In light of International Women’s Day and my love of reading, I’ve put together a list of 10 books by and for women that inspire, motivate and educate.
These are some of my favourite books I’ve ever read along with books that are currently on my shelf to read in March (as I’m only reading female-empowered and female-authored books this month).
Let me know if you’ve read any of the below or have any other books that would be worthy of making this list!
As always, you can keep up with my reading and reviews at @ocbookshelf and find all my book reviews here.
This blog post features affiliate links and gifted copies. For more information, read my disclaimer here.
How Women Rise by Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith (Gifted)
Do you hesitate about putting forward ideas? Are you reluctant to claim credit for your achievements? Do you find it difficult to get the support you need from your boss or the recognition you deserve from your colleagues? If your answer to any of these is ‘Yes’, How Women Rise will help get you back on track. Inspiring and practical by turns, it identifies 12 common habits that can prove an obstacle to future success and tells you how to overcome them. In the process, it points the way to a career that will satisfy your ambitions and help you make the difference you want to make in the world.
My rating: ★★★★★
I read How Women Rise just last week and got through the book in two days. The book identifies 12 habits that women should avoid or remove from their career and work life. These habits are often ones that we don’t even notice, like making ourselves too small, not speaking up about our achievements and also not letting our boss know what we’ve worked on or how we’ve continually helped others in the business. Many of these habits come naturally to our male counterparts and can be the cause of men accelerating in their career when women stay in positions for too long. A great read for anyone starting out or in the midst of their career!
Becoming by Michelle Obama
In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her — from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it — in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations — and whose story inspires us to do the same.
My rating: ★★★★★
What a book. This is definitely one that I would read all over again and continue to recommend to many people, both young and old. Michelle Obama’s memoir details her early life, college, meeting Barack and their journey to and during the White House. The book offers great insight into the life of the Obamas, but what I love most is how Michelle tells the story of her family not having much money, yet she was accepted to Princeton University, achieved great success in her law career and has carried out amazing humanitarian roles while raising two daughters. I can’t wait to delve into Barack’s A Promised Land – it’s been on my shelf since Christmas but its 700+ pages are very daunting!
Bad Girls Throughout History by Ann Shen
Aphra Behn, first female professional writer. Sojourner Truth, women’s rights activist and abolitionist. Ada Lovelace, first computer programmer. Marie Curie, first woman to win the Nobel Prize. Joan Jett, godmother of punk. The 100 revolutionary women highlighted in this gorgeously illustrated book were bad in the best sense of the word: they challenged the status quo and changed the rules for all who followed. From pirates to artists, warriors, daredevils, women in science, activists, and spies, the accomplishments of these incredible women who dared to push boundaries vary as much as the eras and places in which they effected change. Featuring bold watercolor portraits and illuminating essays by Ann Shen, Bad Girls Throughout History is a distinctive, gift-worthy tribute to rebel girls everywhere.
My rating: ★★★★★
I loved this book for many reasons, but mostly I loved that I was introduced to new female heroes and told the story of those I had already heard of but actually knew nothing about. The book details heroic women through the ages, from Cleopatra to Joan of Ark, from Rosa Parks to Marie Curie. Exceptional women with exceptional stories to be told, it’s very hard not to be inspired after reading this book. Plus the illustrations are beautiful!
100 Million Hair Ties and a Vodka Tonic by Sophie Trelles-Tvede (Gifted)
Why didn’t I think of that genius idea? This is the remarkable, at times funny, story of a young entrepreneur who, aged 18 and with $4,000 and no other funding, started up invisibobble the revolutionary hair ties that have taken the haircare industry by storm. Today, Sophie Trelles-Tvede’s company has sold over 100 million hair ties around the world and turns over $15 million. As a first-year university student, getting ready for a party, Sophie spotted an old telephone cord and decided to use it to tie her hair with. The next morning, she noticed something different with her hair: she did not have a headache after untying the cord and there was not much of a mark (or kink) in her hair. The genius idea of invisibobble was born right there! This is the story of the idea and thereafter the ups and downs, funny and serious moments, of an entrepreneur s journey that will inspire others and reveal what it takes to succeed.
My rating: To be determined
I’m currently reading this book as we speak, and loving it. I’m always so inspired by young female entrepreneurs such as Grace Beverley and Whitney Wolfe Herd. As a consumer of the invisibobble, I had no idea that the product was created by an 18-year-old Sophie Trelles-Tvede during her first year of university. The book details the idea, the product coming to life and how Sophie has handled her business and running a million-dollar company at such a young age.
#GirlBoss by Sophia Amoruso
In the space of ten years, Sophia Amoruso has gone from high-school dropout to founder and Executive Chairman of Nasty Gal, one of the fastest-growing retailers in the world. Sophia’s never been a typical executive, or a typical anything, and she’s written #GIRLBOSS for other girls like her: outsiders (and insiders) seeking a unique path to success. Filled with brazen wake-up calls, cunning and frank observations, and behind-the-scenes stories from Nasty Gal’s meteoric rise, #GIRLBOSS covers a lot of ground. It proves that success doesn’t come from where you went to college or how popular you were in school. Success is about trusting your instincts and following your gut, knowing which rules to follow and which to break. Inspiring, motivating and empowering, #GIRLBOSS will give you the kick up the ass you need to reach your potential.
