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Not Your School’s Reading List 16: More Thoughtful Books for Young Women

At Intellectual Takeout, we strive to offer not only commentary on current events but also tangible advice for engaging with our increasingly chaotic world. That’s why we’re proud to present this ongoing series of literature recommendations.

Previously, we’ve featured books for young women, and we’re excited to publish a part two with 10 more selections. Perfect for girls over 14 years old, these books are a mix of fiction and nonfiction with stories and topics fitting for any young lady.

Read the previous list here.

1. E.D.E.N. Southworth. The Hidden Hand. 1859.

“The Hidden Hand … is an exuberant action comedy, featuring fearless Capitola Black, a self-styled female Don Quixote, and the prototype of innumerable adventure heroines. Rescued from life on the streets in New York by a southern plantation owner, with his own reasons for befriending her, Capitola is too active and adventurous to settle for the life of a southern belle. Besides, the neighbourhood is infested with evil-doers–Black Donald, the notorious bandit, and Gabriel Le Noir, the owner of the plantation adjoining–combine to make her life full of excitement and peril.”

2. Elizabeth von Arnim. The Enchanted April. 1922.

“The women at the center of The Enchanted April are alike only in their dissatisfaction with their everyday lives. They find each other—and the castle of their dreams—through a classified ad in a London newspaper one rainy February afternoon. The ladies expect a pleasant holiday, but they don’t anticipate that the month they spend in Portofino will reintroduce them to their true natures and reacquaint them with joy. Now, if the same transformation can be worked on their husbands and lovers, the enchantment will be complete.”

3. C.S. Lewis. Surprised by Joy. 1955.

“C. S. Lewis … takes readers on a spiritual journey through his early life and eventual embrace of the Christian faith. Lewis begins with his childhood in Belfast, surveys his boarding school years and his youthful atheism in England, reflects on his experience in World War I, and ends at Oxford, where he became ‘the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.’ As he recounts his lifelong search for joy, Lewis demonstrates its role in guiding him to find God.”

4. Helene Hanff. 84, Charing Cross Road. 1970.

“This charming classic, first published in 1970, brings together twenty years of correspondence between Helene Hanff, a freelance writer living in New York City, and a used-book dealer in London. Through the years, though never meeting and separated both geographically and culturally, they share a winsome, sentimental friendship based on their common love for books. Their relationship, captured so acutely in these letters, is one that will grab your heart and not let go.”

5. Corrie ten Boom, John Sherrill, and Elizabeth Sherrill. The Hiding Place. 1971.

“At one time Corrie ten Boom would have laughed at the idea that there would ever be a story to tell. For the first fifty years of her life … she was an old-maid watchmaker living contentedly with her spinster sister and their elderly father in the tiny Dutch house over their shop. … However, with the Nazi invasion and occupation of Holland, … Corrie ten Boom and her family became leaders in the Dutch Underground, hiding Jewish people in their home in a specially built room and aiding their escape from the Nazis.”

6. Esther Ahn Kim. If I Perish. 1977.

“Ahn E. Sook stood alone among thousands of kneeling people. Her bold defiance of the tyrannical demand to bow to pagan Japanese shrines condemned her to a living death in the filth and degradation of a Japanese prison. This brave woman remained faithful to Christ in the face of brutality, oppression, and ruthlessness of her captors. The story of how she won many of her fellow prisoners to Christ in the most deplorable conditions is an inspiration to all.”

7. Anna Maclean. Louisa and the Missing Heiress. 2004.

“Long before she will achieve fame as the author of Little Women, Louisa May Alcott is writing stories of a more dark and mysterious nature. But nothing prepares her for the role of amateur detective she assumes when the body of her dear friend, wealthy newlywed Dorothy Wortham, is found floating in Boston’s harbor. It’s well known that Dorothy’s family didn’t approve of her husband, a confirmed fortune hunter, but Louisa suspects that some deeper secret lies behind her friend’s tragic murder.”

8. Melina Marchetta. On the Jellicoe Road. 2006.

“Taylor is leader of the boarders at the Jellicoe School. She has to keep the upper hand in the territory wars and deal with Jonah Griggs—the enigmatic leader of the cadets, and someone she thought she would never see again. And now Hannah, the person Taylor had come to rely on, has disappeared. Taylor’s only clue is a manuscript about five kids who lived in Jellicoe eighteen years ago. She needs to find out more, but this means confronting her own story, making sense of her strange, recurring dream, and finding her mother—who abandoned her on the Jellicoe Road.”

9. Jennifer E. Smith. You Are Here. 2009.

“Emma Healy has grown used to being the only ordinary one in her rather extraordinary family. But when she finds a birth certificate for a twin brother she never knew she had, along with a death certificate dated just two days later, she realizes why she never felt quite whole. She sets off on a trip to visit her brother’s grave. Peter Finnegan, her neighbor, comes along for the ride. Emma thinks they can’t possibly have anything in common, but with each passing mile, they find themselves learning more and more about themselves and each other.”

10. Hannah Brencher. If You Find This Letter. 2015.

“Fresh out of college, Hannah Brencher moved to New York. … Lonely and depressed, she noticed a woman who looked like she felt the same way on the subway. Hannah did something strange—she wrote the woman a letter. … When she realized that it made her feel better, she started writing and leaving love notes all over the city. … If You Find This Letter chronicles Hannah’s attempts to bring more love into the world—and shows how she rediscovered her faith through the movement she started.”

Intellectual Takeout does not necessarily endorse any particular publisher. All credit for these descriptions goes to the original sources.

Image credit: Public Domain



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  • Avatar
    Roman Hart
    June 16, 2023, 1:56 pm


  • Avatar
    June 16, 2023, 2:23 pm

    Great story.


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