Who run the world? Well to quote Queen Beyonce herself, “girls!” And she’s right. Imagine the world without all of the amazing leadership of women, continuously breaking glass ceilings and doing what women before them weren’t able to do because the world didn’t think we could. Imagine the world without all of the loving, hardworking mothers raising up the good, kind kids—kids who will be the next generation of teachers, doctors, plumbers, pharmacists, lawyers and cashiers and every valuable job in between. Imagine your life without your mom, grandmother, sister, aunt, neighbors and friends—the women who have helped shape you into the person you are today. The world would stop turning without all of the amazing feats of powerful females around the globe, so let’s honor them by reading inspiring books that empower women.

Related: Girl power: 16 picture books that encourage, empower & inspire✨

March is Women’s History Month, and while strong, influential, brave women should be celebrated every month of the year, the month of March is a great reminder of just how vital women are and how far we’ve come. And one of the best places to find such memorable stories is in books about inspiring women! That’s why we rounded up a list of books that empower women readers (and all others readers too) due to their powerful female characters that stand tall in the face of adversity.

Related: 14 kids’ toys and games to celebrate Women’s History and inspire the next generation of trailblazers

Books with strong female characters to read this month and every month

When Women Were Dragons

When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill

If you’re looking for a book to get you fired up and ready to fight the patriarchy, this is it. The women in Kelly Barnhill’s feminist 1950s tale turn into dragons and literally light the world on fire, taking you, the reader, along with them. However, Barnhill also gives us the story of a few women who do not transform, and you’ll find yourself inspired by their incredible “dragon-like” bravery too.

The Alice Network

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

In a novel that spans WWI through post-WWII, the women of the Alice Network show their unmatched courage and willingness to do the unthinkable in order to survive—including risking their lives to work as spies. This novel will make you realize just how incredibly strong women are, especially in the face of adversity.

Daughter of the Moon Goddess

Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan

A mix of Chinese mythology and action-packed adventure with a little romance sprinkled in, Daughter of the Moon Goddess tells the story of the incredibly brave Xingyin, who embarks upon a perilous quest to save her mother. A story of love, sacrifice, honor, and betrayal, this one will show the true heart of a woman warrior.

The Last Mrs. Parrish

The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Contantine

This one is a story of women fighting for what they want—even if that means they have to break the rules. A page-turner for sure, you’ll definitely love the shocking twist in this one and find yourself cheering as the characters in this book finally get what they deserve.

Where the Crawdads Sing

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

This story took the world by storm and was already made into a successful movie. If you haven’t read it yet, prepare to be inspired and have your heart ripped out as you follow the gut-wrenching tale of the “marsh girl”, learning of all that she endures and must overcome.

The Island of Sea Women

The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

The Island of Sea Women will take you back in time and to a place you may not know even existed, but once you get there, you’ll be transfixed by the strength and courage of the “sea women.” A book that spans many generations, this one is a heavy read but inspiring nonetheless and will stay with you for a long time.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Women often have to make questionable choices and play the game to climb up in any industry—but especially in Hollywood. Evelyn Hugo definitely was one such woman, reminding the reader of A-list starlets like Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor and giving a glimpse into what they must have endured throughout their careers to have the success they deserved.

The Girl With the Louding Voice

The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré

Adunni is a 14-year-old girl growing up in a rural Nigerian village. Faced with a life of servitude, she resolves to instead, break free and get an education—fulfilling her mother’s dream for Adunni to find her “louding voice.” The journey is not easy, however, and this brave young girl’s determination will be tested as she fights for the life she wants.

The Stars are Fire

The Stars are Fire by Anita Shreve

Grace Holland is a mother put to the ultimate test when a fire renders her homeless and penniless and unsure of how she’ll feed her children. A story of perseverance, The Stars are Fire tells of the unwavering heart and spirit of women who keep fighting as long as they have to for their families—and for themselves.

Firekeeper's Daughter

Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley

Daunis Fontaine is 18 years old and having to put her dreams on hold to care for her mother. But when people in her community start dying, Daunis gets roped into the investigation and learns the ultimate test of what it means to be a strong Anishinaabe kwe (Ojibwe woman) and do the right thing—despite the consequences.

Like A Sister

Like A Sister by Kellye Garrett

A story of mystery and suspicious death, Like A Sister also shows how strong the bond is between family members. Reality TV star Desiree’s death is ruled an overdose, but her half-sister Lena doesn’t believe it and will not stop at nothing to find the truth—and seek justice—for Desiree.

The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

There’s a reason this classic 90s dystopian novel was made into one of the most popular TV shows in recent years. The various female characters in The Handmaid’s Tale—and the horrors they are forced to endure—prove just how strong women are and how we never stop fighting. Ever.

The Henna Artist

The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi

Escaping an abusive marriage and supporting herself independently in Jaipur, India is not something girls or women did, but Lakshmi, a henna artist, made it. Only one day that husband she escaped all those years ago shows up, and he’s not alone, meaning Lakshmi’s courage and strength will be tested yet again.

The Nightingale

The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah

War often tests the human spirit in ways no one could have imagined, which is the case for two sisters in German-occupied, war-torn France during WWII. This heartbreaking story of survival, love, and freedom will stay with you long after you turn the final page.

A Thousand Splendid Suns

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Fans of the Kite Runner will love the captivating writing style of A Thousand Splendid Suns, also by Khaled Hosseini. A riveting and haunting tale of two Afghan women, Mariam and Laila, this is a story of how the tragedy of war can turn sisters, mothers and daughters into life-long friends who will give anything to save the other.

The Book Thief

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

USA Today says The Book Thief “deserves a place on the same shelf with The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank”—and for good reason. A hard read, this is a book about death and how it lurks around every corner during war. But it’s also a book about hope and friendship and a love of books—and how you need to hold on to the things you love in order to survive.

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games is the ultimate female empowerment series because it gives us Katniss Everdeen, who is faced with a challenge no one thinks she can overcome. But her quick thinking, tenacity and overall mental toughness prove everyone wrong, showing the world that no one should underestimate strong young women.