Fav Female Author [A.k.a. another book rec thread]

Prompted because I’m cataloguing my book collection and it’s not looking super diverse.

Who is(/are) your Favourite Female Author(s) and why?

And do you have book recs? :stuck_out_tongue:

Octavia Butler and Ursula K. Le Guin are right there at the top for me.
The first because of her exploration of identity and humanity accustoming to great change (Lillith’s Brood was impeccable); and the second because of the way she plays with the themes of identity and societal customs (I devoured The Left Hand of Darkness, and the even like The Dispossessed even more!).

Every time I come across their works, I’m just:


I agree, although I find some of Butler’s work too bleak. That says more about the current world and my outlook than the work, I think.

I’d add Mary Robinette Kowal (Lady Astronaut series) and Becky Chambers (Wayfarer’s series). Both speculative fiction (Kowel’s is a lot harder, Chambers’ is more Star Trek level of realism).


Patricia Highsmith leaps to mind.

The Talented Mr. Ripley centers on one the most unique characters I’ve ever read. Strangers on a Train was a brilliant first novel. And while she’s remembered for her thrillers, she could write a heartfelt book about the struggle for acceptance (The Price of Salt). She was a prolific short story writer as well.

I could go on. Everything she writes captures me, even her lesser works.


Jane Eyre is my favorite book, by one of the Brontë’s (can’t remember which. Charlotte?)

Middle March is a close favorite, by George Eliot.

I’ve read almost all of Agatha Christie’s work, and would rank her very highly. Some truly ingenious plots, although she got a little less coherent as she got very old (I think she got dementia at the end?). Murder of Roger Ackroyd, And Then There Were None, and Murderer on the orient express were good).

Margaret Weiss has some great fantasy, often in collaboration with Tracy Hickman. Of course Anne Mcaffrey has amazing sci fi and fantasy. Suzanne Collins really wowed me with Hunger Games.

There was a mother/daughter pair that both wrote murder mysteries that were thrillers, but I don’t remember their names. I like their books though!

Emily Wilson has a great translations of the Odyssey.

If you like more serious novels, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and The Outsiders have some depictions of depressing urban life.

Edit: Shirley Jackson for horror.


Since forever: Diane Duane, Patricia McKillip, Diana Wynne Jones, P. C. Hodgell, Lois McMaster Bujold, Martha Wells, Ann Maxwell, Pamela Dean, Mary Gentle.

Of recent standing: N. K. Jemisin, Tamsyn Muir, Arkady Martine, Susanna Clarke, Katherine Addison, T. Kingfisher (Ursula Vernon), Ann Leckie, Jo Walton, Ada Palmer, Fonda Lee, Ruthanna Emrys, Kari Maaren, Elizabeth Bear, Becky Chambers.

…in no particular order.


Furiously taking notes to look those authors on my librarty database…

Oh I have The Galaxy and the Ground Within on my shelf. I bawled at the end. This was such a great book!

Same. They were my jam during Elementary School!


Adele Goldberg, writing about the programming language Smalltalk.

Ok, you meant fiction.

Agatha Christie because she writes smart criminal novels with smart detectives, female (Miss Marple) and male (Hercule Poirot) and couples (Tommy und Tuppence Beresford).

J. K. Rowling because she seems to really understand what boys are about and writes great characters, like Hermione, Hagrid etc.

Ursula Le Guin because she wrote the best description and system of magic. Like word magic, nature magic etc.

Edit-add: The author of Wuthering Heights (was it Jane Austen?) because that book starts damn funny.

Zarf mentioned pretty much everyone I was going to recommend, so digging around a little further:

  • Tamora Pierce
  • Ellen Raskin
  • Gael Baudino
  • Madeline L’Engle
  • Helene Wecker
  • Charlie Jane Anders
  • Kate Mascarenhas
  • Patricia Highsmith

Keeping an eye on this thread for any good recs!


Mira Grant is the pen name of Seanan McGuire for when she’s writing horror and science fiction. Her Parasitology series is super fun- and about tapeworms and zombies. I still think about that one radio station employee and the tissues and Xanax, sometimes.

