International Women’s Day can often be co-opted by the girl bosses of the world, focusing on remaking capitalism in a woman’s image. In contrast to this, I want to offer 12 book recommendations for learning more about intersectional approaches to injustice. These books cover a vast array of issues, including the climate crisis, racism, abolition, mental health, and class, in order to provide a more well-rounded understanding of what true justice and liberation look like.
I hope you enjoy, and find some new reading to explore in this list!
The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House, by Audre Lorde
From the self-described ‘black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet’, these soaring, urgent essays on the power of women, poetry and anger are filled with darkness and light.
Abolition. Feminism. Now. by Angela Y. Davis, Gina Dent, Erica Meiners, and Beth Richie
In this landmark work, four of the world’s leading scholar-activists issue an urgent call for a truly intersectional, internationalist, abolitionist feminism.
This book shows abolitionism and feminism stand shoulder-to-shoulder in fighting a common cause: the end of the carceral state, with its key role in perpetuating violence, both public and private, in prisons, in police forces, and in people’s homes. Abolitionist theories and practices are at their most compelling when they are feminist; and a feminism that is also abolitionist is the most inclusive and persuasive version of feminism for these times.
Ain’t I a Woman, by bell hooks
In this classic study, cultural critic bell hooks examines how black women, from the seventeenth century to the present day, were and are oppressed by both white men and black men and by white women.
Illustrating her analysis with moving personal accounts, Ain’t I a Woman is deeply critical of the racism inherent in the thought of many middle-class white feminists who have failed to address issues of race and class.
While acknowledging the conflict of loyalty to race or sex is still a dilemma, hooks challenges the view that race and gender are two separate phenomena, insisting that the struggles to end racism and sexism are inextricably intertwined.
Feminism, Interrupted: Disrupting Power, by Lola Olufemi
Plastered over t-shirts and tote bags, the word ‘feminist’ has entered the mainstream and is fast becoming a popular slogan for our generation. But feminism isn’t a commodity up for purchase; it’s a weapon for fighting against injustice.
This revolutionary book reclaims feminism from consumerism through exploring state violence against women, reproductive justice, transmisogyny, sex work, gendered Islamophobia and much more, showing that the struggle for gendered liberation is a struggle for justice, one that can transform the world for everybody.
The Transgender Issue: An Argument for Justice, by Shon Faye
Trans people in Britain today have become a culture war ‘issue’. Despite making up less than one per cent of the country’s population, they are the subjects of a toxic and increasingly polarized ‘debate’ which generates reliable controversy for newspapers and talk shows. This media frenzy conceals a simple fact: that we are having the wrong conversation, a conversation in which trans people themselves are reduced to a talking point and denied a meaningful voice.
In this powerful new book, Shon Faye reclaims the idea of the ‘transgender issue’ to uncover the reality of what it means to be trans in a transphobic society. In doing so, she provides a compelling, wide-ranging analysis of trans lives from youth to old age, exploring work, family, housing, healthcare, the prison system and trans participation in the LGBTQ+ and feminist communities, in contemporary Britain and beyond.
The Transgender Issue is a manifesto for change and a call for justice and solidarity between all marginalised people and minorities. Trans liberation, as Faye sees it, goes to the root of what our society is and what it could be; it offers the possibility of a more just, free and joyful world for all of us.
Freedom Is a Constant Struggle, by Angela Y. Davis
In these collected essays, interviews, and speeches, world-renowned activist and scholar Angela Y. Davis illuminates the connections between struggles against state violence and oppression throughout history and around the world.
Reflecting on the importance of black feminism, intersectionality, and prison abolitionism for today’s struggles, Davis discusses the legacies of previous liberation struggles, from the Black Freedom Movement to the South African anti-Apartheid movement. She highlights connections and analyses today’s struggles against state terror, from Ferguson to Palestine.
Facing a world of outrageous injustice, Davis challenges us to imagine and build the movement for human liberation. And in doing so, she reminds us that “Freedom is a constant struggle.”
Bad Feminist, by Roxane Gay
In these funny and insightful essays, Roxane Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman (Sweet Valley High) of colour (The Help) while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years (Girls, Django in Chains) and commenting on the state of feminism today (abortion, Chris Brown).
The portrait that emerges is not only one of an incredibly insightful woman continually growing to understand herself and our society, but also one of our culture.
Bad Feminist is a sharp, funny and sincere look at the ways in which the culture we consume becomes who we are, and an inspiring call-to-arms of all the ways we still need to do better.
