In a world (or at least, the country I live in) that seems to be more and more accepting of sexism every day, I was so happy to read an amazing number of books with fantastic messages about women, gender equality, and tolerance/decent human respect in general this year. I can think of nothing better than for young people of any gender identity or orientation to read these books, so I'm going to give a short description of each, because I want the entire world to know these wonderful stories exist.
The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace
It's strange that I'm starting with a book of poetry, because it isn't normally what I read. Like a lot of people, I picked this book up because I follow lady bookmad on Tumblr (and now on Instagram and Twitter as well) and loved her blog so much I had to read her poetry. The book is short, deeply personal, and unabashedly feminist. It made me laugh and brought me to tears and more than anything else made me feel so damn empowered. I can't wait to read more from Amanda Lovelace.
All The Rage by Courtney Summers
This was one of the most talked about feminist YA books of the year, and deservedly so. It takes a hard and unflinching look at the problem of rape culture. At times, it was hard to read because of the ugly truths is it revealed, but it's absolutely beautiful and ultimately uplifting and I recommend it to everyone.
Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston
This story also concerns the subject of rape, but it is presented in an entirely different way and is one of the most different and original books I've read. It's also based on a Shakespeare play, and Shakespeare re-tellings always have a special place in my heart. The main thing that's different about this book is that it shows how everything can be done right in the wake of a rape. It centers around a cheerleader who is incredibly strong and well-developed and in no way a stereotype, and her amazing support system of women and men who help her after the attack. I can truly say it's one of the best books I have ever read.
After The Woods by Kim Savage
This book is about something that usually doesn't happen. A girl get abducted by a man in the woods (after sacrificing herself to save her best friend from him), and manages to come out alive. The book is about the girl's life a year later as she deals with what happened and unravels the mystery of what started it all in the first place. But the thing that made this book stand out for me was its focus on the power women have to harm each other. Mothers and daughters, best friends, and even acquaintances and strangers. It's like a cautionary tale of how not to treat your fellow woman.
Blackbird Summer by Em Shotwell
This is another book and a genre I don't normally read, since it is NA rather than YA. But it also has everything else I usually love: suspense, romance, magic, and unique setting, so I had to read it, and I'm SO glad I did. Blackbird Summer is a suspenseful mystery/thriller about misfits and underdogs in general, but at its heart it is also about some freaking strong, southern women. The story is full of richly drawn, well-developed characters, and the men are also fantastic, but the network of powerful, beautiful women who stick together and help each other was one of my favorite parts. I can't recommend it enough and I can't wait for the sequel.
So what are some books with great messages about women you've read this year? I can never get my hands on enough. And, more than anything, I hope the books I write fall into this category as well.