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'Every character fits like a puzzle.' 13 books by female authors everyone should read.

When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, we’re willing to bet that the resolution to ‘read more’ gets its fair share of air time.

It’s not just the difficulty of making the time to read more, it’s also making the all-important decision of what to read.

If you need help picking a title, we asked 13 women to share their favourite book written by a female author. Whether you’re looking for a good cry, some words of wisdom, or just a really damn good story, these titles will have you eager to nix the screens to return to the page.

So put your phone on airplane mode, and get yourself to your nearest book store stat – we’ve got your reading list for 2020 sorted.

Brittany – Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, $26.99

“I’ve loved Little Women since I was about 10. The story revolves around four sisters who are growing up so every time I return to the book I find I relate with a different character in a new way. Little Women taught me there are infinite ways to be a woman, whether that’s a complete rejection of traditional femininity or an unparalleled gentleness. Little Women is full of flawed but wonderful girls who try to be good people. They remind me that everything will be okay.”

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Ling - My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante, $29.99

"This series articulated something that I already knew but had no real examples of at the time that I read it; that women’s perspectives are best laid bare by women alone. It put into words so many intangible things women witness in each other—through their own experiences and within their friendships—and shows them at various stages of the character’s lives."

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Belinda - How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran, $22.99

"One of the UK's most popular writers charts the defining moments of her young life; from her painfully awkward adolescence through to her mid-30s. It's part memoir, part advice column, part feminist lecture, and snort-laugh hilarious. It's the book I wish I could take back in time and give to my teenage self."

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Raveena - The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri, $31.99

"It takes a while to get into the flow of this book after the beginning, but once you do it secures its hold on you. It describes the Naxalite movement of communist Bengal so comprehensively but so poetically as well. It captures diasporic experiences seamlessly and contrasts the flaws of each character to create a shocking narrative. It’s not an easy read but it’s one of my favourite books. Every story of every character fits like a puzzle."

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Jen - My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh, $19.99

"Weirdly, what I loved about this book was that the main character is mean and entitled, and seems to have no redeeming qualities. There is something addictive about reading a story from the perspective of such an unlikeable character. The story's extremely dark comedy is hard to put down and impossible to forget."

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Jessie - Normal People by Sally Rooney, $19.99

"Normal People by Sally Rooney has been included on just about every list of 'Best Books of 2019'. An Irish author, Rooney has a ridiculously warm voice, that forces you to keep turning the page. It's a beautiful love story that will have you in tears. You'll think about it for months afterwards. Can't recommend highly enough."

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Lily - Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, $19.99

"I love Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert - it's so raw and makes me feel so inspired and uplifted, everything she writes is so honest and she's had such an interesting career and life her perspective on creativity is something I read and re-read when I need inspiration."

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Jess W - Just Kids by Patti Smith, $22.99

"Just Kids is one part meditation about growing up, and finding your voice, and another part a love story to her life-long friendship with the artist, Robert Mapplethorpe. The relatively short read chronicles punk legend Patti Smith's escape to New York, and the years she spends living in low-key squalor before she became the woman we know her for. Her New York is so different to the one we know today. It's more desperate than glamorous, but Smith also chronicles the inspiration and optimism which fuels her. Her writing is so deeply sensitive, thoughtful, and transformative. This book is a must-read for many reasons."

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Tamara - A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, $19.99

"This book will break you, put you back together, and then break you again. It spans several decades in the lives of a group of male friends, each brilliant in their own way and each carving out their identity in New York City. The story revolves primarily around Jude - a gentle soul who has endured so much torture throughout his life he's barely clinging to it. It's extraordinarily painful to read, but so poignant and life-affirming it makes it worth it."

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Rikki - The Bride Stripped Bare by Nikki Gemmell (originally published anonymously), $36.99

"This novel is so raw and unfiltered. But also unapologetic. Women often feel like they need to search for themselves and Nikki's honest account of exploring her sexuality and the changing faces of marriage is so relatable. It's an easy read and I was sucked in right from the beginning."

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Billi - The Lost Man by Jane Harper, $13.75

"I'll read anything by Australian author Jane Harper, who has an unparalleled talent in the way she captures life in the Australian outback. If I had to choose, my favourite of her books would be The Lost Man. It follows the story of a family who live in the remote bush, and one day find one of their brothers dead. Her exploration of loneliness stemming from country life is so captivating and this book will have you furiously turning each page until the very end. Also, the ending is very unexpected, which is always a big plus."

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Michaela - The Testaments by Margaret Atwood, $32.99

"It's a sequel from The Handmaid's Tale. It came out a couple of months ago. It is amazing, you are given insight into both the good and the bad characters from the original novel and at the end, you have more insight into how things came into place from the first book."

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Jess S - Life Before by Carmel Reilly, $29.99

"To be completely honest, it took me a little while to get into this book. But once I was hooked, I couldn't put it down. It's a sad but gripping story about family, grief and the fallout of tragedy."

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What's your favourite book by a female author? Let us know in the comments below.

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