The best books by women that sweep you to another time and place whether you’re male or female

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve loved fairytales, myths, and history since childhood. After graduating with honors in Russian and Chinese history, I’ve been researching and writing for decades. My work ranges from educational materials to award-winning nonfiction books for children on the theme of heroism. I’ve traveled the world, partly for research, but mostly out of a passion for discovery. My last nonfiction work was a book about women writers. I also penned a historical trilogy that started out as one book, plotted out when I was eighteen. It grew. And, returning full circle to my first loves, my most recent book for children is a traditional Buddhist tale from ancient India.


I wrote...

The Grip of God: Book One of The Tiger And The Dove

By Rebecca Hazell,

Book cover of The Grip of God: Book One of The Tiger And The Dove

What is my book about?

The Grip of God is the first in an epic historical trilogy set in the thirteenth century. Princess Sofia of Kievan Rus is captured by a young captain in the invading Mongol armies. Her life is shattered and put at the mercy of a mysterious prophecy; pursued by her master’s bitter rival, his half-brother; and haunted by the attentions of Mongol prince Batu Khan, Genghis Khan’s grandson. 

How will Sofia survive in a world of total war, much less rediscover the love she once took for granted? Always longing to escape and stalked by outer enemies and inner turmoil, where can she find a haven even if she can break free? Clear-eyed, kind, and courageous, she will find her own way.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Pride and Prejudice

Rebecca Hazell Why did I love this book?

One of my favorite annual reads, this novel achieves so much at once: with wit and insight, it takes me into the limited world of English country life, exposing gender, economic, social, and marital politics while it breaks my heart and makes me laugh. What a sly woman Austen was: the first, quiet, feminist! Each time I read it, find something new to admire. As near as I can tell, this book also defined what went into every romance written since, from the mutual dislike to the shocking secret to the grand finale when dislike has turned into love—especially when a nice manor house is thrown in for good measure.

By Jane Austen,

Why should I read it?

33 authors picked Pride and Prejudice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of BBC's 100 Novels That Shaped Our World.

Jane Austen's best-loved novel is an unforgettable story about the inaccuracy of first impressions, the power of reason, and above all the strange dynamics of human relationships and emotions.

Part of the Macmillan Collector's Library; a series of stunning, clothbound, pocket sized classics with gold foiled edges and ribbon markers. These beautiful books make perfect gifts or a treat for any book lover. This edition is illustrated by Hugh Thomson and features an afterword by author and critic, Henry Hitchings.

A tour de force of wit and sparkling dialogue, Pride and…


Book cover of The Dispossessed

Rebecca Hazell Why did I love this book?

I have loved and reread this award-winning book for decades. And it’s only one of many I love by Le Guin. I appreciate its combination of futuristic fantasy and social relevance, written colorfully and sympathetically. This one feels especially topical to me because nowadays most of our Earth’s wealth has been siphoned into the hands of the super-wealthy. Not only wealthy but self-absorbed, just like the characters in this novel. Everyone else is dispossessed. So, what’s an entire little marginalized planet to do? She has some interesting ideas, which I loved for their daring and originality. 

I also treasure the fact that I interviewed her for one of my nonfiction books about women writers and that she invited me to call her Ursula!

By Ursula K. Le Guin,

Why should I read it?

15 authors picked The Dispossessed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the very best must-read novels of all time - with a new introduction by Roddy Doyle

'A well told tale signifying a good deal; one to be read again and again' THE TIMES

'The book I wish I had written ... It's so far away from my own imagination, I'd love to sit at my desk one day and discover that I could think and write like Ursula Le Guin' Roddy Doyle

'Le Guin is a writer of phenomenal power' OBSERVER

The Principle of Simultaneity is a scientific breakthrough which will revolutionize interstellar civilization by making possible instantaneous…


Book cover of Crocodile on the Sandbank

Rebecca Hazell Why did I love this book?

Pith helmets off to this enchanting mystery-adventure-socially satirical series! This book is the first of a long-running family story that I never tire of rereading. Through character Amelia Peabody’s sometimes outrageously funny ‘memoirs,’ I learned more about Egyptology, archeology, and British social structure than I ever learned in university. And I still laugh as sapphirine eyes flash, buttons pop off, and the very independent late nineteenth-century heroine finds herself in all sorts of pickles that lead inexorably to pyramids, bats, and love. I find her and her family irresistible and, in the long run, a touching testimony to what matters to me in life. 

