The Riot Grrrl movement influenced a number of punk bands during the 90s and, by extension, many music fans as well. If you were part of the revolution and want to take a look at the past, or if you're a young feminist interested in recent history, you might want to pick up one of these books. Some are made up of first-hand resources, like zines and song lyrics. Others show the movement through the lens of the author's opinions. All of them provide a chance to think about the many social issues that were tackled by Riot Grrrl.

The 8 Best Books About Riot Grrrl

  1. Girls to the Front: The true story of the revolution
  2. We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrrl to CoverGirl
  3. The Riot Grrrl Collection: Zines from the movement
  4. Riot Grrrl: Revolution Style Now!: The cause in America and Europe
  5. Grrrls on the Side: A novel about a teenage feminist
  6. Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl: A memoir by Carrie Brownstein
  7. Girl Power: The nineties revolution in music
  8. Writing a Riot: Flyers, Zines, and other art from Riot Grrrl

Social Problems Addressed By Riot Grrrl

Interviews with Riot Grrrls

Beyond Punk: Other Famous Female Musicians

  1. Ally Brooke: Philanthropist and member of the band Fifth Harmony
  2. Perrie Edwards: Part of the girl group Little Mix
  3. Christina Aguilera: Pop icon with many chart-topping songs
  4. Azania Noah: Internationally-known singer
  5. Laura Lux: Australian DJ with a big social media following


Whether you play music, listen to music, or just have an interest in social justice, you might be able to find inspiration in the history of Riot Grrrl. Just because the movement is most associated with the 90s doesn't mean that the ideals it stood for should be forgotten. Hopefully, generations to come will continue to take an interest in using their art to call attention to injustice.

More Information

Riot Grrrl is an underground movement of feminist punk which originated in Washington state in the early 1990s. Pioneered by many bands such as Bikini Kill, Sleater-Kinney, Bratmobile, Excuse 17, and Huggy Bear, the movement was mainly associated with causes such as sexism, rape, and domestic abuse. It was also very vocal against racism, homophobia, ageism, and body-shaming. A potent form of female empowerment, this subcultural movement was further spread by zines and websites. Here is a list of the eight best books about the Riot Grrrl movement.

Coming first on the list is #1 "Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution." This book is a constructive narrative by Sara Marcus that gives an overview of the third-wave feminist movement. It contains documented events of the origins, and the evolution of the radical feminist punk uprising. The book focuses on the people, politics and music that shaped the Riot Grrrl scene.

At #2 is "We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrrl to CoverGirl, the Buying and Selling of a Political Movement." An interesting read on how feminism gets diluted by capitalism. This eye-opening book and enlightening "herstory" shows the repackaging of feminism for marketplace and mass-consumption. The author, Andi Zeisler, structured the book in such a way that the nature of the topic covers various forms of media.

#3 on the list is "The Riot Grrrl Collection." Authored by Lisa Darms, Kathleen Hanna, and Johanna Fateman, this book is a curated compilation of zines, posters, art, essays and other forms of media created in the 90s expressing the movement. It ranges from the history of the feminist punk movement, the bands that started the uprising, and the people who supported it.

#4 is "Riot Grrrl: Revolution Girl Style Now!" Unlike the previous books mentioned, this one focuses on the movement's spread across America and Europe. It portrays a detailed account of Riot Grrrl, and how it relates to feminism. Nadine Monem considered many forms of art for this work, choosing to include colorful images of bands, zines, and flyers, and sharing first-hand accounts from the women and girls who supported the campaign. The book also highlights the British bands that helped further spread the cause.

At #5 is "Grrrls on the Side." A novel set in 1994, this title follows the life of a troubled teenager who is learning about feminism. This eventually leads her to find out about the Riot Grrrl movement. The author, Carrie Pack, portrays a relatable storyline which deals with different social issues such as obesity, bisexuality, stereotyping, racism, and feminism.

Coming in at #6 is "Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl: A Memoir." Written by Carrie Brownstein, this book explores the author's own journey, her search for artistic fulfillment, and her post-participation in the Riot Grrrl scene. It is a detailed account of Carrie's life, divulging the exhilaration and contradictions of being a female musician. It also defines several of the social issues present in punk rock music.

Moving on with our list, #7 "Girl Power: The Nineties Revolution in Music." Marisa Meltzer reviews the role of women in rock music since the Riot Grrrl uprising. While the writer shares her perception of how the revolution eventually committed a "sad suicide," the book also contains ideas that help young women understand the concept of feminism.

Last is #8 "Writing a Riot: Riot Grrrl Zines and Feminist Rhetorics." This is a book by Rebekah J. Buchanan which mainly discusses the creation and circulation of zines associated with the movement. It interprets the "zine-ing" of the fans for the cause. The author thoroughly examines the purpose of these indie periodicals, and how they were used to promote punk feminism.

Despite the virtuous intentions and laudable causes of the Riot Grrrl movement, it has often been criticized by the media. Even some of their allies denounced them for giving too much attention to white, middle-class girls, and excluding trans women from their safe spaces. Nevertheless, the movement managed to leave its mark on the music scene, with many artists still continuing to draw inspiration from it.

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