Blog – Posted on Thursday, May 14
60 Best Inspirational Books For Women
Women can do anything. Of course, historically speaking, that hasn’t always been the message we encounter in the media or popular culture. But today, there’s never been a better time to be looking for inspirational books for women, as the literary world is now spoiled for choice when it comes to stories of women’s bravery, grit, resilience, humor, and drive.
Sometimes you need a boost from a brave female historical figure, a bold female industry leader, or a badass female character to remind you of all the things that women have accomplished and can achieve when they aren’t pushed to the margins and can claim their rightful space in the spotlight. In the list below, we recommend some of our favorite inspirational books (nonfiction as well as fiction) for women — though people of all genders will enjoy these powerful stories. You’re bound to find some uplift and motivation as these reads spark joy, outrage, entrepreneurial ambition, or some combination of them all.
1. Becoming by Michelle Obama
In Becoming, former First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama chronicles her journey to becoming one of the nation’s most prominent advocates for women’s rights and inclusion. This deeply personal memoir takes readers through her painful moments and private struggles as she fought to be heard as a black woman in America. From the South Side of Chicago to the national stage, Obama’s life story in her own words reminds us to be resilient and remember the power of constant growth and self-discovery.
2. Why Not Me? By Mindy Kaling
Is there anything Mindy Kaling can’t do? She wrote for beloved TV shows like The Office, created and starred in The Mindy Project, and somehow still manages to feel like a completely relatable confidante despite her incredible success. Her collection of essays Why Not Me? is a bitingly funny look at the weirdness of Hollywood and her strange encounters working in television; yet it is also an account of feeling like an outsider in an industry famously unfriendly to women and people of color. Why Not Me? will leave you cracking up on every page and asking yourself the same question as you consider your own obstacles — why not me?
3. Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes
Nothing can stop Shonda Rhimes. The creative force behind Grey's Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder is always charging headfirst into her next project, producing so many series that soon enough she’ll basically own TV. But even Shonda Rhimes isn’t totally fearless. In Year of Yes, Rhimes faces a yearlong challenge from her sister to try to say yes to the unexpected opportunities that come her way. Leaving room for the unplanned, opening up beyond her comfort zone, and simply saying yes to what the world has to offer makes anything seem possible.
4. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown
It can be hard to ignore that little voice inside your head that tells you you aren’t enough. Enter Brené Brown to help expel insecurities and show you that what makes you less than perfect is what makes you — well, you. The Gifts of Imperfection is equal parts pep talk and guide to introspection, and is bound to help you change how you think about yourself and your so-called flaws.
5. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
What does it even mean to “find yourself”? In Wild, after a series of personal tragedies, Cheryl Strayed decides to solo hike a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. Her story of the epic hike captures surviving a bewildering time in her life and pushing through the pain to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Even if you don’t want to literally wander through the wilderness like her, her story of resilience can help you appreciate your surroundings and start finding your footing one step at a time.
6. You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero
There are a million self-help books out there, each promising the key to becoming your best self. But if you’re going to read just one, make it You Are a Badass — success coach Jen Sincero literally inspires people for a living. Her no-BS guide eschews platitudes and cuts right to the chase, giving real talk and concrete tips on how to become your own biggest supporter.
7. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
“Happiness” — this elusive idea has puzzled philosophers, psychologists, and everyday people alike for generations. What is it? And how can we get more of it? The Happiness Project is born of these age-old questions. Yet this is not just any old story of the pursuit of happiness! Gretchen Rubin takes a methodical and almost scientific approach to investigating her life and what leads to contentment, making for a refreshing read of self-examination.
8. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
If you haven’t heard of Marie Kondo or her “spark joy” catchphrase by now, you must be living under a rock (and so probably would not benefit much from her organizational tips anyway). Whether you’ve got piles of junk in your house or simply need to declutter the thoughts in your head, Kondo’s bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up illuminates how simplifying your physical space and headspace can enable you to focus on what matters most.
9. Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Life by Jane Sherron de Hart
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, also known as “Notorious R.B.G.,” is a Supreme Court Justice who has become a certified cultural icon and fodder for many memes. The definitive biography Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Life untangles the myth and mystery surrounding the feminist and legal trailblazer, giving an impeccably researched and intimately detailed account of her life story as well as her social and political background.
10. We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
We Should All Be Feminists is a searing manifesto demanding an inclusive vision of feminism that everyone should read. The personal essay, which Adichie adapted from her TEDx talk, is short in length — but it delivers a bold and blistering message of the urgent need to fight for women’s equality, for women of a wide range of backgrounds and experience.
11. The Collected Autobiographies of Maya Angelou by Maya Angelou
The Collected Autobiographies of Maya Angelou brings together the poet and activist’s most enduring memoirs, including I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and approaches weighty topics like racism and abuse with lyrical beauty. Angelou’s entrancing testimony of her past tells a story of being forced to confront the ugliness of the world but still finding a way to sing a hopeful song.
12. The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World by Melinda Gates
Philanthropist Melinda Gates has devoted her life and tremendous resources to providing opportunities to those in need — and one of her biggest takeaways has been that to elevate society, we need to stop putting women down. In The Moment of Lift, Gates reflects on her work, her travels, and the women’s issues that most urgently need our attention. The result is a compelling commentary on how you can leverage your privilege to effect positive change.
13. Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit
At one point or another, every woman has probably had something “mansplained” to them. Read the essays that inspired the term in Men Explain Things to Me and find someone who can share in your frustration and fury! Women are subjected to constant condescension, and Solnit gives a scathing take on the near universal, yet often unspoken, microaggressions against women, leaving you ready to call out mansplaining and take down the patriarchy.
14. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
Even though Gay calls herself a Bad Feminist, her collection of essays about her experience as a woman, and a woman of color, does something undeniably good — it empowers readers to look at feminism with a critical eye. In this book, Gay unleashes her acerbic wit to ask us to do better and take down stereotypes about feminism; yes, you can have your favorite color be pink and still be a feminist.
15. 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 naturally confident that you start to wonder if maybe it’s in their DNA. The Confidence Code dives into neuroscience to see if such a “confidence gene” exists. Not only that, it digs into the social factors that continuously instill a lack of confidence in women and leave them to be taken less seriously than men — giving a significant new dimension to the nature vs. nurture debate.
16. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Know her name: Henrietta Lacks. Scientists knew her only as “HeLa” when they took her cells and used them for research without her knowledge. Yet these cells were used to make breakthroughs in science and medicine long after Lacks’ death. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks interrogates the ethics and racial politics of medicine while also telling the story of Lacks’ life. It’s a brilliant biography that is often uncanny and uncomfortable, as it follows the extraordinary journey of a tiny group of cells and the reverberations one life can leave.
17. Bossypants by Tina Fey
Bossypants is technically a collection of autobiographical essays, but it reads more like a series of the wise-cracking comedy sketches that made Fey famous. Come for the jokes and the behind-the-scenes shenanigans at SNL and 30 Rock — and stay for Fey’s revelations on making it big in showbiz and taking her “bossy” label in sardonic stride.
18. Educated by Tara Westover
Tara Westover did not have a traditional upbringing, to say the least. Westover was raised in a Mormon survivalist family in Idaho that isolated her from the world and prevented her from going to traditional school until age 17 — but nothing could stop the intellectual curiosity that eventually drove her to receive her PhD from Cambridge. Educated is often shocking and visceral as it tracks her path to overcoming trauma and achieving success, but is ultimately a mesmerizing story of a lifelong commitment to learning.
19. My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem
Feminist icon Gloria Steinem has always been a little restless — never settling in or slowing down in her work advocating for equity and equality. My Life on the Road allows Steinem to speak candidly about her travels and the “on the road” mindset that has inspired her to interact with the fullness of the world for decades. When life seems hard, she just keeps moving.
20. Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly
Maybe you’ve already seen the Oscar-nominated movie, but we promise the book is even better. While all twelve people who walked on the moon to date have been American white men, they only got there thanks to the work of black female mathematicians at NASA whose calculations ensured their safety. Hidden Figures gives these brainy women their due, probing their personal histories and experiences as they navigated intense racial and gender bias — while also navigating a path to outer space.
21. The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish
Haddish is the snarky best friend we all wish we had by our sides to constantly run her hilariously unfiltered commentary and not care what anyone else thinks. The comedian and actor grew up in one of the poorest neighborhoods of Los Angeles, but it seems like there’s absolutely nothing she can’t rise above or make us laugh about as her star continues to rise. As we’d expect, she holds nothing back in The Last Black Unicorn, which is chock full of personal essays that get really personal — maybe a little TMI, but never too much inspiration from Haddish to be your authentic self.
22. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In created an international sensation when it was published in 2013. Sandberg incisively examines the state of the contemporary workplace, asking questions about the obstacles that women face when they express ambition, seek mentors, show leadership, and confront the challenges of motherhood. Sandberg’s witty, direct, and informative approach makes reading Lean In an empowering act in itself.
23. The Power is Within You by Louise Hay
Motivational author Louise Hay survived childhood abuse, rape, and cervical cancer, and in the late 1980s, she led support groups for people with HIV/AIDS. She emerged from these experiences a champion of the power of positive thinking and self-love. The Power is Within You is the best-selling author’s self-help manifesto on how to nurture yourself, listen to your inner voice, and treat yourself with the kindness you deserve.
24. Very Good Lives by J.K. Rowling
Very Good Lives is J.K. Rowling’s Harvard commencement speech, a short book containing words of great wisdom. In this beautifully illustrated print version, the creator of Harry Potter reflects on her early life and focuses on two main lessons: learning to live with failure and understanding the power of imagination. This book is perfect for young people entering the world of adulthood — but these are also words to return to for the rest of your life.
25. Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham
Not That Kind of Girl, a collection of essays by Lena Dunham, creator of HBO’s Girls, is a fearless and witty examination of millenial girlhood. Dunham, famous for her feminist politics and admirable willingness to be vulnerable, does not shy away from difficult or graphic topics. She keeps things real and flawed and doesn’t sugarcoat anything, instead celebrating life for the inexplicable mess it often is.
26. Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates
Everyday Sexism began as an online community project by British journalist Laura Bates. Exasperated by the normalization of everyday sexist behavior and sexual harassment, Bates created a community for over 50,000 women to share their stories. This book retells some of those stories, focusing on the pervasive impact of sexism on women’s lives, in a world that largely seems to think it has overcome gender inequality. This book is an eye-opening call to arms, a reminder that the fight is not over.
27. Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez
A book that Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called “revelatory,” Invisible Women takes a hard look at the way contemporary society is designed for men rather than women. British journalist and activist Caroline Criado-Perez exposes the “data bias” inherent in various social structures, from public restroom availability to the size of technological devices like mobile phones. It’s a book that will make you view the world through a sharper lens and become much more attuned to subtle inequalities.
28. Charlotte Brontë: A Fiery Heart by Claire Harman
Literary biographer and award-winning author Claire Harman champions the life of Charlotte Brontë and her fierce ambition and rebellion. This is no tragic tale of a meek and helpless Victorian girl — Harman’s multi-dimensional, well-researched biography does justice to a famous but somewhat misunderstood figure of the literary canon. Just over two hundred years after Brontë’s birth, Charlotte Brontë: A Fiery Heart reminds us why the author’s works have endured.
29. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Set in rural Georgia, The Color Purple is an affecting and poetic saga of the bravery of black women. Celie is perhaps one of literature’s most gripping protagonists, bursting with love for the world around her despite the unspeakable abuse she faces — and her epic story is an affirmation of life and the resilience of the human spirit.
30. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Mrs. Dalloway has a simple plot arc: it follows a single day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway as she goes about errands and plans a party. Yet this modernist portrait of one woman’s inner life, with her memories and stream-of-consciousness digressions, becomes a vivid account of imagining the paths not traveled when life feels like it has passed you by.
31. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
Each family has their secrets. When the Lees’ middle daughter Lydia is found drowned in a lake, deep pain is brought to the surface, as they confront their fraught past and feelings of alienation as a mixed-race Chinese-American family. Everything I Never Told You, Ng’s debut novel, weaves an achingly beautiful reflection on the burdens we place on one another and how we can understand one another with more empathy.
32. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
If the women’s-rights protests featuring people dressed in handmaids’ red cloaks and bonnets are any sign, The Handmaid’s Tale inspires outrage and activism. Atwood’s dystopian future of women who are seen as property and enslaved as reproductive machines feels more prescient with each passing day, but it is also a rallying cry for women to fight against anyone trying to control their bodies.
33. Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante
In an epic series of four books spanning sixty years, Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels follow the friendship of the reserved Elena and brash Lila as they grow up and grow old in Italy, evoking them in all their confusions and complexities. The note-perfect quartet nails female friendship and stirs us to appreciate our relationships with all the women in our lives.
34. Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi
You’ve never read a fairy tale quite like this before. Boy, Snow, Bird is a radical riff on the Snow White story, featuring a woman named Boy, her dark-skinned daughter Bird, and Bird’s sister Snow, who passes for white. Oyeyemi’s haunting prose prompts us to look at ourselves and our self-images in new ways, acknowledging the thorniness of beauty and perception.
35. My Ántonia by Willa Cather
An American classic, Willa Cather’s 1918 My Ántonia is a vivid evocation of life in the Nebraska prairie. The lyrical novel is a long-enduring snapshot of the American West and the explorations of nature and growing up. Praised at the time of publication for viewing the rural lower classes as worthy of literary depiction, the book continues to wield its exalting power over readers to this day.
36. Circe by Madeline Miller
A modern feminist re-telling of the story of Circe, the famous witch from Homer’s Odyssey, Circe by Madeline Miller is a book you never want to end. Lyrical and poetic, Miller’s book allows Circe to claim her voice in the narrative, pushing her way in from the obscurity of the margins. The reader watches Circe grow up to be a sensitive, wise, and fierce goddess. This novel’s glimmering prose is sure to have you rethinking old myths and gifting the book to all of your friends.
37. The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
In a project parallel to the aforementioned Circe, Pat Barker’s The Silence of the Girls is a feminist re-interpretation of Homer’s Iliad. Briseis, a former queen who has been reduced to being the spoils of war, replaces the Greek warriors as the center of the story. The Silence of the Girls casts an unflinching eye on the legendary Trojan War and the women behind the scenes. The tale of Ilium, Barker reminds us, was written by a man; but there’s always more than one side to the story.
38. The World’s Wife by Carol Ann Duffy
The World’s Wife by former UK Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, titled after the expression “the world and his wife,” pointedly challenges the assumption that “the world” is somehow male. Duffy’s acerbic poetry collection takes the form of a series of dramatic monologues, each from a different female character from literature or history. Ranging from Eurydice to Anne Hathaway (wife of Shakespeare, not the actress) and Elvis’s twin sister, Duffy’s deeply funny and arresting poems will have you nodding in agreement and laughing out loud.
39. Dear Life by Alice Munro
Canadian Nobel Prize winner Alice Munro’s latest collection of short stories, Dear Life, tells stories that resist neat closure in typical Munro fashion. Concerned with memory and the past, this collection features stories that push the boundaries of fiction and autobiography to land in the fascinating zone that is autofiction. Spare, ironic, and masterful, these stories are a master-class in writing by one of the world’s most accomplished story writers, and a reminder that short stories are not lesser than novels in any way.
40. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Barack Obama calls Tayari Jones’s novel An American Marriage “a moving portrayal of the effects of a wrongful conviction on a young African-American couple”. A love story shaped by forces outside its protagonists’ control, this book examines the effect of separation and incarceration on a married couple. Winner of the 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction, An American Marriage is sure to captivate you with its intimate narrative and heart-rending plot.
