The most recommended women's fiction books

Who picked these books? Meet our 1,567 experts.

1,567 authors created a book list connected to women's fiction, and here are their favorite women's fiction books.
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

What type of women's fiction?


Book cover of Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray: River of Dreams

Alison Booth Author Of The Philosopher's Daughters

From my list on historical women at the Australian frontier.

Why am I passionate about this?

What makes me passionate about this topic is the racism I’ve witnessed, the books I’ve read, and my deep love of landscape. Australia is a nation built on immigration but it’s also a land with an ancient Indigenous culture, and this is reflected in the books on my list. Born in Melbourne, I grew up in Sydney, and then lived for some years in the UK. I hold a PhD from the London School of Economics and I’m a professor at the Australian National University. I do hope you enjoy the books on my list as much as I have.

Alison's book list on historical women at the Australian frontier

Alison Booth Why did Alison love this book?

Anita Heiss is an Australian academic and author of a number of insightful books on what it’s like being Indigenous in Australia. Her novel Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray begins in 1852 with a catastrophic flood that is a metaphor for the disastrous effects of European colonisation. Told mainly through the eyes of a young Wiradjuri woman, the novel is a powerful exploration of the clash of cultures that followed European settlement and appropriation of the land. It is a vivid and moving depiction of the unbalanced power relations between the races as well as between men and women.

By Anita Heiss,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

‘There are books you encounter as an adult that you wish you could press into the hands of your younger self. Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray is one of those books – a novel that turns Australia’s long-mythologised settler history into a raw and resilient heartsong.' – Guardian

Gundagai, 1852

The powerful Murrumbidgee River surges through town leaving death and destruction in its wake. It is…

Book cover of The Glass Lake

Raina Lipsitz Author Of The Rise of a New Left: How Young Radicals Are Shaping the Future of American Politics

From Raina's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Book lover Feminist Fried food enthusiast

Raina's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Raina Lipsitz Why did Raina love this book?

Maeve Binchy is the author I most often turn to for solace in dark times. She is a natural storyteller with a rare generosity of spirit.

The Glass Lake, which I didn’t read until this year although it came out in 1994, is one of my favorites: it’s part mystery, part romantic drama, and partly a story about mothers, daughters, and the toll secrets take: there’s suspense and intrigue and shocking twists and sharp social critique, as well as laugh-out-loud humor and gentle acceptance of human nature in all its flawed glory.

It’s long but extremely well-paced and filled with strong female characters and intense personal sacrifices I will never forget.

By Maeve Binchy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Glass Lake as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'THE GLASS LAKE is Maeve Binchy at her spellbinding best - you'll never want it to end' Woman's Journal

'Maeve Binchy really knows what makes women tick. She crystallises their hopes, dreams and passions in her novels and now she has done it again in THE GLASS LAKE ... a marvellous read' Daily Mirror

Kit McMahon lives in the small Irish town of Lough Glass, a place where nothing changes - until the day Kit's mother disappears and Kit is haunted by the memory of her mother, alone at the kitchen table, tears streaming down her face.

Now Kit, too,…

Book cover of Nell Kimball: Her Life as an American Madam, by Herself

Jody Hadlock Author Of The Lives of Diamond Bessie

From my list on 19th century prostitutes.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a young teenager, I lived in a small Texas town and loved touring the Victorian “gingerbread” homes full of antiques. I had an overwhelming desire to time travel back to the mid-1800s. When I learned of Diamond Bessie’s story, I was immediately intrigued because of the period, and also by the circumstances of her life. Why does a woman enter the world’s oldest profession? I discovered that I absolutely love research and “time traveled” back to that era by devouring everything I could get my hands on about life in the 19th century, especially for a marginalized woman like Bessie. 

Jody's book list on 19th century prostitutes

Jody Hadlock Why did Jody love this book?

Nell Kimball was the least educated of the prostitute authors I read but also the most colorful. And the only one who didn’t feel trapped in the profession. Like Josie Washburn, Nell couldn’t find a publisher for her memoir when she looked for one in 1932. She was 78 years old and reportedly in dire straits financially. Nell had started in the “trade” in St. Louis at the age of fifteen in 1867 and worked as a prostitute and then as a madam, lastly in New Orleans’s famed Storyville red-light district, until it was shut down in 1917. Nell died in 1934. Her book was finally published by Macmillan in 1970.

I’m grateful that Madeleine, Josie, and Nell were fortuitous enough to pen their stories, to record a first-hand account of an era that we otherwise would not be privy to in such a personal way.

