rockinlibrarian: (rebecca)
Okay, one more list before I get to my List of Favorite Books:

By popular demand,* I'm following up my Top Ten Literary Crushes post with their counterparts,** the Top Ten Literary Girl-Crushes. I have thought of posting about them before, usually in response to Sarah Rees Brennan's many protestations that people do not love female characters enough (she links to several other such posts from this one). Apparently, she feels, the world of fandom is full of people who fall madly in love with the male characters and then have nothing but criticism for female characters. This BAFFLES me. Not that she feels that, but that she has the NEED to feel that: who ARE these people who have never had a serious literary girl-crush? It IS glorious fun to crush on fictional characters, and certainly it's easier to SWOON over characters of whatever gender you are actually attracted to in real life, and, statistically, the largest percentage of avid fiction readers are going to be heterosexual females. But why should ones character-love be lavished strictly in terms of romance? Why can't you just, you know, ADMIRE someone an awful lot?

Whenever [ profile] sarahtales brings up this subject, and asks why nobody picks girls as their favorite characters, I always think, "ME! ME! I have lots of favorite girl characters! And, more importantly, lots if not most of my favorite characters happen to be girls!" A great deal of them are what I would call girl-crushes: they aren't just characters I like a lot, they are characters who are AWESOME. Whom I love with a powerful all-consuming love. WHOM I SQUEE OVER. Even though, with the possible exception of Karen Carpenter's voice, I am not physically attracted to women at all.

I think this really comes down to a wish-fulfillment identification sort of thing. If you never knew me as a child, you must trust that I do not exaggerate in describing that particular Amy: I was the wimpiest, wussiest, most-overly-sensitive crybaby nerd you would have known. Chances are you would not have liked me (even my Best Friends tended to scorn me in public), unless you were particularly patient and friendly and kind, or just wanted to use me for answers to schoolwork. I did not like being like me, much, but didn't know how to change (because really, when that tickle starts in the back of your nose, YOU try stopping the tears from spilling over. Especially when you already feel self-conscious about being prone to tears to begin with). So when I read about girls who were different from me-- tough, fearless, sharp-tongued-- I LOVED them. And should they be LIKE me in the GOOD ways-- smart, bookloving, imaginative, whathaveyou-- it went even further. I wanted nothing more than to BE them. Or at least, if all else failed, have them as a best friend.

So interpret my girl-crush list as characters I can identify with who yet take Awesomeness to New Levels of Awesome. Again, as with my boy-crushes, this is not necessarily a list of my favorite characters, period, but it IS a lot closer to that theoretical list, because favorite characters of mine they most definitely ARE. Also I'm still referring to book versions rather than movie-and-TV versions, although this is less of an issue on this list, because with only one glaring exception (noted in context), the film versions of these characters have all been pretty decent. Unless you count that one of the others' awesomeness was severely compromised by the film version getting the hero ALL WRONG and thereby negating most of the great character-building banter that made the book so awesome. And also, another one I know I saw a few times in a TV version but didn't think much of one way or another to even say how good she was, but I can't remember her being BAD. And two-- three now that I added another-- more that I'm fairly sure have never appeared in film. But GENERALLY, I approve more of these film versions than I did of my Boy list's film versions.

1. Anne Shirley (L.M. Montgomery) --ANNE. I should not have to say anything about this. Over the past century, many authors have tried to copy the awesomeness of Anne by making spunky, imaginative heroines who are always getting into scrapes and most likely even have red hair, but they just haven't got the same results. SHE CANNOT BE COPIED. There is only one.

2. Blossom Culp (Richard Peck) --Really, if you have not met Blossom Culp yet, please go do so. Mostly because she was my imaginary friend in middle school. She's also clever and funny, has a great mind for pranks, lots of fight for justice, and also is psychic. Everybody needs to be psychic.

3. Sophie Hatter (Diana Wynne Jones) --One of the best things about Sophie is she STARTS OUT very much like me-- the hero calls her a mouse when they first meet-- but, upon getting cursed into being an old woman, she just up and decides "HECK WITH IT, I'M OLD AND CRANKY AND I HEREBY GIVE UP ALL MY INHIBITIONS!" and becomes Awesome. NO ONE CROSSES SOPHIE. What's great is she holds on to this strength of character even after she ditches the curse. Now, if only I could manage to dump all my inhibitions, hopefully without getting cursed first.

4. Miss Penelope Lumley (Maryrose Wood) --Hey, I think my newest edition was number 4 on the LAST list, too! Although I have only read one book about her, and that only once, Miss Lumley left SUCH an impression on me with her complete no-nonsense awesomeness that I hereby pronounce her all the way up here. She proves you don't have to be swashbuckling and gender-bending to be awesome; you can, in fact, be a proper Victorian young lady, trained in all the niceties of life, and just generally brilliant and commanding of respect. AND YOU WILL BE AWESOME.

