50 must-read fantasy books by women

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/07/26/50-must-read-fantasy-books-by.html


Wot? No Inda by Sherwood Smith?


That The Girl From Everywhere sounds like my kind of jam, nice. Thanks!

Great to see Kindred there too.


What goes on here…? Is there any way to unredact this? We got some meta-prankery happening? A new BBS feature? Or just my old Firefox letting me down? :slight_smile:


A must read list of only female authors? Oh the interwebs are going to be lit up by the screams and tears of offended males.



I was going to say that putting JK Rowling (especially the first book, which is… not great) in this list is a disservice, but on the other hand, if it gets certain fans of that empire to read ANY other book (especially some of these inclusions) it’s a necessary place-holder.


I read it awhile ago and it is indeed a fun romp and it is a series so there are more books to read.

I have Kushiel’s Dart on the Nook either from a Tor monthly freebie or one of the humble bundles that @doctorow likes to evilly tell us about and that will be up after I finish Dinner At Deviant’s Palace.

edit for @moosemalloy spotting my lack of coffee error.


Dinner at Deviant’s Palace (you’ve an amusing typo in your post that’ll defeat even a state-of-the-rat spellchecker, btw :wink: ) is great, but I LOVED Power’s Declare, if you haven’t tried that yet…


J. R. “Bob” Dobbs, I assume


If I made lists I would put Declare on it but then I end up not stumbling onto gems like The Girl From Everywhere.

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Gotcha. E-readers, and the bundles you mentioned before, are great for the ol’ stumbling onto.

I wish! But while I know about Dobbs, I don’t get this reference I’m afraid… something re. “state-of-the-rat”?

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This one, I think…


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This couldn’t come at a better time. I’ve been looking for a new series, and picked up a few recommended books, but I find myself much less tolerant of a nearly all-male cast than I used to be. By 50 pages into the last book I started, there were two dozen named male characters and two female characters. One was mute, and the other was a nagging wife-and-mother. I dont care how many 5-star reviews the damn book had, I’m just really tired of stories that think that only one gender is interesting enough to write about.


Can’t see this site as Quantcast refuses to let me choose to opt out despite telling me that I am allowed to opt out. Although that’s marginally better than the places that just bounce me back to Google.

I would add Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson. A great fantasy set in a modern world that includes cell phones & hackers, as well as djinn, vampires, & other aspects of Islamic myth. There’s a prequel, too, & she also wrote a striking memoir about her time in Egypt.

And of course anything by Diana Wynne Jones.



Looks like it includes SF as well as fantasy. I would add The Raven Tower by Anne Leckie. I don’t really read fantasy, but I read that one because I liked her earlier books, and it’s really good. I would say it’s close to the level of Jemysin’s books.


I’ve either read or listened to (in a couple cases, both) several of the books on the list and can recommend:

  • All the Birds in the Sky - Sort of an awkward book, but weirdly satisfying. I’m trying to get through Anders’ second novel now, but it’s tough sledding.

  • The Bear and the Nightingale - Starts slow, ends dark and harrowing.

  • The Fifth Season - If you haven’t read Jemisin’s Broken Earth Trilogy yet, you need to re-examine your life choices.

  • Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell - Long, richly imagined, and wonderful. I didn’t want it to end.

  • Uprooted - YA/coming of age novel, happily without any dystopian-future elements.

  • Every Heart a Doorway - I’m reading this now, so far so good.

Not on the list but also good, Circe by Madeline Miller, The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill, and Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson.

I disliked A Darker Shade of Magic.


No Earthsea? This list is a travesty.


This is a cool list with many books I’ve never read, and most of the ones I have read I liked. Queen of the Tearling, though, was a miss for me. It is one of those books where the author decided to put one twist too many and took a book from “Nice!” to “WTF?” :-/

There are many books I’d put on such a list, but I can’t fault this one for not having some of my favorites since you can only fit 50 books into a 50 book list.

I don’t have any “must read” books for other people because everyone’s taste is different, but for fans of genre fiction I’d note that I’ve enjoyed books from a range of authors, from popular to little known, and both mainstream and indy, including (in no particular order):

Lois Mcmaster Bujold, Honor Raconteur, Martha Wells, Maria V. Snyder, Alison Goodman, Andrea Höst, Elizabeth Moon, Patricia Wrede, Robin McKinley, Marie Brennan, Lindsay Buroker, P. N. Elrod, J.R. McGinnity, Shannon Mayer, Ilona Andrews (a husband and wife writing team, not sure if they count as “by women” but they are smart urban fantasy writers) and Patricia Briggs.

Not necessarily all “great” authors (which I think sometimes means authors who write books that aren’t fun to read), but all authors I’ve enjoyed reading and want to read more from.


Seeing Le Guin’s beautiful Left Hand of Darkness on this list delights me. Ahead of its time. At least it seemed so to me, looking back a few years after i read it. RIP Ursula

My add would be He, She and It by Marge Piercey, another predictive thought provoker.

In fact, i think I’ll re-read these two books back to back for end of summer. Nice compare/contrast.