By Nell Kimball,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Nell Kimball as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A witty, wild-spirited, purely American autobiography by a prostitute-turned-madam who lived and operated at the turn of the twentieth century.

“Looking back on my life, and it’s the only way I can look at it now, nothing in it came out the way most people would want their life to be lived. And while I began at fifteen in a good house with no plans, just wanting as a young whore to hunker on to something to eat and something good to wear, I ended up as a business woman, becoming a sporting house madam, recruiting, disciplining whores, running high-class…

Bailey and the CEO: A Corporate Love Story

By Amy Q. Barker,

Book cover of Bailey and the CEO: A Corporate Love Story

Amy Q. Barker Author Of Lap Baby

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Avid reader Nature lover Park ranger wanna be Best Nana ever

Amy's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

A contemporary romance novel about second chances, love in the workplace, and balancing single parenthood with a career. Bailey Grant and Fox Goodman have given up on love. They’re working hard, they’re raising kids—romance is the last thing on their minds. Until they get seated next to each other on a flight and realize they have more in common than just the company where they work.

But can a VP date the CEO? How will they make it work? Wait and see how sparks fly in this uplifting, feel-good, dual-narrative romantic read!

Bailey and the CEO: A Corporate Love Story

By Amy Q. Barker,

What is this book about?

Even from afar, you could feel it: the man's ever-present, effortless charm, looks, and for lack of a better word, swagger.
Everyone—and by everyone, I meant every female at Havelin—had speculated about his personal life. We all knew he had two sons, but what about a wife?
Not that I cared.
I was VP of Quality, a widow, and a mother raising two teenage daughters. Love was the last thing on my mind.

She was staggeringly beautiful.
And she didn’t know it. Not even in the slightest. Not a clue.
I’d never felt like this before.
Even more…

Book cover of The Daydreams

Katta Kis Author Of Love in the Liner Notes

From my list on for pop star lovers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve had a love-hate relationship with pop music since I was a kid singing Britney Spear’s “Lucky” with my friends. Eventually, I evolved into a punk-ass cynical teenager who disavowed my love of pop, but the fascination remained. In college, I started a pop star romance that would–many, many years later–become my debut book Love in the Liner Notes. In the process, I read an obsessively large number of books touching on music, celebrities, musicians, and the entertainment industry. I hope you enjoy a selection of my favorites, mostly romances (what can I say, I have a type) that brought me the kind of joy only a pop star can. 

Katta's book list on for pop star lovers

Katta Kis Why did Katta love this book?

This is a darker, more realistic take on former child stars.

I don’t normally enjoy non-linear timelines, but the way the story jumped back and forth, from the heyday of the TV show, where the characters played in a fictional teen pop band to present day, where they are trying to pretend they’ve moved on from the scandalous ending, was compelling.

The central mystery of what went wrong and why kept me hooked while the details of the behind-the-scenes conflicts and pressures fascinated me. As someone who grew up in LA, close to the orbit of these kind of wildly popular teen shows, I appreciated the stark look at what these productions do to their young stars and the sometimes creepy attention underage girls get.

I also appreciated that it didn’t get so dark I couldn’t finish it.

By Laura Hankin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Daydreams as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A deliciously entertaining novel about the stars of a popular teen show from the early 2000s—and the reunion special, thirteen years after their scandalous flameout, that will either be their last chance at redemption, or destroy them all for good.

Back in 2004, The Daydreams had it all: a cast of innocent-seeming teenagers acting and singing their hearts out, amazing ratings, and a will-they-or-won’t-they romance that steamed up fan fiction forums. Then, during the live season two finale, it all imploded, leaving everyone scrambling to understand why.

Afterward, the four stars went down very different paths. Kat is now a…

Book cover of The Robber Bride

Zosia Wand Author Of Once Upon A Place

From my list on wonderful women behaving badly.

Why am I passionate about this?

Women who behave badly delight me. My mother is Polish and I was raised by a formidable group of great aunts who gathered in flannelette nighties and curlers, in a cloud of cigarette smoke, to play cards into the early hours, fuelled by vodka shots and ginger cake. Survivors of Nazi invasion and atrocities, they were loud, effusive, argumentative, unapologetic, loving, and fiercely loyal. I explore difficult territory through my stories, but I have great faith in humanity. My characters are strong women, bold in the face of challenges. Love and loyalty are the keys to their survival.

Zosia's book list on wonderful women behaving badly

Zosia Wand Why did Zosia love this book?

