Ready to be inspired? Try reading these woman empowerment books that will leave you wanting to change for the better.
Let’s be honest: it can be tough to be a woman.
Even though the world has made strides to improve a woman’s lot in life, things are nowhere near where they should be.
Women earn less than men for the same jobs; they do more housework than men even if they both work full-time. New drugs and products are often tested only on men, even if they are intended for women.
In a lot of ways, we women are trying to make do in a man’s world.
But things can change. If you are looking for inspiration, these empowering books for women are a great place to start. They will anger you, inspire you, and empower you to see that things can change for the better.
From inspiring memoirs of powerful women to essays on women’s economic empowerment, these captivating books are must-reads for all women (and men) today.
Best Woman Empowerment Books
Former First Lady Michelle Obama’s new memoir only took weeks to outsell every other book published in 2018. Detailing her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her success as a working mother and her years in the White House, Obama shows how her past has shaped her into who she has become today. No matter your personal political views, Michelle Obama’s dedication to improving the lives of women and girls makes her an inspiring individual.
I Am Malala
Living in Pakistan as the Taliban took over her valley, Malala’s advocacy for women’s education led her to international recognition and an assassination attempt by the Taliban. The definition of female empowerment books, her autobiography will inspire you to stand up for your beliefs because one ordinary girl can change the world.
More Than a Body
Lindsay Kite & Lexie Kite
An eye-opening examination of how our beauty-obsessed world has failed generations of women. Although body positivity has helped some women, body image issues will not go away until we realize that you are not defined by your body. In one of the top women empowerment books, the Kite sisters show how deeply ingrained objectification of women is in our society and in our own minds and help you discover that you are more than a body.
We Should All Be Feminists
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
What does feminism mean in today’s society? Bestselling author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie reexamines the meaning of feminism, redefining it to be more inclusive. Adichie shows some of the discriminatory beliefs and behaviors that have marginalized women around the world and focuses on why we should all be feminists in this quick read.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Life
Jane Sherron De Hart
Respected throughout the law profession for her jurisprudence and consistent legal theory, Ruth Bader Ginsburg has recently taken on an almost cult-like following. Jane De Hart recounts Ginsburg’s life from childhood to law professor to Supreme Court Justice. Ginsburg made a life of creating opportunities where they hadn’t existed, striking a balance between having an exceptional career and family, and fighting gender discrimination.
Self-Help Books for Women
After writing about recovering from a marriage rocked by infidelity in Love Warrior, Glennon Doyle has a new memoir about her love story with US soccer star Abby Wambach. Doyle details how she found herself by realizing her true power comes from within and not from the expectations others put on her. If you’ve read Love Warrior, you’ll have an interesting time considering the public face we put on our lives. If you haven’t, you’ll still have a great time debating how much you agree or disagree with Doyle’s opinions.
Girl, Wash Your Face
Hollis’s motivational book describes lies women tell themselves in a down-to-earth relatable way. If you need to be reminded that you can take control of your happiness, Girl, Wash Your Face can be an empowering read. Hollis’s brand of motivation will speak to some women and will completely turn off others, but I think that’s true of almost any motivational speaker.
You Are a Badass
Need a good kick in the pants to reach your highest goals? If so, Jen Sincero’s your gal. As a popular success coach and best-selling author, Sincero shows you how to change your mindset to create the life you’ve only dared to dream about. Through funny anecdotes, memorable quotes, quick and easy exercises, and tough love, Sincero shows how to harness a positive attitude.
Declutter Like a Mother
Are you tired of being a “hot mess” mom, spending your days drowning in overwhelm? Forget the stark white empty walls, Casazza teaches a family-oriented approach to minimalism that shows you how to reclaim the joy in motherhood and make your home work for you. Declutter like a Mother does a great job conveying the why of decluttering for families, explaining the benefits to both mothers and children.
The Lazy Genius Way
Should you have it all and be the perfect version of you or should you ignore what others think and do whatever? Kendra Adachi implores you to take a third path – the lazy genius way. By being a genius about what matters to you and lazy about what doesn’t, Adachi promises to help you avoid becoming overwhelmed and discover a better way of life. Combining the best advice in a unique way, Adachi always emphasizes the importance of doing what’s best for you.
