Discover the treasures penned by incredible female authors. Dive into our list of the best books written by female authors and their literary mastery.
It hasn’t always been easy for women to get into literature. In the 19th century, many were critical of women authors. Often, they attack their “lack of wordy experience and rationality.”
Through the years, women persisted and created literary gems. These constant successes dismissed these negative and unwarranted comments. They also cultivated the literary landscape with rich narratives and writing styles that endured the test of time.
Women did not only face societal pressures and challenge the norms head-on. They also offer diverse voices and perspectives that shaped literature as we know it today. Read our list of adjectives for strong women to use in your writing.
- Best Books Written by Female Authors Ranked
- 1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
- 2. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
- 3. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
- 4. Middlemarch by George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans)
- 5. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
- 6. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- 7. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
- 8. Beloved by Toni Morrison
- 9. White Teeth by Zadie Smith
- 10. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
- 11. The Broken Earth by N.K Jemisin
- 12. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
- 13. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
- 14. The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
- 15. Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
- 16. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
- 17. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
- 18. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
- 19. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
- 20. Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante
- 21. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
- 22. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
- 23. Earthsea Series by Ursula K. Le Guin
- 24. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
- 25. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
- 26. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
- 27. The Secret History by Donna Tartt
- 28. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
- 29. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
- 30. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
- FAQs About The Best Books Written by Female Authors
Best Books Written by Female Authors Ranked
1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
One of the most enduring literary classics written is Pride and Prejudice. Its critique of the 19th-century social and gender dynamics shifted social attitudes. This is an important feat, especially for women and their social mobility.
Before its success, it took 14 years for Austen to reinvent her novel after getting rejected by a publishing house. But she stuck to her feminist perspective, even writing under the pseudonym “By a Lady.” Through the book, she showcases how female writers and characters can be witty, complex, and independent.
Some refer to Pride and Prejudice as “chick lit.” In reality, Austen thought that it wasn’t serious enough. After all, the novel might be lighthearted, but it still tackles serious issues of her time. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“Angry people are not always wise.”Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
2. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Frankenstein is famously known for its monster that society jousted out and forced into isolation. It delves into themes of prejudice, free will, and ambition. Even more fascinating is Shelley’s accomplishment in British literature. She successfully presents a fresh take on Gothic science fiction via her writings.
It’s no wonder that Shelley is sometimes called “The Mother of Science Fiction.” Her debut novel, Frankenstein, centers on something that can be true during the book’s publication. Instead of magic or supernatural forces, Shelley uses scientific concepts. Through the book, she offers readers a different type of horror closer to reality. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“Beware; for I am fearless and therefore powerful.”Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
3. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
To the Lighthouse is only one of Virginia Woolf’s contributions to the literary world. She was also an enthusiastic essayist who wrote about literary history, politics, and art. In the novel, the lighthouse signifies the character’s obvious goals. But it also represents their struggle to reach them.
Here, the English writer unveils the complicated bond between family and domesticity. She also points out how women and men clash via detailed monologues and tactful perceptions. Readers feel like they live along with the characters through her writing. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“Beauty was not everything. Beauty had this penalty — it came too readily, came too completely. It stilled life — froze it.”Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse
4. Middlemarch by George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans)
Victorian novelist George Eliot’s Middlemarch earned her high praises, including those from Dickens and Thackeray. With her rich knowledge of European literature and languages, she created a well-thought-out and amusing book about marriage, its imperfections, and happiness.
The book introduces an intricate web of characters and their lives, unfolding right before the readers’ eyes. Victorian realism is central to Eliot’s astute portrayal of the book’s cast and vivid imagery of English rural life. Aside from successfully intermingling various P.O.V.s, the book discusses education, political reform, and many more. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?”George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans), Middlemarch
5. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
Most know of the lonely orphaned boy who discovered he was a wizard. The series then takes its audience to an exciting adventure of fantasy and sophisticated world-building. This is what made Harry Potter etch its existence as one of the world’s most beloved tales.
Its author, J.K. Rowling, is an inspiring woman in and of herself. Devoting 17 years of her life to writing the entire series highlights her commitment to the art and all the minds motivated by her New York Times Best Seller fiction. Aside from penning her critically acclaimed novels, Rowling is also a keen fighter for children’s rights and care systems. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter
6. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Half of a Yellow Sun centers around the Nigerian Civil War. Though the scenes in the novel are made up, Adichie’s work is many’s introductions to the Biafran discord — a non-fiction conflict that happened in 1967.
