21 Books Every Woman Should Read In Her Lifetime

    Some are hard-hitting, some are lighthearted, and all of them are definitely amazing.

    We recently asked members of the BuzzFeed Community what book made them feel proud to be a woman. Here are some of their recommendations!

    1. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

    "To me, it shows just how badass and strong women really can be. No matter what we are put through, we can come together and help one another in our time of need. We can rise above so many things, and find things within ourselves that we may never have thought we had before. The book completely changed my life as a woman in general, and especially as a black woman."

    Submitted by Dessj.

    2. Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson

    "It taught me that we don't have to live up to everyone's expectations of what a woman should be, and made me proud of women who are brave enough to reject the norms which pressure them to become what they're not and settle for less."

    Submitted by Tonia Berry, Facebook.

    3. Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill

    "I knew that feeling so terrible about myself, my body and queerness was objectively ridiculous, but hugely struggled to reconcile how I was feeling and how I thought I should be feeling. Only Ever Yours ripped right through all the theory and really helped me to see how ridiculous it was to put so much pressure on ourselves, how toxic it is when we tear each other down and how vital women are to each other."

    Submitted by rajonesedinuni.

    4. Matilda by Roald Dahl

    "Easily the biggest influence on my life. As a small, young, lonely girl, my weakest times were when I didn’t know who I was and I wasn’t liked by a lot of people. To be told that there was magic inside of me, and the power to make things change? That’s a pretty powerful lesson to be teaching young girls."

    Submitted by olivian4fda88b45.

    5. We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

    "It was adapted from the author's TED Talk. It's very short but gives insight to a lot of important subjects concerning sexism and a woman's place in society, and gender norms. It was very inspirational and empowering."

    Submitted by Deniz Demikurt, Facebook.

    6. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

    "The strength and endurance of the two main female characters is unbelievable. It’s also amazing because it depicts a fierce friendship between two women in a world where women's relationships are so often shown to be 'bitchy' and fickle."

    Submitted by ewyew.

    7. Middlemarch by George Elliot (Mary Ann Evans)

    "The female characters battle the limitations of their time on multiple levels, develop as people, and fight for personal power against the background of male dominance. Middlemarch shows us a whole town of varying female personalities being challenged by their time and each finding their own power in their own way."

    Submitted by jennyb27.

    8. The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling

    "The fact that such a famous and beautiful story was written by a woman is inspiring, and there are so many developed and thoughtful women throughout. Hermione’s, Luna’s, Tonks’, McGonnagal’s, Lily’s, and Ginny’s bravery and determination prove that women are a force to be reckoned with."

    Submitted by ceciliad48d1f4808.

    9. Chinese Cinderella: The Secret Story of an Unwanted Daughter by Adeline Yen Mah

    "I would recommend this book to any female, young or old, because of its most direct message; even when you feel as though you have no agency, no power, no voice to some, there is a world of people who’ve already witnessed your struggle and see only your success, and are pushing you to move forward. Adeline made me see worth in my failures and how to turn it into something I could be proud of as a young girl."

    Submitted by sasharamsaywack.

    10. How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

    "I read it at a time where I was still trying to get my head around what I believed about equality, and it really solidified the kind of feminism I wanted to be a part of. One that was strong, fighting, but not afraid to laugh at itself. "

    Submitted by Ruth Jepson, Facebook.

    11. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

    "Pride and Prejudice taught me about seeing other women in a more comprehensive way, that wasn't judgemental. It made me appreciate the value of a deep and true bond between two women in friendship, and also it made me learn to lose the fear of standing up for myself and for what I believe in."

    Submitted by Frani Rodriguez, Facebook.

    12. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants by Ann Brashares

    "I first read it when I was just going into secondary school and had no confidence; I was so shy and insecure. Reading it was such an eye opener to what I could do and what I had the potential to be."

    Submitted by maddiem4165f5e65.

    13. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

    "Maya Angelou experienced incredible cruelty and sadness in her life, and she rose above it. She found words to express experiences so many women find impossible to verbalise, and the words were beautiful.

    She was a woman who worked hard, and persevered, and was always kind. She inspired me to consider my place in the world and the impact my actions can have,and also to not give a damn what people say. I recommend it to every young woman I meet."

    Submitted by katyh44a682007.

    14. The Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth

    "Tris’ character begins as a scared girl, who transforms into a powerful young woman. There are a few 'all or nothing' moments in the book when Tris isn’t just the protagonist, she’s diverging from the narrative in which men are the only humans capable of power, both physical and mental."

    Submitted by nataliew4d288629f.

    15. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

    "It’s my favourite book of all time. Liesel is such a strong female lead, and she’s so young too! It really shows how women/girls can get through anything and come out shining in the end."

    Submitted by alanar468491290.

    16. I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb

    "It was such a resounding inspiration to all the young women out there who want to make a difference. I recommend it to everyone I meet."

    Submitted by jSmithya.

    17. Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce

    "As Alanna grows up she learns to be strong in her own skin, to accept her feminine traits and sexuality without seeing those parts of her as being weak. It was maybe the first time that I ever read anything that said it was okay to be tough and soft without being diminished by either."

    Submitted by Kristen Schebler, Facebook.

    18. The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins

    "Katniss' desire to live in a world where no child would face the horrors she had seen remained steadfast. Even when she was fighting the loyalists of a corrupt government, she never wanted to kill the people and civilians that fought against her. She wanted to free all of them, not just the ones who agreed with her. She made me proud to be a girl, proud to be a sister, and proud to be a fighter."

    Submitted by emilyerhard7.

    19. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brönte

    "She was so assured of who she was, and instead of falling apart when her heart was ripped apart she went on a journey to discover more of her own mind and heart."

    Submitted by wishicoulddelete.

    20. The Noughts & Crosses trilogy by Malorie Blackman

    "It was amazing to read about Persephone, a complex female character who pushed through in horrific circumstances."

    Submitted by hollyl400c369d9.

    21. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

    "I have never read a more powerful story of love between women. It is moving no matter how many times I have read it."

    Submitted by amyv4b821a4ae.

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    Note: submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.