"... first comes the fact of exploitation; then come various kinds of oppression to keep the exploited weak, miserable (and busy), and hence exploitable. Then (both logically and chronologically) comes the ideology that justifies the oppression and the exploitation in order to pacify the consciences of the exploiters and to muddle the common sense of the exploited, thus mystifying the situation of exploitation and oppression so that the exploited will accept it as natural, God-given, nobody's fault, morally correct, and inevitable."

-- Joana Russ, What Are We Fighting For?

For now the recommended books are all written by women. That may change. Or not. Since the recommendation list is getting quite long, the latest additions have a new behind them. Otherwise the books are sorted alphabetically by the author's last name.

I've decided to also add books not written in English. For simplicity those are listed with their original titles, no matter whether I've read them in the original language or in a translated version.


Kate Allen, Tell Me What You Like

ReBecca Béguin, Torrid Zone

ReBecca Béguin, Hers Was The Sky

Sarah Dreher, Stoner McTavish

Carol O'Connell, Mallory's Oracle

J.M.Redmann, The Intersection of Law and Desire

Barbara Wilson, Murder in the Collective

Science Fiction

Eleanor Arnason, A Woman of the Iron People

Octavia E. Butler, Kindred
Dana, a modern black woman, finds herself abruptly on a plantation in the ante-bellum South. Again and again she is drawn back to protect Rufus, the son of a plantation owner and the father of one of Dana's ancestors. But her stays are getting longer and more dangerous each time...

Jeanne Cavelos, The Passing of the Techno-Mages new
This Babylon 5 trilogy is far better than the usual tv tie-in fare, and everybody who liked B5 should give these a try. At first I was sceptical, because techno-mages weren't among my favorite things in the B5 universe, and what we saw of Galen on Crusade did little to change that, but after I got a glimpse of the techno-mage and shadow-tech background when reading the unproduced Crusade scripts, I was curious enough to try. And Jeanne Cavelos didn't disappoint. This trilogy made the techno-mages become a truly integral part of the B5 universe for me, and gave them and especially Galen a depth that I hadn't expected. And it made me even sadder than before that Crusade was canceled before it really started.

Suzette Haden Elgin, Native Tongue
In a future where the 19th Amendment has been repealed based on "scientific" evidence for male supremacy, women are once again denied civil rights. Earth's wealth is based on interplanetary trade which depends on the skill of the linguist families, who are powerful but isolated and hated by the general population. But the women linguists are determined to change reality through language, through the women's language Láadan...

I liked both this book and its sequel Native Tongue II: The Judas Rose, but the third Native Tongue III: Earthsong was much weaker, it almost completely abandoned the language issues surrounding Láadan and its narration was hard to follow as it jumped between the times and characters.

Nicola Griffith, Ammonite

Nicola Griffith, Slow River
She awoke in an alley to the splash of rain. She was naked, a foot-long gash in her back was still bleeding, and her identity implant was gone. Lore van de Oest was the daughter of one of the world's most powerful families ... and now she was nobody.

Ursula LeGuin, The Left Hand of Darkness
It's the story of the planet Winter, which is Earth-like. Except that it is artic and there are no genders...

Marge Piercy, Woman on the Edge of Time
Connie Ramos is living in the slums of New York. After being knocked out during her attempt to protect her niece from a pimp, she awakes in a mental hospital. There she sees Luciente, who claims to come from the future. Connie is torn between her violent reality and Luciente's utopian humane future. But this future is threatened by Connie's present...

