WitchReads11 Books to Hex the Patriarchy

Witches have long captured the American imagination as a symbol of feminine evil, but amongst feminists, witches are a symbol of women exerting their power in a world that suppresses them. After all, witches are just women who refuse to abide by the status quo. The power of the witch isn’t fading anytime soon either. At the Women’s March, I saw signs that read, “We are the granddaughters of the witches you weren’t able to burn,” and witches across the country are still organizing to take down the white supremacist patriarchy and to bind Trump and all who abet him.

Read up on all this witchy goodness and get inspired to hex the patriarchy.

1. Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner

Lolly Willowes

{New York Review Books Classics}
Release Date: 1926
Price: $16.95


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Lolly has spent her whole life being shuttled between family members as a spinster aunt. Tired of caring for her ungrateful relatives, Lolly decides to leave London and move to a quiet village in the English countryside by herself. Once there, Lolly makes a pact with Satan so that she can stay in calm and peaceful solitude without her meddling relatives. Lolly accepts everything that comes with a promise to the devil in honest, nonchalant, and humorous stride. 




2. Ask Baba Yaga: Otherworldly Advice for Everyday Troubles by Taisia Kitaiskaia

Ask Baba Yaga

{Andrews McMeel}
Release Date: September 26, 2017
Price: $10.50

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Baba Yaga is a ferocious witch of Russian mythology who lives in a dark forest in a hut that stands on giant chicken legs. When mortals are truly deserving, she dispenses advice. What started as a column on The Hairpin is now a book full of strange, slippery, and cunning guidance straight from the witch’s mouth.




3. Literary Witches: A Celebration of Women Writers by Taisia Kitaiskaia

Literary Witches

{Seal Press}
Release Date: October 10, 2017
Price: $20

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Literary Witches pulls together the witchiest women writers (including Virginia Woolf, Toni Morrison, Octavia E. Butler, Sandra Cisneros, and Flannery O’Connor) in one book with reading recommendations and gorgeous portraits of each witchy writer. This book is an invitation to find the witchiness within all your favorite women writers.


4. Witches, Midwives, and Nurses: A History of Women Healers by Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English

Witches, Nurses, Midwives{The Feminist Press}

Release Date: 1973
Price: $10.50


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In Witches, Midwives, and Nurses, Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English lay out the ways in which the medical establishment built its expertise on demonizing and freezing out women healers. Ehrenreich and English track how the rise of the (white male) medical establishment profited off of the suppression and persecution of witches and women healers in medieval Europe and how that displacement still negatively affects medicine today.


5. Witches, Sluts, Feminists: Conjuring the Sex Positive by Kristen J. Sollee

Witches, Sluts, Feminists

{ThreeL Media}
Release Date: June 20, 2017
Price: $16.95


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Founding editrix of Slutist Kristen J. Sollee explores the lineage of “witch feminism” in pop culture, politics, and history. Starting with the witch trials, Sollee follows the thread of witch feminism into contemporary conversations about sex, reproductive rights, and queer identity to reclaim the power of witchcraft for revolution.



6. The Witches: Suspicion, Betrayal, and Hysteria in 1692 Salem by Stacy Schiff

The Witches

{Back Bay Books}
Release Date: September 20, 2016
Price: $13.50


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Historian Stacy Schiff breaks down how one cold Massachusetts winter in 1692 led to the execution of 20 Puritans for the crime of witchcraft. The Salem Witch Trials are a reference point for many when talking about witchcraft, but Schiff brings the story to new, fresh life by highlighting the important role that women played in this huge historic moment.



7. I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem by Maryse Condé


{University of Virginia Press}
Release Date: February 5, 2009
Price: $22.50


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Based on the true story of the West Indian slave Tituba who was arrested for witchcraft in Salem in 1692, Maryse Condé brings Tituba out of the annals of history and gives her a voice. Condé uses a historical reimagining of Tituba’s life to lift her story up and condemn the racism and misogyny that swept through Salem in the seventeenth century.



8. The Penguin Book of Witches by Katherine Howe

Penguin Book of Witches

{Penguin Classics}
Release Date: September 30, 2014
Price: $17


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The Penguin Book of Witches compiles historical accounts of accused witches from medieval Europe through colonial America, from 1597 to a woman stoned to death on the streets of Philadelphia. The Penguin Book of Witches is a tour through real documents that chronicle America’s deep fear of women and witchcraft.




9. The Crucible by Arthur Miller

The Crucible

{Penguin Classics}
Release Date: 1953
Price: $15


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Since you’re doing all that reading about the Salem Witch Trials, you might as well read how Arthur Miller spun the story and reintroduced Tituba and Abigail Williams to the 1950s as a metaphor for the McCarthyism making its way through Hollywood and American politics.




10. Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

Who Fears Death

Release Date: February 4, 2014
Price: $7.99


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Who Fears Death takes witchcraft to a post-apocalyptic future version of Sudan. Onyesonwu may not be a witch per se, but her father is a sorcerer who she must battle and defeat after she realizes the extent of her powers. In August, Okorafor announced that the book is being adapted by HBO!




11. Kissing the Witch by Emma Donoghue

Kissing the Witch

{Harper Collins}
Release Date: February 22, 1999
Price: $11.99


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Kissing the Witch takes fairy tale heroines and spins them on their heads until you can’t remember who was a witch and who was a princess and who was cursed and who lived happily ever after. These flash fictions from the author of Room are shimmering and unexpected.




by Dahlia Balcazar
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Dahlia Balcazar was a senior editor at Bitch Media, the co-host of the podcast Backtalk, and the host of the live show Feminist Snack Break. She’s passionate about horror films, ’90s music, girl gangs, and Shirley Jackson. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

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