Good Reads with Strong Female Leads

It might be hard to find anything I love more than a good book, but a close second might be a good, inspirational story about strong inspirational women. When those two thoughts converge, it’s sure to be a story I won’t put down for a while. If you’re on the hunt for a book to read that will capture you for hours, while also reading stories of strong-willed and inspirational women, here are just a few of my favorites.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? – Maria Semple

This story centers on a mother daughter power duo: Bernadette and Bee Fox. Bernadette is an eccentric, former architect with a disdain for the mothers at her daughter’s private middle school in Seattle; Bee is a headstrong, opinionated fifteen year old who will stop at nothing to reach her goals. When Bernadette offers her daughter a trip to Antarctica, yet suddenly disappears, Bee makes it her mission to find her whimsical mother, no matter how many people tell her it’s a lost cause. I was captivated by the bond between a mother and daughter and the determination each of them carried. So captivated, in fact, that I finished the novel in a span of about three hours. If you are looking for a book that will both make you want to call your mom to tell her you love her and book a trip to Antarctica for tomorrow, look no further than Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng

Another book that I couldn’t put down and finished in a few hours, Little Fires Everywhere is a novel by Celeste Ng, and one so well written that you can’t just focus on any one particular female character. This is a story of the Richardsons, a picture perfect family living in the picture perfect community of Shaker Heights, Ohio. The family has it all, until an artist named Mia and her daughter, Pearl, come to rent a house on the Richardson’s property. This story focuses on Izzy and Lexi, the ambitious Richardson sisters, as they try to work through Mia and Pearl's mysterious past, and figure out what made them who they are. This novel displays the message that no matter our past, it’s the present that makes us who we are.

A Tree Grows In Brooklyn – Betty Smith

I must give a quick thank you to my mom, the most inspirational and strong woman in my life, for making me read this back in middle school, as it turned out being one of my favorite books I have ever read. This is a story of the curious and witty Francie Nolan and her time growing up in early 20th century Brooklyn. We follow Francie from the age of eleven to when she is about to leave for college at seventeen. While she is not the typical female protagonist so often depicted in coming of age novels, Francie is a thoughtful, quiet, and kind bookworm. She observes the people on the streets of Brooklyn from the fire escape of her tenement home and learns about them. The novel follows Francie through the ups and downs of navigating growing up and family struggles, all while being a timeless book that anyone can relate to, no matter what decade you are reading it in.

The Help – Kathryn Stockett

Perhaps I’m just a little bit partial to this one because I’m from Jackson, Mississippi myself, and can picture the whole plot unfolding before me so easily. Perhaps this book made the list just because of its amazing film adaption with a smash hit of strong female actresses such as Emma Stone, Octavia Spencer, and Viola Davis. Either way, if you haven’t read this book, I recommend dropping everything and grabbing it right away. Set in Jackson, Mississippi during the Civil Rights era, not only does it portray a piece of Southern history that shows just how far we have come, yet still have to go, but it also is chock full of inspiring women. From Minnie’s courage in getting her revenge on the woman who fired her, to Abileen’s strength in overcoming her past, to Skeeter’s persistence to share the story of minorities, no matter what the repercussions may bring, it is a wonderful read that shares the story of a problem that that happened so close to places so many of us call home. If you’re looking for a book that shows a piece of Southern history so often not talked about, yet entirely real, The Help is the perfect one.