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An exploration of classic heroines and their equally admirable authors, The Heroine's Bookshelf shows today's women how to tap into their inner strengths and live life with intelligence and grace.

Jo March, Scarlett O'Hara, Scout Finch—the literary canon is brimming with intelligent, feisty, never-say-die heroines and celebrated female authors. Like today's women, they placed a premium on personality, spirituality, career, sisterhood, and family. When they were up against the wall, authors like Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott fought back—sometimes with words, sometimes with gritty actions. In this witty, informative, and inspiring read, their stories offer much-needed literary intervention to modern women.

Full of beloved heroines and the remarkable writers who created them, The Heroine's Bookshelf explores how the pluck and dignity of literary characters such as Jane Eyre and Lizzy Bennet can encourage women today.

Each legendary character is paired with her central quality—Anne Shirley is associated with irrepressible "Happiness," while Scarlett O'Hara personifies "Fight"—along with insights into her author's extraordinary life. From Zora Neale Hurston to Colette, Laura Ingalls Wilder to Charlotte Brontë, Harper Lee to Alice Walker, here are authors and characters whose spirited stories are more inspiring today than ever.

Published: HarperCollins on
ISBN: 9780062016645
List price: $9.99
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Read from January 10 to August 27, 2011I started this book months ago. I wanted to read the book before reading the corresponding chapter. That didn't happen. However, I've read several of the novels highlighted and I'm familiar with all of the heroine's mentioned so I made it a goal to finally finish up. So glad I did.Many of Blakemore's literary heroine's are mine though I didn't call them that. However, they're the women I go back to when time's get rough. Lizzy Bennett has helped me get over heartbreak, Scarlett O'Hara has reminded me that me my life's struggles do not compare to surviving a Civil War, and Daisy Fay Harper (a literary sister to Scout Finch) taught me that life isn't perfect, but you can make it what you want.Each chapter includes a little biography of the author -- each one a heroine writing of heroines, whether they meant to or not. I learned a lot about these extraordinary women that I never knew before. I'm actually quite surprised by the bitterness in so many of their lives, but yet they still managed to write these amazing stories of love, loss, magic, and, sometimes, scandal (I'm still a little shocked by how scandalous Claudine is). I've been introduced to stories I never knew (The Complete Claudine), reintroduced to tales I had forgotten (Their Eyes Were Watching God), and inspired to finally give Jane Eyre another try.Whether you've read these novels before or not, this is a great book! And it would make an excellent gift for a reader in your life...just saying.more
Whenever life hits a bump in the road or I find myself stressed out the first thing I turn to is a book. Books ground me and give me a form of escape from my present circumstances. They let me take a step back and look at my problems from another point of view and provide a much needed mental health break. While I have done this all my life I have often felt very alone in my solace in fiction, until I discovered the internet anyway. But a print book, in IRL, now that’s a different sort of validation and this is why The Heroine’s Bookshelf is ranked among my top reads this year.In her book Erin Blakemore showcases twelve books with their fantastic heroines and authors and shows how each one can help inspire and improve our lives in different ways. She covers everything from faith to dignity, compassion, ambition… even magic. Each chapter covers one theme and talks about how both the heroine and the author embody that theme in their lives and in their books. Laura Ingalls Wilder embodies Simplicity, Charlotte Bronte and her heroine Jane Eyre show steadfastness, while Margaret Mitchell and her heroine Scarlett O’Hara fight every step of the way.I loved how each chapter covered not just the literary heroines and their themes and adventures but also took the time to research each author as well. Often the history of an author proved to be surprising and very relevant to both the heroine they would go on to write and the theme that both they and their heroine would represent. Both Lizzy Bennet and Jane Austen were true to themselves against great financial and societal odds. Both Celie and Alice Walker led lives of dignity in impossible circumstances. It surprised me as well how many of these great female authors were forced to publish anonymously or under male pseudonyms and often led lives of poverty and degradation because they wanted to be true to themselves and write.What I loved most though was how reading the chapters dedicated to my favorite books offered me insight into my own life that I hadn’t considered before. The lines she draws are fascinating to follow and I really felt like I learned a lot about my favorite literary heroines, about my beloved female authors and, within this new context, myself as well.Highly recommended reading for bookish types, The Heroine’s Bookshelf offers more than life lessons, it offers new insight into favorite characters, great authors and even yourself.more
