Our Favorite Strong Female Characters

Today is International Women’s Day! So we here at the Lit Nerds thought we’d celebrate with a few of our favorite female book characters. Whether badasses, babes, or just adorable cinnamon rolls, we love our well-written women. If you’re looking for a way to celebrate, check out one of these ladies’ stories!

Gideon and Harrow the Ninth

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

“How do you choose between Gideon and Harrow? Harrow is a prodigious space necromancer and Gideon is a hilarious meme-spitting swordswoman. The answer is, you can’t. They both paint their faces to look like skulls and while one wields the power of skeletons, the other totes cool ass swords! This dynamic duo has the brain, the brawn, and everything in between.” –Kelly


The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss

“Devi is such a badass. She’s brilliant, powerful, and takes no shit. She runs a successful (if a bit shady) business and does incredibly well for herself. Even though she’s clearly her own number one, she’s usually fair, and her book collection is amazing. Plus, you gotta love a woman who knows what she wants and won’t be deterred from getting it.” –Kristen

Annabeth Chase

Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan

“Like her mother, Athena, Annabeth is sharp and stubborn. She doesn’t let her demigod difficulties or fears keep her from saving the day and reaching her goals. While she’s loyal to a fault—not even giving up on people who have hurt her—she’s considered level-headed and wise. She won’t go down without a fight and she always has a plan of attack.” –Jaime

Puck Connolly

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

“Puck Connolly would rather talk to horses than people, and when she sets her mind to something, she doesn’t give in. Ever. Despite the ridicule she goes through to compete in the Scorpio Races—the first female rider to do so—Puck doesn’t let it get to her. She puts her whole heart onto the beach and rides as fast as she can. She goes to great lengths to prove her quality, even riding a capall uisce after her parents were killed by one. She doesn’t let what other people say or her own fears keep her from doing what she needs to: saving her family.” –Jaime


The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

“Yes, LOTR has few speaking women, but, those present are pretty darn great. Eowyn shows agency! When her uncle prepares to ride into peril and asks for a ruler in his stead she’s immediately selected as “fearless” and “loved by all” by her people. She spent years serving and caring for her uncle in hopes that he would return to himself, disguises herself and slays the Witch King of Angmar on a technicality! After an early life marked by tragedy and trauma, she lives her dreams of being a Shieldmaiden. She has a bit of a thing for a guy who’s otherwise occupied by…well…Aragorn is a complicated dude. She overcomes near-death and is left on the other side of the War of the Ring with a question, “Now what?” Some would argue that her choice to retire and focus on taking others and finding love with Faramir is meek submission and falling back into what she knew. But it’s simply not. She realized that the glory of living the lifestyle of a warrior wasn’t worth the ramifications. Eowyn decided that making the conscious choice of helping others heal and making her own path as a leader was the best way to truly live. She found someone with just as good of a heart that was committed to justice, righting wrongs, and making a stand for good in spite of all odds. Eowyn acknowledged that she needed something different, and made her own way. There’s no shame in that. She deserved her happy ending. Whether by intention or omission, there’s no recorded date of death for her in the Tolkien Legendarium. So maybe she’s immortal?” –Anna

Sophie Hatter

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

“With one of the greatest character arcs, Sophie’s journey is inspiring for all those who’ve ever felt lost and unheard. Over the course of the book, Sophie transforms into a headstrong and powerful witch able to finally be herself after her long journey. Considerate and kind, Sophie will do anything for the ones she loves and even the ones she does not.” –Kelly

Inej Ghafa and Nina Zenik

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

“If Inej were a player in D&D, she would be your rogue. And, sure, she can bring death upon enemies but she’ll also pray to the Saints while she slits their throats. Heck, her nickname is Wraith. Anybody with a name like that is bound to be cool. While she’s reticent, she does not hesitate to speak her mind on opinions she feels strongly about.” –Kelly

“Nina is a force to be reckoned with. She’s big and bold and above all loyal. She puts up with a lot of crap and doesn’t let anything stand in her way. Despite everything that’s happened to her, she doesn’t give up in helping her country and her people. Plus, she likes waffles more than anything.” –Jaime


Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

“Rosalyn is one of the best characters in Calvin and Hobbes. (Though, really, they’re all the best.) She’s clever and she’s strong and she knows how to deal with Calvin on his own terms, which is pretty impressive for a high schooler, honestly. She has infinite patience and the fact that she manages to win a game of Calvinball just cements the fact that she’s basically the coolest ever.” –Kristen

Jo March

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

“While Jo may come across untraditional for her time and more of a tomboy than a perfect little woman, she shows that women aren’t all the same and don’t have to be. She’s brash and feisty, but she stays true to her heart, not letting others sway her from her dreams or desires. And while she may be stubborn about a few things, her determination helps her reach her goals and do whatever she can for her family.” –Jaime

Lyra Belacqua/Lyra Silvertongue

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

“Lyra’s cleverness knows no bounds. Not only is she willful, but she’s a natural born storyteller. Fiercely loyal, she even went into the depths of Purgatory for a childhood friend, simultaneously risking her soul!” –Kelly


The Painted Boy by Charles de Lint

“The little jackalope girl is my absolute favorite character in this book. She’s adorable, she’s wise, she’s innocent and she always tries to do the right thing. As far as mentor characters go, an ageless pre-teen is pretty amazing. And jackalopes are just cool. Seriously. I love her character so much.” –Kristen

Winry Rockbell

Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa

“Winry is quite the whirring bearing. Always upbeat and enthusiastic, she takes any mechanical challenge head on, including Ed Elric’s constant barrage of automail damage. She isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty to solve an automail problem, and her stubbornness and strong will help her get the job done. Empathetic and loyal, Winry cares for those around her and isn’t afraid to wear her heart on her sleeve (or, I guess, shoulder). Don’t get on her bad side, though! She has a mean temper and a strong throwing arm.” –Jaime

Lila Bard

Shades of Magic series by V.E. Schwab

“Lila is both sassy and cunning. She’s a thief capable of stealing from an otherworldly wizard which sets in motion, potentially, the end of the world. Eh, but not to worry. Her quick thinking gets her out of most situations. She dreams of pirate adventures and seeing the world. With her sharp knife and even sharper tongue, Lila can’t help but come out on top.” –Kelly

Happy International Women’s Day!