I really liked Grant’s other series (Newsflesh) about zombies and journalism, it had some really interesting ideas around decontamination protocols, and Georgia is a super fun, badass protagonist. Love her sunglasses and iconic leather jacket. Can’t forget the motorcycle! Always fun to explore end-of-world scenarios post the post apocalypse, and it’s framed a few decades after the initial outbreak.

I also really love the writing of Amy Tan- she has such a deep understanding of the nuances of the strained, tense mother-daughter dynamic, and a fantastic flair for fantasy-historical settings. I would highly recommend her book The Bonesetter’s Daughter. I really loved how it interwove the past and present, and the interesting element of translation serving as a major aspect to the novel. The way it handled the supernatural (ghosts) was really refreshingly human.

I also really like Meng Jin’s novel Little Gods which was an absolutely stunning debut novel. The relationships drawn are nuanced, complex- and heartbreaking. There’s a whole lot of non-linear play in terms of the timeline, and a great deal of discussion about quantum and theoretical physics strung throughout. The mother was a deeply unlikeable, terribly unsympathetic, and yet immensely compelling woman, drawn into the insanity of her devotion to her scientific niche and clumsily awkward with love.


Most recently Genevieve Cogman’s series The Invisible Library. It’s about “librarians” who are more like spies who infiltrate parallel universes in order to steal unique variations of books in order to stabilise the multiverse and protect humanity from both the fae and dragons, who represent the two dangers of chaos and order. The series is now complete for those who avoid in-progress series.


Oh, I know that series. I LOVED the first book but not the second.


(If you want an excellent homage to Ellen Raskin, check out Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia.)

Oh, good deep cut. I did not like all of her stuff but Gossamer Axe was memorable.


I liked books 3, 4, 6-8 most. So maybe give one more book a go?


Gossamer Axe is also my favorite, so that tracks!

There’s a copy of that book somewhere in my apartment so this has moved it rapidly up my to-read list. Thanks!


Malka Older’s recent The Mimicking of Known Successes is a “Holmesian murder mystery and sapphic romance set on Jupiter” and I thought it was excellent.


Absolutely love her work in Infomocracy. She has a really clever eye for worldbuilding consequences and sociological dynamics. I have quite a few more of her books on my to-read list.


Yeah, I’m definitely going to check out her other books. She absolutely nailed the atmosphere in this one.

Patricia Wrede writes fun fantasy. Dorothy Gilman’s The Clairvoyant Countess is one of my all-time favorite characters. Lindsey Davis writes historical fiction in the Roman empire, mostly, I think? For instance Silver Pigs, a detective novel in Ancient Rome. Melissa Scott is hit-or-miss for me, but the Roads of Heaven trilogy has an interesting sort of alchemical/symbolic space travel technology/magic. I don’t see Robin McKinley mentioned yet: mostly fairy-tale retellings but also things like… Sunshine is a vampire story with a baker and chocolate. What else…hmm… old one, but maybe eluki bes shahar’s Butterfly and Hellflower trilogy about a female space pilot whose smuggling embroils her with a young prince and an interstellar dynastic plot. Oh, huh. She also writes as Rosemary Edghill, I didn’t know that. Also good stuff.


I love Shirley Jackson. The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle are deservedly horror classics, but I also recently read Hangsaman and I thought it was fantastic and now have a lot of feelings about how 90% of the criticisms of it are missing the point.

Carmen Maria Machado is a more recent author of literary horror that I’ve really enjoyed. Her Body and Other Parties is one of my favorite short story collections of the last ten years or so.

Another short story collection I’ve enjoyed recently is Aoko Matsuda’s Where the Wild Ladies Are, which is magical realism based on Japanese folklore, although I haven’t read Matsuda’s other work.

Helen Oyeyemi is an excellent writer of literary fiction with low-key and unexplained supernatural elements (apparently she hates for it to be called “magical realism”).

On a less highbrow note, Heather Rose Jones writes fun fantasy novels with queer female protagonists and elaborate alternate-history worldbuilding.

I could probably go on for quite a while, but I’m ten pages back in my Goodreads history now and I don’t want to be here all night. :stuck_out_tongue: (I also love many of the authors who have already been mentioned!)


You can always come back to add more, there are never too many authors for this list :stuck_out_tongue:


Sheri S. Tepper
Patricia A. McKillip
Ursula K. Le Guin
C. J. Cherryh

In no particular order.