We could all use a little career, life, and feminist inspiration from time to time. And, even with all the Netflix shows and the podcasts out there, books are still one of the greatest ways to get inspired.
There are many great books out there by and for motivated, ambitious, creative, and accomplished women. Read on if you’re a driven and career-oriented woman looking for some good reads.
1. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead is one of the most popular and commonly referenced career books for women. It’s written by Sheryl Sandberg, the Chief Operating Officer at Facebook. The book is a combination of personal narrative and advice on navigating — and getting ahead — as a woman in the working world, particularly the corporate world. It also touches on the balance of mothering and career and acknowledges the challenging and conflicting aspects of this balance that many women face.
Some critics have argued that Sandberg’s book is too narrowly focused on her own experiences and identity and that she sometimes misses the mark on feminism. But for many women, this book has been an insightful and helpful companion to their careers.
2. Becoming by Michelle Obama
It’s hard to talk about accomplished, inspiring women without mentioning Michelle Obama. Her memoir, Becoming, has been wildly successful ever since it came out in 2018. Obama talks about her past and growing up, her career, her time in the White House, and her family. She is nothing if not a motivating and powerful force in the United States — and the world — and hearing her story through her own words is enough to light up anyone’s passions and ambitions.
3. Radical Candor: Be A Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott
Scott’s book centers around how to become an effective leader in the workplace. She focuses on providing guidance and feedback to employees, creating a cohesive and motivated team, and getting things done — like a boss. If you’d like to improve your relationships at work and your effectiveness as a leader, this book is a great place to start.
4. We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
If you’re looking for a book on feminism — and to stir up some female empowerment — this is the one for you. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie explores feminism in the 21st century, the challenges still facing our gender, and the reasons and ways to be feminists at this time in history. While not a career advice book, it will reshape your understanding of your role in the world as a woman, and it will help to ignite that inspirational spark that we need to chase after our goals.
5. Girl Boss by Sophia Amoruso
GirlBoss — and its author, Sophia Amoruso — has become a bit of a phenomenon in the career-driven women world (including the 2017 Netflix series “Girlboss,” based on the book). The book tells the story of Amoruso’s climb from dumpster-scrounging and petty theft to CEO of Girlboss and all the bumps and successes along the way. She explores the grittier side of being an entrepreneur, and clearly believes that no specific background or education can prevent you from succeeding in life. If you’re looking to be inspired by hard work, determination, and a “Cinderella” story, this is a great book to try out.
6. My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem
This book by feminist icon Gloria Steinem isn’t necessarily a traditional “career” book — but it can still offer a lot of wisdom and inspiration for ambitious women. She discusses her ambitions, her experiences as an organizer and activist, her opinions, her personal life, her professional life. My Life on the Road is a book from a powerhouse of a woman who has shaped modern feminism as much as anyone has — and reading this book is powerful motivation for women, in all aspects of their lives.
7. Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman by Gail Evans
This book, written by Gail Evans, a highly successful businesswoman and force in the media industry, discusses many of the challenges that women face in male-dominated industries. She talks about her strategies for success and “making it” as a woman, at any level of the workforce and in any field. She focuses a good deal on the risk-taking that women need to be willing to do, as well as speaking up and making their voice heard.