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Dreams in pages: year-end reads for women

Tanvi Dubey
17th Dec 2015
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A book is a dream that you hold in your hand – Neil Gaiman

If books are what your dreams are made of then you must read this article. If they’re not, then you must as well. HerStory spoke with a couple of women artists, entrepreneurs and technologists to find out what their dream books are. Read on.


feature-dream books

Essays In love, by Alain De Botton is Alicia Souza’s favourite.It’s the smartest hybrid novel I have read about love. He walks you through analysis and theories with a simple everyday honest love story. It’s simply just smart!” Alicia, Illustrator and entrepreneur.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach comes highly recommend by Parimala Hariprasad and entrepreneur Ekom Mamik.

“I recommend this to everyone who explores new avenues instead of sticking in traditional ruts that go nowhere”, says Parimala, entrepreneur

Ekom, the Founder of MoringaWhat says, “It’s a short read that encapsulates so wonderfully and powerfully, the trajectory of our experiences, that being different is a powerful gift and in that sense, ironically, we are all so similar, as we are all different. It means different things each time that you read it at different stages of your life. In summary the book screams, Individuality is a celebration.”

Parimala recommends two other books, one is the universally well-received The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and the other is The Secret by Rhonda Byrne.

This world has more people who can kill your dreams rather than nurture them. The Alchemist is for people who dare to dream and slog it out to make their dreams come true,” she says.

The Secret is all about, “We are what we think. This book reveals the secret of attracting goodness while keeping negativity at check. This books also tells how you can be happy while being in the most adverse situations ever.”

Aditi Gupta, the Co-Founder of Menstrupedia points us in the direction of these two books:

The Naked Woman: A Study of the Female Body by Desmond Morris “As women we are often trapped in the dilemma and shame about our body parts and their function and this books helps in understanding our selves better biologically and helps us to look at ourselves in a much empowered ways,” she shares.

Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo by Mary Doughlas is mostly for those into ethnography, anthropology and research. “It sure helped me understand why people judge modern day women. It is because they expect women to be proper, religious and adhering to societal norms.”

Richa Kapoor calls this next book on our list a must read.

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Gilman instantly struck a chord with Richa Kapoor, a stand-up comedian and an Improv artist.

“On an initial reading one would typically summarise it as a white woman’s descent into madness due to solitary confinement reinforced by patriarchal forces. Struggling with postpartum depression, her only means of psychological respite from her ‘childish paranoia’ is the stifling forced ‘rest cure’. In such a confinement her only point of intellectual activity or communication is the despicable yellow wallpaper in her room. The wallpaper as a powerful symbol initially begins as an annoyance, turns into a pass time and escalates into an eventual obsession to break through patriarchy.

However, the nameless protagonist comes out victoriously from such a web shocking her male nurturer. The play of words and enigmatic imagery transcends the reader into a state of reading a psychological thriller. However, the symbolism disguises the feminist overtones questioning our daily experiences that you and I as women experience together, all over the world.”

Deepa Subramanian, the Founder and Creative Head, Galerie De’Arts, Bangalore roots for The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir. A classic, it was written in 1949 in French.

The book talks about the treatment of women throughout history. Deepa says,

“The book was banned by the Vatican and placed in the list of prohibited books because of the feminist theories it propagated. We have come a long way since 1949, but probably just skimmed the surface sadly. Understood within Beauvoir’s framework, women can be women without having to be subjected to biological and economic limitations and can have her own idea of what it means to live her sex and sexuality.”

For Ankita Shroff the Founder of SAV Chemicals The Power by Rhonda Byrne has left a deep impact. “If you actually think and execute the life lessons, the power works so well to achieve your dreams and goals. It has done wonders in my life,” reveals Ankita.

Aruna Ganesha Ram, Artistic Director, Visual Representation who just finished reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert who is also the author of Eat Pray Love, found the book inspiring and relevant for anyone who wants to live a creative life.

“When we hear the word inspiration, we try and look around to find it in different ways. Elizabeth Gilbert asks us to look within, into our lives, our daily moments and see how we can live each passing minute to our creative best. Do we have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within us? We are architects of our lives, but we need to become explorers to make those fine discoveries, one moment after another. Can we be enchanted by our discoveries that they throw up an infinite set of possibilities for us? Can we allow ourselves the freedom to paint our creative canvas over and over, not really worrying about the outcomes? What will it take us to not deter from our paths and find absolute delight in our creative endeavours? Do we trust ourselves to embrace change and treat fear as an ally? Do we completely believe in the magic of a creative life?

These are BIG questions. Magic is in the air. Breathe.”

Cheryl Braganza, an artist who is a cancer survivor and a Goan residing in Montreal suggests Marry Your Muse by Jan Phillips. Cheryl picked up the book 20 years ago when she did not even know the meaning of muse. The book takes apart the creative process and Cheryl discovered it when she needed it the most.

“At the time I was in a fog, questioning my motives as an artist and writer, whether there was any merit in doing what I did. Jan Phillips’ words levitated before my eyes spiralling into my dreams. Her gentle meditations, stories, suggested actions and poems became keys to doors, which opened exciting new vistas. She showed me how to trust my feelings, to believe in myself, to nurture my ‘muse.’ I followed her step-by-step guide over the years and gradually uncovered the goldmine inside me.

Let it do the same for you.”

Cheryl recounts how years later she met with Jan Philips who currently heads the Living Kindness Foundation and meeting with her re-inforced Cheryl’s faith in humanity. “She continues to be an inspiration,” she says with a smile.

Manisha Raisinghani, Co-founder of LogiNext and a woman in tech shares her favourite– Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. What Manisha loves about the book is that is conveys facts with a lot of humour. Manisha shares a small excerpt from the book –

“Pink is my favourite color. I used to say my favourite colour was black to be cool, but it is pink—all shades of pink. If I have an accessory, it is probably pink. I read Vogue, and I’m not doing it ironically, though it might seem that way. I once live-tweeted the September issue.”

Doesn’t that touch a chord?

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, says Manisha Rao, the Founder of LuxeCafe, “Is a must read for all women who wish to make something of their lives. I love how the author recounts her own experiences while talking about and advising women on taking charge of their own careers and pushing forward while working through the gender bias prevalent in the workplace and the challenges of pursuing the balancing act of parenting versus working.”

So here’s to chasing those dreams and if these books are not on your list then go ahead and get them.

Do write to us at her.yourstory.com and share your favourite books with us.

(image credit: shutterstock)

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