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International Women’s Day is a holiday for commemorating the remarkable cultural, political and socioeconomic contributions and achievements made everyday by women everywhere.
To celebrate, we asked Goodreads for the most popular recent memoirs by women from around the world, determined by the number of user ratings, the average rating and how many people have it on their to-read shelf.
In these books, you’ll find thoughtful recollections on relationships between mothers and daughters, harrowing stories of surviving civil war and triumphant accounts of persevering in an unwelcoming world.
Keep scrolling to find your next read.
In her new memoir, accomplished writer Isabel Allende looks back at her life and career to better understand what feeds the souls of feminists. She takes the wisdom gained from her time as a journalist during feminism’s second wave, her three marriages and the rest of her lifetime of experience and packages it for readers in "The Soul of a Woman."
Wayetu Moore’s memoir "The Dragons, the Giant, the Women" follows her life from her childhood in Liberia spent missing her mother, who was studying in New York; to having to abruptly flee after the break out of the Liberian Civil War; to struggling to adjust to her new life in Texas. It’s a moving story of the search for and creation of a home.
Priyanka Chopra Jonas’s memoir "Unfinished" is a wonderful window into the life of the "Quantico" star. She shares stories of her childhood in India, her time working as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, her relationship with musician Nick Jonas and more.
As a teenager, Vanessa Springora was the “muse” of one of France’s most popular and influential writers. Now in her forties and working as the head of a major publishing house, Springora is reclaiming the story for herself, describing in "Consent" the manipulation and indifference that made what happened to her possible.
"Love is an Ex-Country" is a memoir-in-essays by acclaimed writer Randa Jarrar. Structured around her road trip from her home in California to her parents’ home in Connecticut, she recalls the violence and harassment that has beset her throughout her life. In opposition to a world that seeks to harm her, she asserts: “I am here, I am joyful.”
"Anger is My Middle Name" details Lisbeth Zoring Andersen’s painful childhood moving between the foster care system in Denmark and her violent, dysfunctional parents. The memoir, translated by Mark Mussari, is told in two voices: a defiant child’s and a passionate woman’s.
In "The Book of Rosy," Rosayra Pablo Cruz tells the story of her decision to seek asylum with two of her children in the United States from violence she feared in Guatemala. When they arrived at the Arizona border, they were separated and she had to fight to reunite her family. Written with Julie Schwietert, founder of Immigrant Families Together, an organization which works to reunite mothers and their children, they reveal the cruelty of the detention centers and the faith and effort required to make it through the cruel bureaucracy.
As the daughter of a United Nations official, Nadia Owusu’s childhood was characterized by upheaval. On top of constantly moving, her mother left when was two and reappeared only intermittently and her father died when she was 13. These difficult experiences were compounded by hurtful information her stepmother revealed after he died, which she didn’t know whether to believe or not. "Aftershocks" is a bracing memoir of upheaval and perseverance.
In "Girl Decoded," named one of the best books of 2020 by Parade, Rana El Kaliouby recounts her efforts to humanize the technology we use so that we might build a more empathetic, understanding world. She weaves in her own journey, unlearning the repressive lessons imbued on her during her childhood in Egypt. The narratives combine for a hopeful story about how, within ourselves and within society, we can change for the better.
In "Carry," Toni Jensen, a Métis woman, works through the intertwined stories of gun violence and racism alongside her personal history struggling against these destructive forces. Kirkus says it is “sure to interest those opposed to a world of angry men and their guns, bulldozers, and writs.”
When E.J. Koh was 15, her parents had to move back to South Korea for work, leaving her and her brother behind in California. Her mother wrote her letters in Korean, which Koh couldn’t fully understand until she rediscovered them. As she translates the letters, she reconsiders the lives of her mother and grandmothers, the hardships they endured, and her relationships to them.
When Jessica J. Lee happens upon a cache of letters written by her immigrant grandfather, she’s motivated to travel to her ancestral home of Taiwan. There, she explores its natural wonders and grapples with the marks colonialists left on the country in the past. The Los Angeles Review of Books calls it “a stunning reconnaissance effort to uncover and connect with family history through language and landscape.”
Lan Yan’s memoir "The House of Yan," translated by Sam Taylor, tells the story of modern China through her remarkable life. From her young life as the daughter of diplomats to her world turning upside down in 1967, when both her father and grandfather were arrested and she and her mother were sent to a reeducation camp, to now, when she’s recognized as one of China’s most active businesswomen, this book serves as an evocative personal history.
For more book recommendations, check out:
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