By Charlotte Brontë
328 pages; Wilder
The story: A younger woman comes to serve as governess in an English country manor—and falls for the mysterious owner of the house.
Why it inspires: "There is so much about this book that was revolutionary. You have a heroine who is plain, but she's clever. Also, Jane is a woman who speaks her mind—she doesn't lie to please the establishment, or to please men."
Next: The 7 books every spiritual person needs to read