Not One Damsel in Distress

Book cover for How to Be a Woman by Caitlin MoranI recently wrote an article for DBRL Kids, our children’s blog, about a list of books featuring heroic, smart and brave girls. Someone asked for an adult version, and I jumped at the chance. Why does every female character seem to need someone to rescue them? What’s with all those sappy, saccharine, mandatory death scenes? And all those manicures and shopping? I mean, I enjoy being fabulous as much as the next guy or gal, but come on! Give me a female lead I can respect: smart, resourceful, funny and independent! I polled friends and co-workers and came up with a pretty eclectic list of fiction, nonfiction and graphic novels that showcase damsels who are anything but in distress.

One of my new favorite series is the Parasol Protectorate by Gail Carriger. “Soulless,” the first book, introduces Alexa Tarabotti, a practical, educated lady who is not terribly concerned with social niceties or finding a husband. The writing is funny, clever and the steampunk setting of Victorian England is vividly rendered.

If nonfiction is what you’re in the mood for, then I suggest “How to Be a Woman” by Caitlin Moran. This British columnist uses her experiences as a writer, wife and mother to tackle some issues relevant to the modern woman such as love, fat, popular culture and families. With humor and a sharp wit, Moran makes you laugh while addressing why female rights and empowerment are essential issues.

There are also some great graphic novels on the list. “Y, The Last Man” is the story of Yorick Brown, an unemployed, unmotivated slacker who discovers he is the only male left in the world after a plague kills everyone with a Y chromosome. Yorick meets memorable, fully imagined women of every kind in his journeys.

If you’re still looking for something that grabs your attention, check out the full list in our catalog!

Did I miss your favorite heroine? Let me know in the comments!

About Dana

Book-nerd, music-maven, movie-fanatic. Purveyor of fine book lists. Dispenser of literary trivia.
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One Response to Not One Damsel in Distress

  1. Veronica says:

    I picked up “How to Be a Woman,” and I am laughing so hard while agreeing just as hard. Good recommendation, Dana!