41. Normal People by Sally Rooney
Sally Rooney’s hugely successful Normal People (recently adapted into a much-hyped TV show) focuses on the love story between two young Irish students, Marianne and Connell. Tender, intimate, and impressively minimal, it charts their strange but unique relationship as they move from rural Ireland to Dublin. Normal People chronicles a special connection between two people, but is also a story that captures the most relatable elements of contemporary young love and the power of finding ourselves in others.
42. The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood
Another entry in the tradition of re-telling classical mythology, The Penelopiad foregrounds the voice of Penelope and the twelve maids who were hanged in Homer’s Odyssey. Penelope’s voice becomes distinctly modern, a smart and wise character who completely captivates her reader. Atwood also brilliantly places the emphasis on the twelve maids, who are entirely buried in the details in the original myth, yet here find justice and a space to speak.
43. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
Jean Rhys’s 1966 novel Wide Sargasso Sea is a modern literary classic. Harking back to Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, Jean Rhys problematizes the “madwoman in the attic,” bringing her into the spotlight and beginning a process of questioning and challenging white male narrative authority. Here, Rochester is de-mythologized and Antoinette, the ‘madwoman’ is given the right to tell her story. Lyrical and uncompromising, this moving novel transforms the universe of Jane Eyre with feminism and post-colonialism in a way that cannot leave Brontë’s classic unchanged.
44. Middlemarch by George Eliot
George Eliot’s 19th century classic Middlemarch tells the story of several characters in provincial England. It’s a moving and wise narrative documenting a moment in time, but also a timeless tale about human nature. Eliot’s book is brimming with idealism and a belief in people’s power to do and be good; it’s no wonder that many consider Middlemarch the book that changed their lives. Brilliant and optimistic, this admittedly long novel really is worth your time.
45. A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen
Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House is another 19th century masterpiece. Sometimes called a “proto-feminist” play, A Doll’s House mercilessly exposes social hypocrisy in the Victorian age, challenging the inequality of marriage through the character of Nora. Nora’s independent nature and integrity, in sharp contrast to her husband’s idea of her character, stands out as a refreshing and honest voice. It sounds like heavy stuff, but as a play, A Doll’s House makes for a perfect short read about a complicated female character.
46. The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter
Angela Carter’s The Magic Toyshop is a Gothic, magical realist coming-of-age story tinged with elements of horror. Melanie, the novel’s 15-year-old protagonist, finds herself in an unfamiliar and altogether strange environment when she and her younger siblings are sent to live with relatives. Carter puts a feminist twist on the tropes of fairy tales, creating a vivid and immersive world bound to inspire even more wonderful imaginings.
47. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
Rosemary’s unhappy family has a secret. It’s a secret that we can’t spoil for you, but one that illuminates and transforms Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. It’s a twist no one sees coming, but which colors the story with a new understanding. With its sensitive and honest portrayal of family and loss, you’ll be thinking about this novel long after you finish reading it!
48. Saltwater by Jessica Andrews
Saltwater by Jessica Andrews is a coming-of-age tale about Lucy, who leaves the North of England to go to university in London, then travels to her grandfather’s old cottage in Ireland. A poetic, fragmented story about family, class identity and growing up, Saltwater is a beautiful and visceral tribute to the North and its values — it’s no wonder the book won the 2020 Portico Prize.
49. Sealed by Naomi Booth
A tale of pregnancy during an epidemic, Sealed by Naomi Booth is a topical and compelling take on eco-horror. Set in Australia, this novel follows pregnant Alice and her partner as they flee urban life, hoping for safety in the countryside, while a terrifying skin disease spreads among the population. A thrilling and captivating novel, Sealed assumes an all the more impressive power at the time of a real global pandemic.
50. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
This Pulitzer-winning short story collection is disarmingly honest and moving in its careful simplicity. Interpreter of Maladies focuses on the lives of Indian-American characters in the USA, as well as Indian characters in Calcutta. Immersive and filled with rich cultural detail, these stories sensitively explore the challenges of romantic relationships, immigration, as well as being away from home in remarkable and lucid prose. If you’ve ever spent time away from your home or family, this masterful collection will make you feel heard.
