To celebrate Women’s History Month, we asked you to share your favorite women authors. We were so excited to get so many wonderful submissions. See the authors, the recommendations from Forest Parkers, and links to the authors’ work.
If you are interested in more recommendations, please reach out! We would love to find your next great read. Go to fppl.org/getarec.
Eleanor Taylor Bland (Dead Time)
“Eleanor Taylor Bland was a Chicagoland author and considered one of (if not THE) first Black woman to write a series featuring a Black, female detective.”
Barbara Neely (Blanche on the Lam)
“Barbara Neely was an activist and author most renowned for her Blanche White series, featuring a Black female amateur sleuth. She was a trailblazer for women of color in the mystery genre.”
Alyssa Cole (The Reluctant Royals series; The Loyal League series; When No One Is Watching)
“She primarily writes Black romance, but released her first thriller last year. Her books are fantastic: feel-good stories that also manage to deal with deep, emotional trauma.”
Ruth Ware (Woman in Cabin 10, The Death of Mrs Westaway, One by One)
“One by One is a mystery that happens in a chalet! It involves avalanches which I knew nothing about. It made me feel like I was out in the cold.”
Isabel Allende (City of Dragons, Kingdom of the Golden Dragon, The Soul of a Woman)
“This author is engaging, she narrates the story with such ease and intriguing concept that you can’t but try to finish the book to reveal it’s captivating story and content, it’s like finding a treasure, like eating a great meal…. Each book contains so much more than the story….. needless to say how much I enjoy this writer.”
Anne Tyler (Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, Breathing Lessons, Back When We Were Grownups, and The Amateur Marriage, The Accidental Tourist, A Spool of Blue Thread, The Beginners Goodbye, and Vinegar Girl.)
“My favorite author of all time. An expert observer and archivist of human foibles, Tyler explores the sadness and humor that is familiar to us in the most mundane situations and reveals them to be stories that sing with beauty, that smack us into recognition that these are the things that make up real life. I have so much to thank Anne Tyler for: the way she expresses the push-and-pull tendencies of family without descending into cynical family drama; the sheer volume of her work, which I can return to year-after-year as if they are extended family members at a reunion; the way she has even provided me with my most lasting and significant male role models growing up in literature, for teaching me something about love that remains in my heart today.”
“Tyler is my favorite author, I’ve read all of her books. Her character development is outstanding, I can often see myself or people I know in her characters. To me she is “comfort food,” I’m always satisfied and in tough times like these I think she is the perfect choice.”
Tiffany McDaniel (Betty)
“This book completely ripped me apart and then stitched me into a quilt that will always keep me warm. I’m not sure I’ll ever recover from this beautiful story.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ That’s right, five whole stars. I’m not going to ruin the story or go into detail about the trigger warnings. This book feels very important and sometimes you must surrender to the story and feel every heartache included in it.”
Denise Mina (Conviction)
Lissa Marie Redmond (The Murder Book, The Secrets They Left Behind, A Full Cold Moon, A Means to an End, Cold Day in Hell)
The author happens to be my friend. I met her overseas while traveling before she became an investigator in Buffalo, NY. She retired to become a writer. Her books suck you in and you can’t put them down until you’re done!
Ann Petry (The Street, The Narrows)
“Novelist and author of “The Street”, “The Narrows”, “Miss Muriel and other stories”, etc. I LOVE HER. Ann Petry. Thanks to Columbia College Chicago, I learned of another author who wrote like me! I have always leaned towards being more detailed in my writing and found only authors such as Virginia Woolf to be similar. When I happened upon Ms. Petry, I was in AWE to find a black woman author who was doing the same kind of writing. Her stories are told with such detail and care that I felt literally a part of her world until I completed the books. She is a name that most don’t know, but she is actually considered one of the pivotal writers of the latter part of the Harlem Renaissance, and a contemporary of Richard Wright and others who wrote on their lives as black people in this country.”
Gloria Naylor (The Women of Brewster Place, The Men of Brewster Place, Mama Day, Linden Hills, and Bailey’s Cafe)
Gloria Naylor has a beautiful way of illustrating the multi-layered facets of blackness. Through her groundbreaking work on The Men and Women of Brewster Place, she tackled socio-economic differences, lgbtq issues, loss, abuse, love, and sisterhood with depth and compassion. The Women of Brewster Place was eventually adapted into a movie in 1989 produced by and starring Oprah Winfrey, Lynn Whitfield, Robin Givens, and more.
Alice Hoffman (The Marriage of Opposites, The Dovekeepers: A Novel, The World That We Knew)
“Alice Hoffman’s writing style is eloquent, and often poetic. She brings her readers into her stories by engaging all of their senses. In The Marriage of Opposites the color blue plays an essential role in this exotic island love story. The Dovekeepers is a tale during biblical times, and The World That We Knew creates a Female Golem to protect and save a young Jewish girl during WWII.”
Jen Lancaster Welcome to the United States of Anxiety: Observations from a Reforming Neurotic)
“While Lancaster’s snarky humor might not be for everyone’s taste, I find her relatable and funny. She has a number of bitingly funny memoirs under her belt as well as humorous novels. Her latest collection of essays on modern life was written just before the pandemic hit but touches on all the things that keep us up at night: fake news, social media, politics, our collective declining health, the environment…etc. Sometimes, misery loves company!”
Maeve Binchy (Circle of Friends, Minding Frankie, Heart and Soul, Nights of Rain and Stars, and Scarlet Feather)
“A nice way to find out about other cultures-since now we can’t travel overseas. I liked learning about challenges in others’ lives in Ireland and England and seeing that we as a human race are more alike than different. Binchy has a great style for writing about people- our thoughts, misgivings, and joys.”
Elizabeth Berg (Joy School, the Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted, Range of Motion, Talk Before Sleep, the Last Time I Saw You, Night of Miracles, and Until the Real Thing Comes Along)
“She is so good at expressing emotions that I didn’t think anyone else had or could even be put into words. I think she excels at showing how inter generational and cross cultural relationships can work and be beneficial. Her writing leaves me feeling positive and hopeful.”
Fannie Flagg (Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe; Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!; the Whole Town’s Talking)
“Her warm Southern humor makes me feel grounded and okay with me being who I am. Flagg’s writing reminds us that we are all a little quirky and need to accept each other to enrich our communities. She is a veteran of comedy writing on the page and for the screen.”
Jeanne Birdsall (Penderwicks, Penderwicks on Gardam Street, Penderwicks at Point Mouette, Penderwicks in Spring, Penderwicks at Last)
“I KNOW this is not placed in adult literature, but the author is great at reminding us of the joys, and delicious moments of childhood along with showing us a range of characters, (kids and adults) that are likeable and we can identify with no matter our backgrounds. Good look inside of a large family and how it changes and grows over time with the death of a parent, a marriage or three and new little ones (including pets) that extend the clan.”
Gayle Wald (Shout, Sister, Shout!: the Untold Story of rock-and-roll trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe)
“I really didn’t know about this figure in history until I came across this book on display in a library. It was so great and empowering to see a woman of color playing the electric guitar in a dated picture, that I just had to know more. I really felt encouraged to try the things I said I wasn’t ready for, or had told myself no one else of color had done before, (or very few?) once I had read this book. After finding out Sister Tharpe’s contributions to music and her struggle to be recognized in churches and in pop music, I felt not so isolated and buoyed by her persistence. It turns out I really like her music also! Although from a former era, her sound stands the test of time.”
Jan Morris (Conundrum)
“It tells us about her male to female transition and many details about her experience working for major British newspapers in the 50s and 60s…when she was still a man.”