5. Luna Lovegood (J.K. Rowling) -- You know, when I first got to the chapter entitled "Luna Lovegood" I initially thought, "Oh, come on, Jo, do you really need to be bringing in all these new characters NOW, five books in?... oh, wait. Wow. Luna is ... SO... COOL." I love that she's got super-long dirty blonde hair and a vague expression-- "Oh, she looks like me!" I say, and then as I get to know her, and love every off-the-wall wonderful thing she says, I say, "If I was 10 (at the time I first read OotP) years younger and British, I would SOOO BE TRYING OUT FOR THIS PART IN THE MOVIES!" I do love whatsherfacewhosenameIcan'tthinkofrightnow, and granted she's better than I would have been, but seriously HOW MUCH FUN WOULD IT BE to play Luna!

6. Alice ...Liddell, if you want to bring your literary-history knowledge into play (Lewis Carroll) --My biggest beef with the Disney cartoon movie is the sweetening-up of Alice. Alice is not sweet and gentle and polite! She has no patience, sticks her nose into everyone else's business, interrupts regularly, and, lest we forget, is Awesome. Her determination and insistence on logic and ability to keep up -- as much as anyone can-- with characters talking ones ears off with nonsense is what makes her come ALIVE nearly a century and a half later.

7. Miss Jenny Honey (Roald Dahl) -- Okay, Miss Honey is not particularly brave-- actually, she needs a kindergartener to teach her to stand up for herself-- but that doesn't stop her from being Someone I Want to Be. I wanted to absolutely BE Miss Honey when I grew up. Maybe with a bit more money, and minus the domineering aunt. She's loving and patient and a brilliant teacher, and completely selfless in her vocation. Now that I've had the chance to BE a teacher, and failed at it, I admire her all the more, because I know what it takes for a quiet, gentle person to command respect-- a particular With-It-ness, a presence, a bit of Awesomeness, and Miss Honey's got it.

8. Elizabeth Bennett (Jane Austen) --I suppose I can't ACTUALLY claim to love her because she always knows immediately what to say, because she takes it to the other extreme occasionally, saying things she maybe ought to have thought about first. But when you're like me, that still comes across as Awesome. If I could only be so witty of tongue!

9. Eowyn, daughter of Eomund, shieldmaiden of Rohan (J.R.R. Tolkien) -- Because seriously, she's the ONLY interesting, well-rounded female in the ENTIRE THREE-VOLUME EPIC MASTERPIECE (FOUR volumes if you throw in The Hobbit, which is pretty much missing females entirely). You have to root for her for that alone. And she is completely kick-butt, and yet feminine enough to get completely lovestruck over the wrong guy. Slaying nazgul all the while. Because she can handle it.

10. Kristy Thomas (Ann M. Martin) --My first Babysitters' Club book was a Mary Anne book, which was good because she was shy like me-- and I think I found Kristy, on the other hand, a bit intimidating. But the MORE I read, the more I got to know Kristy's insecurities, and THEN I realized, YES, WHY CAN'T I BE HER. WHY can't I put up a tough exterior? WHY can't I be a natural leader? WHY can't I jump into new situations without thinking? WHY can't I DO something with it every time I have a brilliant idea? So yeah, I know I haven't read a Babysitters' Club book for going on twenty years now, but that doesn't take away the high esteem I've held her in in my life. On the other hand, I haven't read a Babysitter's Club book for going on twenty years, so... dangit, the boys' list got a bonus one when I got wishy-washy about number 10, so I'll pull up another bonus one for the girls' list, too:
10+1. Eddis, Queen, formerly (and informALly) known as Helen (Megan Whalen Turner) -- because she is absolutely everything a ruler ought to be: intelligent, wise, just, authoritative (and intimidating when necessary), and with a sense of humor. And not a tyrannical psychopath like her friend the next kingdom over.

Honorable Mention: Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins. Cheating I guess, but she WAS originally a book character, it's just that it is VERY CLEARLY JULIE ANDREWS as Mary Poppins whom I girl-crush on. I mean think about this people: they gave the Best Actress Oscar to a relative unknown in her FIRST MOVIE EVER, and it was a FAMILY/KIDS' movie, and she was up against Audrey Hepburn in a role everyone ASSUMED would be the actual winner-- the chances of this happening are very low when typed out like that, but when you actually WATCH her... WOW. Julie Andrews is a goddess. I'm just saying.

