Best books and podcasts for the month of October
The following list is a collection of book and podcast recommendations from The F-Word members. We hope that there’s something on the list for everyone, whether you want an epic fantasy, a feminist podcast, or something to get you in the mood for Spooky Season!
If you want… Sci-Fi
Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler
If you haven’t read Parable of the Sower yet — or it’s been awhile since you revisited the Earthseed duology — now is the time. An incredibly jarring and nearly prophetic look at what could happen in the United States if we continue to ignore mounting social and environmental crises, Parable of the Sower urges all who read it to embrace change… or risk extinction.
If you want… Mythology Retellings
Circe, Madeline Miller
This book was one of the highlights of 2018. Miller rewrites some of the events of Homer’s Odyssey from the perspective of Circe, the witch who Odysseus and his men encounter on the island Aeaea. Miller takes on the classic tale, prefaces it with Circe’s backstory, and writes through a feminist lens, transforming the character from a mythological villian to a misunderstood and sympathetic heroine.
If you want… Fantasy Adventures
Alanna: The First Adventure, Tamora Pierce
In Alanna: The First Adventure, a young girl impersonates her twin brother in order to become a knight. Published in the early 1980s, it paved the way for traditional young adult books with female protagonists that are just as capable as their male counterparts. Alanna is a hallmark of feminist fantasy, filled with magic, sword fights, and friendships.
If you want… Something Spooky~
We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Shirley Jackson
Witchcraft, poison, murder, and a looming Gothic house: Shirley Jackson’s 1962 novel is both the perfect subtle, spine-tingling horror to end October, and a nuanced look into small town mob mentality. Its words and images—the haunting voice of precarious 18-year-old narrator Merricat—have the power to pop into your head at the most unexpected times.
If you want… Classic Literature
Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
Charlotte Brontë originally wrote her seminal novel under the pseudonym Currer Bell, for fear that her novel wouldn’t have any success if readers knew it was written by a woman. Her novel, a Bildungsroman of the eponymous Jane Eyre, follows Jane as she grows from an orphaned student to a governess for the mysterious Edward Rochester. This book is great for both those looking for a classic work of literature and those who want a gothic romance.
If you want… Poetry
The Collected Works of Emily Dickinson, Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson’s poetry has captured audiences for decades, but most of her work was published posthumously. Here, you can really see the internality of her works and you get the sense that she wrote every piece for herself, essentially. Her poems are honest and beautiful, and reading them almost feels like invading someone’s most private thoughts.
If you want… a Doomsday/Pandemic/Handmaid’s Tale
The Book of the Unnamed Midwife, Meg Ellison
This book is a wild ride in science fiction. There’s a pandemic that has about a 98% fatality rate in men, and a near 100% fatality rate for women. A woman who survives the pandemic dresses as a man to keep herself safe from atrocious things that are happening. Some themes this novel explores: the choice to give birth or not; toxic masculinity in the ways that the woman tries to pass as a man to stay safe; and the contrast of a reverse harem versus sexual slavery of women since there are so few women left.
If you want… a Podcast!
A funny medical history podcast with Dr. Sydnee McElroy and her comedian husband! They have great extra-feminist episodes covering topics like about Vagina Shaming, Dr. Joycelyn Elders, and recent episodes on racism in the medical field.
My Favorite Murder is a true crime comedy podcast, hosted by American comedians Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark. This is a really fun podcast by two women that talk about different murder stories throughout history!