I am ashamed to admit that half the stories in this book have yet to be read by me. That IS something I intend to fix (and one reason why this book should be sitting on your shelf – it has a fantastic list of titles inside that should make up an important part of your TBR list).So, I did not read every essay – mostly because I don’t want to spoil the stories. I did, however, read every essay of the books I’ve read and I found them enchanting.One of the things I’m learning in school is how important it is to look at everything when it comes to literature, because of all the different ways literature can be interpreted. I mean – Lizzy from Pride and Prejudice.. she embodies grace and fire and I loved reading, and re-reading about her as a teenager – and still do as an adult. But not once did I think about her as a picture of what it means to be sure of ones self.I don’t want to go into detail about each essay, because they should be read, taken for what they are worth, and allowed to inspire the readers to dive more through re-reading the classics they talk about (or read for the first time). I’ve found that older books have this amazing way to become incredibly relevant to life, and when things are down in the dumps, I remind myself that at least, my hair isn’t green like Anne Shirley’s, or I haven’t had to verbally lash a conceited, backhanded proposal given by a man who thinks himself better than me, like Elizabeth Bennet.I think this book is going to be featured on my lists of good books to give for Christmas. It’s the perfect size, and the essays are short and feature quite a bit of material about both the books and authors highlighted. And… it’s just plain fun.more
The author has selected 12 books that were important to her at different times in her life. She discusses the author’s life and the main female character in the book and then provides suggestions on when to read the books (you’ve lost a job; you’re mad at your parents; you feel bored with your life, etc.) and suggests similar books to read. I’ve read 7 of the 12 books: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Gone with the Wind, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Long Winter, Jane Eyre, Little Women, and The Secret Garden. I enjoyed reading about the books I’ve read, but the author’s comments on the books I haven’t read didn’t make me want to read them. The other books were the following: Pride and Prejudice, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Anne of Green Gables, The Color Purple, and Colette’s Claudine novels. I think her descriptions of the author’s lives were better than her discussions of the books. Her writing was just not that exciting. After I finished reading Pat Conroy’s My Reading Life, was ready to read War and Peace and several other novels I’d never considered reading, but Blakemore’s writing style just wasn’t as good.more
The Heroine’s Bookshelf: Life Lessons, from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder, is a series of essays on life lessons to be gotten from classic, well-loved novels. For example, we learn to have a sense of self from Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice; we learn about the importance of happiness from Anne of Green Gables. Each essay is short, only about ten pages or so (and this is physically a small book), and gives at the end of each bullet points for when to read the book and characters from other novels who are similar.As I’ve said, each chapter is short, and there’s not a lot of character analysis (probably purposeful, if the author wanted to only focus on one virtue for each character). The novels are all well known, and the author assumes that her reader has read all of them (personally I’m 10 for 12; The Secret Garden and the Claudine novels are the exceptions). The author’s writing style is engaging and precise, and she gets to her point pretty quickly.At certain points, however, the lessons to be learned are over-simplified. I also wish that the author had written more about her experience reading these books and how they affected her. However, I liked how the author tied each novel back into the authors of these books. And this book did inspire me to revisit some of my old favorites—currently I’m re-reading Anne of Green Gables, forgotten on my bookshelf for years. You won’t find any literary or in-depth analysis here, but this is a fun book that takes a look at some old classics. It’s a quick read, too; I finished it in only a couple of hours.more
This book's subititle, "Life Lessons from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder" exactly describes this delicious little gem. Each chapter is devoted to the life lessons that Blakemore, and millions of other readers have gleaned from a literary heroine such as Jane Eyre, Jo March, or Scout Finch, and her author/creator.From the very first words of the introduction I identified with the author. Again and again this book resonated, and I found myself mentally crying out an emphatic "Yes!".At other times, I was delighted to gain a new perspective of an old friend.I suppose that it would be a bit redundant to say that I LOVED this book and that I highly recommend it. It's being added to my list of favorites, for sure!more
