I wasn’t tagged for this, but I’ve seen it going around and I wanted to do it in celebration of International Women’s Day… and now I am several days late, but oh well. I’m a feminist every day.
1- Your favorite female author
I wouldn’t even know how to pick just one. Hanya Yanagihara, Donna Tartt, Agatha Christie, Han Kang, Mary Renault, JK Rowling, Min Jin Lee, Lisa See, Celeste Ng… and then my classicist faves: Anne Carson, Caroline Alexander, Emily Wilson, Mary Beard.
2- Your favorite heroine
So many. I’m trying to not use the same answer I give every time, which is Sansa Stark, so I’ll mix it up and say Agnes Magnusdottir from Burial Rites by Hannah Kent. Agnes was actually a real person – the last woman to ever be sentenced to death in Iceland – though her personality in Burial Rites is mostly invented by Kent. She’s a strong, complex, brilliantly crafted heroine, and her journey in this novel haunts me still.
3- A novel with a feminist message
Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart. This is a historical fiction novel which fictionalizes the life of the first female police officer in New Jersey in the early 1900s, and it’s a major feminist triumph. A group of three sisters are being harassed by a local bigwig business man, and the three of them are able to fight back on their own while rejecting the help of the male figures in their lives. It’s a very entertaining novel, but also, it’s hard not to feel empowered by the end of it.
4- A novel with a girl on the cover
All of these.
5- A novel featuring a group of girls
The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchinson. Ok, this is a bit of a morbid answer, as it’s a novel about a man who imprisons girls in his ‘Garden’ before assaulting and eventually killing them. However! The really great and surprising thing about this book was the focus on the camaraderie between the girls who have been captured. This book is as much about female friendships as it is about the horrors that occur in the Garden – it’s less about the gruesome details and more about the psychological impact, and I’d highly recommend it. Though, obviously, trigger warnings for rape and violence apply.
6- A novel with a LGBTQIAP+ female character
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel. This graphic novel is Bechdel’s autobiographical account of growing up in a funeral home, but it also focuses on coming to terms with her own sexuality, as well as her complicated relationship with her closeted gay father. I’m not usually a big graphic novel reader, and I only decided to check this out after falling in love with the musical that’s based on it, but I ended up loving the book too. Bechdel’s prose is really superb, and it’s a really honest and heartfelt account of a young girl realizing that she isn’t straight. (Or you could just watch this performance of Sydney Lucas singing Ring of Keys at the 2015 Tony Awards if you want to cry a lot about that.)
7- A novel with different feminine POV
Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi. Admittedly I’m not 100% sure what this question is asking, but, this book has the most ‘different’ POVs I have ever encountered. It’s narrated by a chorus of the main character’s ‘selves,’ which she conceptualizes as Nigerian ogbanje. This is one of the most fascinating books I’ve ever read, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in expanding their horizons with some less traditional but still feminist lit.
8- A book where a girl saves the world
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Creative, I know. I don’t really read YA fantasy, so this is all I could come up with. I did really love these books, though (with the exception of Mockingjay) and Katniss is still one of my favorite fictional heroines.
9- A book where you prefer the female sidekick to the male MC
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. I’m bending the rules for this one a little bit – Puck isn’t Sean’s sidekick, and I’d say they share their narration equally… but I couldn’t come up with anything else, so, here we are. I practically fell asleep every time I was reading one of Sean’s chapters, but I found Puck so compelling and sympathetic.
10- A book written by a male author and featuring a female character
Venus in Fur by David Ives. It’s a play, not a book (I’m doing a great job following the rules in this tag aren’t I) but Vanda is one of the most enigmatic and formidable female characters ever created. If you haven’t read this script, you absolutely should – it’s a fascinating meditation on gender roles, and it subverts all of your expectations.