A book is the best medium to experience new perspectives and understand contrasting aspects of life. It becomes your guide through many complications and nothing is better than the feeling of being a bit different after completing a novel. A must-read is so much more than a good-read. It should strike a chord within you and hold you through with insinuated ideas and insights. Keeping that in mind, here is a list of 20+ must read books for women. Each entry in this list is transforming in its own way, and inspires a plethora of emotions. Hope you enjoy them as well!
Stingo, a novelist and the narrator, shared a cheap boarding house with two lovers- Nathan Landau (a brilliant Jew) and Sophie Zawistowska (a holocaust survivor). The two had a tumultuous relationship with Nathan oscillating from being abusive to charming. But Sophie also has a dark past she has never talked about before sharing it with Stingo. The wound is deep, and is inflicted from a choice. Often described as an unforgettable book, read it for the horror and the truth of Sophie's reality.
Body image issues is something most women struggle with. While a lot of us contain it enough to not harm us in very obvious ways, this is a story of the other side tainted with loss and horror. Hornbacher writes about her transition from embracing a life of anorexia and bulimia to gaining the strength to fight back. Shockingly honest and vivid, this will make you acknowledge your deepest and darkest. Read through this book to re-analyse your sense of what's okay and what needs to be powered over.
Slouching Towards Bethlehem is a collection of essays that captures the essence of what it is like to be in your twenties. Some words will make you uncomfortable, though you'll know they are true. Didion describes her experiences living in California in the 1960s, but this also has a wider appeal to it. If you're young and confused, or striving to regain your sense of what things are, that's what this book is for.
Anne Lamott is an author of several novels & columns and a writing teacher. If you've ever wanted to write a novel, or a memoir but are too doubtful of your writing skills, this is an excellent handbook. More importantly, through bird by bird, Lamott tells you how you can use writing as a healing process. If you want to try your hand in this as well, you know where to start.
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In the midst of all these books there should be one where the female protagonist is like, well, Amy. Without any spoilers, this psych thriller is about the mysterious disappearance of Amy and what befalls her husband Nick Dunne as a consequence. The book is amazing in the way the characters develop and the depth the author tries to give them. Full of intelligent plots and twists, this book will keep you at the edge of your seat till the end.
Winner of the Pultzer Prize for Fiction (1988), this book is set in post-civil war America. It follows the protagonist Sethe as she escapes slavery but longs freedom. She is still haunted by the memories of the plantation farm where she was a slave and 18 years later, by the ghost of her baby Beloved.
One of the most loved novels of all time. If you haven't read Pride and Prejudice yet, well, you should. This book revolves around the eldest of 5 sisters- Elizabeth Bennet, Mr. Darcy and their courtship but there is so much more to it. Once you read this, you are a sure convert to the Austen clan. Read it for the story, the writing style or the characters, you'll love it.
A stunning memoir detailing a complex childhood filled with great contrasts. The Glass Castle lets you in on a dysfunctional family with a destructive alcoholic for a father (who's equally charismatic while sober) and a nomadic mother. The kids look out for themselves, and eventually move to New York. Walls attempts to deal with her childhood through this book, captivating you on the way with her experiences and insights.
All of us are surrounded with intimidating and overpowering notions of feminism. The problem arises when women refuse to embrace feminism because they can't relate to those 'man-hating', 'femi-nazi' notions. Feminism is more personal and so is this book. Moran writes about common situations and delivers her message through slapstick humor. This book is very, very funny whilst helping your understanding of feminism. You can read it for its entertainment value, or otherwise. It's a must-have on your book-shelf.
Marjane Satrapi talks about growing up in Tehran through the demise of Shah's regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the Iraq war as seen through her own eyes. This book will make you sad as you witness what she went through and how she changes. Highly recommended read reminding you yet again of how consequences of wars aren't limited to physical damages or lost lives.
The author of this collection of short stories is also the winner of the Nobel prize in literature (2013). Touted as one of her finest works, the collection is bitter-sweet with each story feeling as whole as a complete novel.Munro is a gifted writer with the ability to convey a lot more with few words. The book beautifully captures tragedies and compromises and disappointments built up over years resulting from the limits of being a human.
The book chronicles Didion's experiences through her daughter's illness and her husband's death in quick succession. It has raw emotions and grief as she tries to re-analyse and replay the events surrounding his death and what she dealt with in addition to caring for her daughter. Parts of the book are notes that she made during her daughter's hospitalization who died before the publication of the book. Read it because life can change in an instant.
Tina Fey is a popular writer-comedian best known for her work in SNL. Fey is a confident, humorous and a smart woman enjoying at the top of (what is regarded as) a man's profession, and this is her story. It's a beautiful blend of funny and sharp wit with strong undertones of introspection.
Rebecca Skloot follows up on the story of Henrietta lacks, an African American woman, also the source cells which created the immortal cell line 'HeLa'. Widely commercialized, these cancerous cells were part of innumerable scientific researches and medical studies without the family's consent or recognition. Skloot documents the history of the case as well as the family, in this book. She also deals with medical ethics and sort of racial politics in medicine in a brilliant manner.
You've lost everything you could lose, now what? When faced with a similar question, Cheryl decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. With no experience or training prior to this, she still went ahead and did it alone. This is her journey from losing her mother, family and marriage to getting back her strength and finally healing. A difficult yet fulfilling journey.
Isadora Zelda White Stollerman Wing is a 29 year old poet and on her trip to Vienna with her husband, she indulges in some sexual adventures with another man. The book is her struggle to answer questions about herself and where she stands. This book inspired many discussions on feminity and female sexuality and has played its part in the development of second-wave feminism.
Simulatneously challenging a lot of existing ideals when published in 1847, Wuthering Heights was extremely controversial with polarised responses. Since then, it has been accepted as a classic and regarded as the best work of the Bronte sisters. The story is about the passionate love affair between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff which is anything but straight forward. If you still haven't read it, you know which book to start next.
A collection of 10 stories, with the titled one being O'Connor's most discussed story. Each share equal compassion and art but vary in subjects. Published in 1955, this book has Catholic undertones and spiritual references. Described both as funny and frightening, this book is provocative, to say the least.
The book follows two war-time friends : Englishman Archie Jones and Bangladeshi Samad Iqbal. Both settled in London after world war II, the story captures their dilemmas and internal conflicts as they and their families deal with different cultures, identities and more.
Another portrayal of slavery and African-Americans, this time it is from the perspective of the slaveholder. The narrative is about Scarlett O'Hara through varios stages of the Civil War and her hardships. Another coming-of-age story where you live and grow with the protagonist.