The best books about tenacious women who will not be denied their adventures

Why am I passionate about this?

Just because you’re told something is true doesn’t make it the case. I have never accepted received ideas before subjecting them first to my own personal sniff test. Non-fiction is a wonderful way of acquiring knowledge, and stories open a door to the human soul to make possible living through someone else’s sensibility. Life becomes more vibrant and meaningful. My Ph.D. in English taught me to analyze the ways writers tell their stories. Add in my own life experience, and something magical happens during the creative process. Whether writing historical, literary, or popular fiction, I can’t help but reshape limitation into independence and personal freedom.


I wrote...

This Godforsaken Place

By Cinda Gault,

Book cover of This Godforsaken Place

What is my book about?

The year is 1885, and Abigail Peacock is resisting what seems to be an inevitable future−a sensible career as a teacher and a marriage to the earnestly attentive local store owner. But then she buys a rifle, and everything changes.

This Godforsaken Place is the absorbing tale of one tenacious woman’s journey, set against dramatic myths of the Canadian wilderness and the American Wild West. Abigail’s adventure introduces her to some of the most infamous characters of her time−including Annie Oakley and Gabriel Dumont−and brings the high stakes of the New World into startling focus.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Stone Angel

Cinda Gault Why did I love this book?

Hagar Shipley’s voice is a force of nature forever lodged in my psyche. She is an infuriating woman, but so committed to being an asshole right to the end of the story that you have to shake your head in grudging admiration. Whether right or wrong, she's resolute. When she finds herself staring down the end of her life, she takes full responsibility for all of it—the pain, the joys, the failures−but still will not go darkly into that good night. I wanted a similarly epic voice for my young pioneer protagonist who flung herself at life.

By Margaret Laurence,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Stone Angel as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Above the town, on the hill brow, the stone angel used to stand. I wonder if she stands there yet...

Hagar Shipley - an irascible, independent nonagenarian - has lived a quiet life full of rage. As she approaches her death, she retreats from the squabbling of her son and his wife to reflect on her past - her ill-advised marriage, her two sons, the harshness of farm life on the prairie, her own failures and the betrayals and failures of others.


Book cover of Lives of Girls and Women

Cinda Gault Why did I love this book?

In this book of linked short stories, we meet protagonist Del Jordan as a child fascinated by words and their relationship to all she is beginning to discover. We watch her grow into a precocious young woman who seeks out experience that will help her understand who she is and what she wants. Unflinchingly honest about her desires as a woman and a person, she makes fearlessly original observations about the people and places in her life. This is the story of a remarkably observant writer through whose eyes we see the world as an entrancing place in all its “radiant” detail. 

By Alice Munro,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Lives of Girls and Women as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Through the women and men she encounters, Del becomes aware of her own potential and the excitement of an unknown independence. Alice Munro's previous books include "Dance of the Happy Shades" and "The Beggar Maid", which was nominated for the 1980 Booker Prize.


Book cover of Atlas Shrugged

Cinda Gault Why did I love this book?

Dagny Taggart is an epic protagonist who must use her mind to transcend the intellectual fog blanketing her world that is disintegrating from misguided values. Hauntingly contemporary considering the novel’s publication in 1957, she is surrounded by people who hold philosophies that encourage collectivism and irrationality. She has to trust her own insights to transcend the truisms of her day. Instead of propping up those who don’t deserve her heroic efforts, she lets go of what people tell her she should be doing to instead create an individual life worthy of her respect. The intellectual sweep of this novel is breathtaking through the philosophical clarity of its courageous female protagonist.

By Ayn Rand,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Atlas Shrugged as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Published in 1957, Atlas Shrugged was Ayn Rand's greatest achievement and last work of fiction. In this novel she dramatizes her unique philosophy through an intellectual mystery story that integrates ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, politics, economics, and sex. Set in a near-future U.S.A. whose economy is collapsing as a result of the mysterious disappearance of leading innovators and industrialists, this novel presents an astounding panorama of human life-from the productive genius who becomes a worthless playboy...to the great steel industrialist who does not know that he is working for his own destruction...to the philosopher who becomes a pirate...to the woman who…


Book cover of The Life and Legacy of Annie Oakley

Cinda Gault Why did I love this book?

