On the 32nd anniversary of the beloved 'Matilda' I chose to celebrate by writing an open letter to the writer, Roald Dahl, which I now invite you all to read.
Going on a road-trip? Or maybe your eyes are just too tired from looking at screens all day? Try one of these great audiobooks!
For much of history, much like in real life, female characters in fiction were sidelined, often not promoted to the front like their male counterparts until recently. But this has begun to change, with the strong and nuanced female character coming to the forefront of genres like fantasy, science fiction, historical and more! And even looking back throughout literary history, there are numerous examples of kickass women who paved the way forward. Here some of the best, counting down from ten!
10. Offred- The Handmaid’s Tale
Image Via Amazon
The Handmaid’s Tale tells of a future where women have been reduced to the role of reproductive slaves in a society run by a religious order, made into the property of men and forbidden from reading, writing, or holding positions of power. Offred, whose real name is June, is a woman who dreams of a better life and despite all the hardship she endures, she instills the spark of rebellion, piece by piece, through her actions and inspires women around her. She may not be an action hero but it’s clear she’s the strongest character, holding power over the men who claim to own her.
9. Sabriel- Sabriel
Image via Goodreads
In a world where the dead walk the earth, one young woman holds the key to countering the dark evil rising from the depths of the underworld. Enter Sabriel, an eighteen-year-old girl who is finishing her work at an all-female college where she sees a vision of the dead walking out from the other realm beyond her own to infest the earth. Sent by her father to stop a group of Necromancers, Sabriel is fierce, ferocious, but also very human and showcases a quiet inner strength that allows her to overcome Death itself.
8. Nancy Drew-Nancy Drew mystery stories
Image via Tvline
Nancy Drew was created in the 1930s but nevertheless emerged to become an icon for countless generations. A young girl working as an amateur detective, Nancy Drew constantly went headfirst into danger, exploring abandoned castles, creepy mansions, slimy swamps, and dark basements to solve mystery after mystery. The character has been updated to become stronger and older as the years went by, letting her evolve while also staying true to her roots, always a girl as brave as any boy and sniffing out the next case to crack.
7. Matilda- Matilda
Image via Entertainment
Another young girl, Matilda emerged as one of the best characters of Roald Dahl’s novels who has a love of reading and kindness while also possessing rad telekinesis. She overcomes adversity not through brute force, contrasting her nemesis, the Trunchbull, a massive tyrant of a headmaster who bullies the children in her care. Matilda’s mind is her greatest asset and is gleeful to see her emerge as the smartest person in the room. You can’t help but cheer as she overcomes the Trunchbull, letting her mind flow freely to literally grab the brute of a woman and give her a taste of her own medicine.
6. Princess Cimorene- Dealing with Dragons
Image via Wikipedia
This princess turns the classic trope of a fair damsel getting kidnapped by a dragon and rescued by a knight on its head. Cimorene runs away from her kingdom where her parents try to make her marry an undesirable prince, runs to a dragon, and takes up a job under the dragon’s wing. Cimorene takes charge of her life from the first chapter, showcasing her strength, wit, and skill to get a life she wants, not the one the story has set out for her. And she gets to be best friends with a dragon, which is badass.
5. Isabella Trent- A Natural History of Dragons
Image Via Book Reviews
Written as a memoir by supposed famous dragon naturalist Lady Trent, A Natural History of Dragons chronicles the adventures of Isabella Trent who strives to become the authority of dragonology. Written as a bookish, very English sort of woman, Isabella is prim and proper, erudite and sophisticated while possessing a true passion for the dragons of the world. She would sooner examine a dragon up close than scream in terror, being truly fascinated and possessing a scholarly disposition that makes her quite lovable. It’s wonderful to watch her evolve as the series goes on, seeing her adventures with dragons and showcasing how she is the most brilliant mind in the room.
4. Katniss Everdeen- The Hunger Games
Image via Forbes
Thrust into The Hunger Games, a bloodsport that pits her against teens from fellow Districts, Katniss Everdeen rises to the occasion to take control of her destiny. Refusing to play by the Capital’s rules, she fights against the game at every opportunity, first refusing to kill her supposed ‘enemy’ Peeta at the game’s end, threatening to kill herself if the Capital doesn’t let them both live. Eventually, she becomes the leader of a rebellion against the District entirely, becoming a full-fledged warrior as the Districts rise around her to overthrow President Snow. Katniss is a champion for inner strength, fierceness, and stone-cold badassery.
3. Scout Finch- To Kill a Mockingbird
Image via Pinterest
Scout is great because of how real she feels. She narrates the book from her POV, showcasing her child’s view of the world, making us fall in love with her mannerisms and her feisty attitude. She’s curious, always ready to get into a fight, and a tomboy, contrasting with the small-town atmosphere around her that disapproves of her unladylike ways. She is at once relatable, yet always reminding us she’s a child and has a lot of growing up to do. But Scout is always wonderful, a great protagonist who showcases the spirit of a woman beneath her childish exterior.
