10 Books that will Change You: Must Reads for Women by Women.

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Woman reading

It is quite an ordeal to pick few outstanding books from a pool of, well, amazingly outstanding books.

But once the task of compiling the list of some must-read books is accomplished, we can be rest assured that we have a treasure. These are the books that we can reach out to in times when nothing seems attainable.These books are our mentor that lend a guiding light when we can’t see much beyond the obvious.

And what could be better and more inspiring than having a collection of masterpieces written by some of the literary powerhouses themselves?

Below is a list of must read books for women that have been written by women.

Note: The list is based on my personal preference of books that have touched me in more ways than one. I hope the list resonates with you too.

Read on to create your own treasure.

1. The Bluest Eye and Beloved by Toni Morrison

“Along with the idea of romantic love, she was introduced to another—physical beauty. Probably the most destructive ideas in the history of human thought. Both originated in envy, thrived in insecurity, and ended in disillusion.” ~ The Bluest Eye

Toni Morrison is a writer who weaves poetry in prose. Read The Bluest Eye and one does not realize how the narration swiftly shifts from one character to another. Read Beloved and one would quietly move from being sad to inspired, all in a matter of few hours as one reads through the pages.

When to read: I read it during the times when I need intensity and gravity in life for these two books are immensely intense.

2. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ~ I Know Why The Caged Birds Sing

Who would call this a debut novel? Maya has written the book with such finesse that it seems like a novel from a pro who has published at least 40 books before writing this one.

Deserted by her parents at a young age to live with her momma, Maya deals with abandon-ment, racism and sexual violence. Powerful as she is, she soon finds her way in the world through a journey of few ups and several downs. Maya finally finds her true love: William Shakespeare and writing.

When to read: In those times when we are looking for love. Anything to love. I fall in love each time I read I Know Why Caged Birds Sing. If not with anything else, I fall in love with Maya writings.

3. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

“Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.” ~ A Room of One’s Own

One time reading is not sufficient to grasp the thoughts that went into the writing of this strong, feminist book. This is probably the best work one could get to read on women and fiction. She notes that had the women had financial independence and the fullest of the worldly experiences, we would have had more women novelists.

When to read: Writing a book or penning an article for a feminist magazine? Read the book and notice the change in your writing. This is my “writing-inspiration” source.

4. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

“I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself.” ~ Jane Eyre

This quote explains how inspiring and strong willed the protagonist of this book, Jane Eyre would be. It is about a woman who refuses to be hopeless despite all the odds that surround her. One of the most inspiring books ever written.

It’s difficult to pick one book among the many written by the Bronte sisters because all of the books are epic in their own ways. But Jane Eyre is remarkably prominent among all the works of those times. It is not just an autobiography which makes the book more real, it is about feminism, a woman’s strong sense of conviction and her courage that keeps her hopeful through her longing for true love.

When to read: The book is meant for those break-days when we need some push in our life. Read on before starting up a new venture or when embarking on something new.

5. Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

“No one has ever become poor by giving.” ~ Diary of a Young Girl

A 13-year-old goes into hiding during the Nazi occupation of her country. She lives in hiding for about two years and makes a best friend—her diary whom she fondly calls Kitty.

Second world war as seen by a 13-year-old, who later dies at the age of 15 in a concentration camp, is narrated extremely poignantly in this tiny book. A captivating book not because of the horror that her family goes through but for the tremendous hope this young girl harbors despite being in a state where she has to fight for survival every single day.

When to read: I can’t suggest a good time for this book to be read. No matter when or where I read it, it always leaves me in tears.

Photo: Porsche Brousseau via Flickr

6. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” ~ Their Eyes Were Watching God

A novel published in 1937 but if I read it today in 2015, it still seems so relevant.

Janie Crawford is a woman every free-spirited woman would love to be. I would love to be like Janie Crawford—strong, in love with herself and in love with life.

When to read: Best time to read? On a wintery night so that next morning we wake up drenched in feelings of love, not just for our loved ones but ourselves too!

7. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

“This is a good sign, having a broken heart. It means we have tried for something.” ~ Eat, Pray, Love

When I was reading Eat, Pray, Love, I was so besotted by the book that I didn’t want it to end. I stopped reading it for few days only because I didn’t want it to be over. This is the magic of good writing.

