For many girls, books and literature give us our first look at what it means to be a powerful woman. Popular characters like Wonder Woman, Elizabeth Bennett, and Hermione Granger have inspired countless women to see the strength in themselves and stand against opposition.
If you are looking to add more badass women to your reading list, check out these five books and their amazing heroines.
1. Francie Nolan from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Originally published in 1943, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a coming of age story about Francie Nolan, a young girl from a poor family in Brooklyn, New York in the early 20th century. But despite being nearly 75 years old, Francie’s story of endurance as she grows from a bookish 11-year-old into a young woman about to enter college is still one that many can identify with.
2. Maggie Hope from Mr. Churchill’s Secretary
Susan Elia MacNeal’s seven book mystery series introduces us to Maggie Hope, a young American woman who spends World War II in England, helping to uncover assassination attempts and bombing plots and putting murderers and serial killers behind bars. Besides her cutting-edge job, Maggie is also a mathematician, which helps give visibility to women in STEM.
But despite her obvious brilliance and talent as a spy, Maggie still experiences sexism and discrimination as she tries to prove herself as more than capable than the men around her–a struggle many accomplished women still experience.
3. Antoinette (Bertha) from Wide Sargasso Sea
If you’ve read Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, then you are already familiar with Antoinette from Jean Rhy’s Wide Sargasso Sea. Of course, you probably remember her better as Bertha, the notorious madwoman in the attic.
This 1966 novel is a retelling of that classic tale from Antoinette’s perspective, as she is dragged from her home in Jamaica to become the unhappy wife of an English gentleman. In this novel, we learn to understand Antoinette’s madness as she is forced to conform to the norms of strict 19th century British society, a place where she will always remain an “other,” and eventually descends into a madness that is her only respite from these overbearing patriarchal structures.
4. Feyre from A Court of Thorns and Roses
In this trilogy by Sarah J. Maas, we follow Feyre Archeron as she transforms from the huntress daughter of a ruined merchant into the warrior queen who helps to overthrow evil, powerful forces in order to return peace in the faerie lands.
With an unending supply of determination, strength, stubbornness, and wit, Feyre is unafraid to take on even the most dangerous tasks if it means she is fighting for the freedom of oppressed groups.
5. Morgaine from The Mists of Avalon
The Arthurian legends told from the perspective of its female characters, The Mists of Avalon proves that not everything is what it may seem.
As we hear the stories from the perspectives of Gwenhwyfar, Viviane, Morgaine, and Igraine, we see that the well-known women from our classics don’t have to be evil sorceresses or pure queens, but instead, might be a combination of them both. This nearly 900 page novel finally gives women the ancient heroes we always wanted.