I read more management books than I used to, but I still prefer novels. Experiencing growth into a leadership role alongside a character is frequently more compelling (and enjoyable) than reading what often amounts to a long “to do” list. So, here are a few of my favorite books featuring characters becoming leaders:
Watership Down by Richard Adams: This was assigned summer reading when I was in high school. One of the essay questions we had to answer on the test was, “Discuss Watership Down as a novel about leadership styles.” My mind blew up in that moment and has never quite recovered.
The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley: Aerin may be the king’s daughter, but she’s never felt she belongs. When spite drives her to stupidity, though, it’s her stubbornness that leads her to her true path and place. Don’t miss the companion title, The Blue Sword.
The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner: Specifically, for the purposes of this list, I recommend The King of Attolia and A Conspiracy of Kings. But take my advice and read the entire series. In order. (You’ll thank me later.) No one does a better job of creating characters who grow into leadership while remaining true to their essential nature.
Fire and Thorns trilogy by Rae Carson: Despite her status as the one person in her century “chosen” by right of a magical jewel, Princess Elisa feels like a failure compared to her confident, heir-apparent sister. A sudden marriage sets her on a journey of self-discovery with implications not only for herself and her new kingdom, but all the neighboring countries as well. The Girl of Fire and Thorns
The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison: Like Aerin, Maia is unwelcome at court. Unlike Aerin, this youngest son has been exiled and isolated for years, leaving him unprepared to inherit when his father and brothers are all killed. Navigating court intrigues and treachery would he hard enough, but Maia must also deal with the challenges of being half-Goblin (on his mother’s side) in an Elfish culture.
The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson: I can’t really say much without spoiling the first title in the series (though the title The Final Empire might be a spoiler itself), but the hard reality of turning political theory into practical government are too well told to leave off the list.
Happy reading – and leading.