The word “brave” can mean many things, even though in our society we typically associate it with masculine topics like fighting and hitting things and jumping off of tall things. The books I love, though, are almost exclusively written by women (sorry, dudes), and almost exclusively feature female leads. These heroines take on immense challenges with courage and stand tall in the face of danger — whether that danger is to their hearts, their psyches, their families or their bodies.

Here is a list of novels led by immensely brave women.