Our World Book Day picks: Unleash your feminist rage with these must-reads!

Our World Book Day picks: Unleash your feminist rage with these must-reads!

“I occupy the space of a ‘Black African Happy Feminist’ because writers like Aidoo came before me. Her storytelling nurtured mine, and her worldview enlarged and validated mine. I feel a deep gratitude to her for her writing and her wisdom.” – Chimamanda Adichie on Ama Ata Aidoo

Books open doors to extraordinary worlds. We live countless lives through their pages, exploring diverse experiences and perspectives. World Book Day honours those who weave these transformative tales that broaden our minds and deepen our understanding. Whether they whisk us away into fiction or deepen our grasp of reality through nonfiction, books invite us to escape into the vast potential of human experience.

This World Book Day, dive into our curated selection of five powerful books designed to ignite your feminist spirit and inspire profound change.

The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare 

“My head been stoning my mind with many questions since this morning, questions that are not having answers. What is it meaning, to be the wife of a man with two wifes and four childrens?”

MCN World Book Day - feminist writing - The Girl With the Louding Voice Via Goodreads
The Girl With the Louding Voice Via Goodreads

In Abi Dare’s captivating novel, “Girl with the Louding Voice,” we meet Adunni, a fourteen-year-old Nigerian girl brimming with ambition but trapped in poverty. Education is her ultimate desire, a path to finding her “louding voice” – the power to speak up for herself and carve her destiny. However, harsh reality sets in when her family is forced to sell her into servitude as a maid for a wealthy Lagos family.

Despite facing exploitation and drudgery, Adunni’s spirit remains unbroken. She embarks on a clandestine mission to secure her education. With unwavering determination, she stashes away meagre earnings, grasps stolen moments to learn to read and write with the help of a kind chef, and even dares to apply for a scholarship program.  “Girl with the Louding Voice” transcends Adunni’s personal struggle. It paints a vivid picture of social injustice and the limitations placed on girls in Nigerian society. Yet, it’s ultimately a story of resilience and the transformative power of education. Adunni’s fight becomes a beacon of hope, inspiring not just herself but also other girls yearning to break free from the cycle of poverty and powerlessness.

Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay

“It’s hard to be told to lighten up because if you lighten up any more, you’re going to float the fuck away.”

MCN World Book Day - feminist writing - Bad Feminist
Bad Feminist via Goodreads

Roxane Gay’s “Bad Feminist” defies the expectations of classic feminist writing.  This collection of essays takes a personal approach to current feminism, embracing its complexity and appreciating the messy experience of becoming a feminist.  In this book, Roxanne Gay investigates tensions within the movement, examines pop culture’s representation of women, and dives into the nexus of feminism, ethnicity, body image, and seemingly non-feminist interests. “Bad Feminist” is a call to open conversation and a celebration of nuanced feminism that aims to create a more equitable and humane society for everyone.

The First Woman by Jennifer Makumbi

“Because only a woman knows how to love a woman properly.”

The First Woman Via Amazon

In “The First Woman” by Jennifer Makumbi, we journey to rural Uganda with Kirabo, a curious and headstrong young girl. Raised by her grandparents after her mother’s unexplained departure, Kirabo deeply longs to understand why she was absent.  As she navigates adolescence, the unanswered questions surrounding her mother become a constant ache.

Fueled by a desire for answers and a yearning for connection, Kirabo seeks out Nsuuta, the village witch.  Through Nsuuta’s stories and cryptic pronouncements, Kirabo delves into the village’s rich folklore, particularly the haunting legend of “The First Woman.”

The novel weaves together personal exploration and cultural heritage. As Kirabo uncovers her family’s secrets and the whispers surrounding her mother, she also grapples with the expectations placed on young women in her community. “The First Woman” is a coming-of-age story that explores themes of family, identity, and the power of storytelling. It celebrates female strength and resilience against the backdrop of Ugandan tradition and the complexities of family dynamics.

Tomorrow I Become A Woman by Aiwanose Odafen

“I’d even made sure to dress rebelliously – my skirt was an inch above the acceptable length, and my makeup was more heavy-handed than usual.”

