To celebrate Feminist Book Fortnight this year we are bringing back the Selected Twenty!

The concept of the Selected Twenty was introduced as part of Feminist Book Fortnight (FBF) which first ran in 1984. Every year, twenty books were chosen by an independent panel of booksellers and librarians ‘which best represent the range and strength of feminist books’ published in a given year (Spare Rib 155: 43). Find out more about the history of the fortnight and the selected twenty here.

This year we have made our own list with some of the books we really wanted to champion. Selecting just twenty titles to highlight was an enormous challenge and our choices are necessarily subjective. You can read about our selection process in the full selected twenty catalogue available here.

Read on to find out what made it onto our list.


a woman of pleasure

Kiyoko Murata | Footnote Press

In 1903 Aoi Ichi is sold to the most exclusive brothel in Kumamoto, Japan. She soon begins to push back against the brothel's rigid hierarchy. As rumours of local worker strikes grow, Ichi wonders how the courtesans might redistribute the power and wealth of the brothels among themselves.

every smile you fake

Dorothy Koomson | Headline Publishing

Profiler and therapist Kez Lanyon is shocked when she finds a baby on the backseat of her car, with an unsigned note asking her to take care of him. If the internet rumours are true, the mother’s life could be in real danger. Should Kez risk her whole family to save this young woman?

edge of here

Kelechi Okafor | Orion Publishing

Enter a world very close to our own, where technology can allow you to explore a raft of new possibilities. Combining the ancient and the ultramodern, these stories examine contemporary Black womanhood, asking about the way we live now and offering a glimpse into our near future.

evil eye

Etaf Rum | Harpercollins Publishers

Raised in a conservative Palestinian family in Brooklyn, Yara thought she would finally feel free when she married. Yet as her carefully constructed world begins to implode, she must face up to the difficulties of her childhood and the impact not just on her own future, but that of her daughters too.

my work

Olga Ravn | Lolli Editions

After giving birth, Anna is utterly lost. She and her family move to the unfamiliar, snowy city of Stockholm. Anxiety threatens to completely engulf her, as she obsessively devours online news and compulsively buys clothes she can't afford. To evade depression, Anna forces herself to read and write.

pleasure beach

Helen Palmer | Prototype Publishing

Written in multiple voices and styles, Pleasure Beach follows the interconnecting journeys and thoughts of three young women in Blackpool over the course of 24 hours and over 18 chapters, which are structured and themed in the same way as Homer’s Odyssey and James Joyce’s Ulysses.

split tooth

Tanya Tagaq | And Other Stories

An Inuk girl grows up in Nunavut, Canada, in the 1970s. She knows the tedium of the everyday world, and the raw, amoral power of the ice and sky, the seductive energy of the animal world. She knows the ravages of alcohol, and violence at the hands of those she should be able to trust.

truth & dare

So Mayer | Cipher Press

A queer quantum tour through what was, what is, what could have been and may yet still come to pass, in a collection that braids high-wire believe-it-or-not memoir with cutting-edge science fiction (or is it?) from alternate timelines that vibrate very close to ours. Truth or dare? Both, always.

the fifth wound

Aurora Mattia | Nightboat Books

A baroque work of intimate myth exploring one woman’s interdimensional search for beauty and embodiment. In one dimension, a love story. In another, multiple traumatic encounters with transphobic violence, while on another, a story of ecstatic visionary experience swirls and sparkles.

the night alphabet

Joelle Taylor | Quercus Publishing

Jones' body is covered in tattoos but she wants to add one final inking to her gallery: a thin line of ink mixed with blood that connects her body art together, creating a unique map. She tells the tattooists the story behind them: each one represents a doorway to a life she fell into, a 'remembering'.


abortion beyond the law

Naomi Braine | Verso Books

Drawing on years of research with activists around the world, sociologist Naomi Braine describes the strategies, politics, and tactics of direct action feminists: bringing abortion pills, information, and support to make safe, accessible abortion care available against the odds.

disobedient bodies

Emma Dabiri | Wellcome Collection

For too long, beauty has been entangled in the forces of patriarchy and capitalism. We need to find a way to do beauty differently. This radical, deeply personal and empowering essay points to ways we can all embrace our unruly beauty and enjoy our magnificent, disobedient bodies.

electric dreams

Heather Parry | 404 Ink

Why are sex robots such a hot topic? Electric Dreams picks apart the forces that posit sex robots as either the solution to our problems or a real threat to human safety, and looks at what's being pushed aside for us to obsess about something that will never happen.

Mad World

Micha Frazer-Carroll | Pluto Press

Exploring the history of asylums and psychiatry; disability justice, queer liberation and mental health; art and creativity; prisons and abolition; and alternative models of care; Mad World is a radical and hopeful antidote to pathologisation, gatekeeping and the policing of imagination.


N.S. Nuseibeh | Canongate Books

Nuseibeh delves into the experience of being an Arab woman today and in the distant past. Her journey takes her from superheroes and the glorification of violence to the rise of Arab feminism, to what courage looks like in the context of interminable conflict.

ordinary notes

Christina Sharpe | Daunt Books

In a series of 248 notes that gather meaning as we read them, Sharpe skilfully weaves artefacts from the past, public relics alongside others that are poignantly personal, with present realities and possible futures, intricately constructing an immersive portrait of everyday Black existence.

seeing for ourselves

Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan | Hajar Press

Manzoor-Khan records her observations from the stands at the dizzying circus of being seen and unseen. Submitting to the gaze of the Unseen and the All-Seeing, she invites us to close our eyes and discover what it would mean to look with our souls instead.

she who struggles

Marral Shamshiri & Sorcha Thomson | Pluto Press

She Who Struggles sets the record straight, revealing how women have contributed to revolutionary movements across the world. Through exclusive interviews and original historical research, readers are introduced to largely unknown revolutionary women from across the globe.

the view from down here

Lucy Webster | DK

Women's lives are shaped by sexism and expectations. Disabled people's lives are shaped by ableism and a lack of expectations. What happens when you're subjected to both? Lucy Webster looks at life at the intersection; the struggles, the joys and the unseen realities of being a disabled woman.

who's afraid of gender?

Judith Butler | Penguin

From one of the most influential thinkers of our time, an enlightening, essential account of how a fear of gender is fuelling reactionary politics around the world. Who's Afraid of Gender? is a galvanizing call to make a broad coalition with all those who struggle for equality and fight injustice.

Our Selected Twenty Titles

We would love to hear your thoughts! Do you agree with our Selected Twenty decisions? What titles would make it onto your list?

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