The book vividly presents violence and war, its consequences, and its influences. There’s death, sickness, and other brutal realities that not every author has the courage to write about. Adichie’s non-linear storytelling makes her works effective while still engaging and realistic. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“Racism should never have happened, and so you don’t get a cookie for reducing it.”Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun
7. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid’s Tale is a harrowing story of America’s imagined future. In it, the U.S. doesn’t exist. It’s replaced by Gilead, a totalitarian state where women can’t bear children except for the handmaids.
Atwood’s work reminds the present and future generations that the ability to conceive is not something any government should control. Besides this main thesis is the author’s evaluation of the importance of freedom, the power of fear, and the necessity of change. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“Ignoring isn’t the same as ignorance, you have to work at it.”Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale
8. Beloved by Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison, the first black woman to get a Nobel Prize in Literature, examines enslaved African Americans’ anguish in Beloved. The novel masterfully demonstrates the legacy of slavery and the history of these dark times via the protagonist, Sethe. Although she becomes a free woman, Sethe is still held captive by her trauma.
Morrison’s goal in writing the novel is to preserve black people’s history. With crucial, explicit narrative and details, she did just that. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“Definitions belong to the definers, not the defined.”Toni Morrison, Beloved
9. White Teeth by Zadie Smith
A must-read take on modern society is Zadie Smith’s White Teeth. Here, she explores cultural identity, race, and more themes. She picks apart the relationship between the British population and the country’s immigrants through the lives of two men. Samad and Archie discuss the war, their families in London, and other things friends would discuss.
Smith’s novel is full of sharp dialogue, seamlessly blending metaphors and facts. She also tasks the readers to think not only of the characters in her novel but of the concepts within their stories that mirror the realities of the world. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“Full stories are as rare as honesty.”Zadie Smith, White Teeth
10. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Ng proved how well she writes family dynamics and peels away illusions of perfection in Little Fires Everywhere. A Chinese-American baby, a heartbreaking custody battle, and an idyllic suburban street — the plot seems straightforward, but it isn’t.
Ng mixes elements that make the book both character and plot-driven. Additionally, the novel reflects the importance of family, its influence on a personal level, and its effect on one’s community. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“Sometimes you need to scorch everything to the ground and start over. After the burning, the soil is richer, and new things can grow. People are like that, too. They start over. They find a way.”Celeste Ng, Little Fires Everywhere
11. The Broken Earth by N.K Jemisin
N.K. Jemisin displays her mastery of her craft via the trilogy The Broken Earth. She commands a rare narrative in her world-building and fantasy tales. For instance, she uses parallels between natural disasters and human conditions in the book.
Despite the seemingly far-fetched setting of her novel, Jemisin still dissects common themes today. This includes climate change, racism, and motherly love. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“Home is what you take with you, not what you leave behind.”N.K. Jemisin, The Broken Earth
12. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
The God of Small Things digs into various themes that are still very relevant today. The book breaks down subjects of loyalty, colonialism, education, and social class through the eyes of fraternal twins.
Via the book, Arundhati Roy courageously highlights the discrimination India puts its citizens under. She also criticizes the territory’s treatment of its people. Aside from opening a necessary discourse over her country of origin’s mess, she’s also a human rights and environmental activist. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“Change is one thing. Acceptance is another.”Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things
13. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Anyone will relate to The Bell Jar’s Esther Greenwood’s dilemma — “Should I be the person I want to be? Or should I be the person society expects me to be?” As a prominent poet with a confessional writing style, Plath takes her readers on a personal and emotional journey of identity via her writings.
Aside from her jarring and sincere works, Plath is known for her controversial takes and transparent poems. Her usual topics are her distressing marriage, mental anguish, and tumultuous relationship with her father. In the novel, the bell jar symbolizes the main character’s suppressed freedom, making it a semi-autobiographical work of the American writer. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“If you expect nothing from somebody you are never disappointed.”Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
14. The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
Allende owes her character and plot writing to various authors. One that gave her a lasting impression is Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. That’s why it’s unsurprising that she has strong characters and intermingling storylines of personal affairs, depravity, and revolution.
Though the themes are presented alongside magical realism, The House of the Spirits underscores timely issues of class and women’s difficulties in a patriarchal society. The novel spans four generations and culminates in a cycle that seems to never end. It also portrays the class divide in Chile, paving the way for expected injustices. Readers journey along the characters’ rise in power and eventual fall and demise. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“Words are not that important when you recognize intentions.”Isabel Allende, The House of the Spirits
15. Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
The Parable of the Sower highlights the importance of embracing change and repeatedly stresses God’s influence on constant but necessary changes. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, readers follow a young woman’s journey as she discovers a religion that keeps her hope alive and encounters others.
