Women can do anything they want. That, of course, hasn’t always been the message we get from the media or popular culture. The literary world has never been more full of stories about women who are brave, strong, gritful, resilient, funny, and driven than it is now.
There are times when you need to be reminded of all the things that women have done and can do when they aren’t pushed into the background and can take their rightful place in the spotlight. We’ve put together a list of some of our favorite inspirational books (both nonfiction and fiction) for women. People of all sex will enjoy these powerful stories. These books will make you happy, angry, or want to start your own business, or some combination of them all.
Becoming by Michelle Obama
Ex-first lady and now-bestselling author Michelle Obama talks about how she became one of the most powerful voices for women’s rights and inclusion in the United States in her book, “Becoming.” This memoir is very personal, and it tells the story of how she tried to get people to listen to her as a black woman in the United States. President Barack Obama’s life story, told in her own words, tells us that we should never give up and that we can always learn and grow.
Why Not Me? By Mindy Kaling
She can do everything. She wrote for shows like The Office, made and starred in The Mindy Project, and even though she has a lot of success, she still feels like a friend. Her collection of essays, Why Not Me?, is a sarcastic look at the weirdness of Hollywood and her weird experiences working in TV. It also talks about how she felt like an outsider in an industry that is known for being unfriendly to women and people of color. Every time you read the book, you’ll be laughing so hard that you’ll wonder why not me, too.
Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes
There is nothing that can stop Shonda Rhimes from making movies. The creator of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder is always working on her next project. Soon, she’ll have so many shows on TV that she’ll own it. But even Shonda Rhimes isn’t completely afraid. In Year of Yes, Rhimes’ sister challenges her to try to say yes to all of the chances that come her way. When she leaves room for the unexpected, opens up outside of her comfort zone, and says yes to what the world has to offer, anything seems possible.
The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown
Even though you might think you’re not good enough, it can be hard to ignore the little voice in your head that says that. To help you get rid of insecurities and show you that what makes you less than perfect is also what makes you… you. Brené Brown is here to help you do this! Pep talk and guide to self-reflection, The Gifts of Imperfection is both. It will help you change how you think about your flaws and your own self-worth, so read it!
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
Find yourself: What does it even mean? When Cheryl Strayed has been through a lot of bad things in her life, she decides to go on a thousand-mile solo hike on the Pacific Crest Trail in Wild. During the epic hike, she survived a time in her life that was both confusing and painful. She pushed through the pain to keep walking one foot in front of the other even though it hurt. People can learn from her story of perseverance even if they don’t want to go wandering through the wilderness like her.
You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero
Many self-help books promise to help you become your best self. I know it’s hard to decide which book you should read. If you’re going to read one, make it You Are a Badass. Success coach Jen Sincero does this for a living. When she wrote her book, she didn’t use a lot of platitudes and got right to the point. She talked about real things and gave concrete advice on how to become your own best supporter.
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
“Happiness” has been a mystery to philosophers, psychologists, and people like you and me for a long time. What is this? And how can we get more? How did the Happiness Project come about? Yet, this isn’t just any old story about how to find happiness. This one is very different! Gretchen Rubin takes a methodical and almost scientific look at her own life and what makes her happy, which makes her book a refreshing read about self-examination.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
In the past few years, Marie Kondo has become a household name. If you haven’t heard of her or her “spark joy” catchphrase, you must be living under a rock! (and so probably would not benefit much from her organizational tips anyway). A book by Japanese author Marie Kondo called “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” shows that if you want to focus on what’s important, you need to get rid of the things that don’t.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Life by Jane Sherron de Hart
She is a Supreme Court Justice who has become a cultural icon and the subject of many memes. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is also known as “Notorious RBG.” Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Life is the definitive biography of the feminist and legal trailblazer. It untangles the myth and mystery around her, giving a well-researched and personal account of her life story and background.
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Everyone should read We Should All Be Feminists, which is a fiery call for a more inclusive feminism. It is a personal essay that Adichie wrote based on her TEDx talk. It is short, but it has a powerful message about how important it is to fight for women’s equality, regardless of their background or experience.
The Collected Autobiographies of Maya Angelou by Maya Angelou
The Collected Autobiographies of Maya Angelou brings together the poet and activist’s most popular memoirs, like I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. It also talks about big issues like racism and abuse with a poetic beauty. Angelou’s captivating story of her past tells a story about having to face the ugly parts of the world and still singing a hopeful song.
The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World by Melinda Gates
Melinda Gates is a well-known philanthropist who has spent her life and a lot of money giving opportunities to people who need them. One of the things she has learned is that to improve society, we need to stop putting women down. Gates talks about her work, her travels, and the women’s issues that need our attention the most in her book, The Moment of Lift, which comes out next month. The end result is a powerful statement about how you can use your power to make a positive change.
Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit
Everyone has been “mansplained” to at some point or another. In Men Explain Things to Me, read the essays that inspired the term “men explain things to me.” Then, find someone who can understand your anger and frustration. When you read Solnit’s book, you will be ready to call out mansplaining and smash the patriarchy. She takes a scathing look at the near-universal but often unspoken microaggressions against women.
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
Even though Gay calls herself a “Bad Feminist,” her book of essays about her life as a woman and a woman of color does something good: It encourages people to look at feminism with an open mind. Do better and break down feminism stereotypes in this book by Gay. You can be a feminist if your favorite color is pink and you still want to do good things for women, she says in this book.
The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance — What Women Should Know by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman
Some people seem to be so confident that you start to wonder if it’s in their genes. You can find out if there is a “confidence gene” in the book The Confidence Code. Nature vs. nurture is a debate that has been going on for a long time. This book looks at the social factors that make women less confident and make them less likely to be taken seriously than men.