Tuesday, September 26, 2017

10 Novels That Feature Smart Women

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic is a freebie of sorts -- 10 characters who X. I had initially planned to list characters who like science, but that morphed into a list of smart female characters -- many of whom happen to be good at science. Math and science were not my favorite subjects in school (not surprisingly, given that I have a book blog and work at a library, I always gravitated toward English and history) but I'm in awe of people who are very good at those things, so that's mostly the kind of "smart" that's here on my list.

I threw this post together rather hastily and I'm sure I've left some brilliant fictional ladies off my list, but I can say I've read and enjoyed all of these books. Do you have any recommendations for me that feature smart women?

smart women

1. The Atomic Weight of Love by Elizabeth J. Church: This beautiful book is about an ornithologist whose career aspirations are wrecked when she follows her husband to Los Alamos, New Mexico, for his work on the atom bomb.

2. To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey: One of my favorite books last year, "To the Bright Edge" is an epistolary novel set in the late 1800s about a man on an Alaskan expedition and his wife, who stays behind in Washington state and has adventures of her own.

3. The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King: Oxford student Mary Russell is at least as smart as her mentor, Sherlock Holmes.

4. A Discovery of Witches: Before she gets wrapped up in a world of witches, vampires and daemons, Diana is a brilliant academic.

5. My Last Continent by Midge Raymond: Scientist Deb spends several months each year in Antarctica studying penguins.

6. Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Nuevel: Protagonist Rose is a physicist at the top of her field in this first installment of a series about ancient aliens.

7. The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict: Was Albert Einstein's wife just as smart as he was? In her based-in-fact novel, Benedict asserts that Mileva was a genius mathematician in her own right.

8. A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn: Good ol' Veronica Speedwell is a naturalist as well as an amateur sleuth. (I kept my phone by me the whole time I was reading this so I could Google all the butterflies mentioned!)

9. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon: Claire is a nurse, and later a doctor, and she manages to use her medical knowledge to her benefit many times over in 1700s Scotland.

10. Circling the Sun by Paula McLain: Beryl Markham, the protagonist of this based-in-fact novel, was a fascinating woman wholly ahead of her time -- and she was also the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic.

Bonus: Non-Fiction

11. Lab Girl by Hope Jahren:
Hope is a brilliant scientist who studies botany, among other things, and I thoroughly enjoyed her memoir!

12. American Eclipse: The Epic Race to Catch the Shadow of the Moon and Win the Glory of the World" by David Baron: I'm reading this book right now and one of the main characters is Maria Mitchell, the first professional female astronomer is the U.S. (and also a professor at Vassar).


  1. Veronica Speedwell made my list of kick-butt/snarky females too. I love her. You have some mighty smart women here. Good job!

  2. I have to say To the Bright Edge of the World is very intelligent and an amazing story. Have you read her earlier book, The Snow Child? I'm a fan of Ivey. I'll definitely read what comes next.

  3. A Discovery of Witches is one my TBR and happy to see it features smart women :)

  4. What a great topic! We all need to be reading about more smart women. :D

    Here is our Top Ten Tuesday Post. Thank you!

  5. I haven't read any of these but I'm loving Outlander Season 1 at the moment!
    My TTT: https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/26/top-ten-tuesday-126/

  6. I've actually not read any of these, but some of them are on my TBR and I just wanted to say that I LOVE that you picked this as a topic!

  7. The only one I have read is Outlander, but I am interested into checking out someone from your list!
    Ashley @ Caught Reading Redheaded
    My Post

  8. THIS IS AN AMAZING TOPIC. That's all I have to say, really.

  9. What a wonderful list! I've read a lot of these, and most of the ones I haven't are on my wishlist/TBR list. Hurrah for smart women!


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