Books can transport us across times and worlds. They can put a microscope on our human experience and show us the good, bad and the ugly. At their best, books can empower us to be who we are and inspire us as to be the best version of ourselves we can be. No matter what part of the world you reside in, these books feature heroines who are ahead of their time and live beyond it. Now, here is my list of: Six Books that are Universally Feminist.
1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Jane Eyre does not fit the mold of your typical Victorian heroine. She’s not beautiful, charming, or pleasing. She is strong, intelligent, and passionate. She will not allow her position in society dictate whether or not she is worthy of love and what type of life she should lead. She takes control of her life and keeps it.
2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Elizabeth Bennet is another Victorian heroine who lives her life according to her principles. Although she is beautiful, her intelligence and wit are what she leads with. She is more than a match for the haughty Mr. Darcy and makes him win her, instead of bowing to his will. She makes her decisions based on what she wants and not what she is told she should want.
3. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Laia, Helene and the Commandant are all powerful women in their niche of the dystopian and violent Martial Empire. They all possess single-minded determination to claim and protect what they want, all while negotiating and rising above their brutal reality.
4. A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
In the sequel to An Ember in the Ashes, Laia, Helene, and the Commandant continue to relentlessly pursue what they want in their harsh society. Laia and Helene mature and assert their power in one life-threatening situation after another, while battling their male-dominated society. Even minor characters like Afya Nur and Mamie Rila are in control in their traditionally patriarchal society.
5. A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir
In this third installment of the An Ember in the Ashes series, Laia, Helene, and the Commandant face higher stakes in the power struggles they engage in. Each woman has her own unique motivation in every tumultuous situation they encounter. Even when they are on shaky ground, they are all unbreakable.
6. Shaherazade's Daughters by Sameena K. Mughal
Yes, this is mine, but it is universally feminist. This short story collection is a feminist homage to 1001 Arabian Nights and follows the journeys of 18 strong, intelligent, and independent women. They unapologetically flip traditional roles by being warriors, capable business women, and saving the men in their lives. Although not literally her daughters, they carry the legacy of the brave heroine from the original tales, Scheherazade.
Until next time… look behind and beyond the veil...
What books do you think should make the list? Share in the comments below!
Sameena K. Mughal, Author, Freelance Writer