March 8th every year is celebrated as International Women’s Day all across the world. A day to celebrate the political, economic, social and cultural achievements of women everywhere. There are quite a few fictional heroines too who in their own way, give us the courage and confidence to go ahead and be who we are and pursue our dreams.
Here is a list of five books with dynamic female protagonists, that you can stash in your bag for a read. Go grab a coffee, whip out one of these and have a mini Women’s Day celebration on your own!
The Devil wears Prada-Lauren Weisberger
The story revolves around a young woman who unexpectedly lands a job as the personal assistant to the editor-in-chief of a leading fashion magazine. The plot traverses through ups and down with Andrea (the protagonist) learning various life and career lessons along the way and in the process making us, the readers, realise a few too. It’s a good book on how to turn something that may not be the best fit for you, and owning it by the end of the day!
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The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
The only novel to be written by acclaimed poetess Sylvia Plath, who was clinically, depressed most of her adult life. This novel has been hailed as being autobiographical in majority. It deals with the protagonists’ inability to cope with the patriarchal society and expectations of being a housewife without any independence, to have her identity through her marriage along with the fears and insecurities of adjusting herself to the life and times in a new city, and the breakdown that all such pressures caused. A classic piece that is relevant even today.
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Palace of Illusions – Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
An epic book, in all senses. Retelling the Mahabharata via Draupadi is ingenious. Most of us remember Draupadi as Roopa Ganguly and yards and yards of yellow cloth being supplied by Krishna during Vastraharan, but this book gives a whole new perspective to our heroine. It is as engrossing as it is refreshing, and apart from some surprising insights, the book finally answers the questions of who Draupadi loved more and who loved Draupadi the most of the five pandavas. It’s a mythical feminist tale.
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Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
This is one graphic novel every woman should read. It tells the tale of a young girl growing up in Iran amidst the Islamic Revolution. Her views on the socio-political situation, life before and after the turmoil, reactions of her parents, neighbours and friends through it all, has been captured in a minimalistic but humorous manner. It is endearing and emboldening to see Marji’s acts of rebellion during the regime such as buying Iron Maiden tapes off the black market and wanting to be a disciple of Bruce Lee. This novel teaches you to be yourself no matter what your situation.
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Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
Timeless and feminist. Two words for this beloved classic. It is a story of four sisters and their mother who are living against all odds while their father is away fighting the war. This book teaches young girls and women to be independent and to be who they want to be. “Jo” or Josephine, the middle sister and the protagonist, is shown as the effervescent, ambitious girl who wants to achieve something in life before settling down, for which she has to go through some resistance too, her struggle isn’t against her family but against society and the boundaries it has created for women. A thought that resonates with so many of us even today.
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