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Looking for some good reads for 2017? Here are some personal recommendations of books by women authors that you’ll love!
New Year is the time to start afresh and if you’re a bibliophile like me, it is also the time to chalk out a fresh reading list. So, here is a list of books by women authors, across various genres, handpicked for you to suit your (book) cravings for every mood.
It’s only sometimes that you come across a book that reflects a gruesome part of history with such clarity that you’re actually left grappling for some assurance that those incidents described were not true, when at the back of your mind, you already know they were.
The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult is one of the most beautiful books written on the holocaust that I came across, after The Book Thief. Read it to feel sad, yet hopeful at the same time, read it to feel grateful that your problems are so tiny compared to what some people have to go through or have gone through, most importantly, read it to understand how happiness can be attained through forgiving and how good and evil are sometimes inextricable from each other.
Find the book on Flipkart, Amazon India, Amazon US.
There are some books that you simply love from the very first sentence. You know you’re in for a pleasurable experience. Maybe like having a mug of hot chocolate on a rainy day. This is one such book.
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin is bound to delight any bibliophile with its numerous references to other books and with the central character being a bookseller. There are some books where you just wish to live in the world of the characters for a while and for me AJ Fikry was one of them.
Find the book on Flipkart, Amazon India, Amazon US.
I could connect with Gilbert’s writing in Eat Pray Love. I loved her portrayal of her vulnerabilities and strengths in all their rawness and I’d always wanted to read more from her.
Big Magic is about living a creative life. This is a book for anyone who experiences a sense of fulfillment when they create things – be it writing, music, art, pottery, drama, gardening, or anything that requires their imagination.
What I found unique in this book was that the author had spoken of the whole process of artistic pursuit in such a casual manner. ART, according to her, is like a spiritual pursuit, where the ego need not be satisfied, because at the end of the day, we want to be happy doing whatever we’re doing.
If I say that everyone should read this book at least once in their lifetimes, I still don’t think I’ll do justice to how I felt after reading it. I believe this is a book, that I’ll go back to, every single time I feel low or I am riddled with self-doubt. I do find books on the holocaust interesting but that’s not the only reason why I especially loved this particular book.
The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom shows us what we are capable of, how pain and adversities are real, but so is the power of love and faith. It teaches us how it is possible, even during one of the most shameful phases for humanity, to care for others, to believe in God.
Yes, this book does talk about Christianity at length. However, not once will it make you feel like an outsider if you aren’t a Christian (or even if you are an atheist for that matter). It teaches you to not lose hope and to love unconditionally under ALL circumstances. It makes you see perpetrators in a different light, it actually teaches you to be sympathetic towards someone who is cruel by showing how injured his or her very soul is. How everyone needs to be healed.
Buy your own copy on Flipkart, Amazon India, or Amazon US.
This is by far one of the most hilarious books I’ve ever read. Allie Brosh has a brilliant sense of humor that is self deprecating and rather endearing. Like Marjane Satrapi, Allie also deals with the most difficult challenges in her life including mental illness, in a laugh-out-loud funny yet heart touchingly poignant manner. Her pieces include themes around her childhood, her experiences with her rather dumb pet dog, and her battles with depression.
This graphic novel revolves around a discussion amongst Satrapi’s female family members about sexuality and romance. Though these are tales related by Iranian women over cups of tea at Satrapi’s grandmother’s house, they might strike a familiar chord with women from all over the world. At least one of the incidents will make most of us feel that we too have experienced the same in our own lives.
When you realize you’re reading a brilliant author who is also a neuroscientist from Harvard, you tend to ask God how come some people literally have it all! All of Lisa Genova’s books are based on characters dealing with some neurological disorder, and though I liked each one of them and would highly recommend that you read all her books, my favorite is Love Anthony.
This story begins after Olivia loses her eight-year old autistic son, Anthony, and comes to live in an island away from her husband, to make sense of Anthony’s short life. On the island, there is Beth, a mother of three, who has also recently separated from her cheating husband. Beth starts revisiting her passion for writing and strangely enough finds that she is writing from an autistic boy’s point of view. How will the writings impact the lives and perspectives of both Olivia and Beth?
This beautiful work of literary fiction celebrating female friendship and courage spans across India and America.
Sister Of My Heart by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni revolves around two cousin sisters Anju and Sudha, who are apparently very different, but are the best of friends since their childhood. Though their friendship is broken over time and both drift apart after marriage, they come close once again after tragedy strikes them.
Munro’s stories are in one word: subtle. Her stories are about ordinary lives where an apparently ordinary incident can change someone’s perspective in life. Her characters are real and steeped in the plethora of emotions that we go through each day, such as love, hatred, jealousy, pride, kindness, friendship, and so on. They are so palpable that the reality of it would strike you hard. Once you read her you realize why she is one of those rare authors who has received a Nobel Prize in literature for her short stories.
When we talk about feminist graphic novels, Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis is one of the first names that comes to mind.
Persepolis is a memoir where the author describes her coming of age on the backdrop of Iran during the Islamic revolution. Satrapi has the rare talent of turning an apparently depressing situation to a humorous one. Every woman needs to read it to understand the significance of the effect of religious fundamentalism on feminism.