Eat, Pray, Love is like a song. It makes me smile. It shows me dreams and it lets me know that “a broken heart means I have tried for something.”

When to read: Best for days when I feel nothing in my life is going right and I need to find mates who are sailing in the same boat. I find that mate in Eat, Pray, Love.

8. Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

“What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” ~ Lean In

That is the powerful question Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, asks in her book. She lets women explore their capacities and encourages them to fight for their place in their career, which she calls a jungle gym.

Lean In is a must read book for every woman who feels she can do more but is frightened to try.

When to read: Read the book to emerge at your courageous best.

9. Bossypants by Tina Fey

“Do your thing and don’t care if they like it.” ~ Bossypants

If most of the books on this list left me in tears, this one surely cracked me up. Tina Fey has her own style of subtle humor that motivated me to love myself the way I am while it took me through Tina’s journey of life.

When to read: It is a book perfect for a long flight just to be assured that I won’t land sloppy.

10. Fear of Flying by Erica Jong

“Women are their own worst enemies. And guilt is the main weapon of self-torture…Show me a woman who doesn’t feel guilty and I’ll show you a man.” ~ Fear of Flying

In 1973 when the book was first published, it immediately became a national sensation. And it well deserved the honor. Erica coined the term Zipless F*ck in the book that almost all the women can relate to.

A married woman trapped in a sexless marriage gets into a steamy affair with another man. It is in this affair that she explores her fantasies which she couldn’t experiment in her legal marriage. A feminist book, Fear of Flying, talked about those things five decades ago that are still not openly and comfortably discussed.

When to read: A perfect book for a weekend read. Anytime, anywhere.


These are my top ten.

I know and totally understand that if I were to list down all the great books by women authors, I would have to start a new blog to write about them as no list could ever do justice to the vastness of the splendid literary genius achieved by women.

This surely leaves me profoundly proud that if Virginia Wolf were alive, she would have written a new cult book noticing women author soaring high into the sky of world of words.


Waylon Lewis lists his favorite books to get the beginner Buddhist, or anyone, started:



26 Great Books You’ve Been Too Busy To Read


Author: Surabhi Surendra

Apprentice Editor: Ellie Cleary / Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Mo Riza/FlickrPorsche Brousseau/Flickr 


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Surabhi Surendra

Surabhi Surendra blogs at Womanatics where she writes about women and relationships. Five years ago she gave up her well paying corporate job to settle down with her family in remote islands of Andaman. She is now slowly discovering her love for books and movies. She can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

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anonymous Apr 3, 2016 4:57pm

God of Small Things by Arandhati Roy

anonymous Apr 3, 2016 12:49pm

As always,

you are right my dear

you can be far

and yet so near

I only need to be in love

with all your being and above

who made this game of sweetest torture

but then why not – its is my fortune –

to find you, loose you, tease you, please you

sing out of tune with you and …

b r e a t h e


(I want to thank Elefant from the bottom of my heart for encouraging young women to play with words and get in touch with their sensitive side of being – highly appreciated, really – no kidding – it works)

anonymous Jan 14, 2016 6:21pm

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed!
Beautiful, hilarious, and really good advice

anonymous Oct 18, 2015 10:36pm

Anne Summers “Damned whores and God’s police” recommended for Australian readers.

anonymous Oct 5, 2015 7:30am

Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte

The Women’s Room

Women’s Reality by Anne Wilson Schaefe

anonymous Oct 4, 2015 4:53pm

SO nailed this list! OMG I will share this list will all the women I know and love. Thank you for enrapturing the beautiful essence of literature for women! xo

anonymous Oct 4, 2015 10:56am

Female Chauvanist Pigs: Women and the rise of Raunch Culture by Ariel Levy. A must read for all women and girls

anonymous Aug 30, 2015 4:04pm

Learn the obstacles that will arise, and learn how to channel your courage on the path of what you value most. Are you looking for books that will change your life?

anonymous Aug 21, 2015 8:07am

Women Who Run With Wolves by Estes should be the number 1 book read by women

    anonymous Aug 22, 2015 12:07am

    You commented before me. Absolutely could not agree more.

    anonymous Aug 22, 2015 7:07pm

    You are right. Just that in matters of books, it becomes a personal preference. Will create another list and include this gem.. 🙂

    anonymous Oct 4, 2015 9:15am

    Bingo. Ditto. Yes!!!