Originally written by Danielle Gorman in Spring 2021
From Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, how many books do you know that barely pass the Bechdel-Wallace Test? The Bechdel-Wallace Test is a measurement used to determine the representation of women in media. There are only three requirements needed for a piece of media to pass this test. It must have at least two female characters, they must both have names, and they must talk to each other about something other than a man. While that may seem easy enough, some of the most popular pieces of media are still struggling to pass the test. This month, for Women’s History Month, we are highlighting some books that not just pass the Bechdel-Wallace Test but surpass the three requirements and focus on strong female-led stories by fantastic female authors! You can find these reads available at Mizzou libraries or request through our website.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
If you are looking for a classic read to celebrate Women’s History Month, then Little Women is the perfect choice for you. This story follows four sisters—Meg, Amy, Beth, and Jo March— as they come of age during the Civil War. The timeless novel tackles themes such as first love, friendship, grief, and the bond of family; any reader can find themselves hidden inside these pages and characters. Perfect for any age, you’ll leave this story feeling heart-warmed and emotionally invested in this lively story.
Circe by Madeline Miller
This bestselling novel takes one of the most infamous Greek figures and turns her story on its head, leaving the reader routing for a newfound hero. Perfect for those interested in mythology and action-packed novels, Madeline Miller weaves a hypnotic and captivating story filled with beautiful language and characters. Circe will leave you attached to Miller’s mastery of storytelling and entranced by the power of a well-written female lead.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
If you haven’t yet gotten the chance to read this highly praised novel, this month is an excellent time to grab it from one of our libraries! The Handmaid’s Tale is an unforgettable, must-read novel that is great for readers looking for a heartbreaking yet eye-opening story. Set in dystopian America, this story follows Offred’s perspective, one of the women forced into the role of a “Handmaid”; women used to help reproduce children for the Republic of Gilead. Atwood’s writing is captivating and devastating. She perfectly crafts a page-turning story that leaves the reader searching for answers on every single page.
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
The first novel in the four-part series, The Neapolitan Novels, My Brilliant Friend, tells the heartbreaking yet touching story of two young girls growing up in Naples in the 1950s. Elena Ferrante is a master at her craft, perfectly capturing the story of two best friends who come-of-age during a time where it feels like everything around them is falling apart. This novel leaves you aching for these characters’ struggles and places you directly onto the page with them. It is a must-read for those looking for a novel with strong friendships and characters that stick with you long after you close the book.
Sula by Toni Morrison
In this brilliant novel, Toni Morrison beautifully captures the female experience inside of a short 200-pages. We follow the story of Sula and Nel, two childhood best friends who grow apart in adulthood due to an unforgivable betrayal. This novel shows the unbreakable bond that can last between two women through all the good and bad experiences of life. Sula is a tragic and sometimes upsetting novel that is told with both love and bitterness. Morrison mixes all the messy emotions of life and creates a stunning story that leaves the reader comforted and wounded by its impact. This novel is truly a must-read piece of literature!