Butler is a pioneer in African-American science fiction writers. Her work aims to make a better future as she tackles issues of political disparity, women’s rights, and racism. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“In order to rise from its own ashes, a Phoenix first must burn.”Octavia E. Butler, Parable of the Sower
16. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The Color Purple is spread out over a series of letters, with the main character, Celie, addressing God and her sister, Nettie. It’s regarded as one of the no-nonsense books that vividly details the abuse women face.
Still, Celie’s abuse at the hands of many people didn’t stop her from appreciating the good things in her life. Alice Walker’s power shines through during these scenes. The abuse is brutal and graphic, but the sisterhood and hope are just as striking. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“I think us here to wonder, myself. To wonder. To ask. And that in wondering bout the big things and asking bout the big things, you learn about the little ones, almost by accident. But you never know nothing more about the big things than you start out with. The more I wonder, the more I love.”Alice Walker, The Color Purple
17. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Murder on the Orient Express takes a special spot in detective fiction for its equally amusing yet disturbing murder and plot twists. As readers finish the book, they are left to ponder over justice and ethics.
Known for her prolific detective novels and short stories, Agatha Christie rightfully earned her place as a top-tier suspense writer. Her short sentences and psychological spin on her writings make each a page-turner. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“The impossible could not have happened, therefore the impossible must be possible in spite of appearances.”Agatha Christie, Murder on the Orient Express
18. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
As its name suggests, The Namesake’s core theme is the reinvention of oneself and owning one’s identity. The story follows an Indian family’s life as immigrants in America. In the beginning, the story is told from a young woman’s and mother’s perspective. As she’s attached to her Indian heritage, she’s homesick and devastated. But through the novel, readers see her become more and more independent.
Lahiri’s painting of loneliness on a foreign island is poignant and relatable through the pages of her book. It’s an excellent depiction of Indian-American life, including the difficulties and the triumphs. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“Remember that you and I made this journey together to a place where there was nowhere left to go.”Jhumpa Lahiri, The Namesake
19. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Watch Marguerite’s transformation from a young girl to a young woman in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Readers join her as she lives in the U.S.U.S. South, facing discrimination, abuse, and poverty.
Maya Angelou’s autobiographical fiction highlights self-expression amidst oppression and suffering. This makes it historically significant as it tackles crucial issues of indignities the black community faces. At its core, the novel calls for repressed voices to call out and sing for freedom. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
20. Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante
A story of friendship amidst postwar Italy; that’s what the author calls attention to, using the pseudonym Elena Ferrante in Neapolitan Novels. Through the narrator, the readers are taken on a 50-year-old friendship overview of the female’s moral and psychological growth.
The series comprises four novels, beginning with the characters as six-year-old girls, then young women, and finally, old comrades. Aside from the power of friendship between the women, the novels underline class struggles, women’s rights, and motherhood. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“Each of us narrates our life as it suits us.”Elena Ferrante, Neapolitan Novels
21. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Little Women is about four sister’s lives, first as young girls and then as young women. It’s a story of what it means to be a woman despite mayhem. In the novel, it’s the American Civil War. At the time of its publication, women are portrayed far from how Alcott wrote Amy, Beth, Jo, and Meg. Little Women is a revolutionary take on women’s roles and expectations.
Alcott traced her life in the book, with each character representing herself and her sisters. That’s why the realism in Little Women is astonishing and true to life. It’s a story of persistence, family, and forgiveness. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“Watch and pray, dear, never get tired of trying, and never think it is impossible to conquer your fault.”Louisa May Alcott, Little Women
22. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
Gilead is about a 76-year-old reverend’s record of his life that he put into letters for his then seven-year-old son to read when he grew up. The letters-slash-journals are his account of what his life has been, his daily musings, and the lessons he collected.
Robinson created the fictional “Gilead, Iowa” but named it after a biblical passage as a symbol of hope. Throughout the novel, she alludes to biblical parables and passages. One is the parable of the Prodigal Son, a fitting choice for a book that emphasizes the gap between fathers and sons. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“Memory can make a thing seem to have been much more than it was.”Marilynne Robinson, Gilead
23. Earthsea Series by Ursula K. Le Guin
Le Guin’s feat in obtaining a spot in the male-dominated science fiction genre is supported by her works that share a common future universe. This includes the story of the powerful wizard, Ged, in the Earthsea Series.
