In honor of Women’s Day, I have compiled a list of my some of my favorite female authors. It’s a long list, and the truth is, we need more than just one day of the year to honor achievements by women. How about we just take the next century? It would be a start in the right direction, at least.
I made categories,, just to help myself remember everyone. I’m sure that I forgot lots of books & authors, or that I’ll discover new authors that I want to add to the list. I expect this is a post that will frequently be updated.
- Charlotte Bronte/Jane Eyre: I decided to limit myself to one work by one Bronte, and I’m going with Jane Eyre. I’m sure that some Bronte fans would accuse me of being pedestrian and unenlightened, but I like how plucky Jane is, and the journey of self-discovery that she goes on.
- Jane Austen/Pride and Prejudice: This novel is the prototype for modern romance, and it’s so good, people can’t stop writing revisionist versions.
- Edith Wharton/ Ethan Frome: Probably lots of readers would choose Age of Innocence as their favorite of her novels, but I read Ethan Frome in high school and just really dug it.
- Mary Wollstonecraft/Mary and the Wrongs of Women: Mary Wollstonecraft was Mary Wollstonecraft-Shelly’s mother. Wollstonecraft is better remembered for her non-fiction, most notably, A Vindication of the Rights of Women. She is considered the first feminist and was a brave journalist during the French Revolution. She wrote two novels as well, where she didn’t shy away from inserting her activist views.
- Dorothy Parker/The Portable Dorothy Parker: The acerbic, sophisticated Parker could hold her own in the boy’s club of Manhattan elite. My favorite story by her is “Big Blonde.”
- Daphne Maurier/Rebecca: Maurier put a modern twist on gothic romance. Rebecca is my favorite of her novels because of the unnamed heroine who is preoccupied with her new husband’s dead wife, Rebecca. The darkly lit Manderley estate, which rests against the British moors, is like something out of a Bronte novel.
- Octavia Butler/Kindred: It’s classified as a science fiction novel, because there’s a time travel element. But at its core, it is a human tale of love, hate, violence, and the quest for redemption. Dana, an African American woman, travels back in time to save her ancestor, Rufus, who is a slave owner. Butler takes this story exactly where it needs to go and it’s breathtaking.
- Margaret Atwood/Handmaid’s Tale: It’s eerie, how in 2022 (or during the Trump/Pence administration) how close we are to Gilead. It’s amazing how genius Margaret Atwood is.
- Zora Neal Hurston/Their Eyes Were Watching God: Janie’s story, as she endures poverty and maintains her sense of self even after three marriages, summons a huge amount of emotion.
- Betty Smith/Joy in the Morning: Smith’s better known novel, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, is more widely hailed. But I love the sweet love story of a young college-aged couple, and the humor of Annie, who desperately wants to be a writer.
- Donna Tartt/ The Secret History: She probably didn’t invent the “dark academia” genre, but reading this book was my first foray into it and I fell in love. A group of ancient Greek scholars accidently kill a farmer and then they kill their friend. And that’s just the beginning.
Children’s & YA:
- Madeleine L’Engle/A Wrinkle in Time. “To love is to be vulnerable; and it is only in vulnerability and risk — not safety and security — that we overcome darkness.”
- Beverly Cleary/Ramona the Pest. It’s hard to limit myself to one book by her, because all of her books were such a huge part of my childhood, and then I enjoyed reading them to my kids. But Ramona was my absolute favorite. She made it okay to be a mess.
- Ann Brashares/Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. I was an adult by the time this series began, but that didn’t stop me from loving this story of female friendship and self-acceptance.
- Noel Streatfeild/Ballet Shoes. She wrote a whole series of performing arts “shoes” books, but I believe Ballet Shoes was the first. I had so many dreams, reading these novels, and revisited them all when I read them with my daughter, Pauline.
- Megan McCafferty/Sloppy Firsts. This is the first novel in the Jessica Darling series. This is another series that I read as an adult, and I loved the smart humor and the compelling high school drama.
- Suzanne Collins/The Hunger Games. This isn’t just one of my favorite YA novels, it’s one of my favorite novels ever.
- Angie Thomas/ The Hate U Give. A hugely entertaining and impactful novel, it also helped me better understand a lot of my high school students.
Recent Favorite Reads (For this section, I am simply providing a link to the author’s website
- Lesley Nneka Arimah What it Means When a Man Falls from the Sky
- Lori Rader-Day/Pretty Little Things
- Rachel Hawkins/The Wife Upstairs
- Ruth Ware/In a Dark, Dark Wood
- Catherine McKenzie/Arranged
- Chandler Baker/ Whisper Network
- Anna Pitoniak/ Necessary People
- Amy Poeppel/ Limelight