7 Most Inspiring Memoirs by Fearless Women
Learn from the stories of these inspiring ladies.
Lives of great men all remind us we can make our lives sublime. And, departing, leave behind us, footprints on the sands of time.
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Writing a memoir is a daunting task. It demands vulnerability and courage for the authors to bare their hearts in front of the world.
Here are seven of the most moving and immensely inspiring autobiographies I have read. Written by women from different walks of life from all around the world, these books are sure to teach you important lessons and inspire you to leave your mark in the world. From national leaders to small-town girls who rose to international fame, the stories of these women are inspirational in their own dazzling ways.
A brilliant and brutally honest memoir about the life and relationships of a two-time Academy Award-winning actor, In Pieces, takes the reader on a roller-coaster ride through Hollywood’s world of glamour. Sally Field’s narrative is astounding and intimate—honest to the extent it makes you feel as if you are intruding on her personal life. There are lessons to be learned from the abusive relationships she endured and her constant struggle for self-esteem, in spite of being deemed as one of the most desirable women on the planet. Sally’s courage in revealing the deepest tragedies of her life will leave you dumb-founded. But, it will also help you understand why this is a story she needed to write. After all, stories have power; stories are the only way we can break the cycle of trauma.
Sally Field’s journey through it all to finally accept herself will help you realise that no matter how bad you feel, you are not alone. Read this book, for it is a sincere, sometimes chilling, look into the life of one of Hollywood’s finest and most-loved actors.
How can you change who you are and learn what it takes to get up, over and over, if you can’t allow yourself to feel how much it hurts to be knocked down?
CEO and co-founder of Apple, business magnate, and one of the most influential men on the planet — that is how we know Steve Jobs. But for Lisa Brennan-Jobs, confining the multi-faceted personality of her father in a few words was never that simple. Small Fry is an honest account of the tangled relationship the billionaire shared with his eldest daughter. From a childhood spent in waiting for a father who was always busy and an emotionally unavailable mother, Lisa’s story begins on a heartfelt note. As she grows up, her relationship with her mother is strained further and her father takes her under his wing. The author takes us through the ups and downs of living in Silicon Valley, and how her father’s influence, his flaws, and his attention shaped her life.
Hilarious, heartwarming and deeply moving in parts, Lisa’s perspective provides an interesting, previously-unseen piece to the enigmatic jigsaw puzzle that is Steve Jobs.
Do you know about Risk and Consequence? It’s a way of evaluating whether to do something, a sliding scale. For example, if the risk is low, but the consequence is high, you might decide not to do something.
Michelle Obama is an inspiration. She is a self-made woman with unflinching zeal to leave her mark on the world. She isn’t someone who was born with a silver spoon in her mouth. Rather, she fought tooth and nail to achieve whatever she has and ended up becoming the FLOTUS — married to one of the most powerful men in the world.
I listened to the audiobook on Audible and the narrative was so beautiful, it felt like I was reading a novel rather than a former first lady’s memoirs. The best part is that the audiobook is narrated by Michelle Obama herself. Her inflexion and voice modulations make her honesty and brilliant sense of humour shine through her words.
Michelle’s story is so inspiring — right from her childhood where her parents taught her the importance of never letting anyone walk over you and standing up to anyone who tried to bully you. They instilled in young Michelle the wonders a good education can bring about — a value she adheres to even in her later years. Her story of how she ploughed through college, always being among the underdogs, and landed a well-paying job is motivating, impressing upon the reader how hard work can break all barriers of colour or birth.
Michelle’s story of finding love and starting a family are awe-inspiring. It filled me with hope and the feeling that if a black lady from a middle-class family can achieve so much, what is stopping me? Her words show what a compatible pair she and Barack made. How his vision and ambition didn’t overshadow her, rather helped her grow and become the best version of herself.
I love this book with all my heart. It taught me so much and left me with tears. I would recommend this to anyone willing to gain a different perspective on life.
If you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.
The first (and to date, only) female Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi rose to the top at a time when the role of the party leader was that of a puppet. Her story outlines the struggles she faced to establish herself as a worthy leader of the largest democracy in the world. During her tenure, Indira Gandhi made strong decisions like declaring war on Pakistan for the liberation of Bangladesh, declaring a national emergency and inciting such conflicting emotion in the hearts of Indians, that it led to temples being built and thousands of citizens being murdered in her name. All the chaos and anarchy her leadership brewed ultimately culminated in her assassination in 1984.
