Men! Why do they have to ruin everything, and insist on being in charge only to completely screw things up? (See the entire Trump presidency.) Why do they feel like they’re entitled to everything? Why do they have no clue how to express their emotions? Why are men? I have been contemplating this question for the last year and recently came to some conclusions in my new book, Bye Felipe: Disses, Dick Pics, and Other Delights of Modern Dating. A little backstory: I created the viral Instagram account @byefelipe in 2014, which “calls out men who turn hostile when rejected or ignored.” It’s a place for women to share the horrifying messages they receive online. The driving force behind Bye Felipe, the book, was my frustrations with the terrible men I encountered on dating sites and apps. Taking examples from the Instagram account and my personal dating experiences, I wrote the book I wished I’d had in my early dating years. I went on over two hundred dates and failed a lot. It’s a field guide to navigating being a woman online and the tricky dating situations that arise today. When I was writing Bye Felipe, I carried stacks of books in different combinations from my desk to my bed and back again. I slept with them. I carried them to every coffee shop in Los Angeles. I never knew which one I’d choose to give me inspiration on a given day, and I always wanted options. These are the books that informed me in my writing process and sparked my ideas.
The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love by bell hooks This was the first book I opened when I was beginning to research my book. Who better to look to for answers than the queen of feminist solutions, bell hooks. Whenever I have a problem, I know that bell hooks has already written a book about it with brilliant and accessible advice. In this book, she explores men’s relationship with love and what prevents them from getting in touch with themselves. She addresses and explains their problems within the context of a patriarchal society and plainly outlines the ways men can break away from problematic societal forces. Every man, and everyone who has ever loved a man, should read this book!
Feminist Fight Club: A Survival Manual for a Sexist Workplace by Jessica Bennett For the woman who’s fed up with men at work, Feminist Fight Club offers practical strategies and hacks for dealing with annoying dude coworkers who step on your toes. This book was a big inspiration to me during my writing. It’s funny and provides actual solutions to real-life problems in the workplace.
Unscrewed: Women, Sex, Power, and How to Stop Letting the System Screw Us All by Jaclyn Friedman Jaclyn introduced me to my literary agent, so she played a big part in helping to get my book published. She’s always been a writer I’ve looked up to. Her latest book, Unscrewed, examines the current state of sexual politics and power in America. With tons of investigation, she outlines the systems that dictate how women and minorities are oppressed. But it’s not all depressing—she also highlights people who are doing the lord’s work by actively creating change for the better. This book reminds me that hey, maybe the world isn’t completely f***ed after all!
Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit I was gifted this book by my friend, director Nicole Riegel, who had three copies given to her by men who also explained the concept book to her. It is the definitive essay on mansplaining.
Shrill by Lindy West Because, duh. Everyone has already read this, right? In case you didn’t know, Lindy West is a master of style and humor. Her memoir covers many topics, including coming of age, body image, and activism, but I’ve always especially loved the way she deals with Internet trolls.
Yes, Please by Amy Poehler I love the way this was written because I can hear Amy Poehler’s voice when I’m reading it. This book has several elements I wanted to have in my book: funny personal stories, life advice, a relatable tone… I really love Amy Poehler.
The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee by Sarah Silverman Sarah Silverman is another personal hero. I’m inspired by her candidness. At first, I tried to write a book that my family wouldn’t be embarrassed to read, but I found that worrying about what they’d think was smothering my productivity. After I let loose and stopped worrying, I was able to get my best writing on the page.
You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero I picked up this book randomly at Target after my magical aerobics class, Pony Sweat, which I recommend to anyone who will listen. I was between drafts of my book and having bouts of intense anxiety thinking about what I was doing with my life, whether writing a book was a good idea, and how I would ever get the book done. I fully expected You Are A Badass to be super cheesy. Upon opening it, I realized it was published by my publisher, Running Press, and edited by my editor, Jennifer Kasius. I brought it home immediately. I later found out it’s also a #1 New York Times bestseller, has sold millions of copies, and is still at #3 with 137 weeks on the list! After reading it, I was obsessed. I am obsessed. This book will show you how to be confident in your choices and get out of your own dang way. You can bet your (bad)ass I’m also going to read Sincero’s latest book, You Are a Badass at Making Money, ASAP.
