Announcing Geek Feminism Book Club!

The Long Room, Trinity College Dublin

Folks, we’re delighted to announce the launch of the Geek Feminism Book Club, dedicated to:

  • geek discussions of feminist books,
  • feminist discussion of geek books, and
  • geek feminist discussions of books!

Our immediate models are (for this author, who is lowbrow) the Hairpin’s Classic Trash feature, and (for Mary, who is not) Crooked Timber’s much weightier Susanna Clarke seminar. Other inspirations include the late, lamented Racialicious Octavia Butler book club and the literary discussions hosted by Ta-Nehisi Coates. I expect we will meet somewhere in the middle…

In any case, it’ll work like this. Each month, starting this month, we’ll pick a title together. A month later – to give participants time to get and read the book – we’ll open a thread for discussion. We’ll try to include books available under CC licenses and/or available in electronic formats. If the community picks a book that can’t be had except for cash, we’ll set up a scholarship fund to try to ensure open access.

Here are some of the books we’ve thought about for the kickoff on Thursday February 28th. Vote for your favorite below! Suggestions always welcome!

  1. Biella Coleman, Coding Freedom
  2. bell hooks, Writing Beyond Race
  3. Ursula Le Guin, The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas
  4. Sarah Schulman, The Gentrification of the Mind
  5. Gail Simone, Batgirl, Vol. 1: The Darkest Reflection

ETA: The voting period is over, and we have a tie! Full results are here, but to summarize: Le Guin and Simone both got 14 votes, hooks 9, Coleman 8 and Schulman 7. I suggest we start with (drumroll):

The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas on Thursday February 28th

and then read

Batgirl, Vol. 1 on Thursday March 25th.

In fact, since there was so much enthusiasm for all five titles, what about reading the hooks in April, and so on? We can have another vote when we work our way through these five.

(Oskar, you’re right, we should definitely try that polling thing. Making spreadsheets by hand feels very second-wave…)

43 thoughts on “Announcing Geek Feminism Book Club!

  1. Kimberly Chapman

    My vote is for #3 because Ursula le Guin is one of those authors I should have read by now and keep meaning to but haven’t.

    I also have a question: as a previously-published-now-turned-indie author with a geeky feminist e-book, can we suggest our own books in the future? Because I’d definitely give a very big group discount for this club.

      1. Kimberly Chapman

        That is indeed a cool interview! I’d be raising my hand on her question of who made up languages as a kid. I was inspired by Tolkien as well, but largely via Guy Gavriel Kay. Making up words is easy, but making up a logical syntax is very difficult.

        And since you said self-linking is okay, here’s my most recent nerdy, lefty, eco, feminist work:

        As I said, if it is ever chosen for this book club I’d happily do a Smashwords coupon. I would for any book club but I’d do a bigger discount for this one because this is more my tribe.

        1. Ingrid

          I just LOVE Le Guin! She also happens to live in wonderful Berkeley, California, where was born & grew up. These days, I make my home here in Katrineholm, Sweden…..but Bezerkeley & Ursula are with me always.

          I usually give away copies of my fave books to friends/strangers whom I think will enjoy them, or just SHOULD read them! I did this with my last old copies of Ursula’s works…..need to replace them. Along with plenty of Heinlein & Asimov classics….and even some fantasy series by Piers Anthony.

          Nice to have found this geekalicious cyberhome, ladies. 8)

  2. Shauna

    The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas is a short story, not a book. I love it and would be happy to discuss it, but I just thought I’d point that out in case it had escaped notice.

    1. Kimberly Chapman

      I’m glad you did because I did a library search and it came up in a Short Story collection. So I put a hold on it anyway, even if it doesn’t get voted in, but I’m glad you clarified. Thanks!

    2. Shana

      Yeah, if you want to read a LeGuin novel, I’d go with The Left Hand of Darkness, which is great for gender-based discussions. Also it’s beautiful.

  3. sarah

    Also, we could encourage people to use public libraries (if you are on a part of the world that has them). The books AND ebooks could be there. If we don’t start using and showing support for our public libraries, they will disappear. Libraries are all about equality.

    1. yatima

      Very good point! Libraries are all about AWESOMESAUCE.

      North American and New Zealander Geekfeminists: note that the Goodreads pages have a “Library” button that dumps you into Worldcat. Enter your location to find your nearest library copy.

      Geekfeminists elsewhere: we have not forgotten you. The revolution is a work in progress.

      1. Weiss

        Eck, my below comment was supposed to be in response to this. Sharing books might be an option, if there are enough readers who live close to each other.

  4. Weiss

    #3 or #5? I haven’t read that Le Guin story, or any of Gail Simone’s comics.