Hood Feminism, by Mikki Kendall
Today’s feminist movement has a glaring blind spot, and paradoxically, it is women. Mainstream feminists rarely talk about meeting basic needs as a feminist issue, argues Mikki Kendall, but food insecurity, access to quality education, safe neighbourhoods, a living wage, and medical care are all feminist issues. All too often, however, the focus is not on basic survival for the many, but on increasing privilege for the few. Moreover, prominent white feminists broadly suffer from their own myopia with regard to how things like race, class, sexual orientation, and ability intersect with gender. How can we stand in solidarity as a movement, Kendall asks, when there is the distinct likelihood that some women are oppressing others?
In her searing collection of essays, Mikki Kendall takes aim at the legitimacy of the modern feminist movement, arguing that it has chronically failed to address the needs of all but a few women. Drawing on her own experiences with hunger, violence, and hypersexualization, along with incisive commentary on reproductive rights, politics, pop culture, the stigma of mental health, and more, Hood Feminism delivers an irrefutable indictment of a movement in flux. An unforgettable debut, Kendall has written a ferocious clarion call to all would-be feminists to live out the true mandate of the movement in thought and in deed.
Hope in the Dark, by Rebecca Solnit
At a time when political, environmental and social gloom can seem overpowering, this book offers a lucid, affirmative and well-argued case for hope.
Hope in the Dark traces a history of activism and social change over the past five decades – from the fall of the Berlin Wall, to the worldwide marches against the war in Iraq. It’s a paean to optimism in the uncertainty of the twenty-first century. Tracing the footsteps of the last century’s thinkers – including Woolf, Gandhi, Borges, Benjamin and Havel – Solnit conjures a timeless vision of cause and effect that will light our way through the dark, and lead us to profound and effective political engagement.
This Changes Everything, by Naomi Klein
Forget everything you think you know about global warming. It’s not about carbon – it’s about capitalism. The good news is that we can seize this existential crisis to transform our failed economic system and build something radically better.
Klein exposes the myths that are clouding the climate debate.
You have been told the market will save us, when in fact the addiction to profit and growth is digging us in deeper every day. You have been told it’s impossible to get off fossil fuels when in fact we know exactly how to do it – it just requires breaking every rule in the “free-market” playbook: reining in corporate power, rebuilding local economies and reclaiming our democracies.
You have also been told that humanity is too greedy and selfish to rise to this challenge. In fact, all around the world, the fight back for the next economy is already succeeding in ways both surprising and inspiring.
(Releasing soon – available to pre-order!)
It’s Not That Radical, by Mikaela Loach
For too long, representations of climate action in the mainstream media have been white-washed, green-washed and diluted to be made compatible with capitalism.
We are living in an economic system which pursues profit above all else; harmful, oppressive systems that heavily contribute to the climate crisis, and environmental consequences that have been toned down to the masses. Tackling the climate crisis requires us to visit the roots of poverty, capitalist exploitation, police brutality and legal injustice. Climate justice offers the real possibility of huge leaps towards racial equality and collective liberation as it aims to dismantle the very foundations of these issues.
In this book, Mikaela Loach offers a fresh and radical perspective for real climate action that could drastically change the world as we know it for the benefit of us all. Written with candour and hope, It’s Not That Radical will galvanise readers to take action, offering an accessible and transformative appraisal of our circumstances to help mobilise a majority for the future of our planet.
It’s Not Just You, by Tori Tsui
The term ‘eco-anxiety’ has been popularised as a way to talk about the negative impact of the climate emergency on our wellbeing. In It’s Not Just You, activist Tori Tsui reframes eco-anxiety as the urgent mental health crisis it clearly is.
Drawing on the wisdom of environmental advocates from around the globe, Tori looks to those on the frontlines of eco-activism to demonstrate that the current climate-related mental health struggle goes beyond the climate itself. Instead, it is a struggle that encompasses many injustices and is deeply entrenched in systems such as racism, sexism, ableism and, above all, capitalism.
Because of this, climate injustice disproportionately affects most marginalised communities, who are often excluded from narratives on mental health. Tori argues that we can only begin to tackle both the climate and mental health crisis by diversifying our perspectives and prioritising community-led practices. In essence, reminding us that It’s Not Just You.
Tackling this increasingly urgent crisis requires looking both inwards and outwards, embracing individuality over individualism and championing climate justice. Only then can we start to build better futures for both people and the planet.