Women may not yet run the world but we do make for some of the most intriguing characters. Who are some of the most compelling all-time heroinesreal-life or fictional—ever to captivate our readerly imaginations? O's Books Editor Leigh Haber, and Assistant Editor Michelle Hart offer their take on some of the best books every woman should read, a mix of classic and contemporary works that satisfy the bibliophile's desire for total immersion.

1. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
Wharton became the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction with her 1920 novel about an upper class young couple whose impending marriage is threatened by the appearance of the sheltered bride-to-be's worldly, seductive cousin. In the Martin Scorsese-directed movie, Winona Ryder played the fiancée, Michelle Pfeiffer the potential home-wrecker, and Daniel Day-Lewis the man they both love. Shop Now

2. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
It's impossible to fathom the sheer number of women—young, old or in-between—whose own feminist awakenings were spurred by Kate Chopin's indisputable classic. The ballad of Edna Pontellier sings of the caged-bird claustrophobia caused by societal expectations, and laments the limits of acceptable desires. Shop Now

3. The Beggar Maid by Alice Munro
Munro's entire bibliography is essential reading. She's simply unparalleled when it comes to writing about the inner lives of girls and women. In this novel-in-stories, we follow Rose as she awkwardly transitions from girlhood to womanhood—warts and all. Each story/chapter centers on a different time in her life, from her schoolgirl days to getting hitched and having an affair. It's fascinating to go back to 1970s rural Canada and see how similar it looks to our current landscape. Shop Now

4. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
This insanely brilliant first novel, published in 1970, marked the debut of one of the greatest writers of our time—of all time. Set in Lorain, Ohio (Morrison herself was from Ohio) it's the haunting story of Pecola Breedlove, a tortured young Black girl who yearns to have blue eyes, thinking they will make her beautiful. Shop Now

Read the full story here: 25 Books Every Woman Should Read


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