Another book with a delicious cover. I have long since lent my copy out and it never made its way back to me, but I remember the distinctive image of a woman in a black mask. Fairy tales offer dark female characters with a complexity that lends itself to further exploration. Zenia is the Robber Bride of the title and you don’t have to know the fairy tale to guess the story. Three friends share their accounts of how Zenia betrayed them in different ways. The reader forms a vivid picture of Zenia, but also the individual narrators. And there is a thrilling contemporary element to the narrative that propels the story. 

By Margaret Atwood,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Robber Bride as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Zenia is beautiful, smart and greedy, by turns manipulative and vulnerable, needy and ruthless; a man's dream and a woman"s nightmare. She is also dead. Just to make sure Tony, Roz andd Charis are there for the funeral. But five years on, as the three women share an indulgent, sisterly lunch, the unthinkable happens; 'with waves of ill will flowing out of her like cosmic radiation', Zenia is back...

Book cover of The Wife Between Us

Sarah A. Denzil Author Of The Housemaid

From my list on for fans of Gone Girl.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve enjoyed dark fiction ever since I picked up Dracula for school. But I mostly avoided crime and thriller fiction. I couldn’t relate to a rogue detective with an alcohol problem or an FBI agent on the heels of the next Hannibal Lector. Police procedural books just aren’t my thing. But then Gone Girl came out and changed the genre. The domestic suspense subgenre has exploded over the last decade, and now there’s an abundance of books centered around the dangers within our family and friendship circle. And isn’t that the scariest part of life? Serial killers are rare, but domestic violence is, unfortunately, not rare. Where is more dangerous than in our own homes?

Sarah's book list on for fans of Gone Girl

Sarah A. Denzil Why did Sarah love this book?

There are many psychological thrillers out there about husbands and wives. If you search for the word ‘wife’ on Goodreads there must be hundreds of titles. But The Wife Between Us is one of my favourites. It’s clever, twisted, and plays on your expectations. From the first page, you’ll believe the book to be going one way, but then it twists in another direction altogether.

By Greer Hendricks,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Wife Between Us as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A fiendishly clever thriller in the vein of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train. This one will keep you guessing.' - Anita Shreve, author of The Stars are Fire

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekannen is the shocking Richard and Judy Bookclub bestseller with twists you won't see coming.

Marrying a man with a past was always going to come with problems, but you never expect to become the focus of another woman's obsession.

Nellie just wanted to live the life she'd always dreamed about with Richard. But who is his ex-wife, Vanessa? Wasn't…

Book cover of Daughters of Nantucket

Carol Newman Cronin Author Of Ferry to Cooperation Island

From Carol's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Sailor Olympian Editor New Englander Rum drinker

Carol's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Carol Newman Cronin Why did Carol love this book?

I love historical fiction because I can drop into another time and place without leaving my window seat or Adirondack chair. Daughters of Nantucket is told through the eyes of four very different women who live through the Great Fire of 1846.

It shows the strength of women, the divisions of a small town, and how those divisions disappear when tragedy unites a community. It also shows the isolation/insulation of island life, which is definitely a theme in my own novels.

By Julie Gerstenblatt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Daughters of Nantucket as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Gerstenblatt's distinctive tale, a triumph in storytelling, celebrates the courage and tenacity of women.” —Booklist, starred review

Set against Nantucket’s Great Fire of 1846, this sweeping, emotional novel brings together three courageous women battling to save everything they hold dear…

Nantucket in 1846 is an island set apart not just by its geography but by its unique circumstances. With their menfolk away at sea, often for years at a time, women here know a rare independence—and the challenges that go with it.

Eliza Macy is struggling to conceal her financial trouble as she waits for her whaling captain husband to…

Book cover of Lilith

Malayna Evans Author Of Neferura

From my list on badass women who left a mark on the ancient world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an Egyptologist by training and a storyteller by nature. Fascinated by the origins of patriarchy since I was a small girl raised by strong women in a patriarchal context, I turned to Greek and Roman history for answers. I earned an MA and a richer understanding of the civilizations that influenced the classical period, which led to the study of Egypt and Mesopotamia and finally to a Ph.D. in Egyptology. At heart, I’m more creative than scholar. Telling stories that bring ancient Egypt to life and leave readers better informed of the challenges women have faced, and sometimes overcome, is my passion.

Malayna's book list on badass women who left a mark on the ancient world

Malayna Evans Why did Malayna love this book?