In simple explanation the author, Erin Blakemore, takes character traits (such as dignity and compassion) and pairs them with a classic of literary fiction (such as _Jane Eyre_ and _Little Women_). Blakemore then proceeds to explore the character trait through the lens of the book's main character. What results is a delight.A combination of memoir, literary commentary, psychological profile and author biography, this book blends all these facets together flawlessly. In an era of girls/women behaving badly, Blakemore introduces us or re-acquaints us with heroines worthy of our time and emulation - using both a book's characters and their creators. But this is not some 'sweetness and light' exploration; Blakemore does not shy away from the flaws and imperfections of those she writes about. Instead she frames these flaws as obstacles to be overcome and tools to transformation.Timely yet timeless, this book has something to offer any woman, from high school student to senior citizen. As the book chapters are named according to the profiled trait you can immediately find and read the section you find most interesting and/or pertinent although my recommendation would be to read the book cover to cover at least once. Each chapter concludes with a short 'read this book (when)' bibliotherapy section and a list of books that further address the character trait. This book is a gem. Recommended for gifting to any woman you hold dear (including yourself) and one I'll be referring to (and referring others to) for years to come.Disclosure: I received this book as part of the Members Giveaway program - thank-you for this gift.more
Erin Blakemore had a wonderful idea when she set out to write about some of her favorite literary heroines and their authors. The best part of this idea was the way she translated it into print for her readers. I got so much from this book. Each chapter gave me the opportunity to relive my first experiences with Jane Eyre, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Jo March, Janie Crawford, Celie, and Scarlett O'Hara. What enriched the experience was the background on the authors. Who they were, how they lived, and why they wrote what they wrote. The Heroine's Bookshelf is a wonderful tool to begin thinking more deeply and critically about your favorite literary heroines - if you want to. Erin Blakemore certainly knows what it's like and what it means to get competely lost with your heroines.I haven't yet met all of the heroines Erin Blakemore explored in The Heroine's Bookshelf. Half of them were new to me, such as Anne of Green Gables and the works by Collette. As much as re-encountering some of my old favorites was, I wanted to get to know these new heroines as well. I'm not the only one. Janel at Bibliophibian is hosting a reading challenge.My favorite feature of this book is the reading suggestions at the end of each chapter. They provide suggestions as to what type of situation is most conducive to reading a heroine and similar literary heroines if I'd like to explore a little more. As such, it was my favorite Christmas gift this year, especially for young women. Wouldn't it be nice to have such a resource when you're first finding yourself and can use guidance from someone else who has been there?I read The Heroine's Bookshelf on the plane on my way to Chicago in November. It made for the perfect travel read. Each chapter is self-contained and you can read them in any order without changing its impact. I did read it in order even though I was jonesing to dive straight into Scarlett O'Hara's chapter. The anticipation and the self-control made it that much better.If you ever find yourself in need of some building up in self, faith, happiness, dignity, family ties, indulgence, fight, compassion, simplicity, steadfastness, ambition, and magic, be sure to pick this book up. There's nothing a literary heroine can't help you work through or overcome. You might as well pick up two copies. You'll be giving this one away as gifts without a doubt. It's a precious gift because it helps you see more clearly the heroine within.more
This book is a delight! Erin Blakemore has done a fabulous job gathering some of the most beloved women characters and their authors to point out their strengths and how they relate to us today. I especially loved the chapters on Laura Ingalls Wilder and Jo of Little Women. I found each chapter full of insights that I had never thought of previously. At the end of each chapter are suggestions as to when to read the book, some of which I found most hilarious. I love a good sense of humor and Erin Blakemore seems to have one. Also are other book suggestions at the end of each chapter. I found this delightful little book full of encouragement, inspiration and a few laughs too. I highly recommend this book! It would make a fabulous gift for fellow readers! This book has found a permanent home on my bookshelf. It's a keeper!more
What a lovely little book. It was like reading into the souls of some of the most renowned women authors. A few of the authors I have not read. Now after reading this book , I will be heading to the library . When one book can expand ones reading,isn't it great ?more