This is my all time favorite book and I believe this book helped me a lot to become what I am today when it comes to supporting the voiceless or the underdog.
This classic is a must read to understand how the majority will always try to silence the underrepresented, and how we act during times of trouble makes us who we are. Set in a Southern Town of Alabama and told from the perspective of a child, it shows the ugliness of society and yet remarkably, the narrative maintains its innocence. This book is a must read for everyone and for generations to come. Period.
Find the book on Flipkart, Amazon India, Amazon US
Amber Dusick is known for her humorous blog on parenting, complete with funny pictures. She wrote the book to describe those frustrating parenting moments that on hindsight seem hilarious.
Any new mother knows how hard it is to manage a baby and no matter how prepared she felt she was, there will be times when she feels nothing prepared her for such a challenge. This book addresses those challenges in a funny way and makes for a light read not only for new mothers who will identify with most of the situations but also for others to understand how difficult the initial phases of motherhood can be and yet how heartwarming and hilarious.
Inspired by real life events, this is one of my favorite books of all time.
The Invention of Wings is rich in its portrayal of history. The lives of Sarah Grimke and her slave Handful and the lives of their respective younger sisters are filled with adventures. Despite life threatening road-blocks, they “invented their wings, not so much in spite of these things, but because of them”.
With the main theme as slavery in South Carolina during the 1800s, this book goes on further to delineate the status of women, their fight for empowerment and justice and it made me reflect how relevant these issues are even to this day.
I feel that this book is an important read for parents of today in order to make an effort to truly understand their young children instead of constantly pushing them towards the path of what they themselves perceive as success.
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng is about a Chinese American family in the 1970s small town Ohio. Lydia is the most beloved child of her parents Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents have the highest expectations from her. However, when Lydia’s dead body is discovered in the local lake, the Lee family’s apparent stability starts getting shaken.
This book shows the struggles of mother daughter, father son, and husband wife relationships and how most of our lives are spent trying to understand each other.
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah is historical fiction, showing the strength of women and its literary beauty makes it a sheer delight to devour. I cannot even begin to describe how beautifully The Nightingale is written! It will break your heart into small pieces and yet you’d want to hang on to every word.
Two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle had once been close before they were separated after Vianne’s marriage to Antoine. However, at the onset of the Second World War, when Antoine is sent to fight, the sisters come together once again.
The relationship between the two sisters is tested by the war’s progress till they both find themselves facing life threatening situations where they might have to fight their own wars against the enemies, the Germans. The bravery and strength of spirit that they show during trying times is remarkable and some of the lines are so poignant that they will make you stop reading and just stare into the space and reflect on your own life.
Though not very high in literary value, this book will keep you up till the wee hours of night not letting you sleep till you finish it. I loved the plot and the different shades of characters portrayed by the three protagonists. Most importantly, the characters can be related to, and hence seem very real.
The plot revolves around Rachel, who goes to the office by train every day. There is a house she observes, on the side of the tracks, whose inmates make her feel very warm and happy. She imagines that the man is Jason and the woman, Jess and they are in a very happy and fulfilling relationship. On some level, she longs to be living their lives.
However, one morning Rachel sees Jess kissing some other man on the terrace, someone who is not her husband, Jason. Rachel feels terrible. She is reminded of her own broken marriage. The very next day, the girl – Jess, disappears. What happens to the girl and who was the other man…?? And how is Rachel involved in all this?
Find the book on Flipkart, Amazon India and Amazon US.
This is a collection of short stories where the central theme is arranged marriage. From the story of a demure and traditional Bengali woman being married to a man who lives in the U.S. and the reality she faces after his sudden death, to the girl who comes for higher education into the U.S. and stays with her aunt and uncle, confronting complexities in relationships and foreign lands, to the divorced middle aged mother who is faced with raising her son alone in San Francisco, this collection of stories with their underlying themes of feminism and a woman’s power to change her destiny, is as poetic as it is realistic.
A must read, especially for Indian women.
I loved Twinkle Khanna’s columns in the Times of India and hence I picked up this book. I love her self-deprecating sense of humor along with her support of feminism. Twinkle is one of the few ladies from Bollywood who have no qualms in calling herself a feminist and that is so clear in her writing as well. Sample this one:
“Menstruating doesn’t cause pickles to spoil, temples to collapse or food to rot, nor is it contagious, though it would be rather nice to infect the male population with this so-called ‘curse’ for a month or two, just to sit back and view what I am sure would be a highly entertaining spectacle.”
Do you have any other good reads for 2017 that you would like to recommend? Do add them in the comments.
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I read like a maniac, like my life depends on it. I also write and
Loved this post Kasturi! Seems like a labour of love !! Very interesting reviews- they feel like a list of lovely temptations that you’ve laid out for the reader! Thanks!
Dear Sonia, I don’t know why my comments don’t get posted at times. I was so happy with your comment on this article that I tried several times to post a reply that day, but unfortunately, I did not succeed. Thanks so much for realizing that it was a ‘labour of love’ because indeed it was. Every book that I discussed here is really close to my heart and give a glimpse to a part of my soul, and hence writing about these were like writing about my own children. 🙂 It does feel special when someone recognizes the effort and the way I feel about the books. Please let me know how these made you feel, if you pick up a few of them. Thank you. 🙂
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