MCN World Book Day - feminist writing - Tomorrow I Become A Woman
Tomorrow I Become A Woman via Ouida Books

In “Tomorrow I Become a Woman” by Aiwanose Odafen, we follow Uju, a Nigerian woman, as she navigates the challenging terrain between societal expectations and her personal aspirations. In her community, women are pressured to prioritise marriage and motherhood over education and career. Uju feels torn between following this traditional path and pursuing her own dreams. Despite her mother’s reinforcement of societal norms, Uju desires a different future that allows her more freedom and fulfilment.

The novel also explores the theme of sacrifice in relationships, highlighting the expectation for women to prioritise their families’ needs over their happiness. Uju grapples with this pressure, facing an internal conflict as she navigates her role within her family and community. However, she finds strength and support in her friendships with other women, which serve as a source of solidarity against societal expectations. “Tomorrow I Become a Woman” ultimately celebrates the resilience of women in challenging patriarchal norms and emphasises the importance of female empowerment and friendship in redefining womanhood.

The Teller of Secrets by Bisi Adjapon 

“I lower my back onto the cool vinyl floor and remove my drawers. Then I draw up my knees and slip the mirror between my thighs. I gape at the ripe pawpaw colour. I must be careful how I touch it because everything seems so delicate. The door snaps open. Sister Yaa looms up. My hands attempt a quick cover-up.”

MCN World Book Day - feminist writing - The Teller Of Secrets
The Teller Of Secrets via Good Reads

Bisi Adjapon’s “The Teller of Secrets” follows Esi Agyekum, a young woman in 1960s Ghana, on a journey of feminist awakening. Witnessing the stark contrast between how men and women are treated, particularly regarding sexuality and family secrets, Esi starts questioning societal norms. The novel explores how Esi breaks free from the traditional role of women as silent keepers of secrets and finds her voice to challenge these injustices. Through Esi’s struggle, “The Teller of Secrets” celebrates female empowerment and the fight for a society with less gender bias.

Second Class Citizen by Buchi Emecheta 

“She had gambled with marriage, just like most people, but she had gambled unluckily and had lost.”

Second Class Citizen via Google Books

“Second Class Citizen” by Buchi Emecheta portrays Adah, a Nigerian woman determined to pursue education and independence despite societal barriers. Raised in a culture that restricts opportunities for girls, Adah defies norms by attending school in secret. However, her aspirations clash with tradition when she marries Francis, a man who expects her to conform to traditional gender roles. Adah’s journey is resilient as she grapples with her husband’s controlling nature and societal pressures, finding solace in work and financial independence. While her path is fraught with internal conflict and sacrifices, Adah’s defiance against oppressive structures resonates, showcasing the complexities of navigating womanhood in a patriarchal society.

Through Adah’s story, Emecheta sheds light on the struggles faced by women in a system that undervalues their ambitions and agency. Despite the challenges, Adah’s resilience and determination to carve her path serve as a powerful testament to the fight for liberation and self-discovery. “Second Class Citizen” is not just a narrative of feminist triumph but also a nuanced exploration of the complexities of female oppression and the enduring spirit of those who dare to defy societal limitations. It invites readers to contemplate the power of resilience and the pursuit of agency in the face of adversity, leaving a lasting impression about the strength of the human spirit.

Feminist writing continues to light the way

There you have it! Celebrate World Book Day by diving into these six essential reads that capture the essence of feminist writing. These books tackle crucial societal issues and vividly illustrate the battles women face for autonomy and equality. They provide a profound understanding of the feminist movement, exploring everything from personal struggles to monumental victories.

These works are more than just books; they are tools to dismantle the confinements of a patriarchal society. Whether you’re new to feminist literature or looking to deepen your understanding, these selections will challenge and reshape your views on gender, society, and power structures. Ready for an emotional journey that stirs anger and inspiration? These books are your gateway.

Have you explored any of these transformative works? If not, are they on your reading list? And if you have, which one sparked the feminist fire within you? Share your thoughts and recommendations in the comments below!


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