By Elizabeth Peters,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked Crocodile on the Sandbank as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Amelia Peabody is Elizabeth Peters' most brilliant and best-loved creation, a thoroughly Victorian feminist who takes the stuffy world of archaeology by storm with her shocking men's pants and no-nonsense attitude!

In this first adventure, our headstrong heroine decides to use her substantial inheritance to see the world. On her travels, she rescues a gentlewoman in distress - Evelyn Barton-Forbes - and the two become friends. The two companions continue to Egypt where they face mysteries, mummies and the redoubtable Radcliffe Emerson, an outspoken archaeologist, who doesn't need women to help him solve mysteries -- at least that's what he…


Book cover of The King Must Die

Rebecca Hazell Why did I love this book?

I first read this novel when I was twelve. It probably went right over my head, but it captured everything I loved about Greek myths while humanizing the hero, Theseus. I might have gotten a bit of a sex education, too, but I was too naïve to notice. I also like the fact that a woman could write a story from a man’s point of view and that she could make him believable and even tragic. This book was a great homage to ancient Greece in all its flamboyance and skullduggery.

By Mary Renault,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked The King Must Die as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Theseus is the grandson of the King of Troizen, but his paternity is shrouded in mystery - can he really be the son of the god Poseidon? When he discovers his father's sword beneath a rock, his mother must reveal his true identity: Theseus is the son of Aegeus, King of Athens, and is his only heir. So begins Theseus's perilous journey to his father's palace to claim his birth right, escaping bandits and ritual king sacrifice in Eleusis, to slaying the Minotaur in Crete. Renault reimagines the Theseus myth, creating an original, exciting story.


Book cover of The Secret River

Rebecca Hazell Why did I love this book?

This book was my introduction to Australian literature. I loved its eloquent evocation of a world totally new and mysterious to its characters. Although I was vaguely familiar with Australia’s penal colony past and with the destruction wrought on Aboriginal lives and culture, this book brought it home. I deeply appreciated the way it took me into the minds of men and women, most of them well-meaning but ignorant, and showed me how they missed the point of where they were and how to thrive there. The tragedy of that ignorance resonates with me, since I see it all around the world. 

By Kate Grenville,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Secret River as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE
WINNER OF THE 2006 COMMONWEALTH WRITERS' PRIZE
LONGLISTED FOR THE IMPAC DUBLIN PRIZE

London, 1806. William Thornhill, happily wedded to his childhood sweetheart Sal, is a waterman on the River Thames. Life is tough but bearable until William makes a mistake, a bad mistake for which he and his family are made to pay dearly.

His sentence: to be transported to New South Wales for the term of his natural life. Soon Thornhill, a man no better or worse than most, has to make the most difficult decision of his life.


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Legacy of the Witch

By Kirsten Weiss,

Book cover of Legacy of the Witch

Kirsten Weiss Author Of The Mysteries of Tarot: A Work of the Imagination

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

When I joined the Peace Corps in the early nineties, I wasn’t allowed to take much luggage. I decided to bring a Tarot deck, figuring I’d finally have time to learn it while parked in an Estonian forest. That Tarot deck opened up a world of Renaissance mysticism and magic, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Tarot cards and readings feature prominently in many of my cozy mystery novels, not the least of which are the Tea and Tarot mysteries. Now my imaginary Tarot reader from that series, Hyperion Night, has recently written his own Tarot guidebook, The Mysteries of Tarot.

Kirsten's book list on how to read Tarot

What is my book about?

Seeker: As societies grow increasingly fragmented, hopelessness, nihilism, division, and despair are on the rise. But there is another way—a way of mystery and magic, of wholeness and transformation. Do you dare take the first step? Our path is not for the faint-hearted, but for seekers of ancient truths...

Legacy of the Witch is a spellbinding, interactive tale of a woman’s midlife quest to understand the complexities of her own heart. A paranormal women’s fiction murder mystery for anyone who’s wondered if there might be more to their own life than meets the eye…

Legacy of the Witch

By Kirsten Weiss,

What is this book about?

Seeker: As societies grow increasingly fragmented, hopelessness, nihilism, division and despair are on the rise. But there is another way—a way of mystery and magic, of wholeness and transformation. Do you dare take the first step? Our path is not for the faint-hearted, but for seekers of ancient truths.

All April wants is to start over after her husband’s sudden death. She’s conjuring a new path—finally getting her degree and planning her new business in bucolic Pennsylvania Dutch country. Joining an online mystery school seems like harmless fun.

But when a murdered man leaves her a cryptic message, she catches…


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