The Fountainhead By Ayn Rand
Ayn Rand is always considered as one of the greatest writers that ever lived the Earth. Her idea of individualism and breaking away from social norms can be seen in each of her works. That’s what Fountainhead is and a whole lot more. The book draws a parallel between architecture and society, how people put up fake fronts in order to win the approval of others, and how they end up in sadness in despair.
The Fountainhead is also about the rebellion of a girl, albeit in the most interesting of ways. In fact, the characterization of the girl is one of the most interesting in this classic from Ayn Rand, which makes is a must read for every woman out there. This book will definitely make you think about your own life, the sacrifices you have made and whether they have been worth it. Just a small caveat though- you may become a rebel yourself after reading this book.
Pride and Prejudice By Jane Austen
The fact that this novel has been adapted into quite a few plays and movies, including a famous one by the name of Bride and Prejudice, and the fact that it has sold over 20 million copies till date speaks volumes about it. This classic by Jane Austen is about a girl who tries to come to terms with the society and the accepted principles of morality, manners, education and marriage.
The story is set in the early 19th century, but the characters and the take still relates to the modern world of today. The characterization is great and each and every scene is described in every detail. However, some of you may find the number of characters in this book a little intimidating. But that should not be any reason to miss out on reading through this riveting classic. This is definitely a must read for every woman, irrespective of the age.
Memoirs of a Geisha By Arthur Golden
It is not often that a story is written about women playing to the whims, desires and hormones of men with compassion, thought as well as lack of judgment. That’s exactly what makes this novel such a fantastic piece of work in the first place. This book by Arthur Golden is a story about a geisha in Japan, her tryst with destiny, her trials and tribulations in love and her struggles in general.
The story takes you through the life of Sayuri, a Geisha in Japan, with a first person account. You travel from times before World War II to the Great Depression and times after the World War II and finally to New York. The story deals effectively with the desires of a young woman who chooses to serve men’s needs, physical as well as otherwise. If you are a woman, you will tend to sympathize with the lead character, and yet, you will feel proud of being a woman after reading this book.
The Diary of a Young Girl By Anne Frank
The darkest periods in history often have little written records about them. The fact that this book was written by a young girl in her teens during the era of holocaust makes it interesting in the first place. And while reading it, you almost get a whiff of the innocence and courage of the person writing it. Reading someone’s diary may not seem like an exciting idea for most people out there, but you will find this one very interesting indeed.
In fact, once you begin reading it, you will hard to put down. Anne Frank, one of the most popular victims of holocaust, has written down every emotion that she felt during those days. It includes her feeling of sacrifice, her relationship with her parents and other finer details which give you a glimpse into those times and what people might have gone through. Read it and you will love it.
Brida By Paulo Coelho
So far, the list of must- reads for women have comprised of books that were published decades ago. And if you thought only the authors from the times gone by wrote books which were inspirational for women, here is something that will break that notion. Paulo Coelho is an author well known for writing philosophical stories about life, God and mystic powers in the universe, his popular work being The Alchemist.
With Brida, he takes it to a completely new level. Brida is about a young girl in her twenties by the same name, perplexed about the meaning of her life and her quest of finding answers to her questions. Along the way, she meets her Soulmate, a witch and discovers her true gift and her reason for being born. Brida is as much about life and taking risks as it is about a girl discovering the power of sex, her strength of character and her understanding of love.
We The Living By Ayn Rand
This is the first work of Ayn Rand, and like much of her other work, is a pure delight to read. Given the level of intricacy and the sense of purpose in this book, it comes as a surprise that it was not published until almost 6 years after Ayn Rand finished writing it. The story is set in post-revolutionary Russia when inflation in the country was at an all time high and the middle class was finding it hard to survive.
The book revolves around Kira and her family, her struggles with the establishment, and her resilience and will power. This book is much about communism and the general purposeless life of most people as it is about a girl refusing to be bound by the norms of the society. Instances such as Kira going on achieve excellence in engineering, which was a male bastion as that time, draws you into the story and the characters in general. If you ever felt bogged down as a woman, this one will definitely inspire you.
Jane Eyre By Charlotte Bronte
If ever there was such a genre as “feminist” (there seems to be), this book by Charlotte Brnte would be the quintessential example of that. This book is an autobiography which was published under the pen name of “Currer Bell.” It has Jane as its protagonist and explores feminism from a woman’s point of view.
The characterization is nothing short of brilliant in this book and there is a bit of everything which will keep you engrossed. There is a woman’s take on morality; there is her take on social norms; and there is also an air of whimsical moodiness in the characters. But the high point of this novel is not all that. In fact, all that is the support structure for showing something that has been attempted by many authors but accomplished by a few- although the lead character in this book is shown going through a lot, yet, there is an intentional lack of empathy, which speaks about the power of feminism and that “women need not be rescued every time.”
Gone with the Wind By Margaret Mitchell
This one cannot be ignored for the must read books for women list. It is a love story by Margaret Mitchell set during the era of the American Civil War. The story revolves around a girl named Scarlett, the daughter of a rich businessman, who ends up facing all odds in order to survive, only to find love. The story tracks the experiences of Scarlett, her struggles for survival after she finds herself poor, her moral growth as a person, and her growth as a person on a whole.
The fact that this novel was made into a movie by the same name speaks much about the quality of the work. Although the story is set in times gone by years ago, you tend to relate to the happenings, Scarlett’s search for love and her quests with destiny in general. After reading this, you would be surprised to know that Margaret wrote this book to pass time after she was bed ridden for a long time post an accident.
Our Bodies, Ourselves By Our Bodies Ourselves
So far, we have largely talked about fiction and stories about fictional characters that can inspire you as a woman. However, good reads don’t have to be fiction alone, as this book clearly shows. Our Bodies, Ourselves is a book by a non-profit organization by the same name. The book aims to impart education to women on topics such as menstruation, birth control, childbirth, sexual development and other topics related to female anatomy.
The book deals with women’s sexuality and her usual developmental stage sin the most efficient of manners, which makes it a must read for women entering adult life. The first volume of the book was published in 1971 and there have many more editions in subsequent years. The organization came with a brand new edition in 2005, adding a lot more to the original edition, keeping in mind the changing times. Read this and you would find an answer to almost every question that you have ever had about your body.
The Group By Mary McCarthy
Every great read often has various screen adaptations related to it, such as this one. The Group by Mary McCarthy has been adapted for many plays as well as a popular film over the years. But what makes it a great read for women? Well, first, the fact that the story revolve around a group of eight girls and their lives makes it a woman centric story; second, strong characterization and the often explored case of independence for women makes a strong contender for a must read book for women.
The story tracks the lives of eight girls over the course of their graduation and marriage and seeks to explore the issues of contraception, love, sex and beliefs in general through the eyes of different women. Of course, the story is fictional, but you still tend to relate to it, which is another hallmark of a great story. As a woman, you will love reading this one.