Pamela Sargent (ed.), Women of Wonder, the Contemporary Years
Anthology with Science Fiction by Women from the 1970s to th 1990s

Janine Ellen Young, The Bridge new
It's a story about the first contact with an alien species. It happens differently than most ever thought, though: Not radio waves or humanoid visitors but a message of contact and understanding in form of a virus. Only the aliens eager to find other life never imagined to find a species for whom a virus was not communication through the exchange of genetic material, but meant illness and death. And so it starts with the end of the old world, with the Pandemic during which more than 90% of humanity are infected, billions die, and whose survivors are left with bits and pieces of the message, with images of a distant star system, strange space-bound creatures, and the desire to build the other half of the 'bridge' the aliens began, that is those of the survivors, who don't descend into madness, unable to cope with the strange knowledge planted in their brains.

Other Fiction

Julia Alvarez, In the Time of the Butterflies
This novel is a blend of fact and fiction, inspired by the story of the Mirabal sisters who, in 1960, were murdered by the Dominican Trujillo regime.

Carol Anshaw, Aquamarine
Aquamarine explores the 'what if?' questions of Jesse Austin's life, after the pivotal moment when she won the silver medal for the hundred-meter freestyle in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. That she lost the gold medal to Marty Finch haunts her in all the futures, but based on the choices she made afterwards we see three alternate versions of her life 22 years later, which are very different and yet similar in fundamental ways, and we get a more complete picture of Jesse's character than just one life story could provide. Three scenarios, all equally plausible, whether she is living in her small Missouri home town as a real estate agent, married and pregnant with a late first child, living in N.Y.C. as a literature professor in a relationship with an actress, or divorced managing a swim academy in Venus Beach Florida, show how different our lives could be, the alternate versions of ourselves that could have been with just one different turn in the past.

Margaret Atwood, Alias Grace

May Ayim, blues in schwarz weiss

Rebecca Brown, Annie Oakley's girl
Short stories.

Antonia Byatt, Possession

Antonia Byatt, The Conjugial Angel

Chrystos, In Her I Am

Emma Donoghue, Stir-fry

Emma Donoghue, Hood

Leslie Feinberg, Stone Butch Blues

Caeia March, Three Ply Yarn

Caeia March, The Hide and Seek Files

Toni Morrison, Beloved

Marie Redonnet, Splendid Hôtel
It's a tale of decay, of the futile battle to defend the hotel against an encroaching swamp. It's full of haunting yet beautiful imagery and language.

Anna Seghers, Transit
Marseille 1940, thousands of refugees try desperately to escape from the continent and the German fascists, waiting and hoping for visas in midst of bureaucratic nightmares erected by the countries' authorities to keep the refugees at bay.

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
Why recommend a classic, that everybody has heard of already? Well, as is obvious from my other recs, I usually prefer modern fiction, so when I first read Frankenstein I was surprised how much I liked it, and how much it also differed from the popular Frankenstein images I had in mind, and because of which I expected not a lot from it. But it is much more interesting, and so I'd like to encourage everyone who hasn't already read it, to give this book a try on its own terms.

Carol Shields, Swann

Yoko Tawada, Opium für Ovid. Ein Kopfkissenbuch von 22 Frauen.

Alice Walker, Her Blue Body Everything We Know

Barbara Wilson, If You Had a Family

Jeanette Winterson, Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit

Christa Wolf, Störfall. Nachrichten eines Tages.
Störfall is written as stream of consciousness, the shock and thoughts about Chernobyl are interwoven with the narrator's waiting for news of her brother's surgery, thoughts about humanity, mythology and science. The result is intense and it is my favorite fictional reaction to Chernobyl, which I couldn't comprehend as a kid, when it happened, but felt its impact nonetheless.


Audre Lorde, Zami. A New Spelling of My Name

Ruth Lewin Sime, Lise Meitner. A Life in Physics


Books about Feminism & Science are recommended on that page, not here.

Joana Russ, What Are We Fighting For? Sex, Race, Class, and the Future of Feminism.
The title sums it up pretty good. It's a very readable overview of feminist issues and a thorough critique of those mainstream feminist positions which forget how patriarchy and capitalism are interdependent oppressive systems in favor of psychological issues. It is a personal book with a unique style and has an extensive bibliography for further reading.