This book fueled my feminist rage and left me thinking about it for months after I put it down.

Unapologetically pro-women, Marmery challenges some of the patriarchy’s most sacred foundations. I love the courage of this book. It’s an intimate read but somehow also feels large and distant. For me, this one is a ca n’t-miss read that makes you think, wonder, and fume.

By Nikki Marmery,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A triumphantly feminist retelling of ancient creation myths in the tradition of Madeline Miller and Claire North.

Lyrically rendered, this epic U.S. debut tells the story of the woman known as Adam's first wife and her fall from Paradise and quest for revenge.

Before Eve, there was Lilith.

Lilith and Adam are equal and happy in the Garden of Eden. Until Adam decides Lilith should submit to his will and lie beneath him. She refuses—and is banished forever from Paradise.

Demonized and sidelined, Lilith watches in fury as God creates Eve, the woman who accepts her submission. But Lilith has…

Book cover of Been There, Married That

Marc D. Giller Author Of Candidate Z

From my list on not minding your workout as much.

Why am I passionate about this?

Just your friendly neighborhood thriller novelist. When people find out I write books, they inevitably enquire, “Really? Have I read anything of yours?” Well, funny you should ask! I’ve been cranking out stories since I was sixteen but took a couple of decades to finally land a publishing deal for my debut novel Hammerjack and its sequel Prodigal (Bantam Spectra). A lifelong Star Trek fan, I’ve also published the novella “Revenant” in the collection Seven Deadly Sins (Gallery Books). My latest is the high-tech thriller Candidate Z, available on Amazon.

Marc's book list on not minding your workout as much

Marc D. Giller Why did Marc love this book?

My wife found this on my Kindle among the Michael Crichton and Jack Carr, and couldn’t believe I bought it—but after having made the delight of her acquaintance on Twitter, I decided to give Gigi’s latest novel a try. And boy, am I glad that I did! A screenwriter (Stepmom) and veteran Los Angelino herself, Levangie knows the ins and outs of the Hollywood lifestyle where showbiz is the only biz and the characters are always jockeying to be seen but never to be believed. No mysteries here—just a lot of laughs, with an endearing protagonist who provides the center of gravity to an orbit of crazy family and friends. Highly recommended.

By Gigi Levangie,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Been There, Married That as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In a world where therapists look like the Real Housewives of Equinox, where friends dispense Xanax like Pez, and where a woman’s status is directly linked to the how few carbs she eats…can one Hollywood wife take back her life?

Agnes Murphy Nash is in big trouble. When she returns home one evening only to find the locks changed on the gates of their mansion, the security guard breaks the news: her famous producer husband has filed for divorce. And he’s not going to play fair. Trevor Nash wants custody of their tween daughter, Pep, but only for the sake…

Book cover of Romancing Mister Bridgerton

Sophie Barnes Author Of Mr. Dale and the Divorcée

From my list on historical romance by contemporary authors.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been writing historical romance novels and novellas for over ten years now and have read extensively from this genre during that time. I’m currently working on my 42nd book where a governess in her mid-thirties finds love with her wealthy boss. Writing romance may seem easy, but it actually requires a lot of research and poses the challenge of being dependent on the gradual emotional development of two protagonists whose journeys intertwine. As a former editor of mine once put it, there are a lot of gears in motion, all of which have to work smoothly together. The stories I’ve chosen to mention are excellent examples of this. I hope you’ll enjoy each one.

Sophie's book list on historical romance by contemporary authors

Sophie Barnes Why did Sophie love this book?

This is the book that kick-started my career! Before walking into a small bookstore in Ghana and picking up this particular novel, I had no idea Regency romance was even a genre. Not only did I find this story engaging, but it was also filled with humor and written in a style that made me crave more. Until that point, I had attempted to write a historical fiction novel (which remains unfinished until this day). As soon as I was done with Romancing Mister Bridgerton I thought, this is the kind of story I want to write. Low and behold, I’m now working on my 42nd Regency romance book!

By Julia Quinn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Romancing Mister Bridgerton as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New York Times Bestseller

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Julia Quinn comes the story of Colin Bridgerton and Penelope Featherington, in the fourth of her beloved Regency-set novels featuring the charming, powerful Bridgerton family, now a series created by Shondaland for Netflix.


Penelope Featherington has secretly adored her best friend's brother for . . . well, it feels like forever. After half a lifetime of watching Colin Bridgerton from afar, she thinks she knows everything about him, until she stumbles across his deepest secret . . . and fears she doesn't know him…