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15 Best Books to Read After Watching Barbie



After experiencing the enchanting world of Barbie on the big screen, many of us are left with a renewed sense of wonder and introspection. Writer and director Greta Gerwig revealed that Barbie took inspiration from Reviving Ophelia, emphasizing the relevance of books in understanding the complexities of womanhood, identity, and societal expectations.


In this book list, we explore 15 captivating reads that complement and enrich the themes presented in Barbie, from the empowering journey of adolescence to the impact of iconic dolls on culture and self-perception.


Affiliate Disclaimer: This post features Amazon affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase through these links.



1. Reviving Ophelia 25th Anniversary Edition: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls by Mary Pipher and Sara Pipher Gilliam:


This influential book delves into the challenges faced by adolescent girls in today's world, shedding light on the impact of societal pressures and gender norms on their self-esteem and overall development. Through insightful case studies and personal stories, the authors provide practical guidance for parents, educators, and anyone concerned about the well-being of teenage girls. A timeless guide that empowers readers to support and nurture the young women in their lives.




2. The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie: A Doll's History and Her Impact on Us by Tanya Lee Stone:


Uncover the fascinating history and cultural impact of the iconic Barbie doll. From her creation by Ruth Handler to her influence on perceptions of beauty and consumer culture, this thought-provoking book examines Barbie's enduring significance and controversies. Stone offers a balanced exploration of Barbie's evolution, discussing how she both reflects and shapes societal ideals and values.




3. Barbie Chang by Victoria Chang:


Through poetic verses, this stunning collection reimagines Barbie as an Asian American woman named Barbie Chang, exploring themes of identity, race, and societal expectations. With a unique blend of wit and vulnerability, Chang's poetry challenges conventional notions of beauty and femininity, offering readers a poignant perspective on cultural representation and self-discovery.




4. All the Women in My Brain: And Other Concerns by Betty Gilpin:


In this candid and humorous essay collection, actress Betty Gilpin reflects on the complexities of modern womanhood. With sharp wit and raw honesty, Gilpin tackles a range of topics, including body image, career struggles, and societal expectations, dismantling stereotypes and celebrating the strength and resilience of women.




5. A Touch of Jen by Beth Morgan:


Follow Remy and Alicia on a surreal journey with Jen, a former co-worker turned influencer, as this thrilling satire explores the allure and facade of social media fame and its impact on real lives. Morgan's darkly humorous narrative delves into themes of authenticity and obsession, offering a riveting commentary on contemporary culture and the allure of curated identities.




6. The Male Gazed: On Hunks, Heartthrobs, and What Pop Culture Taught Me About (Desiring) Men by Manuel Betancourt:


Delve into the portrayal of men in pop culture and the construction of male desire. Betancourt's incisive analysis questions societal norms and provides a fresh perspective on gender and representation. This engaging book challenges traditional notions of masculinity and invites readers to critically examine the male gaze.




7. Horse Barbie: A Memoir by Geena Rocero:


Embark on Geena Rocero's captivating journey from a pageant queen in the Philippines to a successful fashion model in NYC, exploring her acceptance and advocacy for transgender rights. This moving memoir traces Rocero's experiences, highlighting the importance of self-acceptance and the pursuit of authenticity in a world that often imposes limiting stereotypes.




8. Barbie and Ruth: The Story of the World's Most Famous Doll and the Woman Who Created Her by Robin Gerber:


Discover the visionary woman behind Barbie, Ruth Handler, and her impact on the cultural icon. An inspiring biography that reveals the doll's origin and enduring popularity, Gerber's narrative celebrates Handler's entrepreneurial spirit and creative vision.




9. Young and Restless: The Girls Who Sparked America's Revolutions by Mattie Kahn:


Unearth the stories of courageous teenage girls who played pivotal roles in shaping American social progress. From activists to trailblazers, Kahn's empowering book highlights the strength of young women who spark change, inspiring readers to embrace their potential for making a difference.




10. Forever Barbie: The Unauthorized Biography of a Real Doll by M. G. Lord:


A comprehensive biography that explores the controversial history and cultural significance of Barbie. Lord delves into the doll's impact on generations, addressing the complexities of her image and the diverse responses she has elicited over the years.




11. You Should Smile More by Anastasia Ryan:


Empowering essays that challenge gender stereotypes, sexism, and encourage women to reclaim their voices and power in society. Ryan's powerful words resonate with readers, sparking conversations about the importance of embracing authenticity and rejecting societal expectations.




12. Women and Other Monsters: Building a New Mythology by Jess Zimmerman:


Through mythical women, Zimmerman explores female identity and cultural portrayals, offering a fresh perspective on the power of female characters in storytelling. This insightful book delves into the complexities of women's roles in mythology and contemporary culture, inviting readers to reimagine the narratives that shape our world.




13. City of Like by Jenny Mollen:


In City of Likes by Jenny Mollen, Megan Chernoff, an unemployed copywriter, gets entangled with Daphne Cole, a famous momfluencer who offers her lavish attention and perks of social media fame. As Meg's real-life relationships suffer, she questions the authenticity of her newfound friendship and the world of social media obsession. Mollen's sharp and entertaining satire explores modern life, motherhood, and the allure of online validation.




14. The Fashion Doll: From Bébé Jumeau to Barbie by Madeleine Gekiere:


An illustrated historical account of fashion dolls, tracing their evolution from Bébé Jumeau to the iconic Barbie, and their impact on cultural perceptions of beauty and fashion trends. Gekiere's exploration of the intersection between dolls and fashion history offers a captivating glimpse into the world of style and self-expression.




15. You Don't Own Me: How Mattel V. MGA Entertainment Exposed Barbie's Dark Side by Orly Lobel:


A gripping exploration of the toy industry's cutthroat world and the legal battle over Bratz dolls, revealing the darker side of Barbie's legacy and its impact on children's perceptions and self-image. Lobel's insightful examination sheds light on the complex relationship between toys and cultural influence.




These 15 captivating books offer a deeper understanding of the themes presented in Barbie, from the challenges of adolescence to the influence of iconic dolls on culture and self-perception. Each book brings unique insights and perspectives, inspiring readers to embrace their identities, question societal norms, and celebrate the strength and resilience of women.


Whether you're seeking empowerment or contemplating cultural impact, these books are must-reads for anyone who has been touched by the magic of Barbie on screen. Happy reading and may these books continue to spark thought-provoking conversations and introspection.


Have you read any of these?

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