11 Books Every Woman Should Read Before She Turns 40

No one looks forward to growing old – there are too many new problems and responsibilities along with many other roles to play. This is especially true for women. In the midst of this whirlwind, we often forget to take some time out for ourselves and relax. Reading books is one such way that any individual can choose to unwind and absorb new details and facts through another perspective. On this note, here are eleven books every woman should read before she turns the magical number of forty.

This is the Story of A Happy Marriage

Both a recollection of her own life and pure non-fiction literature, Ann Patchett strives to display her entire life within this book – from her childhood to her marriage and her experiences in writing. The work revolves around the importance the author gives to her family, the role of her friends and her pets in her happiness and the satisfaction in dedicating a better portion of one’s life towards what drives their passion. The reader never fails to be impressed at the very real representation of an individual’s life story as the author takes the opportunity to delve through monumental incidents such as opening a bookstore that enshrined her beliefs, ideals, commitments, relations with people and other defining incidents in her role as a mother and daughter.

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

Pema Chödrön is here as a fairy godmother – the book is filled with bits of wisdom, pieces of self and unbridled wisdom for anyone going through a difficult time and such periods seem never-ending. Here’s a book that wishes to understand every woman going through situations of chaos, confusion and roadblocks; the author seeks to channel your conflicting and intensive emotions into better channels of growth and impact in personal and societal situations. Chödrön advocates a form of spiritual release and personal development, both in her advice and preferred method of dealing with problems. Unlike others, she believes that dealing with painful situations begins with encountering them intimately and emotionally which allows you to grow.

The Wisdom of Sundays: Life Changing Insights from Super Soul Conversations

It wouldn’t be a list for women or for middle-aged individuals or even life advice if there wasn’t the ever-brightening presence of Oprah Winfrey. Winfrey always makes sure that her viewers (and readers) gain their inspiration and soul advice from the least likely sources and in a way that allows them to appreciate the simpler and smaller things in life. In this book, she collects thoughts, wisps of dreams and pathways of light from the many awe-inspiring leaders of the 21st century – this includes Shonda Rhimes, Elizabeth Gilbert and their perspectives into emotional dilemmas, dealing with life differently after so many years and love.

Why Won’t You Apologize?: Healing Big Betrayals and Everyday Hurts

Harriet Lerner (PhD) explores the unfrequented side of forgiveness. She counts on the premise that during this point of time, every woman would have experienced their fair share of emotional trauma, unexpected betrayal and mental hurt. This may seem too simple a premise, but this is what the entire book is based on – forgiveness and the power of one apology. The emotions that are set behind forgiveness and the idea that letting go and forgiving is the easiest way out of feeling mentally trashed upon has always been the norm. Lerner puts this thought on the pedestal and seeks to analyze the truth behind the thought. An ‘I’m Sorry’ is a long way from learning to trust again and going through the emotional process of healing, as the words suggest. She comes with the heavy backing of having studied apologies for a long period of time and analyzing the many reasons some people refuse to provide one. Accompanied with the desire to make amends, Dr.Lerner unleashes the true power of forgiving someone.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Cheryl Strayed emphasizes on dealing with the stumbling blocks of life through travel and gaining a whole new perspective to one’s life. After a messy divorce and the loss of her mother, her stranded thoughts found a new wholesome and safe place – travel. After embarking on a challenging hiking trip alone through 1100 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail in 1995, Strayed found herself and a reformed purpose of life. She allows the reader a peek into the true transformation from rock bottom in discovering herself and overcoming the emotional impact of grief, making this book a must-read and a companion of every woman who has been in the same shoes.

The Handmaid’s Tale

This masterpiece requires no introduction neither a commentary on the achievements and the successes it has experienced. Margaret Atwood’s work is a must-read for all ages and all sorts of women as she explores an alternative reality in which a majoritarian religious government has taken over the United States of America. This dystopian world treats women simply as reproductive machines and not as individuals, banished to a life of producing children for those in power and increasing the population. The story is a powerful, and terrifying, depiction of today’s world where the society seeks to control women by their womb and regulate any and every right they are given.

A Room of One’s Own

In the title itself, Virginia Woolf seeks to grasp the true meaning of independence and individual rights and the female way of achieving the same. With apt recognition as the original feminist work, the book explores entities such as Jane Austen and Shakespeare and the sexual implications on restraining female creativity. It tries to understand a long-term method of placing women in the core of the literary pursuits of the global population that is often dominated by men. Never forget the famous line, “a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction”.

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

Maya Angelou combines the different tropes of beauty in words, literary music and imagination to propose a biography where she reminisces about her childhood with her grandmother, the memories and the lessons she learnt under the context of the 1930s. It talks about the reformation of a young girl, her character development and strength of spirit and how literature assisted her tremendously in her fight against racism and its emotional trauma.

Eat Pray Love

As the tagline says ‘one woman’s search for everything’, every woman in the throes of her 40s needs to read the book and see Julia Roberts enact the dream of gaining satisfaction and peace of mind, as everyone should at one point in their lives. Elizabeth Gilbert includes realistic details of her travels through Italy, Indonesia and India, the spiritual realizations of engaging in travel for one’s soul and wanderlust being the cure of getting through life’s harshest realities.

Midnight’s Children

There are no deep revelations in this book, instead Salman Rushdie simply draw the reader’s interest to those left forgotten in the steps to progress. Under the transition of British colonialism in India to people’s rule and independence and use of the literary tool of magical realism, Rushdie talks about a group of children gaining powers when born on the midnight of the day of partition. Each child gets a role to play in the geography they hail from and the book focuses on the problems faced by the main protagonist under the Emergency fiasco of Indira Gandhi with severe criticism against the political aspirations.

Pride and Prejudice

Any book by Jane Austen is always a delight to read, no matter the audience. Austen’s fierce convictions in her life and her fierce refusal of stereotypical roles for any gender promoted the greatest literature during this time. Pride and Prejudice is one of those masterpieces, spoken for by the many different depictions on TVs and shows. The major transition arc of Mr.Darcy from accepting Ms.Elizabeth ‘despite her flaws’ to ‘loving her for who she is’ became a major love story and remains alive till today.

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