My Truth is compiled from several interviews the presenter had with Indira Gandhi over several sessions. What makes the book truly remarkable is that this is the first time the world gets to hear the story of this iron-willed lady in her own words. It provides an honest insight into the mind of one of the most powerful persons in the entire Millenium and a leader whose people repeatedly quoted, “India is Indira’s and Indira is India’s”. The strength of her will and her unwillingness to bend the knee in front of anyone shines through clearly in her words:
A nation’ s strength ultimately consists in what it can do on its own, and not in what it can borrow from others.
I was twelve when I was first introduced to Maya Angelou’s poetry. Our teacher at school taught the class several poems by William Wordsworth, Robert Frost, Alfred Tennyson, and many other white men. Young that I was, I asked my teacher why there was no poetry in our textbooks written by a woman. The teacher looked angry for a moment, but then, her face broke into a smile and she introduced the entire class to the Nobel Laureate Maya Angelou’s poems I remember falling in love at first read and remaining a fan till now, almost fifteen years down the line.
Maya Angelou’s autobiography is just as powerful as her poetry and easily stands among the top 10 books I would recommend anyone to read before they die. Her words would make you feel that she is telling YOUR story. That it is you plodding on through childhood believing your parents don’t want you, that a world that discriminates against you because of your skin colour is terribly and utterly wrong.
Maya writes with disarming honesty and a delightful sense of humour. Even the most disturbing incidents are described with the precocious innocence of a child that had to grow up before her years in an unforgiving world. The book will move you to tears and at some points, your heart will feel so heavy, you would be forced to take a deep breath before turning the next page. In the end, you will have a moment of epiphany at the issues Angelou’s writing will open your eyes to. Read this book because the author’s words will inspire you to dream big.
Life is going to give you just what you put in it. Put your whole heart in everything you do, and pray, then you can wait.
The powerful, heart-rending story of Benazir Bhutto, the first female prime minister of Islamic Republic of Pakistan and one of the most educated, passionate, and controversial women leaders of all time. It is uplifting to get an insight into Bhutto’s mind and to know of her aspirations for her people, in particular, the women of the country. But like her life, her story is fraught with contradictions, inadvertently drawing parallels with the story of her country as well — a story of lost opportunities, of never truly realising your potential. Though Bhutto had a loyal admirer base, she had critics as well — scholars who argued that an educated Muslim woman like her with aristocratic and political connections should have brought about more tangible positive changes in a troubled and conservative country like Pakistan.
As a reader, you might find it difficult to fathom the level of courage and resilience Bhutto must have shown as a 24-year-old Muslim woman, to live through so many assassinations, the shame and grief of losing loved ones, and the cruel undoing of her sheltered life by her father’s hand-picked General Zia ul-Haq (who ultimately went on to overthrow her father’s government and order his execution).
This is an incredible read, for not only does it offer a glimpse into Pakistan’s politics, but it also gives you insights into the mind of a fearless female leader in a male-dominated Muslim world. You may not agree to all of Bhutto’s beliefs, but you will forgive her, for her fight, her drive and her passion for democracy and democratic rights of the people shine through in her brilliant writing.
You can imprison a man, but not an idea. You can exile a man, but not an idea. You can kill a man, but not an idea.
“A timely and captivating memoir about gender identity set against the backdrop of the transgender equality movement, by Sarah McBride, a leading activist for America’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization.”
Through heartbreaking personal stories, Sarah sheds light on the constant struggle faced by a queer person for basic human rights and inclusion. She shares her stories of being bullied at school, the constant tussle with identity, the never-ending fight to find some representation in the media and government. In a world hell-bent on making queer people disappear, Sarah does a stellar job of making her voice heard and arousing empathy in the reader.
And every day that we rob people of the ability to live their lives to the fullest, we are undermining the most precious gift we are given as humans.
The heartbreaking journey of a woman who violently hated who she saw in the mirror to slowly gaining confidence as she transitioned, this book will definitely make you cry. There is passion, there is heartbreak, there is the unfathomable pain of losing a lover to a terminal illness just four days after their wedding. Though spanning just four years, Sarah’s memoir is one that will stay with you long after the last page is turned.
I tried to make this list as intersectional as possible, including books by white women, women of colour, Indian women, and women from Pakistan. I hope these books will be both enlightening and entertaining for you.
But above all, I hope they will inspire you.
I hope they will work their magic on you as they did on me.
I hope the stories of these brilliant women will make you realise that having big dreams is not wrong, not working towards realising them is.
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