While researching Annie Oakley as a character in my novel, I was amazed by what an exceptional icon she was. This non-fiction book gives sumptuous detail about a singular woman and the life she led. Oakley met Frank at a shooting competition, where she beat him by only one shot. Rather than becoming defensive, he married her and became her agent. Clearly, she didn't need his help to do what she did better than anyone else in the world, but he helped showcase her skills for adoring crowds in a rough and tumble business. My protagonist Abigail was inspired by her, and frankly so am I.

By Glenda Riley,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Life and Legacy of Annie Oakley as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With a widowed mother and six siblings, Annie Oakley first became a trapper, hunter, and sharpshooter simply to put food on the table. Yet her genius with the gun eventually led to her stardom in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show during the latter half of the nineteenth century. The archetypal western woman, Annie Oakley urged women to take up shooting to procure food, protect themselves, and enjoy healthy exercise, yet she was also the proper Victorian lady, demurely dressed and skeptical about the value of women's suffrage. Glenda Riley presents the first interpretive biography of the complex woman who was…


Book cover of Pygmalion

Cinda Gault Why did I love this book?

This play is perhaps better known to contemporary audiences by its movie title My Fair Lady. I loved this movie as a child and studied the play years later as a graduate student. I always admired Eliza Doolittle for having the gumption to act on whatever quirky opportunity life gave her for the mere sake of stretching herself. Henry Higgins’ self-serving wager that he could transform a Cockney flower girl into a duchess held out no tangible reward to the young woman who just wanted to better herself. While Eliza learned to transcend social class through her speech and deportment, the more valuable reward was an independent assessment of who she ultimately was despite the class context of her social world.

By George Bernard Shaw,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Pygmalion as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of George Bernard Shaw's best-known plays, Pygmalion was a rousing success on the London and New York stages, an entertaining motion picture and a great hit with its musical version, My Fair Lady. An updated and considerably revised version of the ancient Greek legend of Pygmalion and Galatea, the 20th-century story pokes fun at the antiquated British class system.
In Shaw's clever adaptation, Professor Henry Higgins, a linguistic expert, takes on a bet that he can transform an awkward cockney flower seller into a refined young lady simply by polishing her manners and changing the way she speaks. In…


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Ferry to Cooperation Island

By Carol Newman Cronin,

Book cover of Ferry to Cooperation Island

Carol Newman Cronin Author Of Ferry to Cooperation Island

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Sailor Olympian Editor New Englander Rum drinker

Carol's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

James Malloy is a ferry captain--or used to be, until he was unceremoniously fired and replaced by a "girl" named Courtney Farris. Now, instead of piloting Brenton Island’s daily lifeline to the glitzy docks of Newport, Rhode Island, James spends his days beached, bitter, and bored.

When he discovers a plan for a private golf course on wilderness sacred to his dying best friend, James is determined to stop such "improvements." But despite Brenton's nickname as "Cooperation Island," he's used to working solo. To keep historic trees and ocean shoreline open to all, he'll have to learn to cooperate with other islanders--including Captain Courtney, who might just morph from irritant to irresistible once James learns a secret that's been kept from him for years.

Ferry to Cooperation Island

By Carol Newman Cronin,

What is this book about?

Loner James Malloy is a ferry captain-or used to be, until he was unceremoniously fired and replaced by a girl named Courtney Farris. Now, instead of piloting Brenton Island's daily lifeline to the glitzy docks of Newport, Rhode Island, James spends his days beached, bitter, and bored.

When he discovers a private golf course staked out across wilderness sacred to his dying best friend, a Narragansett Indian, James is determined to stop such "improvements." But despite Brenton's nickname as "Cooperation Island," he's used to working solo. To keep rocky bluffs, historic trees, and ocean shoreline open to all, he'll have…


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Interested in Canada, the American West, and social class?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Canada, the American West, and social class.

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