Our top picks for page turning heroines
This year, World Book Day and International Women’s Day just so happen to fall on the same week! Lucky for us, we get to celebrate the two days and pay tribute to some of the most iconic literary heroines throughout time. This International Women’s Day X World Book Day, we have picked out our favourite characters from books that inspire and challenge us to think differently. From the witty and optimistic like Anne of Green Gables, determined and brilliant like Jo March to the resourceful and cunning like Scarlett O’Hara, these protagonists deserve to be read over, and over and over again!
I’m aware this is a bold choice but when it comes to inspiring women in literature it has to be the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo herself - Lisbeth Salander. There are many, many inspirational women in literature, and Lisbeth may not be the obvious choice, but honestly that’s why she appeals to me. She represents all of those women out there who don’t fit the traditional stereotype. I think we need to showcase more women like this, more women who are proud of their individuality and are not afraid to be that bit different. Lisbeth has been through a lot, but after it all, has come out the other end a total badass. She’s a little weird and socially awkward but aren’t we all!
To me that’s what’s so fab about International Women’s Day, women from all walks of life are celebrated!
ps. We need more women like Lisbeth Salander in our lives!
Jo March, Little Women. The one and only and my original feminist icon. From her determination to her defiance to her ability to completely be happy in herself she has guided me through my own life as a woman. She is such an inspiration because of the sacrifices she makes for her family, the love and care she gives people and her commitment to chasing her passions.
“There are two of them - down from Dublin and very glamorous altogether. Shellac this, that and the other… and not making beasts of themselves with the bread. The only thing worse than being at a zero craic table is when some brazen shnake takes a second bread roll when they think no one’s looking. Well, I’m always looking.”
One of my favourite female characters is Aisling from the book Oh My God, What A Complete Aisling. The book, written from Aisling’s perspective, is relatable on a whole new level and has me laughing with every chapter as she navigates life between her hometown of Ballygobbard and The Big Smoke. Aisling is unapologetically herself - a particular type of Irish girl, with an internal monologue that feels like it’s lifted straight out of my head! I loved this character so much when I first read the book that I shared it with my sisters, cousin and best friend (who then shared it with her sisters and mum.) Aisling is a modern Irish female icon who has created a sense of community among readers: we all know an Aisling, and if not, it’s probably us!
My ultimate literary heroine is Scarlett O’Hara from Gone With the Wind. Scarlett is the original badass, independent woman who draws on all her resources to overcome any problem that comes her way. She’s pretty ruthless and completely out for herself but I love her strength and resilience.
She inspires me in many ways but particularly her mantra: "I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow." God loves a procrastinator.
“People laugh at me because I use big words. But if you have big ideas, you have to use big words to express them, haven't you?”
There are so many incredible, inspiring women in literature that I could talk about for hours, but my favourite (besides Jo March which Alex has already picked :-P) would have to be Anne of Green Gables. I love her story so much and have always looked at Anne as someone who isn’t afraid to be herself. She is witty, intelligent, fearless and a wonderful role model for young women.
One of my favourite things about Anne is how she finds the beauty in the smallest things. For example, one of my favourite lines is when she says: “I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” It may seem trivial, but I admire her ability to view the world through such a positive and exciting light.
Matilda Wormwood. On the surface, Matilda doesn’t seem to have much going for her. She’s neglected by her parents, terrorised by her headteacher and discouraged from following her true passion for reading. But none of that stopped her from becoming the hero of her own story. A true champion of literature and a tireless defender of the underdog, a real inspiration for all young girls growing up. My daughter also dressed up for her this year for World Book Day, so it is special to see generations of women enjoying her story!