Empowering Books for Females
Caroline Criado Perez
No list of woman empowerment books would be complete without Invisible Women. Caroline Criado Perez shows that we live in a world designed for men that systemically discriminates against women. With overwhelming statistics, Perez exposes the prevalent gender-data gap in countless fields, including medicine, technology, and urban planning. The staggering evidence will blow your mind and make you rethink everything you thought you knew. If you have a chance, Perez’s audiobook narration is spectacular, catching every hint of sarcasm, disbelief, and anger in the author’s voice.
For years, society has idolized extroverts, overlooking the many benefits of introversion. Well-researched and thought-provoking, Cain not only shows the power of introverts but also addresses the struggles introverts face and how to overcome them. Whether you are introverted or extroverted, this is one of those empowering books that make you see people in a different light.
Did you know that vulnerability can be a strength? Based on years of research, Brown argues that it is only by being vulnerable that we can find the courage to engage in meaningful connections, whether in our relationships, our communities, and our careers. If you are looking for empowering books for women, Brown has an entire collection of books for you to try.
The Confidence Code
Katty Kay & Claire Shipman
Study after study shows that women are less confident than men, with far-reaching social and economic impacts. In a thought-provoking book about women empowerment, Kay and Shipman explore the nature of confidence. What exactly is confidence? How much of it is genetic and how much of it is learned? Interviewing notable scientists and leaders, they teach women how they can overcome their self-doubt, be more confident, and take more action.
The Moment of Lift
If you have an insane amount of money (say from creating Microsoft) how do you use it to change the world? Over a lifetime, Melinda Gates, co-founder of The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has discovered that the key to alleviating poverty, decreasing childhood death and even increasing food production all comes back to womens economic empowerment. The statistics throughout the book are staggering, and Gates makes a strong argument for how empowering women affects so much more than you would think.
A must-read for any woman embarking on her career, Sheryl Sandberg’s book will inspire you to fully lean in to your profession. Lean In is one of the women empowerment books that will make you think of the realities of the workplace for women versus what it should be. Sandberg gives great advice on how to combat bias against women in the workplace and manage a career, a marriage, and a family.
Come as You Are
Diving into the latest scientific studies, Emily Nagoski helps you understand women’s sexuality – the why and the how it works – so that you can improve your sex life. Focusing on both physical and psychological factors, Come as You Are teaches how your brain and body work together and how to harness that to have a more satisfying sex life.
Inspirational Books to Read
The Light We Carry
In an uncertain world, former First Lady Michelle Obama teaches strategies to help you find hope and balance. Instead of cliche affirmations, Obama digs deep into the conversation about difficult topics and finds practical wisdom to help readers cope. With insightful stories and usable tools, Obama hopes to empower readers to find connections in an ever-changing world.
What Happened to You?
Bruce D. Perry and Oprah Winfrey
Instead of asking What’s wrong with you?, we should be asking What happened to you? Oprah Winfrey teams up with neuroscientist Bruce D. Perry to discuss how understanding the trauma we faced at a young age can impact our behaviors now. By understanding our past, we can shift our viewpoint and see a clear path to healing.
In the last few years, society seems to have embraced the idea of living a creative life: find your passion in art, music, writing, or whatever pursuit has hold of your heart. Thus, Elizabeth Gilbert’s series of essays about creative living is perfectly fitting for woman empowerment books. In it, she describes her thoughts on the creative life and firmly disagrees with the idea of suffering for your art.
Well-Read Black Girl
Glory Edim, the founder of the popular book club Well-Read Black Girl, has compiled this motivating collection of essays from contemporary Black women. With such big names as Jesmyn Ward, N. K. Jemisin, Tayari Jones and many others, you won’t find better women empowerment stories anywhere. Telling how they found themselves in literature, these fierce females will inspire you to remember the value of a story.
The Book of Joy
The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Do you feel like joy is missing from your life? His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu met together for a week with Douglas Abrams to teach you how you can find lasting happiness in a changing world. These two holy men discuss the nature of joy, the obstacles to joy, and the foundation you need to find joy in your life. From the start, the love that these selfless men have for each other is apparent – they truly are best friends. Funny and enlightening, this book will leave you with a desire to find joy within yourself.
