From forward-thinking classics to inspiring contemporary reads, this list of the best fiction books with strong female characters features feisty protagonists, daring adventures and plenty of resilience in the face of expectation and oppression.
Harper Lee | 1960
This highly-acclaimed classic novel follows 6-year-old Scout, a sparky and intelligent little girl, whose tomboyish nature drives her Aunt Alexandra and her teacher Miss Caroline to distraction. Scout is observant and inquisitive, unafraid to ask blunt questions and speak her mind. Throughout the two-year duration of the novel, she develops a deeper understanding of the prejudice and racism present in her own hometown in the American Deep South, and will be courageous enough to fight against it.
Markus Zusak | 2005
Set in 1939 Nazi Germany, this captivating story follows Liesel, an avid young booklover and brave book thief, horrified by the destruction and burning of thousands of newly-banned books under the Nazis. The intrepid young Liesel must help to hide a Jewish boy in the basement, where the power of words and books to enrich the soul is explored by both youngsters as they try to evade danger and even death. This shocking but spellbinding story features a tough and determined female lead.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie | 2013
This rich and epic love story stars Ifemelu, a Nigerian woman who has spent 15 years in the United States, accomplishing academic success and writing a successful blog about racism in America. When she returns to the newly-democratic Nigeria, she reunites with her first love, Obinze, whom she hasn't seen since they were teenagers. Obinze had always wanted to join Ifemelu, but was blocked from entering America and thrust into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. What will happen when Ifemelu and the now wealthy Obinze encounter each other once more, under so very different circumstances? This fiercely gripping novel examines love, expectation and race in Nigerian and American culture.
Charlotte Bronte | 1847
A novel ahead of its time, the protagonist of Jane Eyre is the feisty, argumentative and keenly intelligent Jane, who refuses to accept her designated position in society. She resolves to find love on her own terms, and thinks she's found it when she meets the dark and brooding Mr Rochester. But she will have to endure tragedies, setbacks and challenges along the way, from a difficult childhood with her cruel aunt, to shocking encounters and fatal fires. This rich and gripping work of literature is simply a must-read.
Astrid Lindgren | 1945
Discover the marvellous adventures of Pippi Longstocking, a red-haired, freckled little girl who is superhumanly strong and fiercely independent! She can cook and clean for herself, repair her house, care for her pets and otherwise manage her affairs all by herself. She absolutely loves animals; her best friends are a horse and a monkey. Join Pippi as she performs at the circus, takes her friends on a trip to the Canny Canny Islands, and has many more daring adventures.
Neil Gaiman | 2002
This perfectly creepy and thrilling novel stars Coraline, whose family moves into a brand new flat. There, she discovers a door that leads to an unnerving mirror universe, where a mother and father with black-button eyes and papery skin beckon Coraline to join them. Whilst this strange other world seems in so many ways far better than the original, Coraline will discover that a host of children's souls are trapped there. Will she be able to save them, as well as herself? This chilling story is guaranteed to captivate readers.
L. M. Montgomery | 1908
Anne is a feisty young girl with flaming red hair and a somewhat difficult attitude, which her new adoptive parents, Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, are quick to discover. But as she grows up on the farm in Avonlea, she becomes a highly intelligent and outgoing (if stubborn!) young lady. Follow Anne's journey as she makes friends, goes to college, and has a few misadventures along the way!
Suzanne Collins | 2008-2010
The first in the ground-breaking Hunger Games trilogy, this captivating novel follows gutsy 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen. The post-apocalyptic nation of Panem consists of twelve 'districts', most of them oppressed and miserable places - except for the opulent, shimmering Capitol. But Katniss from District 12 has the chance to change everything once she ends up participating in the brutal 'Hunger Games', a televised fight to the death between a group of teenagers. Featuring adrenaline-pumping action, turbulent romances and a gritty atmosphere, this white-knuckle novel is truly immersive.
Philip Pullman | 1995-2000
Featuring three books - Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass - this captivating fantasy trilogy follows the courageous and adventurous young Lyra and her 'daemon', the animal embodiment of her inner self. Travel with Lyra to amazing fantastical settings, through snowy hills, to an otherworldly city, and even to the Land of the Dead, on all sorts of daring and dangerous quests.
Elizabeth Gilbert | 2006
Elizabeth seems to have the life everyone wants in their thirties - a husband, a house, trying for a baby... but she's not happy. Following a bitter divorce and turbulent affair, Elizabeth embarks on an enthralling journey around the world, determined to care for herself for once. She travels to Italy, India and Bali, having all sorts of incredible adventures and novel experiences. Feel inspired by a truly resilient and self-determining woman in this moving memoir.