We’re not 100% on all the things that Emma Watson has in common with her Harry Potter character, Hermione, but one thing that we know for sure is that they both love to read. Her passion to encourage other women to read is obvious in the group that she founded, Our Shared Shelf, which was inspired by her work with UN Women as a Goodwill Ambassador. Her book picks focus on books and essays about equality and her group is a place for education and empowerment as much as an overall love of reading. If you want to keep up with all the great books she’s recommending, we’ve gathered a list of what Emma Watson reads.
“Some will make you smile, some will make you cry, others will inspire you and encourage you to rediscover yourself. One thing is for sure though: they are all BRILLIANT.”
Sex and World Peace by Valerie Hudson, Bonnie Ballif-Spanvill, Mary Caprioli and Chad Emmett
“The book reveals that so much in the state of our world: Security, prosperity, development, democracy, justice and world peace is clearly dependent on and stems from how we treat women and girls. With this highly readable and extensively researched textbook, the authors encourage a holistic view when it comes to national and international relations—the whole tree, not just the branches, but the roots.”
Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot
“Nothing is too ugly for this world, I think it’s just that people pretend not to see.”
“Our Shared Shelf’s March/April pick is Heart Berries, the touching memoir by Terese Marie Mailhot; an unapologetically honest and immensely inspiring book.”
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
“Have you had a chance to pick up a copy of Our Shared Shelf January/February book choice, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge?!”
The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler
At the time that this book came out, it was revolutionary. It created a space and a mindset in which it was normal and encouraged for women to be comfortable with their sexuality as well as to claim ownership of their bodies to prevent violence against them. Since its release and subsequent shows across the country, it has ushered in a new generation of women that are not afraid to discuss the topics broached in the book which is much more than just anatomy.
Hope Not Fear by Hassan Akkad
“We shape our societies through the stories we tell about ourselves. They connect us; melding our anxieties, hopes, memories and preoccupations. Conversely, untold stories are painful and divisive. They sit inside us and ache. Not being able to speak your truth, to be shut out of the human narrative, is nothing short of dehumanising. By articulating about what had happened to me, offering up my version of events, I am shaping my own, often brutal and apparently arbitrary experiences into something cohesive and meaningful. And I was moving towards a greater connection, the best human impulse there is.”
– Hassan Akkad, quoted by Emma
My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem
Gloria Steinem is #femalegoals and has been since she made her mark as a leader and spokeswoman for the feminist movement in the late ’60s. Her work as a columnist for New York magazine and a co-founder of Ms. magazine has certainly encapsulated challenging and life-altering moments, which are included in My Life on the Road. The places she’s been and people she’s met have all played a part in what has come to matter most in her life.
Untamed by Glennon Doyle
What kind of woman were you before the world told you who to be? In Untamed, an intimate memoir and guide to self-discovery, Doyle tells the story of how one mother decided to finally start living – for her children, and for herself. By coming to peace with her body, honoring her heartbreak, and learning to set boundaries, Doyle is able to teach us how to be brave in the ways that mean the most to us.
“MY COMPLETELY UNMISSABLE ESSENTIALS from quarantine reading – thank you Glennon Doyle!” – Emma
How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
Columnist Caitlin Moran is witty, acerbic and heartwarming in her cross between a memoir and feminist manifesto. While you may not agree with all her points within How to Be a Woman, you’re likely to be a little more confident by the last page.
We Will Not Cancel Us by Adrienne Maree Brown
“We will not cancel us. We hurt people. Of course we did, we are human.
We were traumatized/socialized away from interdependence. We learned to hide everything real, everything messy, weak, complex. We learned that fake shit hurts, but it’s acceptable. Our swallowed pain made us a piece of shit, or depressed, or untrustworthy, or paranoid, or impotent, or an egomaniac. We moved with the herd, or became isolationist and contrary, perhaps even controversial. We disappointed each other, at the level of race, gender, species…in a vast way we longed for more from us.
But we will not cancel us. Canceling is punishment, and punishment doesn’t stop the cycle of harm, not long term. Cancellation may even be counter-abolitionist…instead of prison bars we place each other in an overflowing box of untouchables – often with no trial – and strip us of past and future, of the complexity of being gifted and troubled, brilliant and broken. We will set down this punitive measure and pick each other up, leaving no traumatized person behind.” — Adrienne Maree Brown, quoted by Emma
The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson
Maggie Nelson takes a deep dive into gender identity and what truly makes a family. Though some passages come across as aggressively sexually explicit, it’s all part of her journey and evolution through her relationship with her partner as well as with herself. Nelson helps to encourage readers to dig deeper into their connections and to love harder.
The Book of Hope by Jane Goodall and Douglas Abrams
“The greatest danger to our future is apathy” – Dr. Jane Goodall
Every day is a good day to promote one of the world’s most prolific environmentalists and greatest of human beings: Jane Goodall.”
WWJD: what would Jane do?
The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel is unlike any you’ve ever read. The images and words are that of a young Iranian girl coming of age while living in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. We follow her story as she is sent to Austria for a time for her safety. Marjane sugarcoats nothing in her portrayal of her life and the terror and sexism she witnessed and ultimately survived.
Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
What begins as an English assignment for Laurel soon turns into an ongoing diary of sorts and a way of sorting out feelings she hasn’t yet come to terms with. Laurel’s sister May died at a young age but when she is tasked with writing a letter to someone who has passed, her first letter is to Kurt Cobain. She continues writing letters to dead celebrities like Heath Ledger, Amy Winehouse, Amelia Earhart and Janis Joplin. These letters to dead celebrities eventually help Laurel resolve her feelings about May’s death.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby
Imagine waking from a coma, aware of those around you as well as your circumstance but unable to speak or move. This is precisely what happened to former French Elle editor Jean-Dominique Bauby. From his hospital bed, he dictated the entire book by selecting letters by blinking one eye, which was one of the few movements he could make. How he maintained his sanity and positivity throughout this experience is nothing short of inspiring.
The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan
Marina Keegan had the world at her feet. She wrote for the Yale Daily News as a student and had written a play that was pending production. She graduated with honors and had an enviable job lined up at The New Yorker. When she passed away five days after graduation, her last contribution to the college newspaper went viral. Her collection of essays captures her essence and serves as an inspiration for readers.
Rookie Yearbook Four by Tavi Gevinson
Rookie Yearbook Four is a fun compilation of the best bits from Rookiemag.com. The website supports teenagers and the struggles and triumphs they experience. In the book, there are rants about hormones, parents and homework. Tips and tricks for writing college essays, the best music to study to, interviews and photography round out this gorgeous book.
Pleasure Activism by Adrienne Maree Brown
In Pleasure Activism, Brown highlights how engaging with politics and social justice issues can sometimes feel like work, but you can still feel good while doing so. Through a series of essays, Brown shows us how to make social justice the most pleasurable human experience, while honoring the Black feminist tradition.
“There is no way to repress pleasure and expect liberation, satisfaction, or joy.” – Adrienne Maree Brown, quoted by Emma