The best books to inspire adventurous and courageous girls

Who am I?

I was a steampunk girl before the word existed. I blame my dad! He always encouraged me to be whoever and whatever I wanted to be. He read my creative writing, helped me build a weather station on the roof (to the horror of my mother), and bought me a microscope. We built model rockets and fired them into the skies. We tore apart old radios to see how they worked. We restored a 1929 Ford truck. Best dad ever? Yes. Oh, and I’m a lifelong bookworm. As a kid, I read lots of stories about Sherlock Holmes and Nancy Drew, and anything by Ray Bradbury or Larry Niven.

I wrote...

The Flight to Brassbright

By Lori Alden Holuta,

Book cover of The Flight to Brassbright

What is my book about?

Constance is a wild, stubborn young girl growing up poor in a small industrial town in the late 1800s. Beneath her thread-worn exterior beats the heart of a dreamer and a wordsmith. But at age twelve, she’s orphaned. Running away to join the circus—like kids do in adventure books—seems like such a brilliant idea… or is it?

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The books I picked & why

Anne of Green Gables

By L.M. Montgomery,

Book cover of Anne of Green Gables

Why did I love this book?

My first impression of meeting Anne was positive. I figured with her hopeful attitude and wild imagination, the quirky orphan would win everyone’s hearts and live happily ever after. My second impression showed up fairly soon, though—annoyance! Anne, you are self-sabotaging yourself! Change, and do it fast, or you’re not going to have a family after all.

I cringed as Anne bumbled simple tasks, and drove her potential mother crazy with endless fantasy stories. But her sincerity and determination always came through, and in the end… well, that would be telling. Anne taught me that we shouldn’t apologize for being who we are, and we shouldn’t forget to nurture our unique selves.

By L.M. Montgomery,

Why should I read it?

19 authors picked Anne of Green Gables as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Anne of Green Gables is the classic children's book by L M Montgomery, the inspiration for the Netflix Original series Anne with an E. Watch it now!

Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert are in for a big surprise. They are waiting for an orphan boy to help with the work at Green Gables - but a skinny, red-haired girl turns up instead. Feisty and full of spirit, Anne Shirley charms her way into the Cuthberts' affection with her vivid imagination and constant chatter. It's not long before Anne finds herself in trouble, but soon it becomes impossible for the Cuthberts to…

The Wee Free Men

By Terry Pratchett,

Book cover of The Wee Free Men

Why did I love this book?

Nine-year-old Tiffany Aching has a bothersome younger brother, and as the older sister to a younger brother myself, I sympathized with her troubles. Like Tiffany, I sometimes wished my brother would go away, but luckily my brother wasn’t kidnapped by the Queen of the Fairies, like Tiffany’s was.

I love her determination to get the boy back, even though her only weapons are a frying pan and her witchy skills… which are still shaky. I love that she finds allies to help her out, even though they’re just a clan of six-inch-tall blue men. Tiffany reminds me that we need to work with what we have, get creative, and get the job done.

By Terry Pratchett,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked The Wee Free Men as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A nightmarish danger threatens from the other side of reality . . .

Armed with only a frying pan and her common sense, young witch-to-be Tiffany Aching must defend her home against the monsters of Fairyland. Luckily she has some very unusual help: the local Nac Mac Feegle - aka the Wee Free Men - a clan of fierce, sheep-stealing, sword-wielding, six-inch-high blue men.

Together they must face headless horsemen, ferocious grimhounds, terrifying dreams come true, and ultimately the sinister Queen of the Elves herself . . .


The Wizard of Oz

By L. Frank Baum,

Book cover of The Wizard of Oz

Why did I love this book?

I love Dorothy’s ‘whirlwind’ journey to the crazy land of Oz! The mental imagery is such fun. I love ‘road trip’ plots (and I count this as a road trip), and the whole adventure really fed my imagination. 

Besides the delicious surrealness of the story, I like how Dorothy accumulates friends along the yellow brick road. Each of these new friends has an imperfection that’s holding them back. What a great opportunity to demonstrate the power of friendship. When we act alone, our imperfections can overwhelm us and keep us from reaching our goals. But when we team up with friends we love and trust, we are stronger together.

By L. Frank Baum,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

HarperCollins is proud to present its range of best-loved, essential classics.

'"Come along, Toto," she said. "We will go to the Emerald City and ask the Great Oz how to get back to Kansas again."'

Swept away from her home in Kansas by a tornado, Dorothy and her dog Toto find themselves stranded in the fantastical Land of Oz. As instructed by the Good Witch of the North and the Munchkins, Dorothy sets off on the yellow brick road to try and find her way to the Emerald City and the Wizard of Oz, who can help her get home.…

Book cover of The Case of the Missing Marquess

Why did I love this book?

I’ve been a Sherlock Holmes fangirl since my teenage years. When my high school friends were hanging band posters on their walls, I opted for a huge black and white poster of Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes instead.

When I learned that there was a book series featuring Sherlock and Mycroft’s younger sister, I gleefully leapt on it. I appreciate that Enola’s not a helpless girl, dependent on her famous older brothers. She’s gutsy, clever, and very, very brave. Braver than I could ever be. I enjoyed living vicariously through Enola as she endeavored to solve the mystery of her mother’s disappearance.

By Nancy Springer,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Case of the Missing Marquess as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Introducing London's newest and greatest detective: Enola Holmes - the book that inspired the film, starring Millie Bobby Brown.

Read the series before the new film lands!

When Enola Holmes, sister to the detective Sherlock Holmes, discovers her mother has disappeared, she quickly embarks on a journey to London in search of her. But nothing can prepare her for what awaits.

Because when she arrives, she finds herself involved in the kidnapping of a young marquess, fleeing murderous villains, and trying to elude her shrewd older brothers - all while attempting to piece together clues to her mother's strange disappearance.…

Etiquette & Espionage

By Gail Carriger,

Book cover of Etiquette & Espionage

Why did I love this book?

Whenever friends share that ‘one fact you didn’t know about me,’ I like to mention that I graduated from a finishing school. No one believes me, since I’m rather clumsy and not very refined, but my personal takeaways were the fencing and acting lessons.

When a favorite author released a series about young girls learning the fine arts of espionage under the guise of attending finishing school, I dove in immediately. I quickly identified with fourteen-year-old Sophronia, a tomboy who’d rather find adventures than learn how to curtsey. There’s lots of humor scattered throughout the story, from situational comedy to clever conversation. I do love good wordplay and absurd situations. This first book in the Finishing School series gives me heaps of both.

By Gail Carriger,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Etiquette & Espionage as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It's one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It's quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to finishing school.

Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners-and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might…

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