I’ve come across umpteen lists of books people of all genders, ethnicities, orientations and age-groups “should” read. I’m nobody to tell you what to read and what not to, but here’s a list of 10 books that I think every woman deserves to read at least once in their lifetime. I’m not a feminist by definition; I don’t think men and women are equal. I think men and women are complementary and they have to be so to contain harmony. So, this list here is by no means a list of feminist books, but a few could have elements of feminism as I am a humanist. So, here goes, in no particular order.
- The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank : The Diary of a Young Girl was the first book I read which didn’t have a ‘happy ending’ and I was cool with it. I walked into this book as a young girl myself, just about 10 years old or so, and encountered that feeling of being alive in morbidness for the first time ever. That feeling has never left me hence. It has made me search hard for the silver lining in every dark cloud, the key for every shut door and the light at the end of every tunnel. It’s a book that has helped me appreciate the quality of my life,not based on the material things, but the emotional and creative experiences.
- Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi : This is one of those books I have to thank my old roommate for, as she had an amazing collection. Persepolis is the first graphic novel I ever set hands on. This is also the best coming-of-age book I have ever read. The author had me hooked to the book by her innocence as a kid, her honesty as a teenager and her perseverance as an adult. The simplistic language and illustration made it all the more enjoyable and comprehensible. The complexities of emotions like, the lack of freedom and the fear of life that drew her out of the country, through the eyes of a child opened a new surge of emotions in me.
- My Story by Kamala Das : One of the most controversial books on this list, My Story is an autobiography by one of India’s finest poets, Kamala Das. It travels through the loneliness that transpires through her childhood, all the way to her adulthood. Apart from the beauty in her craft, what really caught my fancy was the boldness with which she discusses her sexuality, not once letting it seem crass or vulgar. Her boldness did, at times, feel like defiance to the narrow society we still live in. But having said all that, the sheer poetry in prose in her writing would make me re-read this book.
- Sita: An Illustrated retelling of the Ramayana by Devdutt Pattanaik : The book, though a retelling of Ramayana, concentrates on Sita, her thoughts and actions. It swells with feminism, coming from one of the most chauvinistically interpreted epic from India. The story examines Sita’s actions as a spiritual act of compulsively being at peace with herself and not waiting to be judged by a society she has no part in. Sita connects to nature than to the society. There is an interesting conversation Sita holds with Shurpanakha, who was maimed by Ram and Lakshman. In this conversation, Sita urges Shurpanakha to free herself of all negative emotions and be at peace for her own good.
- Eat, Prey, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert : This book here, is a popular favorite among women. So, it’s an obvious choice in this list. But, more than anything, this book speaks of the love and celebration of life. It speaks of spirituality and the holistic well-being of an individual by how they keep happy and positive. It’s a beautifully written, feel-good book, especially if you are going through an emotional crisis. It urges you to wake up and be your own sunshine and shine your way through.
This list comes out of the few books that I’ve been able to read and enjoy. So, if some of your favorite books don’t make it to my list feel free to enlighten me so that I can broaden my reading range.