Silver Lining: What to Read: Strong Female Leads

April 4, 2016

What to Read: Strong Female Leads

First of all, I wanted to say thank you to everyone who keeps reading my book recommendation series. My first post was a half-formed idea thrown together the night before, and I thought for sure it would bomb and I'd move on. But it turns out I'm not alone in wanting to discover and share great literature. Who knew? It keeps surprising me month after month. So thank you, my awesome readers, for loving books as much as I do, and coming back for this series. 

One of the things I love best in my novels is a strong female lead. A lady who knows what she wants and isn't afraid to go after it. There are a lot of determined, wonderful, strong female characters out there, but I wanted to share some of my favorite lead characters who exemplify these traits.

These is my Words
Nancy E Turner, 2008

What I love the most about Sarah, our heroine, is that she thinks she's just a plain homesteader, and has no idea how amazing she is. She educates herself in a time of widespread illiteracy, especially among women. She has amazing grit and strength and determination in the crazy Wild Wild West. She's smart and hard-working and family-oriented. Also, her love story is one of my favorites, even though the novel is really sad in some parts.

The Time In Between
Maria Duenas, translated by Daniel Hahn, 2011

In this international best-seller, our main character, Sira, finds herself abandoned and penniless in Morocco. She pulls herself up by her own determination, and quietly becomes the most famous fashion designer in the city. Then, in a crazy part two (that feels like a separate novel), she ends up becoming a spy, working for the British Secret Service by passing codes sewn into dress hems during WWII. Sira is understated, meek, and really really good at succeeding against all odds.

The Help
Kathryn Stockett, 2009

When you think about strong female leads, almost every main character in this book fits the bill. It's about a young woman who just graduated college in the deep South, where getting married is supposed to be a woman's number one priority. She ends up secretly publishing a book comprised of interviews of the "hired help," the African American maids who raise entire families but can't even use the indoor toilet. These women expose racial injustice and end up changing the town for good. It's filled with strong, hilarious, resilient, powerful women. The movie is great too!

Gone with the Wind
Margaret Mitchell, 1936

I almost deleted this one, because Scarlett O'Hara is one of the least likable characters in all literature. (Let me put it this way. Lord Voldemort was more evil, but at some parts we felt sorry for him instead of just hating him. I never once felt sorry for Scarlett O'Hara.) Scarlett is petulant and stubborn and incredibly self-serving and selfish. However, she is truly one of the strongest female leads in literature. She defies stereotypes, she is determined to the point of recklessness, and gosh darn it, she gets what she wants. Who said strong female leads had to be positive role models? I guess?

I want to hear your favorites? 
I'm always in the market for a good book, 
and a strong female lead.
What would you add to this list?

P.S. Follow me on Goodreads for my most recent book reviews!

More book recommendations you might like:
Great book club books
Stand-alone fantasy
Light-hearted clean romance books
Beautiful literary WWII masterpieces
Most readable classics
Best books for the new parent
What to read next if you loved Wonder

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