  5. Pilar


    She’s #1 bodacious, a true geek feminist Superhero, what an awesome to start.

  6. Weiss

    We might also be able to share? If we live close to other readers, and are willing.

  7. Old Earth Accretionist

    Batgirl. Batgirl all the way. Gail Simone is amazing and my long term love of batgirl and just the awesomeness of Barbara Gordon in all her incarnations runs deep and strong!

  8. Skud

    I’d like to vote for Coleman’s book, because I’m in a non-fiction mood and have been meaning to read it. Plus I think it’s available under a CC license, isn’t it?

  9. Debbie Notkin

    Can I vote for them all? I know “Omelas” by heart (and of course it’s a short story, not a book), but the others include two I really want to read and two I don’t know, so I probably want to read them.

  10. Anastasia Bright

    Batgirl! I’m an English major and I’d done waaaaay too many classes where we did The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas. Totally going to read the other ones, too, though.

  11. Tim Chevalier

    More suggestions:

    Whipping Girl, Julia Serano
    The Alchemy of Race and Rights, Patricia Williams
    Kindred, Octavia Butler
    Trouble on Triton, Samuel R. Delany

  12. Oskar

    So excited about this initiative! I personally feel like reading #1 (Coding Freedom) or #5 (Batgirl issue 1), but I’ve added most of the titles to my list of want-to-reads on GG. This thing is right up my ally of stuff I want to get more into right now.

    On a completely different note though; you should probably get/install a poll function into your CMS (I know that it used to be simple to do in WordPress at least). It would make this voting thing much easier! How are you going to organize the discussions later on?


  13. Minaria

    I love this idea, I hope it’s a success.

    Geek feminist discussion of games or movies could be fun, too. Geek Feminism Published Media Club? =p

  14. MrsDragon

    So excited about this! I’d be happy to read any of them. I’ve been meaning to get to both Ursula Le Guin and Bell Hooks, so I throw my vote to those two. : )

  15. Carolyn

    This is so exciting! I would love to read any of these, but particularly The Gentrification of the Mind or Batgirl.

  16. Julie

    I would also like to read any of them! I’m super excited and can’t wait to see how well this goes :D

    1. Shauna

      Seconding the nomination of the Ensmenger book – I’ve been meaning to read that for a while!

      For this round, my vote goes to bell hooks.

  17. Salomeem

    I look forward to reading any/all of these. I think Batgirl would start us out right. I also liked the suggestion of reading the Le Guin short story in addition to whatever else we choose. Reading these two side by side is my vote.

  18. jon

    Great idea! Any of the choices would be fine with me but if forced to pick I would go with “Coding freedom” or “Writing beyond race”.

  19. Ana

    My vote goes to Le Guin too!
    I’m afraid Coleman’s book might be too dense for those of us who speak English as second (third in my case) language.

  20. Skud

    It’s been 11 days since this was posted, and it’s 17 until the discussion post. What’s the choice of book? I’d really like to take part in this, but let me just show you how hard it will be for me to get any of these books in a timely manner:

    Gabriella Coleman: available as a CC-licensed PDF, here: (I would want to convert to epub; hopefully that works cleanly)

    bell hooks: not CC-licensed, not available as ebook, not available in any library in my country. Cheapest available hardcopy: $19.54, ships from UK, don’t know how long it would take. Cheapest Australian hardcopy: $21.38 + shipping, “ships in 7-13 days” which suggests that in fact they are shipping from overseas first. Cheapest that’s not just reshipping: $34.99 plus postage, “ships in 4 days”.

    Le Guin: not CC-licensed, not available as ebook, not available in my library system but could ILL from elsewhere in Australia (don’t know how long that would take but probably *at least* a week).

    Gentrification of the mind: available as Kindle ebook (with DRM) — I don’t have a Kindle, but could probably work around that (ahem). Not available in any library in Australia.

    Gail Simone: not (legally) available as ebook, though knowing comics fandom, I suspect it could be acquired other ways. Not in any library in Australia (or at least none that’s on Worldcat). Cheapest international shipping: $18.88 from UK, don’t know how long it would take to arrive. Cheapest Australian that’s not just reshipping: $31.99 “typically received in 10-15 days”… uh no. Make that around $34 if I want it within a week so I have time to read it.

    In short… this is why I voted for Coleman. It’s the only one that I (and others outside the US) are guaranteed to be able to read in time for the discussion. All other options either involve breaking the law, waiting weeks for delivery, or paying exorbitant international prices.

  21. Erin Moore

    I’m excited for this! (and excited that the LeGuin essay is available online to buy some time to acquire whichever books come next in the queue)

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