2. Arya Stark- A Song of Ice and Fire
Image Via the Wrap
One of the protagonists of Game of Thrones, Arya began as an immature girl, the third child of Ned Stark who was interested in very unladylike things, being feisty and independent. But as the series progresses, she grows into a fully-fledged warrior, swearing revenge on those who killed her family and becoming one of the Faceless Men, learning their skills as an assassin. She wields an awesome sword named Needle and ventures across Westeros, trying to complete her list of named targets. Extremely popular with fans, Arya is vicious despite her small size and should never be underestimated.
1. Hermione Granger- Harry Potter
Image via Vox
One of the iconic figures in the series, Hermione is arguably more capable than Harry, being an intelligent teenager with a gift for magic, an aptitude for history, and often described as a walking encyclopedia. Favoring brains over brawn, she comes up with the plans throughout the series and often represents a clear-headed contrast to the more impulsive Ron or even Harry. She isn’t without her flaws, with her fear of failure driving her to nearly kill herself as she drowns herself in schoolwork, but she always proves herself a strong young woman, ready to smack anyone who challenges or insults her.
Featured Image Via Amazon
Bookstr is community supported. If you enjoy Bookstr’s articles, quizzes, graphics and videos, please join our Patreon to support our writers and creators or donate to our Paypal and help Bookstr to keep supporting the book loving community.
Become a Patron!
The back to school season is always difficult for those of us still enrolled in the education system, however we really don’t have it all that bad. And there’s nothing quite like books to make our lives feel just a little less sucky in comparison.
Here are ten fictional schools that we would never want attend, in order from least bad to the absolute baddest.
10. Wayside School (Wayside school Series)
Image via Scholastic
There is no way in hell that Wayside School is up to OSHA code. It’s literally falling down.
Plus, none of the kids in this school learn anything. Sure it’s fun to muck around in class every once and a while, but these kids are learning math without numbers and being turned into apples by evil witch teachers.
Call me old fashioned but that environment doesn’t seem very conducive to learning.
9. Rosewood High (Pretty Little LIars)
Image via Pretty Little Liars Wiki
Rosewood High has all the average high school stressors. There’s sexuality to figure out, eating disorders to cling to, and teachers to be assaulted by.
But what really puts Rosewood on the map? The blackmail and murder. A lot of it. So, so much.
8. Thomas Ewen Consolidated High School (Carrie)
Image via imdb
This particular school is a bit different. It’s not Carrie’s school that’s awful, it’s her fellow students. Carrie’s peers relentlessly cruel, and the teachers don’t really seem to give a damn.
If you were to attend this school you might get a couple tampons chucked your way, which is pretty mean, but not deadly.
Definitely stay in on prom night though…
7. Pencey Prep School (Catcher in the Rye)
Image via Amazon
If you’ve ever toured at a boarding school or college, you might be familiar with schools like Pencey Prep. The website is sleek, the brochures are long and convincing, and the images all show students having the time of their lives sitting in class or enjoying their extracurriculars.
Then you get there and it’s raining, the classrooms still have those televisions on rolling carts, and there’s no clubs to speak of.
How phony is that…
6. Lowood Institution (Jane Eyre)
Image via WatchingJane
Jane Eyre is sent to Lowood Institution as a punishment from her cruel aunt, Sarah Reed.
If the starvation, cruel discipline, and threadbare clothes weren’t punishment enough, holding on to your best friend desperately as she dies of consumption probably fits the bill.
Students attending this school today are definitely gonna want to get vaccinated before the school year starts.
5. Prufrock Preparatory School (A Series of Unfortunate Events)
Image via Lemony Snicket Wiki
Prufrock Prep isn’t exactly… welcoming.
Among Prufrock Prep’s many dazzling features are the Orphan Shack where all orphans are forced to live, a punishment where being late to class means you are forced to eat your meals like a dog with your hands tied behind your back, and your grade in gym class is worth 51% of your overall grade meaning most members of Bookstr‘s audience would probably flunk out.
Ha ha, gotcha. Nerds.
4. Crunchem Hall Primary School (Matilda)
Image via Sony Pictures Entertainment
While Crunchem Hall didn’t last forever, it certainly left an impression on every child who read Matilda. I don’t even like to wear my hair in pigtails because I’m so irrationally afraid someone will grab me by the braid and fling me into the air.
They also just don’t look that good on me. I have a big forehead.
Also this school is literally shorthand ‘Crunch Them’ Hall. Who did that.
3. Hogwarts (Harry Potter Series)
Image via Penguin Teen
I know everyone wants to be a wizard or witch, and everyone wants to hang with Harry and his crew, but Hogwarts is dangerous.
Even prior to Voldemort’s presence on campus there was a giant lizard monster in the basement, murderous mermaids in the water, and a backyard so deadly they had to name it the Forbidden Forest to keep students from going in and getting killed.
Some people might think I should’ve put Durmstrang on this list instead of Hogwarts, but honestly Hogwarts seems way more perilous.
Hogwarts became a literally battlefield at the apex of a wizarding world war, Durmstrang is just emo.
2. Shiroiwa Junior High (Battle Royale)
Image via What’s on TV
Realistically, you wouldn’t want to be an eighth grader at any school in this universe. You probably also don’t want to be a eighth grader in any universe, to be fair.