Twelve books written by women with strong female characters make up what the author calls The Heroine's Bookshelf. Children's titles like The Secret Garden and Anne of Green Gables made the list, as well as adult titles including The Color Purple and Pride and Prejudice. The author explains how the heroine can help with different life challenges such as: Compassion, Fight, and Faith, and gives related books/heroines that also exemplify that characteristic. I found the insights into the books and what we can learn from them interesting, but what I enjoyed even more was the information about the authors and how the author's experiences shaped the characters in the books. There were several books profiled that I haven't read, but are now on my "to read" list . . . as well as several I want to reread. This is a great little book.more
Read all 15 reviews

Reviews

Read from January 10 to August 27, 2011I started this book months ago. I wanted to read the book before reading the corresponding chapter. That didn't happen. However, I've read several of the novels highlighted and I'm familiar with all of the heroine's mentioned so I made it a goal to finally finish up. So glad I did.Many of Blakemore's literary heroine's are mine though I didn't call them that. However, they're the women I go back to when time's get rough. Lizzy Bennett has helped me get over heartbreak, Scarlett O'Hara has reminded me that me my life's struggles do not compare to surviving a Civil War, and Daisy Fay Harper (a literary sister to Scout Finch) taught me that life isn't perfect, but you can make it what you want.Each chapter includes a little biography of the author -- each one a heroine writing of heroines, whether they meant to or not. I learned a lot about these extraordinary women that I never knew before. I'm actually quite surprised by the bitterness in so many of their lives, but yet they still managed to write these amazing stories of love, loss, magic, and, sometimes, scandal (I'm still a little shocked by how scandalous Claudine is). I've been introduced to stories I never knew (The Complete Claudine), reintroduced to tales I had forgotten (Their Eyes Were Watching God), and inspired to finally give Jane Eyre another try.Whether you've read these novels before or not, this is a great book! And it would make an excellent gift for a reader in your life...just saying.more
Whenever life hits a bump in the road or I find myself stressed out the first thing I turn to is a book. Books ground me and give me a form of escape from my present circumstances. They let me take a step back and look at my problems from another point of view and provide a much needed mental health break. While I have done this all my life I have often felt very alone in my solace in fiction, until I discovered the internet anyway. But a print book, in IRL, now that’s a different sort of validation and this is why The Heroine’s Bookshelf is ranked among my top reads this year.In her book Erin Blakemore showcases twelve books with their fantastic heroines and authors and shows how each one can help inspire and improve our lives in different ways. She covers everything from faith to dignity, compassion, ambition… even magic. Each chapter covers one theme and talks about how both the heroine and the author embody that theme in their lives and in their books. Laura Ingalls Wilder embodies Simplicity, Charlotte Bronte and her heroine Jane Eyre show steadfastness, while Margaret Mitchell and her heroine Scarlett O’Hara fight every step of the way.I loved how each chapter covered not just the literary heroines and their themes and adventures but also took the time to research each author as well. Often the history of an author proved to be surprising and very relevant to both the heroine they would go on to write and the theme that both they and their heroine would represent. Both Lizzy Bennet and Jane Austen were true to themselves against great financial and societal odds. Both Celie and Alice Walker led lives of dignity in impossible circumstances. It surprised me as well how many of these great female authors were forced to publish anonymously or under male pseudonyms and often led lives of poverty and degradation because they wanted to be true to themselves and write.What I loved most though was how reading the chapters dedicated to my favorite books offered me insight into my own life that I hadn’t considered before. The lines she draws are fascinating to follow and I really felt like I learned a lot about my favorite literary heroines, about my beloved female authors and, within this new context, myself as well.Highly recommended reading for bookish types, The Heroine’s Bookshelf offers more than life lessons, it offers new insight into favorite characters, great authors and even yourself.more
