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An Activist’s Reading List from Virago Press

An Activist’s Reading List

By Ailah Ahmed, Editorial Director, @ailahahmed


Virago Press publishes a range of titles from historical fiction to nature writing, but it has always published a list of vital and vocal books about feminism and activism. While preparing to publish Can We All Be Feminists?  Seventeen Writers on Intersectionality, Identity and Finding the Right Way Forward for Feminism edited by June Eric-Udorie, a collection of essays about intersectional feminism, I rooted around in the Virago archives to find five essential texts that every feminist and activist should read.


Trans Like Me: A Journey for All of Us 

by CN Lester

Lester’s book covers everything from trans representation in film to scientific missteps in the treatment of gender, stories in history and current activism. It is an important text for anyone who is directly affected by these issues as well as anyone who wishes to be an ally. It is so important in the context of feminist politics too.





I Call Myself a Feminist: The View from Twenty-Five Women Under Thirty

edited by Victoria Pepe, Rachel Holmes, Amy Annette, Martha Mosse and Alice Stride

A few years ago, Virago Press published a collection of essays by twenty-five women under thirty. These essays are wide-ranging and intersectional in their views. Reni Eddo-Lodge, Laura Bates, Sofie Hagen, Yas Necati and many more offer stories, reflections and arguments about feminism today.




Vagina: A New Biography

by Naomi Wolf

The fearless cultural critic Naomi Wolf explores the vagina by way of cutting-edge science and cultural history. This is for anyone who read The Beauty Myth and who wants to understand more about their own body, mind and the culture that defines them. The New York Times called this book one of the most important books of the twentieth century.




Living Dolls

by Natasha Walter

Living Dolls was a sensation when it was first published eight years ago. It is a straight-taking examination of the gaslighting of women by a culture that defines femininity in narrow and unproductive terms. It will make you feel angry, but also hopeful about the progress we are making today.





The Guilty Feminist

by Deborah Frances-White

I am a feminist but . . .

Every woman should be able to complete this sentence. Deborah Frances-Whites’ podcast unpacked the word feminist and features some amazing guests. In this book she asks questions such as: what is a guilty feminist? What is feminism for? And how can you find your inner Michelle Obama?  It is a fun, empathetic and important book.