Although the main theme of this coming-of-age tale is the ethical and correct use of power, it also discusses anarchism, gender, and the environment. Readers follow the wizard’s isolation and transformation and reflect on daily life. Read it on Amazon; click here.
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“It is very hard for evil to take hold of the unconsenting soul.”Ursula K. Le Guin, Earthsea Series
24. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Amy Tan motivated many Chinese-American writers to show off their work to the world via The Joy Luck Club. It follows four Chinese immigrant households and their club, where they eat and play mahjong. This historical fiction gained its notoriety for being the first novel to blatantly examine Asian-American issues like assimilation and intergenerational trauma. Tan’s experiences as a first-generation Chinese American make her writing vivid and authentic. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“If you can’t change your fate, change your attitude.”Amy Tan, The Joy Luck Club
25. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
Many recognized Jhumpa Lahiri’s cultural insight through Interpreter of Maladies. The collection delves into the clashing culture and beliefs between Indian and Indian-American communities.
She does this in an effective way by presenting this divide alongside universal themes that even other nationalities can relate to. The short stories talk of marriage, communication, and assimilation. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“Still, there are times I am bewildered by each mile I have traveled, each meal I have eaten, each person I have known, each room in which I have slept. As ordinary as it all appears, there are times when it is beyond my imagination.”Jhumpa Lahiri, Interpreter of Maladies
26. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
Experience a different kind of haunting in Rebecca. Readers follow a young woman’s battle with insecurities as she lives with her new husband. In his estate, she constantly needs to fight against his ex-wife’s ghost — not in the literal sense, but her memories that are still palpable in the estate and its people.
Through the heroine feeling inferior to a dead woman, the author successfully conveys her obsession and jealousy. Daphne du Maurier’s skills in Gothic literature are apparent in her mysterious and atmospheric novels. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“Happiness is not a possession to be prized, it is a quality of thought, a state of mind.”Daphne Du Maurier, Rebecca
27. The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Have you ever heard of a reverse murder mystery? That’s what Donna Tartt achieves in The Secret History. Whereas conventional murder mystery novels present a victim and urge readers to find the killers, Tartt starts with the murder and lets readers uncover why the victim was killed. Additionally, the author uses parallels between the students-slash-killers and Greek tragedies.
The book is a dark and disturbing tale with no heroes. Despite this, the characters still persist to fascinate many readers. With friendship, power dynamics, and mystery themes, The Secret History remains one of the top picks in psychological fiction. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“Forgive me, for all the things I did but mostly for the ones that I did not.”Donna Tartt, The Secret History
28. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
Follow Eleanor as she lives in a haunted house so that Dr. Montague can get his research done on the supernatural in The Haunting of Hill House. It’s a literary classic considered a distinguished work in the horror genre.
What makes the novel stand out is Jackson’s choice of putting the readers inside Eleanor’s mind. In doing so, they question if what she’s experiencing is real or just a figment of her illusions. Eleanor then becomes an unreliable narrator, making readers question the validity of whatever is happening in Hill House. Aside from this, the novel never answers what makes the “supernatural” possible or if they exist at all. Overall, this makes the book more suspenseful and curious. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream.”Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House
29. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Jane Eyre is the protagonist’s account of her life. The novel opens when she is an abused young girl in her adoptive family’s home. As a young woman, she became a governess. There, she meets and falls in love with the master of the estate. Despite this, she refuses to be his mistress, leaves and chooses her independence.
Although the protagonist lives a life filled with death, she forgives and moves forward. It’s an intimate book that lets the readers understand Jane’s innermost thoughts, morality, and life decisions. Moreover, Charlotte Brontë, alongside her sisters Anne and Emily, wrote under gender-neutral pseudonyms so readers would take them more seriously at that time. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
30. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Their Eyes Were Watching God effortlessly blends beautiful prose with Southern black slang. This creates a unique and captivating narrative. The novel follows a strong and resilient black woman with vivid descriptions of the Deep South. The book explores a young woman’s life, love, and evolution through womanhood. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.”Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
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FAQs About The Best Books Written by Female Authors
The main significance of putting female authors in the spotlight is that it promotes gender equality in literature. Doing so guarantees diverse voices are heard and celebrated. It also helps challenge stereotypes and biases by showcasing various perspectives and experiences. Additionally, women authors often bring unique insights and storytelling styles that enrich the literary landscape.
Female authors excel in many genres but are more prominent in memoirs, historical, and contemporary fiction. Women authors also make up most of the feminist literature genre.