Great Books Written About Women by Women
Vanquishing conventional stereotypes, women in today’s world have made deep impressions in all areas of study, play and research. Women’s literature has always been a genre near and dear to the hearts of many. Numerous powerful female centric classics have had women authors who have written with such vigor and passion that their tales feel almost lifelike. We bring to you a list of 15 of the greatest books written by women, for women:
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (1847)
Jane Eyre is a bildungsroman, which is a story that depicts the development of a character. It revolves around Jane, an orphan, who faces great struggles in her life due to the oppression of patriarchy. Jane Eyre is considered to be a feminist novel, as it portrays Jane as a character going against male dominance and being an independent, self-supported woman. Brontes work is a beautiful read and sheds life on the numerous roles a woman plays in society and in her life.
The book continues to remain on most of the lists for the best classics, and is an extremely influential text in the literary world. It has been the basis for numerous adaptations and re-imaginations, and has even been immortalized in film.
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (1868)
Set during the American Civil War, the story revolves around a family of 4 sisters Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy, and their struggle to make ends meet while dealing with their father’s absence. The novel depicts their sufferings and battles against illness, poverty and death. The story, being a wholesome one, has aspects of laughter, sorrow, romance and suspense, making it a must-read classic.
The novel has maintained its position on the Teachers Top 100 Books for Children list for years, and is one of the most reputed young readers classics.
- The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (1997)
Roys debut novel won the Booker Prize the year it was published. The story is set in Kottayam, Kerala and centers around the lives of Rahel and Esthappen, twins estranged at a young age after a terrible incident. Narrated from the view of Rahel, the tale follows the reunion of the twins at the age of 31, and the difficulties they need to overcome. The book purports to portray how the smallest of things can affect a childs behaviour and life.
The God of Small Things has been received with praise in 21 countries and is the basis of a Pakistani serial that aired in 2013.
- The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
Its centred on the life of Mia Thermopolis, a regular shy teenager who discovers she is the heir to the throne of a European state, Genovia. The series depicts Mia slowly accepting the life of a princess while facing regular high-school problems and also the problems that comes with being a ruler. She meets the love of her life, Michael, and tries to balance her regular life and princess-life before it all starts to fall apart.
The book is the basis for the popular two film series with the same title and was the series due to which Cabots name got embellished onto the bestselling authors list.
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960)
Lee’s 1960 Pulitzer Prize winner is an all-time favourite novel, loved by everyone who has read the book. It is a coming-of-age novel revolving around the life of a six-year-old girl Jean Finch. It depicts the effect of the Great Depression and is a conglomeration of social injustices involving race, gender and class and the complex issues they pose to society. The novel is a great read; so is its sequel Go Set a Watchman.
A 1991 survey by the Library of Congress Center for the book found the novel to be second on the books most cited for making a difference, following the Bible which was rated first.
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (1813)
This eternally beloved classic is based in 18th century England. It portrays the life of Elizabeth Bennett, a witty and attractive girl, always quick to judge. The story deals with issues of marriage, upbringing and manners in the upper classes. The five Bennett sisters are shown to face the struggles of finding a suitable husband while also retaining their position in society. This beautiful piece of literature has had numerous adaptations ranging from novels to movies and plays.
In a 2008 survey, the book was rated first in a list of the 101 best books in history. The film adaptation of 1940, and 2005 have also received immense praise and respect.
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games depicts a dystopian universe set around the powerful Capitol and 12 districts competing in a series of life threatening games. The story is around Katniss Everdeen, a plucky and determined young girl from a poor family, set out to beat the oppressive system. She makes friends on her way, and a number of dire enemies as well. This series is a must-read for every woman who loves to rebel against gender stereotypes.
The first book in the series sold over 16 million hard copies and over 4 million digital ones. The film adaptation has also been met with anticipation and praise, culminating with the second part of the third movie.
- Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi (2003)
Written as a memoir of the author who happened to return to Iran during the 1978 revolution, the book follows the significant events in Nafisis life. Nafisi is depicted as an unconventional Muslim woman as she rebels against norms like wearing a veil. The book shows the formation of Nafisis book club and the members interpretations of western works of literature including books like Lolita.
The book has sold over a million copies and generated immense discussion and debate.
- The Twentieth Wife by Indu Sundaresan (2002)
Sundaresans debut novel, The Twentieth Wife narrates the story of Mehrunissa, a girl born to starving Persian refugees escaping persecution. The story shows Mehrunissa at the age of eight, to be falling in love with Prince Salim and vowing to someday be his bride. The tale then depicts Mehrunissas transformation into Nur Jahan, and the crucial role she plays in the course of the Mughal dynasty.
- Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisenberg (2003)
Weisenbergs popular book is an all-time favourite in the world of pop culture. It contains elements of conventionality in its unconventional story. The tale follows Andrea Andy Sach’s struggle in the brutal world of fashion and her tussles with the queen-bee Miranda Preistly. It entails elements of comedy while also sending out a strong message about the strength of professional women.
As of 2006, the book was the best- selling mass marketed book in history. The film adaptation also received over $300 million making it the most widely watched movie upto its time.
- Sita’s Ramayana by Samhita Arni (1997)
Arni’s Sita’s Ramayana is an unconventional telling of the Ramayana, narrated from Sita’s perspective. Sita points out the problematic aspects of the revered Ramayana, and does not hesitate to criticize Ram and Lakshman at several points in the narrative. This strong feminist retelling of the Ramayana has turned heads since its release, and is loved for its fearless and blatant portrayals.
- The Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth (2011)
Set in a dystopian post-apocalyptic world, The Divergent Trilogy follows the journey of Beatrice Tris Prior as she moves out of her house and into her personality based faction. It depicts the changes in Tris’s life and the struggles she faces on her path. The tale contains elements of romance, tragedy and even comedy in instances and has numerous suspenseful turns throughout the series.
The books have sold over 8 million copies in print and 2.5 million copies digitally. The film series was also received with excitement and anticipation.
- The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (1963)
This semi-autobiographical novel portrays several struggles in Plath’s life in the form of the protagonist Esther Greenwood. Esther is shown to battle with mental illness, leading to a slow decline in her psychological health, signifying Plath’s own battle with clinical depression. Several other instances in the book relate directly to Plath’s own life; this is one of the reasons this book is often included in student syllabi. Despite being a considerably dark book, this novel has continued to entrance people for generations.
- Ladies Coupe by Anita Nair (2001)
This Indian based novel follows the journey of Akhila, a middle-aged woman, who enroute to Kanyakumari in search of independence, meets 5 women who change her life. Janaki, Margaret, Prabha, Sheela and Marikolandhu encounter Akhila on the train and swap life stories. Each inspires the other in certain ways and Akhila is finally confident and inspired to live life her own way.
- Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (1966)
Acting as a prequel to Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, this book depicts the life of Bertha Mason, the ex-wife of Jane Eyre’s husband. Aintoinetta Bertha Mason is a Creole woman who faces many hardships in her early life. After her marriage to Edward Rochester, Bertha is driven insane by the oppression of society and the cruel prejudices and discrimination she encounters. The novel follows the journey of Bertha till the point in the story before she encounters Jane Eyre for the first time.
The book has sold over 2 million copies and continues to remain on lists rating the most powerful books sending out a strong message.