Here are 12 of HG’s favorite female authors, from Roxane Gay to J.K. Rowling

Female author Virginia Woolf once wrote, “Women have sat indoors all these millions of years, so that by this time the very walls are permeated by their creative force, which has, indeed, so overcharged the capacity of bricks and mortar that it must needs harness itself to pens and brushes and business and politics.”

It is that creative force that we celebrate today on National Author’s Day. Below, HG staff members reveal their favorite female authors and what they admire about their work. Time to add some more books to your reading list.

Ruth Ozeki


“Ruth Ozeki combines so many things I love: sensitive first-person storytelling, sharp observation from a mixed-race perspective, history from Japan and the Japanese diaspora, and (in her most recent novel, ‘A Tale for the Time Being’) magical realism.”

— Mia Nakaji Monnier

Elena Ferrante


“Though her true identity may not be known (and yes, I’m ignoring all those reports attempting to “unmask” her), she is, hands down, one of the literary greats.”

— Anna Gragert

J.K. Rowling


“J.K. Rowling is my favorite female author because, daily, she reminds me that the most magically influential phenomena can come from anywhere, even from scribbles on a restaurant napkin.”

— Dan Magro

Joan Didion


“I love Joan Didion because she’s not afraid to be vulnerable. Every time she sits down, she puts all of herself on the page.”

— Elizabeth Entenman

Francesca Lia Block


“Francesca Lia Block’s magical writing has inspired me and my work since I was in high school. She and her character, Weetzie Bat, made me feel like it was okay (and kind of cool) to be a weirdo.”

— Marie Lodi

Jamaica Kincaid


“Jamaica Kincaid’s writing is good on a granular level: sometimes sparse, always evocative, poetic and repetitive, questioning, truthful, and unafraid to gaze into life’s uncertainties. I admire her both as a writer and a reader.”

— Nicole Adlman

Roxane Gay


“Roxane Gay is such a brilliant and honest writer. Her voice is so necessary and as a woman of color, her writing has really resonated with me and helped make sense of my personal experiences.”

— Pamela Avila

Sandra Cisneros


“Sandra Cisneros will forever be in my consciousness because both her poetry and prose helped me realize that memories are powerful, family can shape your art no matter what you’ve been through, humor is a weapon, and being wild and imperfect is what keeps a woman strong.”

— Rachel Sanoff

Louise Rennison


“Louise Rennison is forever my favorite female author. She wrote the ‘Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging’ series, which felt like it was written ABOUT me and my friends (if we, you know, lived in London and went to more parties). In middle school, my BFF and I would write notes to each other in the style of those books and her hilariousness influences me to this day. I’m grateful to her!”

— Christina Wolfgram

Zadie Smith


“I discovered Zadie Smith my freshman year of college. I read ‘White Teeth,’ and it was the first book to really introduce me to the concept of magical realism in literature. It was such a formative time for me, and discovering Zadie Smith played a role in shaping my entire college experience.”

— Emily Popp

Tara Brach


“‘The boundary to what we can accept is the boundary to our freedom.’ -Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Budda. I’ve spent a lot of my life limited by societies thoughts of what life should be. Tara’s wise words helped me to realize that I can be absolutely liberated by living in the present and enjoying what surrounds me.”

-Irma Ikram

Virginia Woolf


“Virginia Woolf’s work — specifically ‘Mrs. Dalloway’ and ‘A Room of One’s Own’ — was the first example of feminist literature that I was exposed to, and I’m so grateful that I was.”

— Anna Buckley

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