*Or no one's demand, really, but it did come up in the comments a few times.
**Not DIRECT counterparts, ie, no matching couples. Well, TWO matching couples, but they don't even appear at the same points on the list. I just mean, that's the boys' list, this is the girls' list.

Date: 2011-02-21 03:45 am (UTC)From: [personal profile] sal_amanda
sal_amanda: (Default)
True story, I have a student who totally looks and sounds like Luna Lovegood from the movies.

Date: 2011-02-21 06:34 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
You've told me that! Now if she'd only go around warning people about bizarre mythical creatures in their sandwiches or whatever, how cool she would be...

Date: 2011-02-21 04:14 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Oh, I had so many girl crushes! I should do my own post!
Edited Date: 2011-02-21 04:14 am (UTC)

Date: 2011-02-21 06:38 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Yes! Definitely! Do let me know if you do!

(And who ARE these people who don't like girl characters? I JUST DON'T GET IT!)

Date: 2011-02-21 09:35 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
I'm actually feeling very proud, I only have one left to decide on for ten, so it'll probably be one of my few "I will post!" posts that will happen.

I don't get it either. Actually, I was thinking about it, and I'm FAR more likely to have an admiration for/crush on female characters than male.

Date: 2011-02-22 06:44 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
My list is up! And now I'm enjoying my re-read of the Mrs. Pollifax novels.

Date: 2011-02-21 08:07 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Dorothy Gale. She's *such* a better character in the books than in the movies.

Date: 2011-02-21 06:45 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
I think Dorothy and Alice both fell victim to the strange Hollywood mindset back when (or still now?) that young girl characters must be wide-eyed innocents. The movie characters always seemed to me old-fashioned, and yet the BOOKS are so much OLDER than the movies and THEY manage to portray INTERESTING, TRUE-to-LIFE girls, so what gives, Hollywood?

Also, YAY, ANNE-ICON! See, that proves her awesomeness-- people have icons of her.

Date: 2011-02-22 07:04 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Yes, exactly right. And what's with Hollywood making all those characters older than they are in the book? From Garland's Dorothy to the newest Alice, Hollywood seems terrified of dealing with heroines of the proper age. It's one reason why I liked the most recent Peter Pan movie so much.

Date: 2011-02-22 07:19 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Of course, with that newest Alice movie, exactly what from the book DID remain the same, anyway?

I guess people just don't like dealing with child labor laws that much.

Date: 2011-02-22 09:02 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
They covered it up by making it into an Alice sequel, but still ...

I don't think it's about child labor laws so much as it's about sex. They think they'll bring in more of an audience by injecting some romance, or the hint of sex or a little skin, so they bring the protagonists up to a legal age. I don't think they realize that people want to see the originals that they grew up with -- they can see sex in just about any other movie.

Date: 2011-02-23 10:46 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Well, I wouldn't call Garland's Dorothy a sex symbol. But yes, probably. I don't think they realize that people want to see the originals that they grew up with -- they can see sex in just about any other movie. But then, I don't suppose they're TRYING to market the movies to people who actually read the books.

Date: 2011-02-24 10:42 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
I wasn't trying to include Garland in that list! :-) I was thinking more of later movies. But you're right, they're not marketing movies to people who read any books *at all*.

Date: 2011-02-22 01:08 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] lady dawn (from
Thank you for telling me you'd posted it.
I really love Sophie Hatter in Wynne Jones' book, too ! And Lizzy Bennett. And of course Eowyn. And you made me discover Anne and Blossom. Now I have to read them!

Date: 2011-02-22 07:22 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Oooo, yes! Anne of Green Gables is such an iconic book over here, I'm glad you'll get to discover it! Blossom's Ghosts I Have Been (the best of the four books with her as a character) is not nearly well-known enough, so I love pointing people toward that one, too.

Date: 2011-02-22 08:38 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] lady dawn (from
I forgot to sign but you got me, right ? I'm Delphine the French GeekMom. :)

Date: 2011-02-22 08:41 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Yes, I remembered it was you from last time!

Julie as Mary

Date: 2011-02-23 01:39 am (UTC)From: (Anonymous)
A middle-grade book I think you will like: My Most Excellent Year: A Novel of Love, Fenway Park, and Mary Poppins, by Steve Kluger. The Mary Poppins of the subtitle is emphatically Julie Andrews's Mary Poppins, and is a major plot point.
Also, I love that your son is named for one of my all-time favorite characters, and your daughter is named for one of my top five favorite authors.


