Love 'Little Women'? 11 Books You'll Adore

by Kerri Jarema
Originally Published: 

Although Louisa May Alcott's Little Women was released 150 years ago, the novel is still beloved by readers, and so influential that it has been adapted into three films — including the much-hyped and highly-anticipated Greta Gerwig-directed Little Women, which hits theaters on Dec. 25. In fact, the upcoming film adaption starring Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Meryl Streep, and Timothée Chalamet seems to have caused a surge in interest in the 1919 novel, which follows the four March sisters — Jo, Meg, Beth, and Amy — as they come of age during and after the Civil War.

The film — and the novel — focus on the the passionate and independent Jo as she struggles to find her place in the world and make her authorial dreams come true at a time when a woman's only ambition is supposed to be marriage and motherhood. Louisa May Alcott's Jo has long been held up as a feminist icon, and based on the film's official trailer and interviews with Gerwig and the cast, it sounds like the movie will really emphasize the female empowerment angle.

If you just can't wait for the film to hit theaters this holiday season, I've got 11 books below to read in the meantime. Some are novels about sisterhood, family, and coming-of-age, while others are nonfiction books about Louisa May Alcott and her most famous work.

'Meg and Jo' by Virginia Kantra (Dec. 3)

In this contemporary Little Women retelling, the March sisters — reliable Meg, independent Jo, stylish Amy, and shy Beth — have grown up to pursue their separate dreams, to varying success. But when their mother’s illness forces them home to North Carolina for the holidays, they rediscover the magic of sisterhood.

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'The Last Summer of the Garrett Girls' by Jessica Spotswood

Kat is in the community theater's summer play, along with her ex and his new girlfriend; Bea is starting to doubt whether she wants to go to college with her boyfriend; Vi has a crush on the girl next door; and Des is too busy taking care of the family's bookstore to think about herself at all. If you love novels about sisterhood, The Last Summer of the Garrett Girls is the modern Little Women-esque tale you need to read.

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'How the García Girls Lost Their Accents' by Julia Alvarez

Uprooted from their family home in the Dominican Republic, the four García sisters — Carla, Sandra, Yolanda, and Sofia — arrive in New York City in 1960 to find a life far different from the genteel existence they left behind. Julia Alvarez is a living legend, and her story of Latinidad and immigration puts an entirely new spin on the sisterhood narrative.

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'March Sisters: On Life, Death, and Little Women' by Kate Bolick, Jenny Zhang, Carmen Maria Machado & Jane Smiley

In this book commemorating Little Women's 150th anniversary, authors Kate Bolick, Jenny Zhang, Carmen Maria Machado, and Jane Smiley explore their lifelong personal attachments to Alcott's novel. Each author focuses on one of the four March sisters, and their meditations are a true testament to the power of great literature.

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'The Makioka Sisters' by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki

In Osaka in the years immediately before World War II, the four aristocratic Makioka sisters struggle to preserve a way of life that is vanishing. Tsuruko, the eldest Makioka sister, clings to the prestige of her family name, Sachiko compromises to secure the future of her younger sisters, Yukiko is a hostage to her family’s exacting standards, and Taeko rebels by flinging herself into scandalous romantic alliances.

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'Little Woman in Blue' by Jeannine Atkins

In this fictionalized account of Louisa May Alcott's sister Abigail May, Jeannine Atkins writes of a woman who dreams of painting a masterpiece — and of finding love. When she reads her sister’s novel, Little Women, Abigail is stung by Louisa’s portrayal of her as "Amy," the younger sister trades her artistic ambition for hearth and home. But May is determined to prove her talent, and make a life with room for both watercolors and a wedding dress.

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'To All the Boys I've Loved Before' by Jenny Han

Margot, Lara Jean, and Kitty Covey are all as close as sisters can be. But when Margot heads off to college and Lara Jean gets a "fake" boyfriend, their lives — and their bond — are upended. This novel is a love letter to sisterhood as much as it is a teen romance.

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'The Sisters of Summit Avenue' by Lynn Cullen

Ruth has been raising four young daughters and running her family’s Indiana farm alone, ever since her husband, John, fell into a comatose state. She would love to trade places with her beautiful, successful older sister, June. But June has her own sorrows. And when the two sisters reunite after a long estrangement, June’s bitterness over a past betrayal sets into motion a confrontation that has been years in the making.

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'The Tumbling Turner Sisters' by Juliette Fay

It’s 1919, and the Turners are barely scraping by. When their father loses his job, their mother decides that vaudeville is their best chance to make the rent. So sisters Gert, Winnie, Kit, and Nell find freedom in performing. But there is a seamier side to the business, and the young women face obstacles they never could have anticipated.

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'The Little Women Letters' by Gabrielle Donnelly

The Little Women Letters explores the imagined lives of Jo March’s descendants. With her older sister, Emma, planning a wedding and her younger sister, Sophie, launching a career on stage, Lulu can’t help but feel like a failure. When her mother asks her to find some old family recipes, Lulu stumbles across letters written by her great-great-grandmother Josephine March. As Lulu delves deeper into the lives of the March sisters, she finds solace and guidance for her own life.

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'Meg, Jo, Beth & Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters' by Anne Boyd Rioux

In Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy, Anne Boyd Rioux is an engaging look at the circumstances that led Louisa May Alcott to write Little Women. Anne Boyd Rioux also explores why this beloved story continues to resonate with audiences, a century and a half after its publication.

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