However being an eighth grader in Battle Royale means you could be randomly selected by the government to participate in a Hunger Games style fight to the death that lasts over the course of three days.
Now I didn’t love my middle school classmates, but I don’t want to murder them, and I definitely don’t want to be murdered by them.
1. The Rachel and Leah Re-Education Center (Handmaid’s Tale)
Image via Abbey Research
This school is where handmaids learn how to be handmaids. The women attending have their hands chopped off, their eyes gouged, and their tongues cut out as punishments for misbehaving.
Definitely makes detention seem like a walk in the park.
Featured image via American Cinematographers
We’ve all craved a magical food that doesn’t actually exist, or we’ve read about a real food that didn’t live up to the hype of our childhood imaginations. Here are some of the foods (in no particular order) that still seem to appear in my dreams.
1. Everlasting Gobstoppers (Charlie and The Chocolate Factory)
Image via iCollector
There are what feels like hundreds of candies within the walls of Willy Wonka’s factory, all of which sound absolutely mouthwatering. However, everlasting gobstoppers stick out to me because they actually exist. You can go down to your local corner store and buy a box right now if you really wanted to.
But you don’t want to. Because the real everlasting gobstoppers are flavorless little balls of cement. And the fictional ones are, well, fictional.
2. Fruit From the Toffee Tree (The Chronicles of Narnia)
Image via Citizen of Anvard
C.S. Lewis doesn’t do the most creative job of describing this treat. The fruit falls from a tree, and it’s described as being “not exactly like toffee – softer for one thing, and juicy – but like fruit which reminds one of toffee.”
The tree formed when a toffee candy was planted in the ground in the moment of Narnia’s creation, and it grew at an incredible rate because the song that brought Narnia to life was still clinging to the world.
Must taste pretty good, with an epic backstory like that.
3. ‘Eat Me’ Cookies (Alice in Wonderland)
Image via Amino Apps
There are a couple of bad side effects when you snack on these magical cookies. In Alice in Wonderland, Alice takes a bite of one these and grows to be about the height of a one-story house.
Yet somehow, that just makes them more tempting. What’s life without a little risk of becoming gargantuan?
4. Pasta Puttanesca (a Series of Unfortunate Events)
Image via Fiction-Food Café
Pasta puttanesca is a very real dish, and something you can order at most Italian restaurants. However, sometimes the way something tastes in reality just can’t compare to the way it tastes in your imagination.
In A Series of Unfortunate Events, the pasta puttanesca serves as a small amount of comfort in the bleak world that the Baudelaire children have found themselves in after the death of their parents. Something about the warm, homey feeling that it provides makes it an absolutely crave worthy dish.
5. Green Eggs and Ham (Green Eggs and Ham, obviously)
Image via io9
Sam-I-Am was pretty insistent about this dish. If someone follows you from a house, to a box, to a tree, to a train, to the dark, to the rain, to a boat just to get you to try a bite of their food then they’re probably insane.
But they probably also have some pretty good eats.
6. Leek and POTATO sOUP (Coraline)
Image via Food Network
Coraline isn’t particularly excited by this dish, choosing instead to stick with her frozen mini-pizzas. However, considering the themes of family and parental love in this novel, this soup dish gives off a cozy and homey sort of vibe.
And if someone hands you a warm pot of homemade soup, that someone must love you an awful lot! Certainly more than your eyeless, soul stealing, puppet mom.
7. Saffron Tea (Kiki’s Delivery Service)
Image via Studio Ghibli
Studio Ghibli, the Japanese animation studio, has a knack for animating foods in the most delicious looking way possible. This particular gif is from My Neighbor Totoro, as the saffron tea from Kiki’s Delivery Service didn’t make it’s way out of the book.
In the book the tea serves as a reminder of Kiki’s home while her travels become too much to handle. The smell and the warmth remind Kiki of her mother, and the memory helps keep her spirits high while she’s speeding around on her broom.
8. Unicorn Blood (Harry Potter Series)
Image via Sci-Fi Stack Exchange
This one is a bit macabre, but there’s something undeniably intriguing about the unicorn blood in the Harry Potter.
The golden trio (plus Draco) are serving detention in the Forbidden Forest with Hagrid, when they stumble upon a pool of shiny silver goo. When they see a shadowy figure knelt over the body of the unicorn, the kids all run away screaming, except for Harry who stumbles over a tree root.
He’s saved by a centaur, the story moves on, and no one even asks for a sip of that shiny, magic goop.
Maybe this is why I never got my Hogwarts letter.
9. Magic Beans (Jack and the Beanstalk)
Image via Tourism Currents
If a bag of beans is worth selling your family’s only source of income, they better be some damn good beans.
10. Giant Chocolate Cake (Matilda)
Image via Giphy
Bruce Bogtrotter is one of literature’s bravest heroes. He’s punished for his humanity (what child wouldn’t try to sneak a piece of cake?) and still emerges triumphant despite all odds.
While this scene can be a bit nauseating, there’s always something enticing about the thought of having a triple layered chocolate cake plopped down directly in front of you.
Plus, you get to dive straight into that sucker fork first.
Might not be such a punishment after all.
Featured image via Simplemost