and the way society dismisses it. For so many of the feminists in your life, it's almost certain to be a cathartic read.

Buy The Empathy Exams from Waterstones.