Beyonce's Favorite Books Show Why She's A Feminist Icon

Beyoncé has arguably become one of modern times' most iconic and visible feminists. The star has repeatedly spoken out for women and marginalized groups in her music, stage shows, and interviews. So it probably won't surprise you to hear that some of her favorite books, just like Greta Gerwig's reading recs, tap right into her passion for female empowerment and self-expression. Though this musical superstar may not have spoken explicitly about her passion for reading, she has subtly let us all know about what's on her bookshelf in a few other, more creative ways.


If you're looking to get your Beyoncé on and take your knowledge of feminism and social justice to the next level, then you're in the right place. We've compiled some of the books the "Crazy In Love" hitmaker has recommended and championed, as well as other literary works we know have inspired some of her biggest and best projects.

Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X and Alex Haley

It's no secret that Beyoncé has looked towards Malcolm X for inspiration before. She included an empowering quote from the Civil Rights activist's famous 1962 speech on her album "Lemonade", using the lines, "The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black woman."


Beyoncé also made several other references to Malcolm X throughout her career, including several nods to the civil rights activist during her iconic 2016 Superbowl Halftime Show performance. And that's why we're pretty sure his autobiography has to be on her bookshelf. The book tells the story of the historical figure, who spoke out against oppression in the U.S., written in his own words and those of journalist Alex Haley. It gets candid about all aspects of his life, from his drug addiction to how he brought hope to, and rallied, millions.

What Will It Take To Make a Woman President? by Marianne Schnall

Another book we're not surprised Beyoncé loves is "What Will It Take to Make a Woman President?" by Marianne Schnall. Back in 2016, she revealed during a rare interview with Garage that she wanted all of her young fans to pick up the book and give it a read. "It's a collection of interviews and essays by great women, including Maya Angelou, Gloria Steinem, and Melissa Etheridge," Beyoncé explained. "They will inspire you to become a better leader," she added.


And she wasn't wrong. The collection also includes pieces of writing from the likes of her friend and supporter Oprah Winfrey and actor Jane Fonda, who all share their own empowering sentiments about leadership. The book is a great read, particularly for anyone who identifies as a woman who's looking to feel empowered and inspired. If that's not exactly what you're looking for though, our list of feminist sci-fi books may be a little more up your alley.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

We're positive Beyoncé has studied the words of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's "We Should All Be Feminists" at least once, because the superstar has made her admiration for the feminist icon very clear. On the song "***Flawless," which appears on her 2013 self-titled album, Beyoncé sampled audio from Ngozi Adichie's 2011 TED talk, also called "We Should All Be Feminists." Then, the following year at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards, the "Texas Hold 'Em" hitmaker stood on stage with the word "Feminist" displayed behind her as audio from the TED talk played. The talk was turned into a book of the same name that year. In it, Ngozi Adichie discusses what the feminist movement means in the modern day, while also sharing her experience of fighting for women's rights.


As for what Ngozi Adichie had to say about Beyoncé, she confirmed she gave the star permission to use her work, but noted she believes her take on feminism is slightly different to hers. But that certainly doesn't mean there's bad blood. "I think she's lovely and I am convinced that she has nothing but the best intentions," she told Dutch outlet de Volkskrant. "Beyoncé is a celebrity of the first order and with this song she has reached many people who would otherwise probably never have heard the word feminism, let alone gone out and buy my essay."

Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth by Warsan Shire

Warsan Shire is another iconic writer who's had a big influence on Beyoncé and her work. So much so, that Beyoncé and Shire worked together on her visual album "Lemonade", where Beyoncé recited some of Shire's poignant poetry. Because of that, we're sure Beyoncé was a fan of Shire's 2011 book of poetry "Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth" before the two teamed up. She directly quotes Shire's poem "The Unbearable Weight of Staying" in a voice-over for "Lemonade."


In this short collection of poems, titled "Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth," Shire shares some of her most personal work. She touches on a wide range of poignant and important topics that all too many will relate to, often around the notions of womanhood, sensuality, and religion.

Prince: A Private View by Afshin Shahidi

Now for something a little different from Beyoncé's bookshelf — "Prince: A Private View" by Afshin Shahidi. We've known for a while that Beyoncé is a big fan of Prince (hey, they even opened The 46th Annual Grammy Awards together in 2004!), but she cemented her love for the late star by writing the forward for this book. "Prince: A Private View" is based on a collection of photos of the late icon taken by Shahidi, a professional photographer. Shahidi first met Prince in 1993 and the book details the professional friendship that stemmed from there. Shahidi not only shares some of the most iconic images he took of the "Purple Rain" singer over the years, but also shares his own touching stories about his time working with the icon.


As for what Beyoncé had to say about the late legend inside the pages, the star got very candid about how he influenced her artistry and the impact he had on her. "Prince was an innovator, a disruptor, an intrepid thinker, a revolutionary, a businessman, a masterful musician, a multi-instrumentalist, a singer, a songwriter, and my mentor," she wrote. We could say the same about her.