8 powerful books written by women to read and reflect on International Women’s Day

Schenelle Dsouza 
International Women’s Day is more than just celebrating women with gifts and flowers. It’s about empowerment and equality, and what better way to encourage empowerment than through powerful literary works in women’s own voices? On this International Women’s Day, we have compiled a list of books written by some of the most influential women that paint a picture of the challenges, norms and stereotypes they face and their inspiring journeys to success.
Ace against Odds  – Sania Mirza
Ace against Odds  – Sania Mirza 
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One of India’s most celebrated athletes, Sania Mirza is recognised as among the most prominent tennis players both in the country and worldwide. A two-decade-long journey, hers is a story worth telling. The 2016 biography Ace Against Odds is an insightful work collaborated between Sania Mirza, her father Imran Mirza and journalist Shivani Gupta. Sania recognised her passion for tennis at a very early age, but the road to becoming one of the greatest players was a rather rocky one. And even after becoming one of the top players in the country, Sania’s struggles barely fizzled out with controversies and backlash from the media following everywhere she went. But that hardly ever stopped her, given that she won multiple titles in her career, including many grand slam titles. The book is fairly easy to read and a very inspirational one for aspiring women athletes in the country.
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Becoming – Michelle Obama
Becoming – Michelle Obama
Photo Courtesy: Michelle Obama / Instagram
As the former first lady of the United States of America, Michelle Obama is one of the most influential women today. While her life has mostly been all about politics, her memoir, Becoming is much more than that. Through Becoming, Michelle Obama invites readers to understand the experiences that shaped her right from childhood to her glory days as the first lady with heartwarming snippets of family and motherhood. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.
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Anna: The biography – Amy Odell

Anna the biography
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The editor-in-chief of Vogue, Anna Wintour is a powerful force in the fashion industry. Her influence extends beyond the borders of Vogue and Condé Nast to prestigious events like the Met Gala, because as Stanley Tucci said, “Her opinion is the only one that matters!” While she might be one of the most popular personalities in the world, her true personality has always been a mystery. However, netizens get a peek into the life and journey of Anna Wintour through her biography crafted by journalist Amy Odell. It was reported that Anna actually had very little to do with the book itself; Odell in fact based the book on snippets from interviews with Anna Wintour’s closest friends and collaborators, including some of the biggest names in fashion. The book charters the relentless ambition of a young woman from London weaving her own narrative as she battled the hierarchal dynamics of the fashion industry and the complex world of Condé Nast.
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Daring Greatly – Brené Brown
Daring Greatly – Brené Brown
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If you’ve spent the entirety of your life fearing vulnerability, and feeling like you’re never enough, then this book is for you. Daring Greatly by Brené Brown addresses the notion of fear of being vulnerable and exposed which comes from a deeper dissatisfaction of not being enough. Life is full of uncertainty, risks, and emotional exposure. And stepping up for yourself in certain situations can feel alarming. But Brown shares that not standing up for yourself, not saying what you think or how you feel will leave you on the outside forever. And feeling like an outsider is a far worse feeling that the fear of vulnerability. Because isn’t it better to have tried and failed, thank to have never tried at all?
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Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead – Sheryl Sandberg

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead – Sheryl Sandberg
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For all women aspiring to be great leaders someday, this book is your guide to success. Former Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg posted a TED Talk in 2010  discussing the ways in which women are held back by peers and often by themselves. In response to the successful TED Talk, Sandberg received success stories from women around the world which moved her to address her own journey. Lean In is packed with personal anecdotes that discuss topics like workplace gender differences, women’s fears of asking for a promotion/raise, balancing work and motherhood etc while also proving tips to overcome them and discover new possibilities.
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My Life in Full: Work, Family, and Our Future – Indra Nooyi
My Life in Full: Work, Family, and Our Future – Indra Nooyi
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A New York Times bestseller, My Life in Full recounts the events that shaped the renowned PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi. As the first woman of colour and an immigrant to run a Fortune 50 company,  Nooyi’s success story stands as an inspiration for women across the world. Her book takes us through the events that shaped her, from her childhood to her education at the Yale School of Management. Starting as a corporate consultant and strategist, Nooyi soon and quickly rose to senior ranks. While talking about her journey through the years, Nooyi also addresses pertinent misconceptions like the notion that women can have it all; not with a child and family, and not without an extensive support system. The struggles faced by women in the corporate world are talked about unabashedly in the book making it a great read for both aspiring women entrepreneurs and men who can become more aware of the gender-based barriers in the workplace.
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Rescued by a Feminist: An Indian tale of equality and other myths – Saloni Chopra
Rescued by a Feminist: An Indian tale of equality and other myths – Saloni Chopra
Photo Courtesy: Saloni Chopra / Instagram
Saloni Chopra who is best known for her stint in the show MTV Girls On Top has never shied away from voicing her opinion, be it patriarchy in the modern society or evils like slut-shaming and restrictions on women’s sexuality. Describing herself as an actor by choice and a writer by accident, Chopra’s book Rescued by a Feminist explores the topic of feminism in modern society. Filled with personal experiences, anecdotes and opinions, the book has equal parts of good — beauty, love and family, along with darker evils like gender roles, abuse and harassment. Raw, relatable, and even uncomfortable, the book makes you want to question everything about the society we live in today. “In a parallel universe where Cinderella was an independent and outspoken woman, who neither came home before midnight nor needed a fairy godmother… maybe Prince Charming was Rescued By A Feminist.”
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Seeing Like a Feminist – Nivedita Menon
Seeing Like a Feminist – Nivedita Menon
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Another powerful book on feminism, Nivedita Menon’s Seeing Like a Feminist talks about feminism from a perspective that goes beyond triumph over patriarchy to a gradual transformation of the entire social field. Menon uses examples from several social realities to examine the constructed system that attempts to box women in and limit their expansion. In addition to topics like caste politics and control over women’s clothing, the book also discusses a significant range of issues like the Hindu Code Bills, the Pink Chaddi campaign, gender verification tests for the Olympic Games, gender performativity, the Women’s Reservation Bill and more. With its extensive conversations on gender, politics and control over women, the book is a good read for those looking to get familiar with the history of feminism in India, showing the slow but steady progress of the feminist movement over the years.
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