Top 10 books every woman should read

There are some books that every woman simply has to put on her to-read list. Here are our top 10 selections.

1.  Daughter of Fortune - Isabel Allende
Set in Anglophile Chile and nineteenth century California, Daughter of Fortune tells the tale of Eliza Sommers, a young orphaned girl rasied by a Victorian spinster and her rigid brother Jeremy. 

When she falls in love with Joaquin Andieta, a poor and lowly clerk deemed highly inappropriate by her adopted folks, she begins a clandestine and forbidden affair that will soon have the spirited, brave and highly independent heroine following him to the ends of the earth.

Between the chaos, history-in-the-making and the turbulent violence, Eliza's journey becomes one of  personal transformation and by the end of it all, she must finally decide whether or not Joaquin is really her heart's desire.

Buy your copy here.

2. The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood.
Bestselling author Margaret Atwood's classic novel, The Handmaid's Tale is a provocative, dystopian masterpiece that portrays a world where women are completely controlled and prohibited from doing anything that gives them the slightest amount of freedom.

Offred is a Handmaid living in the Republic of Gilead.  As an unfortunate Handmaid , she lives under a new social order where she has been assigned to a prominent family for one purpose and one purpose alone: to breed.  She can still remember the days where she lived with her husband and was able to play with and protect her daughter… but all that is gone and now she is forced to survive in a world where your value is measured by how functional your ovaries are.

Buy your copy here.

3. Half the Sky - Nicholas D. Kristof & Sheryl Wudunn
Half the Sky chronicles the lives and times of an array of extraordinary women who have struggled and suffered through horrendous circumstances:

From the Cambodian teen sold into sex slavery to the Ethiopian woman left for dead after enduring a difficult birth - these remarkable women and their stories are ones that don't always have happy endings, but are definitely stories that everyone should read.

Buy your copy here.

4. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
One of my favourite novels of all time, Memoirs of a Geisha tells the story of an adopted  young girl who grows up to become a celebrated geisha and the illustrious mistress of one of the most powerful men  in Japan.

From the heart of a small town fishing village to the heart of 1930's Kyoto, Memoirs of a Geisha uncovers both a spellbinding world of seduction and eroticism, while at the same time exposing an world where women are exploited and degraded.

It's a beautifully written novel that does not only focus on the ugliness of life behind the screens, but it portrays a vivid account of Japanese culture and the young girls who learn the art of becoming a geisha.  Read the book before you watch the movie. You won't be disappointed.

Buy your copy here.

5. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath

Although Plath was mainly known for her poetry, The Bell Jar, first published more than 30 years ago is what really catapulted her into fame. This largely autobiographical novel tells the story of a young girl's decent into sadness during a summer internship at a magazine.

Of course, what makes this novel even more poignant is the fact that Sylvia, who suffered from bipolar disorder, committed suicide shortly after the book was first published.  Beautifully written and achingly sad, this honest book will remain with you long after you've read it.

Buy your copy here.

6. This Charming Man - Marian Keyes
How could we not include Marian Keyes? There are so many reasons that women love her and if you haven't read any of her books yet, then perhaps you better start. Known for bestselling books which include Sushi for Beginners and Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married, Keyes has definitely hit another high with This Charming Man.

Narrated by four different women, This Charming Man chronicles the story of these four women whose lives have each been affected by one man (in this case a very slick politician) in one form or another.

The novel explores how their relationship with this man has affected and shaped their lives, but is also a journey through the varying degrees of (highly relatable) demons that each woman faces. From depression to self-doubt and domestic abuse - This Charming Man is Marian Keyes at her storytelling best.

Buy your copy here.

7. What Looks Like Crazy On An Ordinary Day - Pearl Cleage
So, this book made it on Oprah's book club. Now depending on how much you love Oprah, you will most likely either love or hate this book.

Meet Ava Johnson. After years of living the high-life, Ava's life spirals on a downward path after she is diagnosed as being HIV-positive. Quickly packing up, she flees to her old home in Idlewild in order to look for solace and hideout at her sister's place.

Yet, she doesn't really have time to mope or spend her days drowning in sorrow because her home town's little community  are facing trials, troubles and tragedies of their own. And suddenly she finds that the community she couldn't wait to escape from is suddenly a community she just can't turn her back on.

In doing so, she also discovers that in spite of it all, falling in love is still possible.

Read our review here or buy your copy here.

8. The Interruption of Everything - Terry McMillan
As a mother of three, Marilyn has always put her career and dreams on hold in order to build and create the perfect home and lifestyle with her not-so-faithful husband, while at the same time juggling her time between caring for her elderly mother-in-law and looking after her grown kids.

In between, she still has to squeeze time in to keep tabs on her fabulous friends and her own aging mother who (as if life wasn't throwing enough curveballs her way) happens to be living with Marilyn's drug-addicted foster sister.

Somewhere along the line… something's just got to give. But how?

Read our review here or buy your copy here.

9.  Pomegranate Soup - Marsha Mehran

It's been seven years since Marjan Aminpour fled Iran with her younger sisters Bayah and Layla and to them, the small, Irish little village of Ballinacroagh seem to be a much needed haven for them. When they set up an old pastry shop, the sisters set about creating an exotic oasis adrift with sensuous smells and decadent spices.

Naturally this comes as a shock to a town to whom these scents and spicy aromas are as foreign as the foreigners themselves. But, these little fragrances soon work their magic on the people in spite of opposition from the village king and soon Marjan and her sisters are blooming in the little town of Ballinacroagh.

If you've loved Like Water for Chocolate and Chocolat, then you will no doubt love this little gem of a novel.

Read our review here or buy your copy here.

10.  Recipe for Life -  Nicky Pellegrino
One summer, two women and a crumbling Mediterranean villa.  Meet Alice and Babetta. One has fled from a night she'd rather forget while the other has a fair share of troubles of her own. Come Villa Rosa where the two meet and soon secrets, hopes, dreams and fears are shared.

Beautifully written and fragrant with vivid emotions, this novel isn't just a foodie novel, but one of how life with its little surprises can transform you and prove to be far richer than you could ever have imagined.

Read our review here or buy your copy here.

That's our list, but we'd love to hear some of your suggestions, so recommend away.

- Women24

Read more on: fiction  |  books

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