Motivational Books for Women
If you want to find success in your career or your life, you need to establish solid habits. In Atomic Habits, Clear outlines in detail the steps you can take to build good habits and break bad ones. With excellent insights and workable tips, Clear’s methodology will allow you to design your habits to improve your life. Instead of trying to improve your self-discipline, learn how to build correct habits in this must-read book.
Brave, Not Perfect
Inspired by her TED Talk, Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code, empowers women to be brave enough to embrace imperfection. From a young age, girls are conditioned to be nice – to be kind, considerate, and not offend. Yet, what works well in elementary doesn’t translate into real-life and can create women who feel like they are never good enough.
Year of Yes
Similar to Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project, this celebrity memoir/self-improvement book chronicles one women’s year of self-improvement: in this case, of saying yes. Shonda Rhimes, creator of Grey’s Anatomy and literally all of ABC’s Thursday night lineup, realized that, though at the top of her career, she wasn’t happy. When her sisters observed, “You never say yes to anything,” Shonda discovers her sister was correct. She had let fear hold her back. You’ll find Rhimes’ account at times hilarious and at the time deeply touching.
Can you have it all? Laura Vanderkam thinks you can, as long as you plan for it. Vanderkam has written multiple time management books, and in 168 Hours she teaches you how to make the most of every single hour. With plenty of statistics to test your assumptions about how we actually spend our time, Vanderkam will convince you that you have more time than you realize. A great read for all, but especially helpful for women trying to balance career and family.
The Happiness Project
Author Gretchen Rubin embarked on a year-long project to make her life happier. Every month, she examined a different aspect of her life – whether it be her marriage or her health – trying to improve herself and become happier through targeted action and research. To be frank, this book is not for everyone. If you look at this book objectively, reading her experience will make you think about how you could improve yourself to complain less and appreciate life more.
True Women Empowerment Stories
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Poet Maya Angelou’s memoir of the early years of her life is touching and heartbreaking all at the same time. Growing up with her grandmother in a small Southern town, she details how affecting the segregation was as a young black girl, as well as the feeling of abandonment by her mother. Covering many hard topics – including her sexual assault at a young age – I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings makes my list of empowering memoirs.
Sometimes it takes doing something crazy, like hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, for you to truly put your life in order. By 22, Cheryl Strayed’s life felt out of control, so she decided to make a life-changing decision to hike the PCT. You’ll laugh at Strayed’s mishaps, be in awe had her stupidity and bravery, and, if you are like me, really want to go for a hike.
Know My Name
In 2016, a judge sentenced Brock Turner to just six months in jail after sexually assaulting a female student on Stanford’s campus. Quickly, the victim’s impact statement from the unnamed Emily Doe went viral, inspiring changes to California law and the recall of the judge. Now Chanel Miller is ready for you to know her name and her story in this powerful memoir.
Sophia Amoruso went from a life on the margins – a school drop-out dumpster diving for food and surviving on shoplifting and odds jobs – to the founder of one of the fastest-growing retail companies, Nasty Gal. Often featured in lists of blogging books for women, Amoruso’s book is part memoir, part career advice, and part inspiration for girl bosses. She encourages women to push forward even when they don’t feel like they have enough education or experience.
Good for a Girl
Lauren Fleshman is one of the most-decorated distance runners in the United States. In Good for a Girl, Fleshman tells of how she fell in love with running as a girl and shares her own running journey. Yet, Good for a Girl isn’t just a memoir. It’s a powerful look at how competitive sports are designed for men and boys and routinely fail female athletes, leading to injuries, eating disorders, and mental health issues.
What Empowering Reads Would You Recommend?
What do you think? Have you read many woman empowerment books? What inspiring reads have I forgotten? As always, let me know in the comments!
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Gillian Knox says
What a great and inspiring list of great reads! You’ve really hit the mark!!Thanks for including my favorite, “The Book of Joy”! It is a “must read” for all of us! Thank You for all you do and read! Gillian Knox