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Powerful Reads for Powerful Women

Author: Caroline Ashworth

Pasquerilla West Hall is full of powerful women who are always looking to support each other and become better versions of themselves. One way to do this is by looking to other powerful women as examples. I asked women in PDub about their favorite books featuring strong female leads. The list below contains both fiction and nonfiction books recommended by PDub’s weasels that tell inspiring stories about powerful women.

Molokai by Alan Brennert

Genre: Historical Fiction

Recommended by Caroline Ashworth

Molokai is by far my favorite book; I have read it several times, and each time I do I uncover another layer of the story. It tells the story of Rachel, a young girl living in Hawaii who contracts leprosy and is exiled to the island of Molokai. Throughout the story, we are able to see Rachel grow up and discover who she is. The painfully beautiful setting of Molokai adds to the richness of the story as we see Rachel spend her life in a place that was originally a prison but quickly becomes a home.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

Genre: Historical Fiction

Recommended by Haleigh Pace

The Great Alone was one of Haleigh Pace’s quarantine reads and it is now her favorite book of all time. The story follows a family who recently moved to Alaska. Most of the story is told from the perspective of the thirteen-year-old daughter, Leni. She is a strong, compassionate, and intelligent character who is a great example of a powerful woman. Haleigh’s advice for reading The Great Alone is to “be prepared for tears and laughs, because this book will make you feel all the feels.” Haleigh “would not be surprised if this becomes a classic of our era.”

The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston

Genre: Autobiography and Folktales

Recommended by Aubree Davis

Aubree Davis read The Woman Warrior in highschool and immediately felt a strong connection to the book. Mixing her own personal experiences with Chinese folktales, author Maxine Hong Kingston portrays her struggle with finding her place in the world. Aubree explained why she feels so connected to the author and story. She spoke of the author, saying “As a Chinese American, she is often confused, like the main character, where she belongs because she’s not fully Chinese and fully American but both… Being as racially mixed as I am, I felt I could relate to her because I often feel at times that I’m not ‘Hawaiian enough’ even though I have the blood coursing through my veins… It’s like I need to be one or the other, white or Hawaiian or Chinese when really it’s okay to embrace all three because that’s who I am.” This story was an inspiration to Aubree as it showed her an example of another powerful woman who conquers her struggle of feeling out of place.

I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb

Genre: Biography

Recommended by Veronica Slevin

Veronica Slevin read I am Malala over winter break. I am Malala is the incredible story of Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by the Taliban because she attended school. Veronica talked about why she likes the book so much, saying “although [Malala] made world news and won the Nobel Prize, I feel like I didn’t know much about her background or future. This book looks at her life now, living in the UK, as well as her life before the Taliban shot her.” The book gives readers a glimpse into Malala’s life, discussing more than just what people heard from the media. Veronica found this book inspiring because “Malala continues to fight for what is right… Now that she has an international platform, she can accomplish her goals.”

The Nightingale

Genre: Historical Fiction

Recommended by Kristin Duma

The Nightingale was Kristin Duma’s favorite quarantine read. Taking place during World War II, The Nightingale follows two sisters living in France and details their experience with the German occupation. Kristin recommends reading The Nightingale because “There’s not one but two powerful women who make you fall in love with this book.”


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