The Must-reads for All Women
~ By Chaitali Verma
Although the literary world still has its fair share of sexism, the fact that people (sadly still mostly women) are looking for books that revolve around female experiences, shows that we are definitely moving forward. Over the past generation, more and more female voices have arisen from all walks of life, telling stories their own way. To read a novel with a strong woman character as its protagonist is another experience in itself, and to witness the empowerment unfold in stories rather than in theory, is a beautiful journey. Here are some books with strong-headed female spirit to capture your mind:
Not Without My Daughter by Betty Mahmoody
This book is one of those which one will find themselves coming back to, over and over again, no matter how many times they’ve read it. It is based on the real-life story of the author, who was held hostage in Iran, along with her daughter Mahtob, by her own husband. The book starts off with their initial journey from the United States to Tehran, the capital city of Iran, where they are supposed to visit her husband’s side of the family. Although, soon enough she realises that he does not intend on going back, and will not let them go back to the States. What unfolds thereafter, is a journey of her struggle and bravery in battling the horrid situations faced by her, and her resolution to leave the county with her daughter, separated from her, by her husband. This book documents her journey that is filled with hope and a spirit of fighting back, and not giving up on her love for her daughter, even after failing several times.
When The Moon is Low by Nadia Hashimi
The story follows Fereiba Waziri, an Afghan woman, living a happy life in Kabul with her husband and children. However, when the Soviets invade the country, and the US responds by arming the Taliban, a fanatical religious group, orthodox rules are imposed in the country, and free-thinking individuals are targeted. Subsequently, her well-educated, broad-minded husband is killed by them, and Fereiba has no option but to flee the country along with her children. They make their way to Iran, then Turkey, and Greece thereafter. While Iran and Turkey provide comparatively easier conditions to survive, in Greece, they are forced to sleep in parks and steal bread. Yet, Fereiba never gives up and carries on to do whatever it takes to get to her sister in London. A gripping read, this book is a tale of a woman who fought for her education, her right to choose her clothes and a liberal life, and raise her children similarly.
Hijabistan by Sabyn Javeri
A collection of sixteen short stories, all connected by a single element, the Hijab. This book tackles several subjects like menstruation, extramarital affairs, Islamophobia etc.- all uncomfortable truths in the eyes of society, that are more often than not, dismissed, rather than discussed. It is a rollercoaster ride that makes the reader experience a whirlwind of emotions, ranging from excitement and thrill to anger, sadness and pity. Each story, features a female as its central character, their ages ranging from a girl who has just got her first period, to a woman with greying hair, all of them facing tough situations that are considered to be ordinary issues in the life of a woman. Most of these stories end with beautiful descriptive sentences or hard-hitting dialogues that strengthen the impact of the story, and linger on the reader’s mind, so much so, that one cannot help but reflect on the tale that they just encountered. A few of them that deserve a special mention are – ‘The Lovers’, ‘The Hijab and Her’ and ‘Fifty Shades at Fifty’.
Apart from these, there are many other must-reads, to name a few- ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ by Khaled Hosseini, ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood. These books are written beautifully and powerfully. No matter how stressed you might be because of work, personal relationships, or countless other issues faced in daily life, a great story can help you take a break, and make it all slip away. Everything we read fills our head with new bits of information, and we never know when it might come in handy. Maybe the next time you face a difficult situation, you might remember one of these compelling stories, and gather the courage to overcome your challenge! And after all, even if you ever find yourself everything, all your material possessions, you can never lose your knowledge. Happy reading!