“The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who’s going to stop me” – Ayn Rand
As I’m sure many of you are aware yesterday (or the day before by the time I post this) was International Women’s Day. This is a day I view as one set aside to celebrate the achievements of women all around the world, to inspire young girls and women to achieve everything they set out to do in life.
I’ve decided I will target my next few posts towards women and their impact in different aspects of life. In this particular post, I have chosen to write about female authors and their works. I know there are so many however, I have chosen my favourites and, if anyone is reading this, if you have any recommendations for me I will happily take those on board – I am always looking for a new adventure.
Authors, Novels & Characters:
- Harry Potter Series – J.K. Rowling
Was there really any other way to kick off this list? No, I didn’t think so. Harry Potter is one of my favourite book series, and is beloved by millions of people around the world. There are hundreds of reasons why people love Harry Potter however, as it’s International Women’s Day, lets focus on that. The women.
First and foremost the author of the Harry Potter series is in fact a woman (ground-breaking stuff, I know. Stay with me!). This woman created an entire world! Let’s not think about the characters for a moment and just think about a world, all of which came from her imagination. Aside from a few well-known mythical creatures (i.e. dragons, centaurs, unicorns, witches/wizards, ghosts etc.) she created Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Hogsmead, Diagon Alley, Butterbeer, Quidditch! Let that sink in, she created a new sport which, if I’m not mistaken, is actually played in places around the world today!
J.K. Rowling wrote the characters as real people. The characters in this series are so easy to fall in love with because they face real issues that real people face in terms of love, friendship, exams etc. all the while battling a maniac who wants to kill them, naturally! They are so complex with so much depth, they have more than one layer. They laugh, cry, mourn and celebrate. They make mistakes and take responsibility when they do. We experience their highs and lows, their heartache and elation because J.K. Rowling took us on an adventure. Her writing inspires people.
There are so many characters, male and female, we could talk about however, I am going to focus on one and the only Hermione Granger:
We saw Hermione grow from a young girl who cried in the girls bathroom when Ron teased her, into an strong, intelligent, courageous, loyal and caring woman. Hermione shows all of these qualities throughout all of the books, and she owns it. Her intelligence is shown through her grades, her willingness to speak her mind and her ideas and creativity when it comes to problem solving. She shows her caring nature and loyalty throughout when she stays with Harry and aids him throughout his seven years at Hogwarts, be it magical, educational or emotional Hermione stays by his side throughout. Last but not least she shows her strength and courage, there are many times she has done this however, the moment which stands out for me is when she came to the decision to ‘obliviate’ her parents memory of herself from their lives, making them forget they had a daughter. Hermione was well aware that Voldemort would be capable of tracking them down and hurting them in order to gain information on her and Harry, she knew their best chance was to move away as they would not be easily tracked. She knew her parents would not let her fight in the war, would either force her to join them or stay put. She also knew there was a very real chance she may not have made it through alive and made the difficult decision to do what she had to do, in order to protect them.
Hermione Granger embodies the qualities and flaws most girls and women see in themselves. The best part about her character is that she is who she is and she doesn’t apologise for it. Women should not apologise for being themselves.
I’m going to end this point with a quote:
“Young girls are taught you have to be the delicate princess. Hermione told them that you can be the warrior” – Emma Watson
- How To Be A Woman – Catilin Moran
So, when I first saw this book I did the unthinkable. I did what I know you shouldn’t and what everyone says you shouldn’t. I judged a book by its cover. I know, I’m so ashamed!
It’s safe to say when I first downloaded this book I prepared myself for a woman wittering on about how woman should act, speak and dress with a tonne of ideals dating back to the 1900’s.
I was totally unprepared for what was in store.
