The Girl Who Played with Fire
Mikael Blomkvist, publisher of the Swedish magazine, “Millennium,” uses his perseverance and stamina to expose sex trafficking operations throughout Sweden and parts of Europe. In doing so, he puts his life, and the lives of others, in mortal danger, in order to bring an end to this horrific cycle of violence against women.
The Fault in Our Stars
Hazel is a teenage girl who suffers from a life-threatening cancer. She is frightened and sad, but her biggest priority is to make sure her loved ones will be all right after her passing. Her resilience in the face of her impending death, and her capacity for selfless love make her a wonderful and hardy protagonist.
Precious is a remarkably gritty character. She overcomes a horrific past—incestuous rape, abuse, illiteracy, and HIV—but is determined to create a loving and comforting life for her young son. Overcoming all obstacles, Precious sees education as an escape from her situation, and using limitless tenacity, fights through her learning challenges and self-doubt to become a strong, independent person and a good mother.
Matilda is a young child of great brilliance whose intelligence is forever being chastised by her woefully dull and unimaginative parents. In addition, Matilda, along with the rest of her fellow students, suffers physical and mental abuse by the headmistress at her school. Using her guts, determination and ingenuity, Matilda manages to outsmart them all, allowing her to be adopted by her loving Kindergarten teacher, Miss Honey.
In the famed Dickens novel about poverty and the injustices of the lower class in 19th century England, protagonist Oliver has to battle the cruelties of orphanage life and sadistic adults who seek to punish him at every turn. Oliver, despite the evil and despicable people around him, relies on his own strength of character and a deep sense of moral and ethical beliefs to ultimately triumph over his surroundings. His grit and determination to always “do the right thing” earn him the happily-ever-after he deserves, a life of peace and serenity surrounded by loving friends.
The Diary of a Young Girl
Anne Frank, the young Jewish woman who was forced to live with her family in a Netherlands attic during Nazi occupation, is the very personification of grit, courage and perseverance. Her memoirs are a testament to how much the human spirit can endure, and even flourish, under the most inhumane of circumstances. Anne is not only able to deal with the deprivation that ensues over the years of her confinement, but she is able to triumph by steadfastly believing in the goodness of people.
Ruby (Oprah's Book Club 2.0)
Ephram Jennings is determined to rekindle his love for Ruby, the beautiful young girl he knew from his home town of Liberty, Texas. Ruby, having suffered from an abusive childhood, has fled Liberty, but is forced to return home where she once again faces her frightening girlhood memories. Ephram, having to choose between Ruby and his fierce loyalty to the sister who raised him, illustrates the grit and determination it takes to stand by the one you love.
Grit to Great
Linda Kaplan Thaler
In literature, there are characters who astound. Characters who are so full of sheer grit, determination, drive and chutzpah that they don’t let anything—even the most dire of circumstances—stand in their way. And reading about how these characters react in the face of adversity gives us a shot of bravery from afar. They never waver, even through trials and tribulations, and we, in turn, are inspired by their fearlessness and courage.
Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval, co-authors of the recently released book Grit to Great: How Perseverance, Passion, and Pluck Take You from Ordinary to Extraordinary know a thing or two about being gritty. They were both raised in the Bronx, with no money or connections. But through hard work and perseverance, they rose to the top of the advertising world, as CEO and president, respectively, of the Kaplan Thaler Group and Publicis USA, creating world-famous advertising campaigns. In their meetings with executives from around the world, they have seen firsthand the power of grit in helping women and men advance in their careers. In Grit to Great, they offer a rich narrative from the front lines of business on the impact determination, hard work, and focused attention have on getting ahead, whether you are an entry-level new hire or a seasoned veteran eager to advance your career.
Here, they share with us fourteen books with the grittiest characters in literature and how we can learn from each of them.
Featured Image by Kim Wilson/iStock.com
Linda Kaplan Thaler author photo: Amy Postle, Robin Koval author photo: Adam Auel of Adam Auel Photography.
What We're Reading This WeekGet recommendations for the greatest books around straight to your inbox every week.