Emma Watson Announces Her Feminist Book Club's First Selection – And We Have 5 More Recommendations

Sophia Bush is already a member

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Everyone, clear some space on your bookshelves – Emma Watson‘s feminist book club, Our Shared Shelf, has chosen its first book. “It’s official – ‘Our Shared Shelf’ is up and running. First book – My Life on the Road,” Watson tweeted Friday, referring to Gloria Steinem s 2015 memoir.

After the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador tweeted on Wednesday that she wants to start a feminist book club, all chill was lost. Sophia Bush responded almost immediately with “yes please. In” – our exact reaction, too – and singer Kate Voegele, British YouTuber Tanya Burr, Abby Wambach and thousands of fans expressed their excitement. Bush even started suggesting names, including “We for She,” “She for She” and “fEMMAnism.”

While we may not have any name suggestions that rival Bush’s wordplay, we do have a few reading recommendations for Watson to consider after we all finish My Life on the Road. From philosophical meditations on second-wave feminism to poetry on black womanhood, here are five works that are absolute must reads. From philosophical meditations on second-wave feminism to poetry on black womanhood, here are five works that are absolute must reads.

1. The Second Sex (Le Deuxième Sexe), Simone de Beauvoir (1949)

Unlike her contemporary Jean-Paul Sartre, the Parisian existential philosopher had an extraordinary literary talent, an ability to weave her ideas into vibrant, essential narratives. Her most-known work, the 1949 treatise is at once literary and rigorously philosophical in its exploration of feminism and the social construction of womanhood. Her thesis? “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.” Another quote that still rings painfully true: “No one is more arrogant toward women, more aggressive or scornful, than the man who is anxious about his virility.”

2. Sister Outsider, Audre Lorde (1984)

Lorde is the authority on intersectionality – the crucial ways in which identities (race, gender, sexuality) converge. The work features fifteen of Lorde’s essays and speeches, written from 1976 and 1984, that broaden feminism into something bigger and better – an overarching philosophy that makes space for all women, not just straight white women of a certain class.

She writes: “You do not have to be me in order for us to fight alongside each other. I do not have to be you to recognize that our wars are the same. What we must do is commit ourselves to some future that can include each other and to work toward that future with the particular strengths of our individual identities. And in order to do this, we must allow each other our differences at the same time as we recognize our sameness.”

3. Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, Carrie Brownstein (2015)

Now, for something a bit less intellectual. The Portlandia star recounts her time playing in what is widely considered one of the greatest rock bands of all time, Sleater-Kinney. While not an overtly feminist work, Brownstein’s exploration of being a woman in rock – and the fact that “woman in rock” is still something we say – is doubly effective when put to the narrative of her climb through the Pacific Northwest rock scene. And this is all while dealing with sexist, condescending reviews, like this one from the Washington Post about a Sleater-Kinney concert: “Fortunately, their frequent lyrical challenges to gender roles didn’t devolve into rote male-bashing … It helped that the three were quick with smiles.”

4. Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay (2014)

The sharp, funny book of essays arrives at the heart of what it means to identify as a feminist – and how to deal when you’re not a perfect one. (Spoiler alert: It’s fine.) “I embrace the label of bad feminist because I am human. I am messy. I’m not trying to be an example. I am not trying to be perfect. I am not trying to say I have all the answers. I am not trying to say I m right. I am just trying – trying to support what I believe in, trying to do some good in this world, trying to make some noise with my writing while also being myself.”

5. The Venus Hottentot, Elizabeth Alexander (1990)

Alexander is one of America’s most essential poets (and, full disclosure, my most brilliant professor in college). Her debut work of poems dives deep into the psyches of historical black figures, including Saartjie Baartman, an African woman known as “the Venus Hottentot” who was exhibited at carnival sideshows in London and Paris before she died at 25. Alexander explores society’s objectifying gaze upon bodies of color through stunning, deeply affecting poetry.

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