Books That Pass the Bechdel Test

The Bechdel test, for those of you who don't know, is a simple gauge that asks whether or not a particular work of fiction has an active female presence and if her presence is marred with gender inequality. For a book, movie, or show to pass the Bechdel test, it must: 
  1. Contain two women who are named
  2. The two women meet
  3. The two women have a conversation about something other than a man. 
It's simple, right? It happens in real life all the time. Yet it's a bit harder to find that happening in works of fiction.
Fear not because today I'm listing a few books I've read (and some that are reviewed here) that pass the Bechdel test and would highly encourage you to read. 


  1. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro - (reviewed here) Kathy, the narrator frequently cites her childhood at her special school, Hailsham, and her complicated friendship with Ruth and Tommy. The epitome of the passing of this book is in her conversation with the former school administrators regarding her clone status and whether or not as a clone she has a soul. Two women talking about something as deep as that can only get a Bechdel test pass. 
  2. Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman - Everyone and their mothers are familiar with the Netflix show but it's based on this incredibly eye-opening book that I highly recommend to everyone. Firstly, Piper in the biography is not as annoyingly awful as her fictional counterpart. Piper Kerman (not Chapman) is thoughtful, eager to learn, and pretty damn woke. But even if you don't read the book, you can imagine how important conversations would happen at a women's detention facility.
  3. Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood - (reviewed here) This book (now turned hit Hulu show) is pretty much a nightmare situation for women. HOWEVER it passes the Bechdel test because despite the dangers of being seen talking to other handmaids, Offred risks her life to form real connections with other women in a world that makes it so necessary. 
  4. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte - Yes, the storyline in this novel that stands out is Jane's marriage to Mr. Rochester. That said, Jane's early years are filled with meaningful friendships like with her teacher, Miss Temple and her friend Helen. 
  5. 2 AM at the Cat's Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino - (reviewed here) I was always touched by the way Madeleine and her teacher Sarina had an unspoken understanding with each other. They both had experienced loss and lonliness (though they acted upon it in different ways), but after Sarina sees her nine-year-old student at a jazz club to sing, their relationship takes a much better turn and her expulsion from school is reversed because of Madeleine's magical singing. 
What are some other books you can think of that pass the Bechdel test?

7 comments

  1. What a great post! I never think about a book passing the Bechdel test, but it's just as important for them to as it is for movies.

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  2. Thank you so much for the recommendations as I was just looking for the perfect book to read! Jane Eyre, of course, is a classic that can be re-read multiple times!

    www.callmemaddie.com

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  3. I love the idea of this post! Handmaid's Tale is at the top of my list right now, and I'm just dying to find time to read it.

    Cassie | blushandfairydust.blogspot.com

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  4. Nice post. I recently thought about movies that pass the test and there were fewer than i thought!

    Stella xx
    http://onegirlblogger.blogspot.com/

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  5. I feel bad that I only knew of this 'test' after watching Jane the virgin - it definitely got me thinking about the shows I watch! Thanks for compiling this helpful list of books :)

    Hope you have a great weekend ahead of you! :)

    Away From The Blue Blog

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  6. I've never heard of this, but now I'm so interested and thinking about books I've read recently. I never kept up with OITNB show, but I'd definitely be interested in reading the book.

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Thank you for your comments! I read every single one :]