With Emirates Airline Festival of Literature starting today, there’s no better time to channel your inner bookworm as we reveal the top 10 books every woman should read. It’s time to broaden your reading list. The following are unranked. Tell us, how many of these have you read?


Catcher In The Rye by JD Salinger

A cult classic that John Lennon’s assassin was carrying when he was arrested. During its history, it was both the most censored and one of the most banned books in American schools.

Plot: One long powerful flashback from the protagonist Holden following his expulsion from school and heading to New York. He addresses complex themes of rebellion, identity and independence. His colloquial tone makes him easy to relate to, even if you don’t always agree with him.


I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

African-American writer and poet Maya’s autobiography is one that will truly give you a positive outlook on your own.

Plot: Maya’s personal tale looks at powerful topics of love and racism, trauma and drama. It will move even the most cold-hearted.


Middlemarch by George Eliot

Considered one of the masterpieces of English fiction, this is the seventh novel by Mary Ann Evans, who wrote under her pen name George Eliot.

Plot: Set in the fictitious Midlands town Middlemarch during 1830-32, it covers many subjects including the status of women – particularly through Dorothea Brooke and her defiance to lead a life through someone else’s – marriage, political reform, hypocrisy and idealism. It is painfully liberating.


The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf

Feminist or not, this book will make you question how images of beauty are used against women. Powerfully thought-provoking.

Plot: Wolf acts a well-informed spokeswoman in what has been described as a feminist manifesto. It looks at how as women have gradually found their voices over the years and found themselves in greater positions of power, society has found a way to fail or exploit them. Be warned, you will be angry by some of the shocking facts you learn, facts everywoman should be aware of.


To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

One of the most successful novels of the century, it is also Lee’s only published novel.

Plot: Set in Alabama during the Great Depression, the story is narrated by six-year-old Scout Finch, who chronicles life in Maycomb, where her father Atticus is a lawyer defending a black man in a rape trial.


The Wife Of Bath’s Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer

One of the most popular stories from The Canterbury Tales, with one of Geoffrey’s most developed characters. It provides an interesting insight into the role of women in the late middle ages.

Plot: A knight is spared death by the queen only if he can find out what it is that women truly want. After a long search he meets a hag who gives him the answer, but in return he has to marry the hag, who teaches him lessons in love, beauty and fidelity.


Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood 

Winner of the 2000 Booker Prize. It has been likened to Lord Of The Flies, only here the girls are the vicious bullies.

Plot: Elaine is a painter who returns to Toronto and finds herself reflecting on her childhood, which was full of betrayals and cruelties. The memories force her to finally confront her tormentor.


Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

A romance story that explores the nature of love.

Plot: Themes of good versus evil, selfishness, betrayal and obsession are paramount in this story in which Heathcliff seeks revenge for losing his soul mate, Catherine, to Edgar.


Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

This iconic novel spawned an entire genre of horror stories and films. Legend has it Lord Byron was so scared after reading it that he ran shrieking from his room.

Plot: Scientist Victor revives a dead body. When the ‘monster’ discovers how he was made and deals with being rejected by mankind he seeks revenge on his creator’s family.


The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M Cain 

Regarded as one of the most important crime novels ever written, the book, which was released in 1934, is renowned for its mix of sexuality and violence.

Plot: Frank Chambers is an amoral drifter who begins an affair with Cora, the wife of diner owner Nick Papadakis. The illicit lovers plot to kill Nick without Cora losing her business.


The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature runs from March 4 to March 8. For more information, visit emirateslitfest.com

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