Mighty Girls

My primary focus this year has been reading books by authors of color, and after that, I’ve been working on the FABC Challenge to read books by female authors. I’m putting together the list that I’ll post at the end of the year, when both those reading themes are done. But while I’ve been working on that, I’ve noticed how many incredible books I’ve read that are written by men but have amazing, badass (or “mighty girl“) female protagonists:

Abhorsen, by Garth Nix
Annihilation, by Jeff VanderMeer
Birds of Prey, by Chuck Dixon
Dragons Beware!, by Jorge Aguirre
My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, by Fredrik Backman
Princeless, volumes 1 and 2, by Jeremy Whitley
Rat Queens, volumes 1 and 2, by Kurtis J. Wiebe
She-Hulk, volume 1, by Charles Soule
Shutter, volume 1, by Joe Keatinge
Spera, volume 3, by Josh Tierney
The Thickety, books one and two, by J.A. White
Thor: The Goddess of Thunder, by Jason Aaron
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, by Ryan North
The Wicked + The Divine, volumes 1 and 2, by Kieron Gillen
Wild Born, by Brandon Mull [mixed-gender ensemble]
Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story, by Peter Sagge
Wonder Woman, volumes 1-3, by Brian Azzarello

An honorable mention goes to The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom, by Christopher Healy—because the book’s protagonists are boys, but the whole premise is taking sexist fairy tales, giving them depth, and defying the gendered stereotypes they’re based on. Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and Rapunzel are all given actual personalities; their princes are given names and stories and not-stereotypically-male traits that allow them to learn to be heroes even though they don’t fit the fairy tale mold.

I’ve gotten into comics in general this year, which means I introduced myself to Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, She-Hulk, Squirrel Girl, Ms. Marvel, Black Canary, Oracle, Huntress, Catwoman, Batgirl, and Goddess Thor, as well as the non-superhero brilliance of Rat QueensNimona, The Wicked + The DivineShutterLumberjanesBandette, and Princeless. A few were written by women, but the characters written by men were equally as important to me. I probably feel most strongly about making this list because of Rat Queens, which is by a male author and illustrator, but also hit me hard. My husband has been reading the comic for a few months and kept telling me I should try them, and when I finally got around to it, I fell deeply and dramatically in love. These books, these characters, are something I’ve been needing for a long time, and while I care particularly about finding ones written by women, I’m thrilled that so many men are writing them so well, too.

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