This month’s theme for Monthly Recommendations is: empowering females! I’m doing this one a little bit differently because there are books that I’ve read that definitely have some strong females, but there are also books that are on my TBR that I’m looking forward to because of the fact that their main character is a female and she sounds fantastic.
Books That I’ve Read and Definitely Recommend
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Elizabeth Bennet is one of the strongest heroines I’ve read. And part of that is that you get to see her growth throughout the novel. You see her admit her faults that she was too quick to judge. You see her fiercely protect her family and those that she loves. You see that she has her own opinions and is not afraid to make them known, even though she lived in a society where women were considered to be subservient to the menfolk in their lives. She’s both strong and vulnerable and I just love her.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares
I’m currently re-reading this series for the first time in about 10 years as part of the #pantsalong and I am falling in love with these characters all over again. Carmen, Lena, Tibby, and Bridget all have their own strengths and their own weaknesses, but they are all positive role models. I love that I can find myself identifying with all four of them, though I tend to identify the most with Carmen. Ann Brashares does a fantastic job of portraying realistic teen characters and I absolutely adore the friendship between the four girls. It’s not always perfect all the time, which I truly appreciate reading about.
A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis
Grace is a young woman who’s life starts off as being dictated by the choices made by the men in her life. However, throughout the story, you get to see her gaining her own agency and taking control of what happens to her. She is suffering from PTSD following being sexually abused, but she never lets that weaken her. In fact, she uses her PTSD to strengthen herself and to be a contributing partner to Dr. Thornhollow. It was refreshing to read about her journey as she overcomes some true trauma.
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Honestly, I really only recommend reading Divergent and Insurgent because I had so so many problems with Allegiant. Tris consistently fights for what she believes is right and while she definitely has her faults and can be reckless with her actions at times, she tends to at least feel some consequences from her actions. She is willing to put the good of society before her own life and feels strongly for everyone in her life (in fact, this intense love is used against her as a means of trying to destroy her).
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Katniss is one of the most obvious choices for strong, empowering leads, so I don’t really have much to say other than I think that everyone should give the Hunger Games trilogy a try. To be honest, there were times that I was annoyed by Katniss as a narrator, but I appreciate her as a character and how her actions were always with the aim of protecting someone weaker than her, whether it be Prim or Rue or even Peeta (when he was in the Capitol).
A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
Growing up, I wanted to be Violet Baudelaire. In fact, I used to carry a ribbon around with me, hoping that I would have an opportunity to try to tie my hair up. I was jealous of her mind and how she was able to come up with solutions (along with her brother and sister) to save their lives. She is fiercely protective of Klaus and Sunny and will do whatever it takes to make sure that they survive. She was one of the first role models I had.
The Ms. Marvel series by G. Willow Wilson
Kamala Khan is everything I want in a female superhero. She embodies diversity. She’s committed to protecting her community and the ones she loves. She’s not perfect. She’s a nerd. She’s just fabulous.
The Black Widow series by Nathan Edmondson
I love Natasha Romanoff and how she lives in the world of gray rather than black and white. You see her grappling with what her life has become and trying to make up for her past. She’s a complex character and I love her in this particular run.
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter is another obvious choice, but I just couldn’t not mention it. While Harry is technically the lead, there are just too many wonderful female characters to not mention them. Hermione, Luna, Professor McGonagall, Molly Weasley, Narcissa Malfoy, and even Bellatrix Lestrange are just a few females that show that there are different types of strength. I mean, come on, Narcissa Malfoy literally lies to Voldemort’s face. That takes some serious courage. I could go on and on about how much I love the females in this story, but that would take way too long.
A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin
In a world with so many key players, it’s fantastic that George R.R. Martin makes sure that some of said key players are females from Arya and Sansa Stark to Cersei Lannister to Daenarys Targaryen and all of the females in between. I love that Martin doesn’t kill off women just to further the man pain in his series. If a woman dies, her death has just as much meaning as if a man dies (though, to be honest, there are some times I think Martin just likes killing off his characters just because he can). They each have their own agency and they each have their own weaknesses. I’ve been particularly excited about the serious girl power that happened this past season of the HBO series and I hope that a lot of what happened translates into what is going on in the books. If only Martin would finish up Winds of Winter.
Books That Are On My TBR Because of The Female Leads
*As I have not read any of these, I’m just going to list them*
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
Wicked: The Life and Times of The Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire
My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows