Updated: Jul 23
If you feel like your bookshelf could do with a few more books by women on it, then definitely read this post. Women are sometimes underrated in movies and books they have to act dumb or be dependent on someone though they are themselves capable of doing things on their own.
I was so excited to write this post because I have read some books recently in which women are so empowered so today's theme is: books where women take over.
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1) The Power by Naomi Alderman
This is a very famous example of a book where women take over, literally, and it's a fantastic book, I love this one. I'm now going to talk about some books that take this idea in a slightly different direction.
These are books where women were isolated or banished, or maybe isolated themselves for whatever reason and ended up governing their own all-female space. It's a really fun theme because all of the books I've read that does take this idea in a different direction. 2) The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
Which is an incredible book about this true story. This one is set on the Norwegian island of Vardo, on Christmas Eve 1617 when there is this terrible storm. All of the men on the island are out fishing and they are all killed in this storm.
Suddenly the island becomes this place of women. It's a terrible scene but the women then get on with their lives, they learn to fish, and they learn to fend for themselves. One day, a man, a sinister man arrives on this island, he has been sent because there are suspicions that the women are practicing witchcraft.
One of the main themes in this book is the male fear of female strength. The women get on fine when they're left to fend for themselves, and that in itself makes them suspicious in the eyes of men. This leads in this book, and the true story, to pretty tragic consequences. This book has such an interesting approach to historical fiction and unlike other historical fiction that I have read before.
The story manages to be simultaneously incredibly quiet and mundane and there's not that much that happens, while at the same time keeping you hooked, fascinated, and on edge about what might happen. It was beautifully done. 3) Wilder Girls by Rory Power.
This is set in an all-girls boarding school, which is put under quarantine after this illness called the Tox hits, and it kills off all of the teachers, and the way it infects the girls is it starts to warp their bodies, there’s a lot of body horror in this book. It also infects the wildlife, the woods that surround the school are now also dangerous.
The girls are now trapped in school they are learning to explore their new bodies and the new ways their body works. We get to see different bonds between these girls. We get female romances, and we also get really strong female friendships, that lead the girls to put themselves in danger to protect each other. It's a feminist horror spin on Lord of the Flies. A more direct Lord of the Flies comparison to the book
4) Woman World by Aminder Dhaliwal.
Originally an Instagram comic, this captivating creation has now transitioned into a book format. It delves into a post-apocalyptic world where men have vanished completely, leaving only Grandma as the sole person with recollections of their existence. In this new world, women have taken charge, rebuilding society from scratch and adopting Beyoncé's thighs as a symbol on their flag.
These comics beautifully showcase the diverse range of womanhood, offering delightful and humorous glimpses into the potential realities of this unique world. Alongside their entertaining narratives, they cleverly incorporate bite-sized portions of feminist philosophy, adding depth and thought-provoking insights to the storytelling. 5) Dealing in Dreams by Lilliam Rivera.
This is a young adult dystopian set in a world that is ruled by women, but just like in The Power, they're not exactly benevolent rulers. This book is set in Mega-City, which is run by a woman who sends out groups of five girls at a time to rule the streets.
The best and fiercest of this group is run by our main character Nala. But her dream is to get off the streets and into Mega Towers, this exclusive community that only the chosen few get to live in. That's a pretty dark one. 6) The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh.
This is a mesmerizing novel, it’s very hard to explain but I loved it.
It's set on this island where three sisters live with their mother, their father used to live with them but he has disappeared. They have been told that the men who live in that the outside world, are toxic. But it's left ambiguous as to whether that is toxic, if there's been some environmental catastrophe, or if it's metaphorically that they can just cause harm to them.
Until one day, these men show up on the island and tell the girls that everything they know about the world is wrong. It's a really strange, haunting novel, that's basically all I can give you to go off, but just give it a go, it's an interesting one. 7) The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore by Kim Fu
This book is about a group of young girls at a sleepaway camp who set off on this overnight kayaking trip to a nearby island, that ends in disaster when they end up stranded with no adults to help them home, they're in this life or death situation.
The book follows them through this event and beyond, throughout the rest of their lives, and it keeps flashing back and forth, we get to know each character intimately, and see the ripple effect that this event had, or in some cases didn't have, on the rest of their lives. Finally, a super popular book but I had to include it while we're talking about women on islands.
8) Circe by Madeline Miller
This is about the Greek goddess Circe, who is most well known for her part in The Odyssey. Odysseus and his men land on her island and she turns his men into pigs, and then he stays with her for a year, and has a son with her, in some versions he has multiple sons, which is pretty efficient for one year stay.
Then Circe also shows up in a few other myths having pretty minor roles. But in the book Circe, this is flipped to put Circe at the center. Suddenly all of the other Greek heroes just become supporting parts of her story.
Her story is that she was banished to this island because the gods were threatened by her magical powers. She spends thousands of years alone on this island, honing her witchcraft. It is just empowering and much fun to read, whether or not you're familiar with the Greek myths, this book is a really fun way to learn them.
I found it interesting how Miller managed to work with the sense of scale and time in a way that took god-sized stories and made them feel person-sized and relatable as a person, without diminishing the incredibleness of the mythological side.
I don’t know, there was a lot of stuff that was woven into this and I thought it came together well. I get why it is incredibly popular now, why did it take me this long to read? 9) Savages by Shirley Conran
This is a fun book from the 80s about a group of rich housewives left to fend for themselves on an island after a trip went wrong. Shirley Conran has said that all of her books are in one way or another written to help women and help them improve their situation.
Throughout her career, she has argued with her editor to let her put the word masturbation on the back cover of her book, she has written a novel which she has admitted was a disguised sex guide for schoolgirls because sex education was terrible, and she has the whole time championed for women to make their own money.
Then of course I had to include this theme Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman's first-ever appearance was in the All-Star Comics #8 in 1941, and by 1942 she had her series. Wonder Woman's origin story is that she comes from Paradise Island, which is an all-female island inhabited by the Amazons, including Wonder Woman's mother Hippolyta. Which is also my dog's name.
The island was blessed by the Olympian gods and no man was allowed to physically set foot on the island. In later versions of the story, they added different details. In some versions, the Amazons are the reincarnated souls of all women who were slain by men throughout prehistory. Now they've been granted immortality, great physical strength, wisdom, beauty, and love for one another. That's the mythology-inspired all-female world, and then for a futuristic all-female world, we have the graphic novel.
These are the books that feature strong female characters. Of course, there are tons of books out there but I wanted this list short therefore I highlighted selected books