Fall is (finally!) officially upon us, and for me, nothing embodies the season quite like a hot chai latte, a blanket, and a good book. My favorite books to read when I’m curled up next to the window on a crisp fall morning? Those featuring some kick-ass female leads. There’s not much better than reading a story that leaves you motivated to take on the world with confidence, after all, and powerful female characters (think fiction favorites like Katniss Everdeen and Hermoine Granger) tend to do just that.
Ready to soak up some inspirational story lines? Grab your warm beverage of choice, curl up on the couch, and crack open one of these books—all of which feature some super inspiring female characters.
1. Disgruntled by Asali Solomon
Being “different” can be a hard concept for a kid to grasp. Take Disgruntled’s leading lady, Kenya Curtis, for example: As an 8-year-old growing up in West Philadelphia, Kenya knows there’s something different about her and her Afrocentric family, but she can’t quite put her finger on what. This important novel follows Kenya as she navigates her identity and struggles to write a narrative for herself separate from the one with which she was born.
Why we love the female lead: She’s wise beyond her years.
2. Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
Willowdean “Dumplin’” Dickson has always been confident in herself, but things change when she falls for a guy named Bo—and he seems to like her back. It’s this realization that makes her second-guess herself more and more, and so to regain her confidence, she does something she never would’ve anticipated—and enters a local teen beauty pageant to prove that she deserves to be there just as much as any skinny girl. If you love indulging in the occasional YA read, you’ll eat this coming-of-age tale right up.
Why we love the female lead: She’s comfortable in her own skin.
3. Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart
We all love a book that lets us escape from reality, and Amy Stewart’s Girl Waits with Gun lets the reader do just that. Follow the adventures of cool-girl Constance Kopp as aids the police in an investigation of a gang attack of her family farm and is forced to revisit her past in the process. An added bonus: This is a historical fiction novel set in 1914, which means it’s also like a fun history lesson.
Why we love the female lead: She’s bold, brave, and bad ass.
4. My Paris Dream by Kate Betts
What’s more inspiring than a real-life success story? In this memoir, former Harper’s Bazaar editor Kate Betts proves that hard work really does pay off—and might just land you the attention and favor of a fashion icon. Prepare to feel inspired.
Why we love the female lead: She took a risk and found herself.
5. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
You might have noticed the name Olive Kitteridge making headlines lately: The HBO mini-series based on the 2008 Elizabeth Strout novel of the same name took home sixawards from this year’s Emmys. Regardless of whether or not you’ve seen the HBO series, though, be sure to pick up a copy of this collection of 13 beautifully human stories—all of which, of course, center around retired schoolteacher Olive.
Why we love the female lead: Plain and simple, she’s real.