51. Beloved by Toni Morrison
Another compelling Pulitzer winner, Toni Morrison’s classic Beloved is set in a time shortly after the American Civil War. Its protagonist, Sethe, lives among memories that haunt her, in a story that takes an unflinching look at the trauma of slavery and its psychological impact. Blending beauty with horror, this book’s rich synthesis of ghost story, magical realism, and historical fiction is a book everyone needs to read at least once — and will probably want to read again.
52. White Teeth by Zadie Smith
Zadie Smith’s debut novel White Teeth is a beloved work celebrating the multicultural heart of London. A funny, expansive book that’s rich in diverse characters and memorable situations, this novel traces the experiences of two families in the 20th century, sprawling with gusto and refusing to limit itself to a single “topic.” Intimate questions of culture, race, religion and gender are also addressed as Smith zeroes in on the immigrant experience and its generational iterations.
53. Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
Feminist and experimental, Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties freely combines elements from sci-fi, magical realism, horror, and queer theory to create refreshing short stories designed to move you and creep you out at the same time. Her Body and Other Parties is the kind of book that leaves you feeling like you’ve really witnessed something astonishing, and need a friend to discuss it with as soon as you put it down.
54. The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
In this magical realist novel, Isabel Allende spans several generations of the same Latin-American family, but focuses on protagonist Clara. In the tradition of Gabriel García Márquez, this is an epic book full of life and events, where everything happens in an endless stream of dramatic family developments — which sounds like a lot, but you’ll be hooked. Widely considered to be Allende’s finest novel, The House of the Spirits is a riveting read that will leave you feeling that you’ve stepped into a whole new world full of magical women.
55. The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
The Yellow Wallpaper is Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s most famous story, a semi-autobiographical tale of postpartum psychosis. Beautiful and chilling, this feminist story is now widely taught in schools — and it’s in great company with Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, since both take issue with the infantilization of women. Guaranteed to thrill and anger you, The Yellow Wallpaper remains relevant through its interest in the social role of women, mental health, and isolation. The rest of the stories in The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories are hidden gems, and a chance to get to know the author’s lesser-known experiments.
56. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel
Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic is a dazzlingly honest graphic memoir about Bechdel’s teenage relationship to her father and her process of coming out — and it’s the book behind the Tony-award-winning musical of the same name! Among beautiful Gothic illustrations emerges a narrative about figuring out who you are, as Alison learns more about her own sexual orientation and that of her father, who remains an elusive figure.
For Girls/Young Women
57. She Speaks: Women's Speeches That Changed the World, from Boudica to Greta by Yvette Cooper
British Labour MP Yvette Cooper has compiled an inspirational collection of women’s speeches from across the world. In contrast to the male-dominated stereotypical lists of “best speeches,” Cooper’s selection aims to highlight the power of women’s words, and boasts a wonderful variety of voices as it ranges far and wide. From Ellen DeGeneres and Jacinda Ardern to Audre Lorde and Benazir Bhutto, She Speaks is an invaluable and stirring resource for young women.
58. No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg
Climate activist Thunberg has become the voice of her generation — but she calls on people of all ages to take action in her collection of speeches No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference. She delivers an urgent message that the action of every person counts when it comes to global emissions, and that every person has the power to enact change to save our planet.
59. I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai
Malala Yousafzai is an international symbol of bravery, a champion of education for girls, and the youngest-ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize — but before all that, she was a teenage girl. In I Am Malala, she tells her story in her own words and shows readers that standing up for girls is standing up for the future.
60. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Are you a Meg, a Jo, a Beth, or an Amy? Each girl is bound to identify with at least one of the March sisters. Set in Massachusetts during the American Civil War, Little Women is an uplifting story of sisterhood and boundless female curiosity. It’s a classic full of strong female heroines to which all women, even those who are no longer little, can relate.
Hungry for more? Check out this list of 35 inspirational books to change your life!