I won’t go into too much detail about this book, only to say that it is so refreshing to see a woman speak as frankly as she does about real issues with the world concerning young girls and women. She is candid with her words and proves that women, when they know what they want, can be an unparalleled force. There are lots of issues this book tackles and, once again, I’m going to leave you with this:
“…These days, however, I am much calmer – since I realised it is technically impossible for a woman to argue against feminism. Without feminism, you wouldn’t be allowed to have a debate on women’s place in society. You’d be too busy giving birth on the kitchen floor – biting down on a wooden spoon, so as not to disturb the men’s card game – before going back to quick-liming the dunny. This is why those female columnists at The Daily Mail – giving their daily wail against feminism – amuse me. They paid you £1600 for that, dear, I think. And I bet it’s going into your bank account and not your husbands. The more women argue loudly, against feminism, the more they both prove it exists and that they enjoy it’s hard-won privileges” – Caitlin Moran: How To Be A Woman
- Wolf Brother: Michelle Paver
I remember reading this book when I was very young. I remember I enjoyed it as, at the time I read it, in my school I was in a book club where the book was on the shortlist for an award and I had chosen it as the book I wanted to win. It seemed I wasn’t the only one as she did win the award that year (I’m afraid my memory from my school days is blank on which award this was). I now own a signed copy of the book ‘Wolf Brother’. Wolf Brother is the first in a series of books.
- The Hunger Games: Suzanne Collins
When I finally decided to start reading these books, I think I blitzed through them within a week. What I love about this book is the strong female lead. Katniss Everdeen, again she’s a character with a lot of good qualities and a lot of flaws, but she does what she needs to in order to survive. She takes the place of her younger sister and enters The Hunger Games knowing exactly what’s in store when she arrives, but does so willingly for many reasons including love and protectiveness.
I don’t want to give too much away (though I probably gave away a lot with HP) what I will say is if you haven’t yet read them, and are looking for a new series, this is a great one to sink your teeth into.
- Divergent: Veronica Roth
So far I have only read the first in this series however, I think I read it in two days while on holiday in Rome. It was fantastic! Highly recommend to anyone. Once again we have a strong female lead, Tris Prior. Once again I don’t want to give too much away, but the courage Tris shows to go against everything she’s been brought up to believe, but can’t quite get on board with, to feel like an outsider in your own home and then to take on the challenges of a faction which is so different from anything she’s ever experienced, once again she and her characteristics are realistic and relatable, something I think girls of all generations need while growing up.
- BONUS – A Trail of Cards or Mirror Land: Kirstie Riley
I’m not going to lie, I’m probably being very biased with this one however, a friend of mine self-published two books through Amazon. Personally, I really do love these books and I am so proud of her achievements. It isn’t often women celebrate one another, we’re usually too busy tearing each other down. Kirstie is a good friend and I know how hard she worked on both of these. One is a novel and the other is a novella. She is incredibly smart and talented and, as someone who wants to pursue writing myself, she is such an inspiration to me – so much so I couldn’t not include her when writing this list.
I realise I’ve spoken about the characters in these books more than the authors however, the authors are a credit because, as I said with J.K. Rowling, they all created entire worlds entirely different from our own in which we are able to lose ourselves for a few hours.
Yes, five out of six I’ve focused on fictional characters, however, in some ways they are more realistic than the people we see every day on the cover of magazines, or on our television screens. Yes they’re real people however, the people in magazines have been so altered by make-up, photo-editor applications to remove every blemish that makes them a real person. They are turned into a warped ideal which is totally unattainable. The people on television some, again, have their hair and make-up done perfectly, camera angles just right so as not to accidentally shatter the illusion of perfection.
The other type of person you see on television are the people you see in reality television programmes, doing anything and everything for their fifteen minutes of fame. Is this really who we want young girls to look up to? Sure some of them are lovely people however, by the time it’s processed and edited to the max do we actually see the real people in front of the camera? Probably not.
The characters I’ve mentioned may be fictional but, aside from family and friends, these are the realist role-models a young girl has in her life.
I would like to see more books where a female character presence is more prominent and not just to be ‘the nag’ or ‘love interest’. We need more female characters who are complex, witty, funny, intelligent, brave, loyal, clumsy, who both succeed and fail and more importantly who aren’t afraid to fail, because both our achievements and errors are all part of life and it’s what shapes who we are as human beings. We are not perfect, what we do have is the mind-set, intelligence and capability to learn from our failures and try again, and again, and again until we achieve our dreams.
Books I Plan To Read by Female Authors:
- Frankenstein – Mary Shelley
- To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee
- The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank
- Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn
- I Am Malala – Malala Yousafzai & Christina Lamb
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou