Today I have a guest post from a very good friend, Shalini Baisiwala of Shalzmojo! Over to her now!!
Hello everyone! I am so happy to be hosted on Anshu’s blog today. She has chosen a woman centric topic for me to write about and I hope I will do justice to it. So without much ado, let me lead you to five books that I think every woman should definitely read.
I feel women are quite the marginalised gender; it’s been easier to suppress their voice and choices over the centuries. Be it any country, historical period, society, family, culture, religion – Women have had to fight it out everywhere to be heard and taken seriously.
I have always been the spunky kid who would pick up the cudgels on anyone and not take things lying down. I would hear my mother telling me that girls don’t behave so aggressively or loudly or…….
I found solace in my female heroines early on in life and to date a book based on a woman’s life story fascinates me more than any other.
Little women by Louisa M Alcott
This is probably the first classic I ever read and I was fascinated by it. Set in England, a household of 4 daughters where the father is away at the civil war and the mother manages everything by her. Margaret is the eldest who is a romantic and is the most beautiful of the four. She is looking forward to being married, having her own house and children in the near future. Jo is the aspiring author and a tomboy at heart with no patience for the feminine graces. Beth is a shy, sweet girl who loves music. Amy is the youngest and a bit spoilt with illusions of grandeur for her future. Each sister has a well-developed voice and character which comes out clearly in the book. They are poor and spend all their time doing household chores, and trying to supplement the family income as best they can. All the women in this book possess strength of character and don’t shy away from expressing their desires. I loved this book for the clarity in portraying women in this light.
40 Rules of Love by Elif Shafak
Elif Shafak has spun a tale of love and longing in this well written book which enchanted me from the first sentence. A parallel narrative runs in the book which switches from present day to events happening in the past as written in a book being read by the protagonist. Our heroine is a book editor who is reading a book written on the Sufi poet Shams and his relationship with Rumi. In the book, Shams gives out the 40 rules of love, each a gem in its own. While reading the book, the protagonist goes through her own life and begins to unravel it to re-build it. Only this time she has her happiness in the forefront over everyone else. The book takes us on a twin journey which allows us to have a second look at our lives too. I found this book to be very powerful from a woman’s perspective and that’s why it finds itself here on this list! You can read my review of it here
Eat,pray, love by Elizabeth Gilbert
This book was a tough read for me at first, and I abandoned it for a while. When I next began to read it, I was going through a relationship crisis in my life. I guess that’s why I fell in love with it as I could so relate with what Liz was going through. She finds herself at a junction in her life where even though her career is going great and she has a perfect relationship, she keeps feeling something is missing. Ultimately, her relationship falls apart and she takes a sabbatical from work to travel to search out what’s missing in her life. She begins her journey in Italy and through food, discovers contentment and happiness for a while. Next she heads to India to live in an ashram to find inner peace. Finally, she goes to Bali where she meets a holy man who enlists her help in translating his medicinal texts. Here love finds her but it’s not a perfect relationship and she begins to run away from it. All through the three journeys, she finds a piece of herself and begins to heal. I loved the journey of self as described in this book and found it to be very relatable. Woman tend to put too much of themselves into everything they do, leading to a burn out. This book echoes the message of self-love which is so essential for every human being, not just women.
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Cheryl Strayed wrote this book to chronicle the miseries she encountered in her life, one after the other and how she undertook a 2600 miles Pacific Crest trail to unearth her demons. 26 year old Cheryl’s life was on the rocks as she was using heroin to keep sane, sleeping around with too many men even as it endangered her marriage. Her mother’s recent death to cancer made matters worse for her. In an attempt to unscrew her screwed up life, she decided to undertake this gruelling trek. Without any physical preparation , she launches herself into a world of pain. This book is a true blue account of her struggles on this trek and how she limps through all of it to complete it. In between she faces her demons and finds the way forward through all her pain and grief.
Oh how I loved this one. The honesty with which the author has portrayed every mistake of hers and owned them is what impressed me most about it. On top of that the trek was challenging not just physically but mentally too. I know I can never do something like it. This is one book which tops it for me out of all the five mentioned here.
Erotic stories for Punjabi widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal
This is a tale of 23 year old Nikki, who is born to Indian parents in London. They immigrated to England and set up a family here in hopes of bettering their living standards. Minti is her older sister who is yearning to get married and has decided to try out the arranged marriage route. Nikki is a rebel, yearning for independence in her lifestyle and thought process. Though she drops out of law school and works at a bar to support herself, she realises she needs to do better in life. So she applies for a position at the local Gurudwara to teach creative writing classes for women. Problem arises when she realises her students are white robed, white haired elderly widowed matrons who can’t read or write anything other than Punjabi. Things become interesting when the women begin to craft out sexual stories which on the surface are fictional but underneath speaks of their hearts desires. How the women look at sex and their bodies comes out via their fantasies and leads us into an unspoken world.
I just loved this book for the brave way it let us look at the world of elderly widows. They are generally ignored by the society and left much to their devices. No one cares to know about what they want or could possible want. Through much humour and warmth, this world has been brought out in an extremely poignant way. Don’t miss out reading this book.
So there you have it – my top 5 reads for a woman! I wish you would share what you felt about them. Do tell me your favourite books too.
An interior designer by profession, writing is a passion which coupled with travel love blossomed into this blog where I love to just “do my thing”! Be it recipes, food events, travel jaunts, fiction dreaming or even meditative musings; all of it’s taken up quite passionately on my blog. I am a serious wine guzzler and love to chase butterflies in my free time.
This post is part of the December bloghop #mymojo with Shalzmojo