In honour of World Book Day, and looking ahead to International Women’s Day on Saturday, I thought I’d share some of my favourite women in literature with you.
This woman is the reason I became a book worm at such a young age. At the age of seven, I was reading well above most of the rest of the kids in my year group and actively sought out books like The Famous Five, The Secret Seven and The Magic Faraway Tree. One of my most prized possessions is a signed copy of an edition of The Famous Five which my gran had.
The Bell Jar
I can’t mention favourite books/characters and not mention The Bell Jar and Esther. From the age of about 15 onwards, it was my favourite book until about a couple of years ago. If you held a gun to my head, I’m not sure I’d be able to pick a favourite book now as I read a lot more widely than I used to (chick lit, classics, thrillers, biographies) and a lot of books have really stood out for me lately.
Becky Bloomwood/Sophie Kinsella
The Shopaholic series is a guilty pleasure of mine. I can’t identify that strongly with the main character (who would get into that much debt, really?! yet I really warm to her and find her endearing. But don’t get me started on the film adaptation, starring Isla Fisher!
I’ve not read nearly enough of her books. In fact, I think I’ve only read three. But I can completely lose myself in her novels and I am totally fascinated by her female characters. No prizes for guessing my favourite! Clue: she’s got a great name!
Jodi is quite possibly my favourite writer of all time. I own everything she has ever had published in the UK. Of course, I enjoyed some titles more than others, but she consistently writes interesting and complex characters, sometimes throwing the same people into different narratives. And she never fails to surprise me. I can’t wait for her next novel, Elephant Graveyard, due for release in the UK later this year.
To Kill A Mockingbird is one of those novels which everyone should read at least once in their lifetime – the younger the better. I didn’t read it until I was in my early twenties and it is one of those books that I know will stay with me for the rest of my life. Harper Lee herself is a fascinating character, having built a career solely on this one book.
The Brontes/Wuthering Heights/Jane Eyre
Next to Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters are probably the most famous women in classic literature. Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre are particularly famous titles, having appeared in the curriculum for a good many years now. Yet it is hard to appreciate them at a young age. When I had to read Wuthering Heights during my teenage years, I found it painful. In fact, I don’t think I’ve enjoyed anything I’ve been forced to read for studies apart from Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. When I re-read Wuthering Heights nearly ten years later, I found a deeper level of appreciation for it and continued with a few more female-oriented classics, such as Jane Eyre, and I have to say, I really enjoyed them.
Lisbeth is possibly one of the most famous female characters in modern literature, along with Bella and Katniss, of course! Lisbeth is a broken yet strong character; dark, fierce, a force to be reckoned with. She’s also highly intelligent, resourceful and vulnerable, so while she may not be easy to identify with on a surface level, if you take the time to really get into the Millennium Trilogy, you’ll find there’s much more to her than her past.
Matilda is the perfect heroine for little girls! She’s smart, funny, loveable and has magical powers. Who needs Harry Potter, hey? I loved watching the film growing up too and could totally relate to her love of books and thirst for knowledge. What can I say, I didn’t get out much!
At a young age, the only thing I knew of this story was the adaptation starring Winona Ryder, and the one thing that stuck with me was the devastating death of Clare Danes’ Beth. And why would I want to read about that?! Like with most of the classics on this list, I read this novel for the first time fairly recently – within the last year in fact. It instantly became one of my favourite books. As a Dawson’s Creek fan, I always wondered what all the fuss was about (it was Joey’s, and her mother’s, favourite book, and she was named after Jo) and it turned out the fuss is highly justified. It’s a truly great book and every woman reading it will have a different favourite character. At first I really warmed to the loving and maternal Meg, but it’s Jo, the headstrong and ambitious writer, who really stayed with me.
If you want to read more about my favourite books, check out my recent book reviews (The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared,the Bridget Jones trilogy, The Storyteller, Become a Freelance Writer) or follow my books tag.