If You Want to Find Your Bookish Girl Crush: Read This
Young Adult Edition
by Magdalena McGuire
One of my early – and most treasured – memories is of learning to read. I remember sitting on a brown carpeted floor, looking at a picture book, running my finger underneath the black printed shapes at the bottom of the page. All of a sudden, I understood what they meant. It was a moment of pure, transcendental, joy. After that I was hooked. I must have read all the picture books in our small school library, and after that I graduated to longer books. Pretty soon I discovered that my favourite books were about girls who were a bit like me. Girls who liked reading books.
Anne of Green Gables - Lucy Maud Montgomery
Like many girls of my generation, my first literary crush was Anne. Before Anne, I had no idea that girls in the olden days were so funny. So feisty! When Anne moves from the orphanage to Avonlea, she goes to a new school where all the other girls are mooning over resident heartthrob, Gilbert Blythe. Not only is Anne impervious to his attentions, but she actually smashes a chalkboard over his head when he teases her about her red hair. Anne lives in the world of books, chanting lines from The Lady of Shalott like it’s a prayer. And to her it is. Through Anne, I learned that books, and the world of the imagination, can sustain you through dark times.
Anastasia Krupnik series - Lois Lowry
When I finished reading all the Anne books I read them again. And again. Until I discovered my next bookish girl crush: Anastasia Krupnik. To this day, Anastasia remains one of the most fully realized and endearing female characters I’ve encountered in fiction. Unlike Anne, Anastasia has two loving parents. What’s more, they’re unbelievably cool. With an artist for a mother and a poet for a writer, it’s no wonder that Anastasia’s an avid reader who wants to be a writer. One of the things I love about these books is that they tackle big issues like class and race and feminism, but the humour prevents them from being didactic. Money features as a constant theme. I still remember the jubilation of Anastasia’s family when they finally get enough money to buy a microwave. Oh, the convenience! And when Anastasia discovers that Barbara Page, owner of a bookshop called Pages, is a terrible business woman who can only support her bookish habit because of her husband’s wealth, she’s crestfallen. But not for long. Anastasia decides that she’s different. Her bookshop will actually sell books and she’ll never rely on a man for money.
I Capture the Castle - Dodie Smith
This treasure came my way late in life. Just when I thought I was au fait with books about girls who love reading books, I discovered Cassandra Mortmain. Like many great literary heroines, Cassandra is poor. But get this: she lives in a freakin castle! The fact that it’s a ramshackle castle with no electricity and so Cassandra has to read by candlelight, only adds to the appeal. Cassandra is an engaging heroine, she’s witty in a way that’s particularly English. Cassandra’s father is a writer who doesn’t write and thus doesn’t earn any money. Throughout the book, Cassandra attempts to get him to break his years-long writer’s block and put pen to page. She finally cracks a method for getting him to write and it’s wonderfully comic so I won’t spoil it here. Nonetheless, by the end of the book we get the sense that the real writer in the family is not Cassandra’s father. It is Cassandra herself.