Little Women has been viewed as a must-read classic for a long time, and it’s currently enjoying something of a renaissance after the success of its most recent film adaptation. But after finishing Little Women and its sequels, here are seven books for you to dive into next.
Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
Along with Little Women, the Anne of Green Gables series is almost a reading rite of passage for English-speaking girls. Like Little Women, it’s a coming-of-age tale set in a small community in the late 19th century; however, instead of focusing on the doings of four sisters, it instead follows the misadventures of Anne Shirley, a precocious and imaginative orphan girl whom a middle-aged brother and sister in the Canadian town of Avonlea on Prince Edward Island decide to adopt.
The first book sets the tone for the entire series: Anne and her friends do their best to get ahead in the world and get into some hilarious scrapes along the way. The series is made up of eight books in total, which follow Anne through childhood, college, romance, and motherhood. The last two books shift more focus onto her children, though. Although an optimistic tone dominates the series, it doesn’t shy away from the more tragic moments of life, making it the ideal companion to Little Women.
Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace
The Betsy-Tacy series is something halfway between an American Anne of Green Gables and Little Women type series. The ten-book series is set around the turn of the 20th century and tells the story of three girls who grow up as friends and neighbors in a close-knit Minnesota town: creative Betsy, shy Tacy, and bold Tib. The first short books, set during the girls’ childhoods, are clearly written for children. However, the series shifts to the reading level of a more general audience as the girls enter high school, college, and adulthood. In the end, they’re charming books that, like Little Women, offer different perspectives on coming of age and womanhood.
Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Sense and Sensibility is the perfect pick for anyone looking for an Austen novel that prioritizes the sisterly bond above all other plot points. In this story, two sisters—the reserved, practical Elinor and the passionate, impulsive Marianne—are faced with a difficult situation when their father dies and they are forced to leave their family home along with their mother and youngest sister. Although the plot also deals with emotionally fraught romantic entanglements, the love between the sisters is the undeniable backbone of the novel.
Moreover, the most popular of Austen’s novels, Pride and Prejudice, shares some marked similarities with Little Women. The gracious and sweet Jane and the clever and vivacious Elizabeth have a sisterly dynamic much like Meg and Jo, although their younger sisters, Kitty and Lydia, are decidedly more immature than Beth and Amy. And, like the March sisters, the Bennett sisters’ love lives take some unexpected twists and turns that bring up issues of class and money as well as love, compatibility, and passion.
The Makioka Sisters by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki
It’s easy to get stuck in a cycle of just reading classic Western literature, but the fact is, there’s so much more out there! In this epic Japanese novel, four sisters from a once-wealthy family find different ways to deal with their new situation—sound familiar? The first, Tsuruko, tries to cling to their former prestige; the second, Sachiko, sidelines her own prospects to ensure her sisters’ futures; the third, Yukiko, has her future put on hold because of her family’s rigid standards; and the fourth, Taeko, enters a whirlwind romance and dreams of going to France to study fashion. While it’s definitely a more mature story than Little Women, it’s also an equally moving portrait of the choices women in a struggling family have to make.
How the García Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez
Insert the “four sisters coming of age” narrative into a story that also revolves around immigration and culture and you end up with Alvarez’s stunning 2010 novel. In this tale, the four García sisters flee the Dominican Republic with their family in 1960 after their father’s involvement in a coup to overthrow the dictator Trujillo goes south. Upon their arrival in New York, the girls try to start new lives, attempting to blend in with American trends, fashion, and language, while their parents desperately strive to hold onto their homeland’s heritage. As the girls grow up and try to navigate their situation, they find themselves caught between two worlds and two homes.
Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
Perhaps you’ve already seen the 2015 movie adaptation of this engaging novel about an Irish immigrant living and working in Brooklyn (which, incidentally, also stars Saoirse Ronan, who went on to play Jo March in the 2019 adaptation of Little Women). With the help of her older sister and a parish priest, Ellis is able to leave her small Irish town. She moves to Brooklyn, where she finds work and love and pursues advanced schooling. When tragedy strikes, Ellis returns to Ireland for a while, but she brings a big secret along with her. Just as Little Women explores what happens to young women who leave home to find their place in the world, Brooklyn follows a similar path in telling the story of a young woman who is torn between her family’s expectations and her own desires.