Chronicling life, loss, pain and workplace challenges, these memoirs portray the lives of extraordinary women.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in another person's shoes? Reading a memoir gives you the chance to bear witness to the writer's life, learn from their achievements and disappointments and, for a fleeting moment, step out of your everyday existence and be transported to a different world.
Below is a list of eight all-time popular memoirs written by powerful women who have doled out the most private and heartbreaking events of their lives in their books. So don't forget to include these in your must-read memoirs list and be inspired by the wisdom imparted by these incredibly courageous women.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
It is only but apt to start off the list with the book that catapulted Maya Angelou's extraordinary literary career. The memoir first hit the stands way back in 1969 and still manages to strike a chord with the readers.
The book chronicles the journey of Maya and her brother who were sent by their mother to live with their devout grandmother. The sense of abandonment, the hurt caused by discrimination on account of being black and an unwanted pregnancy due to a horrifying occurrence are some of the hardships that changed her life forever.
Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year by Anne Lamott
Next on the list is the memoir written by Anne Lamott which provides a poignant as well as a comic account of her maiden year as a single mother. The conversational style of the memoir effectively conveys the big and small incidents that piece together a women's life.
Though she is not the only one who ever decided to raise a child single-handedly, her account brings in a fresh perspective about a woman's journey towards personal growth.
A Princess Remembers: The Memoirs of the Maharani of Jaipur by Maharani Gayatri Devi
This royal memoir by the erstwhile queen of Jaipur Maharani Gayatri Devi promises to give the reader a sneak peek into her life of abundance and extravagance. Born into a royal family and married to a king, Gayatri Devi shares her memories of a carefree childhood and the adjustments she had to make after marriage.
Her writings take you back to the bygone era of elaborate mansions and horse-ridden chariots. The memoir provides an informal account of the princely states of India and also gives an incisive look at the life of a woman who was not only known for her classical beauty but also her political prowess.
Killing Days: Prison Memoirs by Joya Mitra
Joya Mitra is a well-known writer who was sent behind the bars for supporting the Naxalite movement in 1970. Killing Days is her memoir in which she furnishes an in-depth account of the horrifying prison conditions and tragic exploitation of the inmates.
The memoir begins with a perturbing description of her bundled behind the back of a police vehicle. Not yet into her 20s at that time, Joya is kept prisoner as a political detainee who must await trial. The book not only narrates the tales of her struggles but also of other inmates with whom she builds a bond during the course of her imprisonment.
Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
The highly celebrated memoir instantly sold seven million copies when it was first published in 2006. The three words forming the title of her memoir are actually the three sections of her book that details her experiences in living in three different countries: Italy, India and Indonesia.
Despite having a successful career, a house and a husband she felt a sense of emptiness. After having struggled through a bitter divorce, depression and another failed romance, Elizabeth decides to take a year off and embark on a journey of self-discovery.
Bossypants by Tina Fey
If you are the kind of person who prefers to resort to comedy when life appears in doldrums, Bossypants by Tina Fey is just for you. The popular American comedian published her memoir in 2011. Through her memoir, Tina takes a wry look at her career, her experiences of motherhood and life in general.
But amidst the humour, Tina manages to express her opinion on some hard-pressing issues such as breaking the glass ceiling and the penchant of men undermining women during meetings. Her honesty, self-deprecating humour and wit shines through her book and makes it a fun read.
Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala
Set behind the backdrop of the 2004 tsunami in which the writer lost her husband and children, the memoir is one of the most moving tales of personal loss.
Reading the book brings alive the extent of fury unleashed by nature that day. Sonali was driving away with her family in a jeep when the disaster struck. Being the only surviving member of her family, she narrates her struggles of coping with a grief that has left a black hole in her heart.
Life in Code: A Personal History of Technology by Ellen Ullman
It is not a hidden fact that the technology domain is still greatly dominated by men. If women think it is hard to break into that space today, just imagine what it must have been in the 70s.
Ellen Ullman's memoir is a collection of essays that eloquently describes her journey to be among the handful of woman programmers at that time. From being mistaken to be a secretary to the time when she demanded a fair level of pay, Ellen talks about the various stereotypical notions that are pertinent even to this day.