My rating: ★★★★★
You are probably sick of hearing about this book by now, but I can never not mention it. #GirlBoss was the first book to ever inspire me to change what I was doing, get out of my funk and actually make something of my life. I had just started my blog and was receiving around 100 views a month. Fast forward to reading this book over Christmas and I was putting everything into my blog and getting it out there. Safe to say those numbers soon skyrocketed, and I have this book to thank. If you’re looking for a bout of inspiration, this book is my favourite kick-up-the-ass.
What I Know For Sure by Oprah
As a creative force, student of the human heart and soul, and champion of living the life you want, Oprah Winfrey stands alone. From all her experiences, she has gleaned life lessons – which, for fourteen years, she’s shared in O, The OprahMagazine’s widely popular ‘What I Know For Sure’ column, a monthly source of inspiration and revelation. Now, for the first time, these thoughtful gems have been revised, updated, and collected in What I Know For Sure, a beautiful book, packed with insight and revelation from Oprah Winfrey. Organized by theme – joy, resilience, connection, gratitude, possibility, awe, clarity, and power – these essays offer a rare, powerful and intimate glimpse into the heart and mind of one of the world’s most extraordinary women, while providing readers a guide to becoming their best selves.
My rating: ★★★★★
I adored this book. It was such an easy read that I read it in two days. The book is made of short columns that Oprah has written over the years for her O Magazine, giving an insight into her extravagant life, her connections to the Universe, her love for meditation and love for friends and family. It’s an uplifting book that I return to time and time again for motivation. The most relaxing and wholesome read!
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo
This is Britain as you’ve never read it. This is Britain as it has never been told. From Newcastle to Cornwall, from the birth of the twentieth century to the teens of the twenty-first, Girl, Woman, Other follows a cast of twelve characters on their personal journeys through this country and the last hundred years. They’re each looking for something – a shared past, an unexpected future, a place to call home, somewhere to fit in, a lover, a missed mother, a lost father, even just a touch of hope…
My rating: ★★★★
Girl, Woman, Other had been on my list all year. The book details the life of Black women in England, focusing on important topics including LGBTQ, racism, oppression and miscarriage among others. A very important book that everyone should read and at times made me laugh out loud whilst also hitting home the things that women across England go through today and years before. The book ended well with all characters coming together and being connected in some way, even though they had led completely different lives up until the ending. A book that I would very much recommend.
Wonder Women by Giles Lury and Katy Mousinho (Gifted)
In Giles Lury’s and Katy Mousinho’s WONDER WOMEN, are the stories and insights from women who have had a tremendous influence on the marketing industry. There are stories of Brownie Wise who transformed Tupperware, Mary Wells Lawrence who founded the advertising agency Wells, Rich, Greene. There are interviews with the co-founder of Dunnhumby, the data behind the Tesco Clubcard (Edwin Dunn OBE), the Chief Customer Office at the BBC (Kerris Bright), and the only female country CEO in Carlsberg (Helle Muller Petersen). Pulling the insights together to not only celebrate their success, but to provide role models and insights for great marketers to come.
My rating: To be determined
A book that is on my shelf to read this month, but I had to include it here as I know it’s going to be one that I really enjoy and one that inspires and motivates. Detailing the stories of incredible women in the marketing industry, I can already tell that I’m going to love it!
Feminists Don’t Wear Pink and Other Lies by Scarlett Curtis
We asked 52 women: what does the F word mean to you? The result is extraordinary. Curated by journalist and activist Scarlett Curtis, with incredible pieces by: Emma Watson, Zoe Sugg, Keira Knightley, Gemma Arterton, Bridget Jones (by Helen Fielding), Saoirse Ronan, Liv Little, Dolly Alderton, Karen Gillan, Alicia Garza, Jameela Jamil and more. Warning: contains a lot of feminism and some explicit content!
My rating: ★★★★★
I read this book a few years ago now, but it still holds a significance to me today. The book features stories of many people and organisations helping move feminism in the right direction today. Feminists Don’t Wear Pink also busts the myths that feminists don’t shave, don’t wear bras and are offended by all men. Being a feminist is about wanting women to be equal to men; equal pay, equal rights and equal opportunities. Read this book and be incredibly inspired!
Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton
Award-winning journalist Dolly Alderton survived her twenties (just about) and in Everything I Know About Love, she gives an unflinching account of the bad dates and squalid flat-shares, the heartaches and humiliations, and most importantly, the unbreakable female friendships that helped her to hold it all together. Glittering with wit, heart and humour, this is a book to press into the hands of every woman who has ever been there or is about to find themselves taking that first step towards the rest of their lives.
My rating: ★★★★★
I loved this book. It’s a memoir of Dolly Alderton’s life until she turns 30. It covers growing up, boys, men, relationships, friendships, getting older, employment, living in London, heartbreak and death. Everything I Know About Love reminds us that we don’t have to be settled down, married with three kids and living in a cottage in the countryside by age 29. Times have changed. More and more young people (I’m taking 20s-30s here) are still house-sharing with strangers in London and working their way up the career ladder, and Dolly writes about this in the most poignant way. We must stop comparing ourselves to our friends and those that are the same age as us but at different stages of life.