The best books about kick-ass women

Who am I?

I was raised in semi-rural Texas, not exactly a bastion of progressive thinking in the seventies and eighties, but home to a certain type of woman who, as I write in my Seventh Flag trilogy, has a way with a petticoat and a 30.30. I’ve had many such women in my life, including my mother, which is why the nuanced power of women is a focus of my novels. 


I wrote...

Seventh Flag

By Sid Balman,

Book cover of Seventh Flag

What is my book about?

No more kick-ass female character than Ademar Zarkan, who readers first meet as a young Muslim tomboy on a farm in the high desert of West Texas. Through the three works of historical fiction, the reader comes to know her as a barrel racer, football player, West Point Graduate, Army sharpshooter, wife, mother, and, in the final novel, the leader of the Free People of West Texas in a dystopic world set thirty years in the future.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Klara and the Sun

Sid Balman Why did I love this book?

Klara is not exactly a female character, she is a sentient female robot, an artificial friend, who a future family purchases as a companion and mentor to their dying daughter. I was drawn to this dystopic novel as much for its masterly storytelling and clean, crisp writing as for its depiction of a powerful, kind woman in a sentient robot. To me, Klara redefines the meaning of love, devotion, and motherhood.

By Kazuo Ishiguro,

Why should I read it?

19 authors picked Klara and the Sun as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*The #1 Sunday Times Bestseller*
*Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2021*
*A Barack Obama Summer Reading Pick*

'A delicate, haunting story' The Washington Post
'This is a novel for fans of Never Let Me Go . . . tender, touching and true.' The Times

'The Sun always has ways to reach us.'

From her place in the store, Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, watches carefully the behaviour of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass in the street outside. She remains hopeful a customer will soon choose her, but when the possibility emerges…


Book cover of The Sun Also Rises

Sid Balman Why did I love this book?

In a misogynist time under the pen of an author conflicted about women and his own masculinity, Lady Brett Ashley is the template for a modern, empowered woman. She trumps any man in the masculinity department without losing the feminine essence that draws all of them to her. I found this novel tragic and prophetic in the way that Ashley ends up alone and unfulfilled, like far too many women who are ahead of their time.

By Ernest Hemingway,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Sun Also Rises as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Jake Barnes is a man whose war wound has made him unable to have sex—and the promiscuous divorcée Lady Brett Ashley. Jake is an expatriate American journalist living in Paris, while Brett is a twice-divorced Englishwoman with bobbed hair and numerous love affairs, and embodies the new sexual freedom of the 1920s. The novel is a roman à clef: the characters are based on real people in Hemingway's circle, and the action is based on real events, particularly Hemingway's life in Paris in the 1920s and a trip to Spain in 1925 for the Pamplona festival and fishing in the…


Book cover of American Dirt

Sid Balman Why did I love this book?

Lydia Quixano Perez is every mother living every mother’s darkest nightmare when her journalist husband and family are murdered by narcoterrorists in Mexico. Forced to flee at a moment’s notice for America with her young son, Lydia is transformed from a prosperous middle-class woman into a desperate migrant fighting to survive the desperate journey to freedom and safety. What most shone to me in this novel is the clever way Cummins transforms a narco novel into a story of a mother’s relationship with her young son and her determination to deliver him from evil.

By Jeanine Cummins,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked American Dirt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*NOW A BBC RADIO 4 BOOK AT BEDTIME*
'Breathtaking... I haven't been so entirely consumed by a book for years' Telegraph
'I'll never stop thinking about it' Ann Patchett

FEAR KEEPS THEM RUNNING. HOPE KEEPS THEM ALIVE.

Vivid, visceral, utterly compelling, AMERICAN DIRT is an unforgettable story of a mother and son's attempt to cross the US-Mexico border. Described as 'impossible to put down' (Saturday Review) and 'essential reading' (Tracy Chevalier), it is a story that will leave you utterly changed.

Yesterday, Lydia had a bookshop.
Yesterday, Lydia was married to a journalist.
Yesterday, she was with everyone she loved…


Book cover of Dune

Sid Balman Why did I love this book?

Lady Jessica, consort to the Duke, mother of the Messiah, and acolyte of the powerful Bene Gesserit sect of female warriors is about as kick-ass as they come. She is torn between her allegiances, but in the end, she stands by her son in battle and in all the soul-wrenching tests they face. The woman-warrior can be a tricky paradigm, but I think Herbert has nailed it in a way that does not sacrifice the essence of strong womanhood at the altar of cliché.

By Frank Herbert,

Why should I read it?

51 authors picked Dune as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Before The Matrix, before Star Wars, before Ender's Game and Neuromancer, there was Dune: winner of the prestigious Hugo and Nebula awards, and widely considered one of the greatest science fiction novels ever written.

Melange, or 'spice', is the most valuable - and rarest - element in the universe; a drug that does everything from increasing a person's lifespan to making interstellar travel possible. And it can only be found on a single planet: the inhospitable desert world of Arrakis.

Whoever controls Arrakis controls the spice. And whoever controls the spice controls the universe.

When the Emperor transfers stewardship of…


Book cover of Island of the Blue Dolphins

Sid Balman Why did I love this book?

What twelve-year-old girl could survive alone for years stranded on an island in the Pacific Ocean. Read this book and meet Karana, a member of the Nicoleno Tribe, who does just that. Although largely for young readers, it explores themes of survival, resiliency, and feminism relevant to all ages. I read this with my young daughter several years ago and reread it recently while researching my third novel, which has a girl about that age as a protagonist. It helped me integrate her coming of age into the unusual circumstances of an apocalypse.

By Scott O’Dell,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Island of the Blue Dolphins as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 7, 8, 9, and 10.

What is this book about?

Twelve-year-old Karana escapes death at the hands of treacherous hunters, only to find herself totally alone on a harsh desolate island. How she survives in the face of all sorts of dangers makes gripping and inspiring reading.

Based on a true story.


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Book cover of Sweet Dreams, Boone

Susan Grant Author Of The Bottle House

New book alert!

Who am I?

I am a Bible college graduate whose faith has always been a practical matter. Because I learned to find the “so what” of the Bible, when I became a teacher of the Bible in the public schools of Rowan County, North Carolina, my elective courses had waiting lists for students to get in to. As I now teach in Maine, I found I could continue to share a practical Christian faith through my writing. The books I have listed here do the very thing that I seek in my own writing.

Susan's book list on authentically illustrating genuine Christian faith

What is my book about?

Boone is a sad and lonely little dog. He doesn’t like to be left alone when Mom goes to work.

To help him feel better, Mom buys him a special basket for his bed. When he sleeps, he dreams of a long-ago time and meets a man who is sad and lonely too, until he meets Jesus.

Sweet Dreams, Boone

By Susan Grant, Kelly Artieri (illustrator),

What is this book about?

Boone is a sad and lonely little dog. He doesn’t like to be left alone when Mom goes to work. To help him feel better, Mom buys him a special basket for his bed. When he sleeps, he dreams of a long-ago time and meets a man who is sad and lonely too, until he meets Jesus.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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