Re: Julie as Mary

Date: 2011-02-23 10:42 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Hi, Genevieve! I am trying to remember where I know you from. I know I've seen you comment a lot of the places I read (or, SOMEONE named Genevieve whom I assume is you), but I can't help thinking we actually had a conversation ourselves at one point before. I'm thinking it WAS about Madeleine L'Engle, actually! Who of course is a very worthy person to name a child after! There are other fictional Sams I will admit had an influence on my son's name, too, but Sam Gamgee is definitely the main one.

I have heard of the Kluger book, but haven't picked it up yet. You intrigue me!

Re: Julie as Mary

Date: 2011-03-03 11:29 pm (UTC)From: (Anonymous)
Hi, Amy! sorry I didn't come back and see this until now. I know you from comments on Fuse's blog and maybe the Heavy Medal blog, and maybe we had an email conversation at one point, though I don't recall that? It may just have been a conversation in comments. I generally have almost the same book-loves as you, so I always love reading your eloquent comments.

My son's middle name is Sam for family, but Sam Gamgee made me very happy to use it.


Re: Julie as Mary

Date: 2011-03-04 04:05 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Pretty sure it was just a conversation in comments, but I think it was a good one-- possibly we were defending the honor of some good book at Heavy Medal! Or more likely Fuse #8, because I gave up commenting at Heavy Medal after awhile after I never seemed to agree on all the books everyone else liked (I just read Moon Over Manifest last week and loved it, so if people had actually been talking about THAT one ahead of time, I might have been able to AGREE with everyone for once!)

Re: Julie as Mary

Date: 2011-03-04 07:56 pm (UTC)From: (Anonymous)
I'm pretty sure we both talked in Heavy Medal in the arguments strongly supporting When You Reach Me, and definitely in Fuse's comments during the transcendentally marvelous Top 100 Chaper Books posts.

I'm not on LiveJournal so I can't message you, but I'd like to send you my email info and be friends on Facebook if that'd be OK with you - I really enjoy your writing so much and we have such similar taste in books! I am Facebook friends with Fuse and have corresponded with her (if that's any, um, corroboration that I'm a kindred spirit and/or not a random nut). Where would I send you my email info?

Re: Julie as Mary

Date: 2011-03-05 07:31 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
My official out-there-on-the-net contact address is rockinlibrarian at comcast dot net -- which is what I'm under at Facebook too I think. Actual Facebook Friends with Betsy Bird, are you! I think I would be too shy to do that, as she is at the top of my list of Actual-People Girl-Crushes, and I would have to remind myself not to be stalkerish or burst into the NYPL someday shouting "HI I AM HERE TO BE YOUR BEST FRIEND FOREVER HAVEN'T YOU BEEN WAITING FOR ME?!?!" Possibly I have more self control than that, but I don't always trust me sometimes.

Date: 2011-02-26 12:51 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] (from
great list!

But I have to put in a plug for Harry from The Blue Sword...she's both believable and totally awesome!

Date: 2011-02-28 10:45 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Always preferred Hero and the Crown (and Aerin!) myself, but there's always room for everyone else's girl-crushes, too!

Date: 2011-03-06 10:40 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
I don't know that I ever really had a preference for boy or girl characters. From what I can remember reading as a kid, I liked both.

The girl who plays Luna Lovegood in the movies (Evanna Lynch, I think) is really cute. And whether the book or the movie version, she always seemed like the Harry Potter character I'd get along with best in real life. Not necessarily romantically (although I guess I wouldn't totally discard the idea if we were closer to the same age), but as a friend.

Date: 2011-03-07 01:25 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
She is definitely my answer to HP-Character-I-Most-Want-to-Be-Friends-With, too. She's kind of like a way-out-there version of Angie. I mean, hanging out with her would have the same benefits hanging out with Angie has.


Date: 2011-03-07 11:30 am (UTC)From: (Anonymous)
Have you never read Tamora Pierce? Because she has some AWESOME female characters. Pretty much all of her main characters are females. TRIS IS THE BEST. That's all I have to say on the subject.


Date: 2011-03-07 06:49 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Hah hah, you probably won't believe me, but I DID consider Tris for the list! It's funny because I know Alanna is very on lots of other people's lists, but I have NEVER READ any of Pierce's books other than all the Circle of Magic books and the rest of the ones in that world... which I did love. And I looked at those books -- what I did when I was making the list, I skimmed down the list of All The Books I Ever Read and jotted down characters that were jumping out at me, that way I wouldn't forget anybody-- anyway I looked at those books and thought "I bet SOMEBODY there qualifies," and Tris was the one I thought of as loving/admiring best; but in the end, when I went through that list and started putting them in order, the CRUSHWORTHINESS wasn't jumping out quite as much as for the ones that made the final cut. I suspect she, and possibly some of her friends, would make a list of straight-up favorite characters, though.


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