Jane, Anne, And Other Strong Women

I usually don’t participate in Web-y stuff like this, but when I was offered this giveaway opportunity from Skinny Scoop, I thought I’d give it a shot because… it’s about strong women and books and there’s a chance for you to win a $100 gift card to Amazon. (Dear readers who told me in my recent reader survey that you don’t like giveaways that much, I hear you! I agreed to participate in this opportunity before we got your feedback, so don’t despair. We’re listening!)

Anyway… I thought this was pretty fun, and it reminded me of all the books I love that have strong female characters.You can select favorites with the widget at the bottom of this post. But first, here are mine, along with the reasons why I love them so. Maybe some of my favorites will become yours, too.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
I’m pretty sure you all know by now that this is my favorite book on the planet. I love the book overall because every time I re-read it — usually every January — different aspects of the story stand out. It’s never the same book twice, which is some kind of literary alchemy. And Jane! Jane is a badass of the first order because, let’s be honest, she’s such a priss sometimes, but underneath that awfully serious exterior is a wildly beating heart and deep-rooted belief that she has intrinsic value. That was an extraordinary idea at the time the book was written: that a woman was worthy of being on her own merits, not because of who she married or how much money her family had in its coffers. I adore Jane’s prickly pride and the way her sense of humor emerges when she feels the love of Rochester and Adele.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
On the surface, it looks like Lisbeth Salander couldn’t be more unlike Jane Eyre, but they both have a innate sense of right and wrong that drives their actions. Plus, Lisbeth is sort of a punk femme fatale who solves mysteries using technology. Yeah, that’s like Sunbutter to me. Irresistible.

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
I read these books when I was in elementary school, and I distinctly remember being completely captivated by a description of a smoker that Pa built in the yard. It all seemed so foreign and exotic — our food came from the grocery store, for goodness’s sake.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
If you’re not reading the Bloggess, do yourself a favor and start. Right now. Jenny has a tremendous gift for telling outrageous stories in a way that makes them relateable — and can share the saddest tales that will, somehow, make you laugh out loud while your eyes sting with tears.

Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
I read this when I was about Anne’s age, and it made a huge impact on me. I think that’s why I have the interest in the Holocaust and eastern Europe that I do. I just found a dogeared copy of this book in the back of my bookshelf and am reading it right now. I’m touched, again, by Anne’s naiveté and clear-eyed realism. The years between 13 and 15 are challenging for any girl, in any circumstances, and imagining myself, like Anne, in hiding during my teenage years (or now!) has captivated me for more than 30 years.


Win a $100 Amazon Gift Card

Now it’s your turn! Use the handy widget below to vote for your favorite books with strong female characters — just click on the images of the books you like, then click the done button. Follow the instructions to share your picks on Pinterest, and you’ll be entered to win a $100 Amazon gift card. (NOTE: You may have to create an account for The Skinny Scoop to participate.) The contest ends on March 31, 2014.

Who’s your favorite female character? Tell us in comments.


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  • Tiffany says:

    Um…I LOVE giveaways, so please don’t forget about those of us who love a good contest!

  • Emily says:

    You’ll probably roll your eyes at this one, but the one that stuck out for me is Katniss from “The Hunger Games.” I just like how she’s just an ordinary girl trying the best she can to deal with what is given to her.

    But if I have to pick a “literary” character and not the latest pop rage, it would be Anne Shirley from “Anne of Green Gables.” I never read the series until I was in college, but I was the most obsessed 22 year old of Prince Edward Island ever. My husband didn’t know what to do with me.

  • danielle says:

    Friday, in the book of the same name written by Robert Heinlein


  • Jessica w says:

    I LOVE a lot of those strong female Characters like Katniss from hunger games, Melanie from the host, etc. The one book I think they are missing is Tessa from The Infernal Devices Series she kicks butt man! What a fun giveaway, thanks! 🙂

  • Shana says:

    i’ll always love Anne Shirley. …and, of course, Gilbert Blithe. 🙂

  • Emily says:

    Oh, I love Anne of Green Gables. I haven’t read that in a long time…what a great reminder!

  • Alice says:

    Of course, I have to put in a good word for Alice in Wonderland. The brave girl jumps down a rabbit hole and confronts various characters—some of whom are advocating “off with her head.” She recognizes that things get curiouser and curiouser but she never abandons the adventure –eating things that make her big and small. How can she not be included in the list of strong female characters?

  • Venetta says:

    Dana from Kindred by Octavia Butler. It’s the story of a current day black women transported back to pre-Civil War Maryland and how she survives as a slave.

  • Frances says:

    Lyra Belacqua from Philip Pullman, Tiffany Aching from Terry Pratchett and Phryne Fisher from Kerry Greenwood re both wonderfully strong female characters, smart, independent and courageous.
    Thanks for the opportunity to reflect.

  • MizCrz says:

    Oh, without a doubt, Mrs. Madrigal from Tales of the City!

  • Colleen says:

    Scarlett O’Hara is BY FAR the strongest woman I’ve ever read about.

  • Daniel says:

    My favorite strong woman comes from YENTYL,THE YESHIVA BOY by Isaac Bashevis Singer. Barbra Streisand later adapted it into the incredible movie YENTYL, co-starring Mandy Patinkin.

    Each school year I would show it to my Grade 6 students to show them the power of a wonderfully written story, and especially to show my young girl students that there are no limits that can be placed on their hopes and dreams

  • Walker says:

    belated chime in, but Kinsey Millhone from the Alphabet series has always been a fav.