The 21 Best Books to Inspire Strong Women & Encourage Your Inner Boss Babe

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A varied reading list can keep the daily grind from wearing down ambition and determination, and staying inspired while chasing after dreams and goals is absolutely the key to achieving them. Sneak away from family, work, and responsibilities a few minutes every day and be inspired by these amazing stories of strength and resolve, even in the face of overwhelming obstacles, and you’ll recharge your creative batteries and be ready to tackle tough projects again in no time.

An exceptional read at any point in life, You Are A Badass is particularly poignant during life changes. College graduation, divorces, marriages, or the first day at a new job all demand some extra motivation, and these bite-sized admonitions encourage anyone to banish fear, deny excuses, and kick ass every day.

Felicia Day wears a dozen different creator’s hats, with an acclaimed web series about her experience in the “boys club” of video games, as well as acting and producing credits under her belt. Embrace Your Weird comes on the heels of You’re Never Weird on the Internet and Day’s honed voice shines through in this artist’s dream book. Part guided journal, part sympathetic therapist, with a heavy dose of cheerleading, she shares her proven strategies for moving beyond fear and doubt and embracing artistic expression, whether you’re an amateur or a professional.

Rare is the celebrity memoir that feels like you’re meeting over coffee or drinks and just shooting the breeze, but Amy Poehler weaves deftly from serious and sober to laugh-out-loud funny in her anecdotes. The print copy reads almost like a scrapbook, with visuals sprinkled throughout, and her reflections on motherhood, aging, and success are particularly poignant.

Her Ted Talk changed the way millions of people approach high stress situations, from job interviews to marriage proposals to dinner-party talk, but Cuddy brings far more to the table in her bestselling book. Presence is an absolutely essential how-to guide for conveying confidence, comfort, and authenticity, no matter how high the stakes, and seizing every opportunity to live an ambitious life without regrets.

Her view from the top included accolades from Forbes, Time, and The Guardian, all naming her one of the most powerful and influential women in media. Founder of The Huffington Post. Arianna Huffington dives deep into her personal experiences managing business deadlines and family needs simultaneously in her latest book. A fierce advocate for mindfulness and meditation, Thrive includes groundbreaking research that demonstrates exactly how applying these concepts to every day life creates the space for successful work-life balance.

A powerful narrative about family, history, and the indelible wounds of the past is woven powerfully through Gyasi’s novel Homegoing. Winner of NPR’s Debut Novel of the Year and one of Time’s Top 10 Novels of 2016.

True-Crime podcast superstars Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark bring their signature style to this deeply personal, irreverent blend of biography and self-help book. Aggressive, enticing, and encouraging, you’ll laugh, cry, and learn to stop people-pleasing, being so nice you’re a doormat, and putting yourself in danger just trying to avoid causing anyone disappointment.

Creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, Shonda Rhimes is incredibly successful and accomplished, but hated public appearances and was a dedicated introvert. Her bestselling book, detailing her one year experiment in committing to overcoming her fears and introversion, is the wake-up call anyone who lives a life of rote repetition needs.

Only the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court, there are plenty of important biographies about the life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, though none written quite like this. More of a cross-generation love letter from internet-raised teens and twentysomethings than a list of accomplishments and important dates, this is a playful approach to a serious subject; humanizing one of the most ardent and successful defenders of women’s rights.

A testament to the power of dedicated teachers and their fervent attempts to expand minds and offer opportunities to learn, this story of a group of young women risking everything to read banned Western literature in defiance of censorship and fundamentalists will inspire students and educators everywhere.

Though she has newer books, Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist continues to be the kind of cultural primer all women, especially young women, should read. A collection of essays dealing with her personal growth, pop culture and its impressions on society, and the ways in which being female determines much of our lived experiences, Gay cuts to the heart of how our adult identities are formed with humor, empathy, and one of the sharpest wits in modern writing.

Carrie Fisher’s writing career may not be what she’s most famous for, but her rich life made her a fantastic storyteller, both in her fictional works and in her personal memoirs. Humorous, salacious, dark, and honest, this was her last published work, and it cuts to the heart of her experience as a 19-year-old actress suddenly vaulted into stardom, an international sex symbol at a very young age.

Navigating the world successfully as out LGBT Youtubers, Rose & Rosie have built a following for their candid discussions of their relationship, with a positive and inclusive message that encourages everyone to live their truths and have the courage to develop real connections with others through honesty and vulnerability. For anyone struggling with keeping too much of themselves hidden because of the fear of rejection, this book is just the push you need to start living out loud.

Sixty years ago, four sisters stood in opposition to the dictatorship of General Rafael Leónidas Trujillo of the Dominican Republic. The story of Las Mariposas- the Butterflies- only becomes more powerful with the hindsight of history, and their bravery and sacrifices for their country stand in sharp relief to the appeasement and assuaging so many are tempted into under dictators.

A first person chronicle of overcoming her horrifying experience, Susannah Cahalan’s autobiography details the struggle, survival, and the often unimaginable experience of being a woman with an invisible illness. Though autoimmune diseases are a leading cause of death for women under 65, Cahalan’s story clearly highlights how hard it is to have these illnesses taken seriously, with doctors blaming her unexplained suffering on drugs, partying, or mental illness.

Writer, editor, and wielder of a comedic sense that is sharp enough to cut glass, Lane Moore, whose credits span from satire stronghold The Onion through her stint as an award-winning editor for Cosmo, challenges readers to grapple with their — and her —  struggles, successes, and relationships in her most forceful and intimate work yet: How to Be Alone.

By now surely everyone in the world has heard the powerful tale of Malala Yousafzai, who survived an attempted assassination by the Taliban while still a young girl. But if you’ve only ever experienced her powerful call for expanding girls educational opportunities as little video clips from talk shows, you’re missing out. This Nobel Peace Prize winner is the voice of a generation, with the kind of forceful determination in the face of oppression that changes history, for the better.

Winner of a Nobel Prize for Literature, this oral history tells the stories of two hundred female survivors of World War II, many of whom were only teenagers during the conflict, who left their homes in the soviet republic and fought on the front lines against the Nazis. This collection offers the briefest glimpse into the stories of the over 1 million women who served.

Gail Honeyman’s debut novel is a perfect summer read for introverts struggling to break free of routines that have left them ostracized and alienated in their relationships, despite great successes. At times heart wrenchingly sad, at others laugh out loud funny, it’s an inspiring, cathartic work that will encourage anyone who reads it to be brave enough to reach out for human connection.

Perfect for history buffs, the true stories of just a few of the women who broke laws, expectations, and conventions to fight in the Civil War is impossible to put down. Too often relegated to the footnotes, Abbott weaves these women’s lives into an expert narrative, making their contributions impossible to ignore, and inspiring anyone who has ever been told “no” to go beyond their doubters and succeed in spite of them.

From an unconventional home life to being a New York Times Bestselling author, Tara Westover narrates the highs and lows of her education; from an unambitious attempt at homeschooling that left her so bereft of a basic knowledge set that she had never even heard of major events in history, to achieving success in the upper echelons of some of the best schools in the world. You’ll be inspired to overcome any goal after reading this powerful, introspective biography.

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