Her Story Arc’s Best Feminist Books of 2017

Cross-posted from: Her Story Arc
Originally published: 29.12.17

This was the year Her Story Arc became F-BOM, the Feminist Book of the Month. Not to be conceited, but we consider ourselves pretty qualified to pick a good book! Working with self-published women authors to promote their work and give them more time and money to focus on their art has been an inspiring journey, and we are so looking forward to all the readers and writers we will meet in 2018, AND all the good books we’ll get to share.

Our Winter 2018 F-BOM author partner will be announced on January 1st, and we know you’re going to love her work! But first, let’s take a look back at the best feminist books of 2017. Like last year’s list, not all of these were published in 2017, but if we read and loved them in 2017, then they count. Here we go!

Best in Graphic Novels

“Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur” by Brandon Montclare & Amy Reeder

Lunella, AKA Moon Girl, and Devil Dinosaur, on the cover of the first issue of the series

Lunella Layfayette is teased by her classmates. But she comes into her own when she teams up with Devil Dinosaur and uses her inventions to protect her city from the Killer Folk. This series is perfect for young girls. My favorite line?: “I’m the boss of my own body.” Hell yes!



Best in Mystery

Y is for Yesterday by Sue Grafton

Cover of Y is for Yesterday by Sue Grafton, with a green background and big letter Y on the front

Sue Grafton started her series in 1982 with A is for Alibi. There we meet Kinsey Millhone, a dogged, tough-as-nails private investigator. Kinsey has been a force for good in the intervening 25 novels, a character of depth who won’t fall into any Strong Female Character or Not Like Other Girls tropes.

It is with heavy hearts that we say goodbye to Sue Grafton, as she is reported to have passed away at age 77 right before we published this list. Her legacy will live on her words. Perhaps her daughter says it best in the recent NYT article:

“She was adamant that her books would never be turned into movies or TV shows, and in that same vein, she would never allow a ghost writer to write in her name. Because of all of those things, and out of the deep abiding love and respect for our dear sweet Sue, as far as we in the family are concerned, the alphabet now ends at Y.”

Best in Fantasy

Thorn by Intisar Khanani

Cover of Thorn by Intisar Khanani, the title written over a young white woman with red hair wearing a blue cloak

Yes, we’re biased! Our Fall 2017 F-BOM author partner is Intisar Khanani, and we couldn’t resist promoting her other work. If you loved Sunbolt, Thorn, a retelling of The Goose Girl, should be your next book. It features the same rich character development and tackles concepts of money, power, and class. Thorn has been picked up by HarperTeen, so expect to see it on bookshelves near you soon!

Best in Science Fiction

Derelict by LJ Cohen

The cover of Derelict by LJ Cohen, featuring Ro in a spacesuit in front of a spaceship

Derelict will never not be a favorite around here! LJ Cohen’s adventure story of four teens with different agendas trapped aboard a rogue spaceship is fun, daring, and representative of the diversity of our present and future. Check out our full review here.



Best in Short Fiction

Tor Originals: “La beauté sans vertu” by Genevieve Valentine (Illustration by Tran Nguyen)

la beaute sans vertu cover art by Tran Nguyen, featuring a young woman in fashionable clothing in a pool of water surrounded by flowers

Tor.com had more than a few powerful shorts this year, including several nominated for Hugo and Nebula awards, some of the top prizes in the SFF world. One standout to me was “La beauté sans vertu”, a critique of the fashion industry and the demands it places on young women. Best of all? You can read the full story for free here.


Best in Fiction

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Cover of Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi featuring fire and water thematic imagery

Warning: prepare to have your heart strings tugged…then ripped out. This stunning debut novel follows generation after generation of related Ghanaians. One family line is sold into slavery in America, the other lives to see Ghana transition into a modern-day nation. Despite the dangers, disappointments, and bad luck, the story is ultimately one of healing. Highly recommended!


Best in Weird

What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi

Cover of What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi, featuring a hand making shadow puppets

Oyeyemi’s work is not for everyone. In this collection of short stories, each one is weirder than the last. However, if you’re on her wavelength then you’re on it, and she is brilliant. One of my favorite commentaries on gender comes from her novel Mr. Fox. In this volume, my favorite story was “‘Sorry’ Doesn’t Sweeten Her Tea”, in which a man watches as his stepdaughter clings to denial after her favorite singer is accused of sexual assault.


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