Heroines of Inner Beauty

As kind of a follow-up to last week’s post, I’ve compiled a Top 5 list of books that focus on inner beauty. They’re all fiction, because I believe stories are one of the most powerful teaching tools in existence. Some of the heroines of these books have been my best friends and role models since childhood. If you’ve already met some of them yourself, you know what I’m talking about.

So without further ado: a reading list for your daughters, nieces, sisters, or anyone else you might want to inspire to grow in inner beauty.

1. Anne Shirley, from Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

If I were a literary character, I’d want to be Anne. The smart, spunky, redheaded heroine often gets herself into “scrapes” because of her quick temper, but her imagination and indomitable spirit usually dig her back out again. 

2. Polly Milton, from An Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott

While the author’s tone can verge on moralistic at times, the childlike Polly is impossible not to like. She grows from a little girl who enjoys being one to a responsible, kind young woman who sets the example for others.

3. Sara Crewe, from A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

A classic riches-to-rags-to-riches story, A Little Princess follows Sara from a position of great wealth to one of destitution. While she starts out as a kind, imaginative girl, poverty puts her to the test–and reveals that being a princess is something that comes from the inside.

4. Stargirl, from Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

This whimsical modern classic follows Leo Borlock’s discovery of and fascination with Stargirl, a formerly homeschooled high schooler who simply doesn’t conform to the crowd. Whether she’s carrying her pet rat around in a sunflower bag or cheerleading for the opposite team, Stargirl is always true to herself, never bending to others’ expectations.

5. Anne Elliot, from Persuasion by Jane Austen

Jane Austen’s last work (and one I just read last year), Persuasion isn’t your typical love story. Anne Elliot has lost love and never expects to find it again, filling her life instead with cheerful, humble service to friends and family. When love does reappear for her, it is sweeter than she could have imagined.

Have you read any of these books? Are there any that you’d add to this list? 


So Many Books…

So…I did it again. 
Yes, I am reading all of these books. At the same time. Count them. There are fifteen. One-five. 
Nearly 16 months ago, I wrote this post, getting my knickers all in a twist over reading *gasp* seven books at a time! Today, my past self would be shocked and probably horrified. Fifteen is a lot of books. 
It’s also a lot of inches. Maybe I should start measuring my reading that way. 

When I’m reading this many books at a time, my progress advances infinitesimally. Some of these titles have been on my bookshelf for a year. 
Tsk, tsk. So read fewer books, you say. 
But which ones to choose? 
For spiritual growth, I’ve got Philip Yancey’s Prayer and Disappointment with God, Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas, C.S. Lewis’s The Problem of Pain, and Me Addiction by Rick Brown &c. 
On the topic of relationships, there’s His Needs, Her Needs by Willard F. Harley Jr., Sacred Search by Gary Thomas, and an old favorite: Boy Meets Girl by Joshua Harris. 
Halfway there. 
Now, for creative inspiration, we have Alan Jacobs’s biography The Narnian, about C.S. Lewis. There’s The Imagineering Way, by Disney’s team of Imagineers. And a particularly fascinating one called Imagine by Jonah Lehrer, about the process of creativity (a great loan from my knit-designing friend Audry). 
Some books for discussion with my tutoring students: The Library Card by Jerry Spinelli and Mandy by Julie Andrews Edwards (yes, the actress of Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music also wrote a children’s book!). 
And finally, some just for fun: Foundling by D.M. Cornish and “The Courtship of Miles Standish” in a beautiful 1893 edition of Longfellow’s collected works (a find from my latest library sale). 
Oho. But wait, there’s more. 
Now I can read even more  books at a time. Being the die-hard fan of paper books that I am, I held out a long time on an e-reader, but finally caved when my family gave me a Kindle for Christmas. Now I realize that, while I may always be partial to the smell and feel of paper, I don’t have to choose which method to love.
More methods of reading means more books 🙂 

Kindle reading does come up smaller by the inches method, but I’ve already got more in-progress titles on here, including Dreamwalker and Mourning Cloak by writer friends Angela Wallace and Rabia Gale
*Sigh* Maybe I need this on my wall: 
Library Wall Clock So Many Books, So Little Time

How about you? What are you reading?