I am ashamed to admit that half the stories in this book have yet to be read by me. That IS something I intend to fix (and one reason why this book should be sitting on your shelf – it has a fantastic list of titles inside that should make up an important part of your TBR list).So, I did not read every essay – mostly because I don’t want to spoil the stories. I did, however, read every essay of the books I’ve read and I found them enchanting.One of the things I’m learning in school is how important it is to look at everything when it comes to literature, because of all the different ways literature can be interpreted. I mean – Lizzy from Pride and Prejudice.. she embodies grace and fire and I loved reading, and re-reading about her as a teenager – and still do as an adult. But not once did I think about her as a picture of what it means to be sure of ones self.I don’t want to go into detail about each essay, because they should be read, taken for what they are worth, and allowed to inspire the readers to dive more through re-reading the classics they talk about (or read for the first time). I’ve found that older books have this amazing way to become incredibly relevant to life, and when things are down in the dumps, I remind myself that at least, my hair isn’t green like Anne Shirley’s, or I haven’t had to verbally lash a conceited, backhanded proposal given by a man who thinks himself better than me, like Elizabeth Bennet.I think this book is going to be featured on my lists of good books to give for Christmas. It’s the perfect size, and the essays are short and feature quite a bit of material about both the books and authors highlighted. And… it’s just plain fun.more
The author has selected 12 books that were important to her at different times in her life. She discusses the author’s life and the main female character in the book and then provides suggestions on when to read the books (you’ve lost a job; you’re mad at your parents; you feel bored with your life, etc.) and suggests similar books to read. I’ve read 7 of the 12 books: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Gone with the Wind, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Long Winter, Jane Eyre, Little Women, and The Secret Garden. I enjoyed reading about the books I’ve read, but the author’s comments on the books I haven’t read didn’t make me want to read them. The other books were the following: Pride and Prejudice, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Anne of Green Gables, The Color Purple, and Colette’s Claudine novels. I think her descriptions of the author’s lives were better than her discussions of the books. Her writing was just not that exciting. After I finished reading Pat Conroy’s My Reading Life, was ready to read War and Peace and several other novels I’d never considered reading, but Blakemore’s writing style just wasn’t as good.more
The Heroine’s Bookshelf: Life Lessons, from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder, is a series of essays on life lessons to be gotten from classic, well-loved novels. For example, we learn to have a sense of self from Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice; we learn about the importance of happiness from Anne of Green Gables. Each essay is short, only about ten pages or so (and this is physically a small book), and gives at the end of each bullet points for when to read the book and characters from other novels who are similar.As I’ve said, each chapter is short, and there’s not a lot of character analysis (probably purposeful, if the author wanted to only focus on one virtue for each character). The novels are all well known, and the author assumes that her reader has read all of them (personally I’m 10 for 12; The Secret Garden and the Claudine novels are the exceptions). The author’s writing style is engaging and precise, and she gets to her point pretty quickly.At certain points, however, the lessons to be learned are over-simplified. I also wish that the author had written more about her experience reading these books and how they affected her. However, I liked how the author tied each novel back into the authors of these books. And this book did inspire me to revisit some of my old favorites—currently I’m re-reading Anne of Green Gables, forgotten on my bookshelf for years. You won’t find any literary or in-depth analysis here, but this is a fun book that takes a look at some old classics. It’s a quick read, too; I finished it in only a couple of hours.more
This book's subititle, "Life Lessons from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder" exactly describes this delicious little gem. Each chapter is devoted to the life lessons that Blakemore, and millions of other readers have gleaned from a literary heroine such as Jane Eyre, Jo March, or Scout Finch, and her author/creator.From the very first words of the introduction I identified with the author. Again and again this book resonated, and I found myself mentally crying out an emphatic "Yes!".At other times, I was delighted to gain a new perspective of an old friend.I suppose that it would be a bit redundant to say that I LOVED this book and that I highly recommend it. It's being added to my list of favorites, for sure!more
