Books have not only been a means of storing information and stories but also have been empowering and enlightening people since ages. Although women writers came up in the writing scenario quite late, their works definitely made up for the delay. Today, we are privileged to be able to access certain books that are written by women of different cultures, backgrounds, and have had different experiences. Their narratives and words can empower a woman to become independent and voice her own rights. Here is a list of 8 such amazing books that every woman must read at least once in her life.
- Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
“I wish, as well as everybody else, to be perfectly happy; but, like everybody else, it must be in my own way.”
It was her first novel that got published during Austen’s lifetime, and is the best portrayal of the power of her words and the beautiful balance that she maintains in the world of her novels. A narration of sisterly love between Marianne and Elinor, the novel is rather an unusual portrayal of respect, understanding and dependence that women can share. Quite similar to another masterpiece of her own, Pride and Prejudice, this novel is also relatable for audiences of more than one genre.
- The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
“To the person in the bell jar, blank and stopped as a dead baby, the world itself is a bad dream.”
“Death must be so beautiful. To lie in the soft brown earth, with the grasses waving above one’s head, and listen to silence.
Sylvia Plath has always been known for her raw and uncoated depiction of life. In The Bell Jar her depiction of mental illness is almost incomparable with anyone else’s. This autobiographical masterpiece by Plath is not only limited to her personal experiences, but narrates the struggles of women of 1950s. It is an excellent outpour of women’s struggle for identity, social pressure, confinement into gender roles, and exploration of their sexuality.
- To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.”
A well known classic of all times, the novel is set during the Great Depression. Starring a 6 years old protagonist who rises up to be a feminist, the novel is a depiction of successful attempts of breaking societal conceptions about gender and race. The one factor that makes this novel different from many others is that the struggles depicted and lessons that readers derive from it are very much relatable and relevant even today.
- I Know Why The Cage Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
Another gem from the list of top autobiographical accounts by female writers and a must read for all the girls out there, this novel has a firm and solid mindset that it successfully manages to extend to its readers. It not only introduces one to the injustices women face but more importantly narrates the story of a strong fight against racism and sexism. It is an incomparable example of how powerful a woman can be when she is required to not give in to such negative forces.
- The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
“Adults, older girls, shops, magazines, newspapers, window signs – all the world had agreed that a blue-eyed, yellow-haired, pink-skinned doll was what every girl child treasured.”
This novel is a question against all the societal beauty standards that have grown upon us. Placed in 1940s, the novel has a strong set of characters who keep the readers wondering about ‘what really is ugly?’ It also talks about the pressure that our society puts on people to fit into the untrue ideas of beauty that we have set without truly evaluating the consequences of it.
- Chinese Cinderella: The Secret Story of an Unwanted Daughter by Adeline Yen Mah
“But you can vanquish the demons only when you yourself are convinced of your own worth.”
Mah might seem to be very strong headed woman if one goes by the kind of vocabulary she uses and the characters she builds. However, behind the strength in her words are years of atrocities and struggle for respectable existence. Blamed for the demise of her mother who died while giving birth to her, Mah was treated as an outcast in her own family. Further, Mah and her siblings were given a second-class status by their stepmother. Her first hand experience of such physical and mental violence might be the reason that she has been able to recreate moments of cruelty and victory so convincingly in her novel. It is commendable how she has never veered from a child’s sensibility while weaving her characters in the novel and has been able to extend the positive energy of keeping the fight on, to her readers.
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
“Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs.”
A daunting narration of the story of an orphaned girl, Jane Eyre is a path breaking work that jolted the writing world with its passionate and raw vocabulary. It was rather unusual for females to write, let alone acknowledge and express their passion in words. Through her characters, Bronte not only transports her readers to another era but also at some places makes them feel themselves standing next to the characters and witnessing everything in front of their eyes.
It is a must read for women who would like to break the bounds of taboo and shed the loads of gender roles to experience their sexuality. Also, if you would like to gain some hooking writing skills, Bronte is your go to person.
- The Color Purple by Alice Walker
“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it. People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.”
Written in the interesting epistolary style, The Color Purple is hailed as all-time classics of literature that has been inspiring readers across generations. The novel is essentially the tale of Celie, a young black girl born into poverty and segregation. This young, innocent and innately happy girl was raped repeatedly by the man she called ‘father’. As the novel develops, we see Celie’s life getting uglier until she meets Shug Avery, a singer and magic-maker who inspires Celie to take charge of her own destiny. Through her protagonist, Alice Walker in this novel has not only focused on the violence inflicted upon women, but also has expressed her anger towards women who fail to take charge of their own lives.
Do let me know in the comment section below if you think I have missed some names. Also, I would like to know which all classics you have already gone through and which one you are going to pick up next.