This week, I’m posting lists of my favorite stories that have female protagonists or POVs. Today I’m featuring books, both fiction and nonfiction. Leave your recommendations in the comments, especially if they’re nothing like these, and check back Friday for open discussion on strong female characters!
Antigoddess by Kendare Blake – I adore Percy Jackson, so I don’t want to set up too many comparisons here, but Antigoddess is sort of the YA female version of that (in all the best ways). A little more mature, and a heck of a lot more women. Even the goddesses aren’t stereotypes — They’re archetypal in some sense, but they have feelings and motivations and strengths and weaknesses and all those things aren’t necessarily governed by one thing (war, or love, or whatever). Blake makes the myths new again, not by retelling an old myth but by extrapolating that big dysfunctional family into the present day, and her skill in writing horror is put to good use.
The Ashford Affair by Lauren Willig – I think I talk about this book all the time and nobody cares but me. 😀 It’s a historical romance.
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale – This book was a really great YA fairy tale retelling. Its first sequel, Enna Burning, is one of the most intense books I’ve ever read, because it follows Enna through a horrible journey to the dark side and back. It was really difficult to read but so worth it.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – I hated this book, honestly, but it’s also a must-read.
Jack Glass: The Story of a Murderer by Adam Roberts – A space opera noir mystery. The main character is male, but the other main character is a teenage girl from an elite family. About two-thirds of the book is from her POV. She’s entitled, shallow, and she doesn’t give a fig for the welfare of the servants except as far as they amuse her. She’s insanely annoying… But then she’s not. I appreciate a book that can make me love the kind of character I’d usually hate.
Just One Day by Gayle Forman – It’s about a girl falling in love with a boy in one whirlwind day in Paris, but that’s not What It’s About. It’s about a girl falling in love with who she was that day and learning how to be that girl again. It’s lovely.
Mara, Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw – A favorite from my childhood, about a spy in ancient Egypt!
The Monster Garden by Vivien Alcock – Another childhood favorite about a girl who accidentally creates a monster using her scientist father’s samples.
Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler – A young woman creates a new religion in a dystopian society.
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen – My favorite of her books, because it’s the snappiest! Different versions of these women crop up in her other books, but I think P&P’s are the most fully-realized.
Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy – It’s like Harry Potter, if Harry was an awesomesauce girl and Hagrid was Jack Skellington.
Zorgamazoo by Robert Paul Weston – I always describe this as Dr. Seuss for middle graders. Or, you know, twenty-something history students… or anyone else… It’s one of my favorite books, y’all! A novel in verse about a little girl named Katrina Katrell, who goes looking for the missing Zorgles of Zorgamazoo.
84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff – Correspondence between an American reader and a british bookseller. It’s simply lovely.
Bonk by Mary Roach – Everything you ever wanted to know about the science of sex!
The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris – It’s about her religious experiences with monasteries. It was really difficult to read at first because I would hate living in a monastery, but somewhere in there I had this lightbulb moment that I can care about someone else’s experience without sharing it. After that realization, I really appreciated what she had to say!
Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh – The book of the blog. I’m sure you’ve seen the “ALL THE THINGS!” meme — that comes from Hyperbole and a Half.
Any collection of Sappho’s poetry.
Tomorrow: Comic book recommendations!