How to Be an Assertive (Not Aggressive) Woman: In Life, In Love, and On the Job by Jean Baer I don’t think I really read this book as a three-year-old, but I came across this photo of me holding a copy (thanks, mom). It seemed relevant, so I ordered it. I’m a recovering polite girl, and I tend to avoid confrontation and hardly ever ask for what I want. But how do you become assertive without being aggressive? Originally published in 1976, Baer uses psychological research to walk you through how to navigate various conflicts women encounter. There are quizzes to find out what you need work on, and practical ways to improve your communication skills. It’s kind of sad how relevant the situations in this book remain today, but Baer’s advice holds up.
Angry White Men: American Masculinity at the End of an Era by Michael Kimmel If you’ve ever wondered where the violent neo-nazi/men’s rights/aggressive alt-right mobs of today came from, this book offers insight into how we got here as a society. It’s kind of a terrifying read, but sociologist Michael Kimmel, director of Stony Brook University’s Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities, explains that as society moves generally toward greater equality, some men become incredibly angry. He says these men can either come with us into the future willingly or be left in their tantrums. Kimmel basically predicted all of the angry dude movements back in 2013, before they picked up steam for the 2016 election, and he outlines the reasons they think the way they do.
Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger by Soraya Chemaly As someone who has felt stifled in their anger in the past, I can’t wait to read Chemaly’s manifesto on making anger an acceptable emotion. She outlines why women should embrace their rage instead of bottling it up, and how we can use our anger to create change. I know I wouldn’t have created @ByeFelipe, or written a book, without harnessing my own rage.
Real Artists Have Day Jobs (And Other Awesome Things They Don’t Teach You in School) by Sara Benincasa I love Sara Benincasa’s collection of fifty-two short-yet-powerful essays on living your life. In her straightforward and hilarious handbook to adulting, she delivers pro-tips on self-confidence, difficult social situations, being in a relationship, working as a creative, and so much more. Her writing is relatable and reminds you that you’re not the only one dealing with BS, while also showing you what to do about it.
How Not to Be a Boy by Robert Webb The British sitcom Peep Show is on my top-three favorite TV shows list. Seriously, watch it right now if you haven’t already. When I heard Robert Webb, who plays Jez in the series, wrote a book, I was interested. When I found out it was about gender roles and masculinity, I was elated. Webb does not disappoint. He tells the story of his upbringing while questioning the roles and expectations society forces on men. In a memoir that’s both funny and sad, Webb explains the damaging effects of narrow gender stereotypes on his relationships (i.e. why he was a crappy boyfriend). I love that he calls patriarchy “The Trick.” This book offers an insightful perspective on what it’s like growing up as a boy, and why dudes act the way they do.
Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find—and Keep—Love by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller This book illuminates the reasons that fuckboy you’re dating is the way he is. It also explains why it drives you absolutely insane (and also kind of turns you on) when he doesn’t return your text. (He’s an “avoidant.”) This book was a game-changer for me—learning the three attachment styles completely explained the dynamics of my past relationships. If you’re looking to avoid dating dudes who will never commit, or clingy ones who are super annoying, this book outlines all of the red flags to look for. And, in identifying your own attachment style, you’ll learn how to find the person who is the best fit for you.
It’s Just a F***ing Date: Some Sort of Book About Dating by Greg Behrendt and Amiira Ruotola This book gets down to brass tacks with its dating advice. Have a life; have self-worth; don’t settle for less; if he’s not up to your standards, kick him to the curb… I find that it’s so much easier to deal with difficult situations if I minimize their importance in my head. Just got disappointed by a man again? No big deal! You’ve been through worse. I like the attitude the authors exude in this book. Dating doesn’t have to be difficult—in fact, it can be pretty easy if you don’t overthink it and listen to your gut.
And to close out this wonderful list, we just had to include Alexandra’s new book, Bye Felipe! – Ed. Bye Felipe: Disses, Dick Pics, and Other Delights of Modern Dating by Alexandra Tweten The name of Bye Felipe is a nod to the “Bye Felicia” meme, which Urban Dictionary defines as a cool dismissal of a noxious person. In that spirit, the book helps women navigate the perils that come with swiping right and provides practical steps to overcome the harassment rampant in the dating app ether. Blending humor, feminist theory, and solidarity, this “field guide” provides profiles of the worst types of guys—from the classic fat shamer to the mansplainer to the surprise sociopath—and gives women the tools they need to take control of their dating life.