The Most Powerful Heroines in Literature (Because #WomensHistoryMonth)
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Set in the early 1900s, Their Eyes Were Watching God is the story of Janie Crawford — a light-skinned black woman who fights to find love at a time when men "ruled." In a series of flashbacks Janie proves that rather than being a possession, she owns her own story.
Buy It! Their Eyes Were Watching God, $14.99; amazon.com
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Jo March, one of the novel's four sisters, manages to be badass in hairpins and long skirts. She runs though it's not allowed, writes novels though it's a male profession and adds wit and brass to every scene. Little Women may have been written in the late 1800s, but Jo makes feminist statements that are as bold as "Pussyhats."
Buy It! Little Women, $10.53; amazon.com
Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
When Eliza Sommers' lover catches gold fever and leaves Chile for California in 1849, she doesn't cry in her pillow. She follows him. But, instead of her man, she finds a world filled with fortune hunters and prostitutes. California turns out to be the place where her life and that of her friend, doctor Tao Chi'en, are changed in unimaginable ways.
Buy It! Daughter of Fortune, $16.99; amazon.com
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
The only autobiography on this list, it’s a powerful story that melds pain and beauty. As a little girl, Maya Angelou lived with her grandmother in a tiny Southern town where she and her brother face the hatred of the "powhitetrash." When she returns to live with her mother, eight-year-old Maya is brutalized by a grown man. These painful experiences want to shape her, but she later finds salvation and joy in literature.
Buy It! I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, $7.99; amazon.com
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
A middle-aged brother and sister adopt Anne Shirley by accident (they wanted a boy to help on the farm). Despite this mix-up, Anne brings much needed fun to Green Gables. She's also unapologetically herself. Her journey from young girl to woman is one that people have loved since the book was first published in 1908.
Buy It! Anne of Green Gables, $7.30; amazon.com
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Scarlett O'Hara is a spoiled Southern belle, until the Civil War descends upon her plantation home. She survives not by following the standard code of conduct for ladies, but through tenacity and shrewdness. Then she meets her equal in Rhett Butler. Their romance becomes legend.
Buy It! Gone with the Wind, $19.99; amazon.com
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Amy Dunne is strong, but she's also beautifully twisted. On her fifth wedding anniversary she vanishes and her husband, Nick, becomes a suspect in her murder. As the truth behind her disappearance becomes more opaque, the real question is: Who are Amy and Nick and, more importantly, what are they to each other?
Buy It! Gone Girl, $15; amazon.com
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Born a slave, Sethe eventually escapes to freedom. But she's still imprisoned by memories of the past and haunted by the ghost of her baby. Dedicated to "Sixty Million and more," Beloved is a testament to our country's unforgivable history and what it takes to survive immeasurable pain.
Buy It! Beloved, $16; amazon.com
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
If you haven't met Elizabeth Bennett by now, it's time you did. One of the most memorable of all Jane Austen's characters, Elizabeth is intelligent at a time when a well-to-do woman's sole purpose is to marry well. Then enters the prideful Mr. Darcy, who challenges Elizabeth's preconceptions. Their witty interplay proves that, above all, a woman's best feature is her mind.
Buy It! Pride and Prejudice, $6.14; amazon.com
Matilda by Roald Dahl
Matilda's parents find her annoying and her headmistress is so horrible that she should be in jail. These intimidating adults don't stop Matilda from standing up for herself. The young girl soon discovers that she has inner strength and magical powers to match!
Buy It! Matilda, $7.99; amazon.com
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Jane Eyre is as seemingly small and insignificant as a sparrow. Sent away by her hateful aunt to live at a school for poor orphans, Jane is abused throughout her childhood. Despite this neglect, she maintains an independent spirit. This is what Mr. Rochester falls in love with when he employs her as a governess for his young ward but, try as he might, Mr. Rochester can't cage her. Jane is left to fly where she will.
Buy It! Jane Eyre, $8.21; amazon.com