By Sheereen Charles
Reading is one of my favorite pastimes – inspiring books can make you think, laugh, cry, contemplate life, and appreciate what you have, all at the same time. No matter your age, race, or background, a great book can really move you. Here are nine inspirational books for everyday women written by everyday women:
- The Pumpkin Eater by Penelope Mortimer
Though the title sounds like a chef’s tale, this novel by Penelope Mortimer is anything but. First published in 1962, the book focuses on Anne Bancroft and her candid experiences with infidelity and marital conflict. Never before had an author spoke so frankly and humorously about such provocative topics that many still go through today. The book was later made into a movie in 1964.
- Joan Didion novels
Ok, so this a 3-fer! Didion’s books have been number-one picks for women for years. Slouching Towards Bethlehem stands out as a collection of nonfiction works. These works are graceful, enlightening, and empowering. On the other hand, The Year of Magical Thinking and Blue Nights discuss true-to-life events that Didion had to actually go through. These books explore the loss, grief and eventual liberation Didion experienced after the sudden death of her husband and the heart-wrenching death of her daughter.
- Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
This is hands-down the best breakup book ever! Eat, Pray, Love is an autobiography about the author, Elizabeth Gilbert, trying to find herself on a trip around the world. The story takes place after a terrible divorce and explores Gilbert’s experiences with pain and despair as she tries to turn her life around.
- I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
Malala Yousafzai took the world by storm when she decided to speak out for a cause. Unfortunately, the Taliban didn’t like what Malala had to say and tried to end her voice by shooting the then-fifteen-year-old. I Am Malala depicts Malala’s recovery from the shooting and her ongoing campaigning for education for all women.
- Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff
Even though the details of Cleopatra’s life are still amorphous, Stacy Schiff does her best to put together a story of power, politics, and sex based on historical background and other sources. The novel brings Cleopatra, both the myth and the woman, to life.
- Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
Roxane Gay is an amazingly refreshing writer who isn’t afraid to be frank with popular issues like feminism, race, and class. Her works are humorous, inspiring, and educational, and they never miss a beat.
- White Teeth by Zadie Smith
In White Teeth, Zadie Smith tells a story of two friends in London. The book touches on subjects of race, religion, character, and assimilation. It is a humorous and harsh tale that makes you think about who you are and what it means to “belong”, whether it be to a race, a nationality, a religion, or belief.
- Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
This beloved book that was made into a popular movie is an autobiography by Susanna Kaysen. It tells the tale of Kaysen’s time spent in a mental hospital when she was a young girl. It is a fascinating, clever story that follows the many mental patients who shaped Susanna’s life in different ways.