In simple explanation the author, Erin Blakemore, takes character traits (such as dignity and compassion) and pairs them with a classic of literary fiction (such as _Jane Eyre_ and _Little Women_). Blakemore then proceeds to explore the character trait through the lens of the book's main character. What results is a delight.A combination of memoir, literary commentary, psychological profile and author biography, this book blends all these facets together flawlessly. In an era of girls/women behaving badly, Blakemore introduces us or re-acquaints us with heroines worthy of our time and emulation - using both a book's characters and their creators. But this is not some 'sweetness and light' exploration; Blakemore does not shy away from the flaws and imperfections of those she writes about. Instead she frames these flaws as obstacles to be overcome and tools to transformation.Timely yet timeless, this book has something to offer any woman, from high school student to senior citizen. As the book chapters are named according to the profiled trait you can immediately find and read the section you find most interesting and/or pertinent although my recommendation would be to read the book cover to cover at least once. Each chapter concludes with a short 'read this book (when)' bibliotherapy section and a list of books that further address the character trait. This book is a gem. Recommended for gifting to any woman you hold dear (including yourself) and one I'll be referring to (and referring others to) for years to come.Disclosure: I received this book as part of the Members Giveaway program - thank-you for this gift.more
Erin Blakemore had a wonderful idea when she set out to write about some of her favorite literary heroines and their authors. The best part of this idea was the way she translated it into print for her readers. I got so much from this book. Each chapter gave me the opportunity to relive my first experiences with Jane Eyre, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Jo March, Janie Crawford, Celie, and Scarlett O'Hara. What enriched the experience was the background on the authors. Who they were, how they lived, and why they wrote what they wrote. The Heroine's Bookshelf is a wonderful tool to begin thinking more deeply and critically about your favorite literary heroines - if you want to. Erin Blakemore certainly knows what it's like and what it means to get competely lost with your heroines.I haven't yet met all of the heroines Erin Blakemore explored in The Heroine's Bookshelf. Half of them were new to me, such as Anne of Green Gables and the works by Collette. As much as re-encountering some of my old favorites was, I wanted to get to know these new heroines as well. I'm not the only one. Janel at Bibliophibian is hosting a reading challenge.My favorite feature of this book is the reading suggestions at the end of each chapter. They provide suggestions as to what type of situation is most conducive to reading a heroine and similar literary heroines if I'd like to explore a little more. As such, it was my favorite Christmas gift this year, especially for young women. Wouldn't it be nice to have such a resource when you're first finding yourself and can use guidance from someone else who has been there?I read The Heroine's Bookshelf on the plane on my way to Chicago in November. It made for the perfect travel read. Each chapter is self-contained and you can read them in any order without changing its impact. I did read it in order even though I was jonesing to dive straight into Scarlett O'Hara's chapter. The anticipation and the self-control made it that much better.If you ever find yourself in need of some building up in self, faith, happiness, dignity, family ties, indulgence, fight, compassion, simplicity, steadfastness, ambition, and magic, be sure to pick this book up. There's nothing a literary heroine can't help you work through or overcome. You might as well pick up two copies. You'll be giving this one away as gifts without a doubt. It's a precious gift because it helps you see more clearly the heroine within.more
This book is a delight! Erin Blakemore has done a fabulous job gathering some of the most beloved women characters and their authors to point out their strengths and how they relate to us today. I especially loved the chapters on Laura Ingalls Wilder and Jo of Little Women. I found each chapter full of insights that I had never thought of previously. At the end of each chapter are suggestions as to when to read the book, some of which I found most hilarious. I love a good sense of humor and Erin Blakemore seems to have one. Also are other book suggestions at the end of each chapter. I found this delightful little book full of encouragement, inspiration and a few laughs too. I highly recommend this book! It would make a fabulous gift for fellow readers! This book has found a permanent home on my bookshelf. It's a keeper!more
What a lovely little book. It was like reading into the souls of some of the most renowned women authors. A few of the authors I have not read. Now after reading this book , I will be heading to the library . When one book can expand ones reading,isn't it great ?more
Twelve books written by women with strong female characters make up what the author calls The Heroine's Bookshelf. Children's titles like The Secret Garden and Anne of Green Gables made the list, as well as adult titles including The Color Purple and Pride and Prejudice. The author explains how the heroine can help with different life challenges such as: Compassion, Fight, and Faith, and gives related books/heroines that also exemplify that characteristic. I found the insights into the books and what we can learn from them interesting, but what I enjoyed even more was the information about the authors and how the author's experiences shaped the characters in the books. There were several books profiled that I haven't read, but are now on my "to read" list . . . as well as several I want to reread. This is a great little book.more
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