Fiction proves that human beings can do magic. They can make you immerse into a new world, imagine outrageous adventures, and experience emotion over the written word.
Reading something inspiring is all the more powerful – and what better way to get inspired than to read about these truly awesome heroines?
1. Five Star Billionaire by Tash Aw
Even though this book focuses on the journeys of four Malaysians, I particularly fell in love with Phoebe. Phoebe is ambitious, focused and ready to become whatever she needs to in order to achieve success. Arriving in Shanghai, she passes herself off as Chinese instead of Malaysian, her history never really being revealed to any of the people she meets or the reader. Phoebe uses whatever she can in order to appear more successful than she is, whether that is the stolen ID found in a cafe, a “good fake” designer handbag, or her self-help books that she believes hold the key to reinventing herself in this restless city. Her life intertwines with the other three main characters in unexpected and interesting ways, and you can’t help but root for her to succeed. She’s just trying to make something of herself, and isn’t that what we all want to do?
2. The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge
After being cast out, Faith Sunderly and her family are forced to move away to the isolated island of Vale to start a new life as anonymous as they can. Their family shame however follows them there, and shortly after Faith’s father is found dead. His death is written off as a suicide, but Faith is desperate to find out why her father died. Throughout the book Faith is underestimated, being told that women cannot be clever or brave or “as skilled as a man”, which only spurs Faith on to seek the truth. She soon discovers a mystical plant that feeds on lies in order to reveal incredible knowledge, which really gets the adventure going. Faith is an awesome teenage girl living in repressed Victorian times, her desires mostly lay in learning as much as she can and becoming a scientist. She’s a character to look up to.
3. Hot Little Hands by Abigail Ulman
Each chapter of this book belongs to a new female character, and each one you fall for. Set in all different locations with all-too-real back stories, each character teaches you or reminds you of the struggles of womanhood. With some completely heartbreaking chapters, each character is a heroine of their story. There’s something to relate to within each story, whether that is friendship, love, sex, infatuation or self-discovery. I managed to inhale this book in one afternoon and it certainly left an impression on me.
4. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
A classic novel of four sisters; Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy; who are the main part of a poor family. They each face the struggle of learning about who they are, what they want and how to be the best version of themselves. Each character seems very real and even though the plot is somewhat lacking in comparison to modern literature, the personalities of each sister draw you on so that you can continue to spur them on throughout their lives. They are four (little) women just hoping to get what they want as well as support their family, namely their mother, Marmee.
5. The Girl With All The Gifts by M R Carey
Melanie loves going to her classes with her peers and reading books in her room. She particularly adores her teacher, Miss Justineau, who treats her like the cherished little girl that she is. Sometimes Melanie is muzzled and she is always chained to her desk – she is very much feared by the military that keep her tied down and at a safe distance at all time. Melanie is a particular breed of zombie – a zombie that is incredibly intelligent and a potential source of the cure that the world desperately needs. This isn’t your average zombie story – it’s more like an emotional insight to a relationship between parent-less child and child-less teacher. Melanie is a brave, vulnerable, strong and emotional young girl that you want to protect.
6. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
Ursula Todd, as I have written before, lives within the times of war in a large family home with her interesting and diverse family members. At the end of each chapter, Ursula dies – and at the beginning of each chapter, Ursula is still living, correcting her past mistake in a subconscious way. Even though you know she will end up doing something wrong, you can’t help but hope she has made the right choice this time. Ursula faces a lot of hurt and terrible consequences (hence the dying), and even though her re-birth powers are not something we all have, she almost gives you hope that things will go right after all if you are strong enough to carry on.
7. The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly by Sun-mi Hwang
Sprout, a hen who is fed up of laying eggs for somebody else (a farmer) and decides to run away into the wild to raise a chick of her on (as I have written about previously). Sprout faces so many challenges that stand in the way of her freedom, yet her determination and bravery don’t let anything stop her from chasing her dream. This may be a book about a chicken but really it’s about a strong female character who wants a better life – and who can’t relate to that?
8. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
You probably know of Lisbeth in the epic movie of this book, played by the amazing Rooney Mara – and hopefully you fell in love with her too. She’s vulnerable and yet kick-ass. She is herself and does not apologise to anyone for it. When she is sexually abused by her mental health worker she seeks revenge in a clever and much-deserved way. If you don’t know the story, Lisbeth later teams up with a financial journalist (Blomqvist) in order to uncover the secrets of a power and wealthy family, to find out the truth about the missing family member, Harriet Vanger. Lisbeth and Blomqvist make an unexpected but effective pairing and create a sweet, believable bond as the truth unravels around them. Lisbeth is empowering and addictive – very much worth reading (or watching).
What are your favourite heroines in literature? Be sure to leave a comment below – I would love some recommendations!