54 Inspirational Books All Women Should Read in Their Lifetime

How to win at life and love, coming right up!

inspirational books

Whether you're seeking career advice or the cure for a broken heart, these titles have all the motivation you need. The wide range of advice featured in these books will help you make positive changes in your life — and their messages will stay with you long after the last page.

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Crown Publishing Group
$16.63 (49% off)

In this just-released autobiography, the former first lady walks readers through the challenges and triumphs in her life that have shaped her into the fearless female leader she is today. Is there anything Michelle Obama can't do?

Why we love it: Michelle's story is of inclusion and advocacy for women in light of obstacles, and every female around the world can take away messages of strength and determination from her story.

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'The Alchemist'
$12.76 (25% off)

This best seller walks you through the journey of an Andalusian shepard who gives up a peaceful life to chase after his dreams. Although his success is never certain and he runs into obstacle after obstacle, the shepard follows his heart and trusts his path to achieve his dreams.

Why we love it: Anyone can relate to the shepard's struggle of being afraid to pursue one's biggest dreams. The Alchemist will teach you to recognize opportunity, banish fear, and trust your heart.

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Penguin Random House
$10.39 (35% off)

Girl boss was written for the women who never consider themselves leaders or CEOs. Before launching and , Sophia Amoruso was broke, homeless and rummaging through dumpsters for leftover food. Her book tells her story and emphasizes that the path to success is often very jagged.

Why we love it: Some books written by the world's successful leaders offer keys to success that are primed and pretty. This book is real, gritty, and relatable to the average girl looking to rise up.

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'The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich'
$16.32 (26% off)

Timothy Ferriss' book is not so much about the horrors of the corporate workplace and retirement as it is about how you can achieve the money, success, and lifestyle you desire right now. Ferriss offers tips like negotiating, side gigs that could earn you extra cash, and overcoming the obstacles that are holding you back from reaching your goals.

Why we love it: According to , workplace flexibility and remote working is increasingly in-demand, as well as work-life balance. Ferris shows you that you can have it all, and you don't have to wait until retirement to get it.

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Atria Paperback
'Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More'
$5.99 (63% off)

Janet Mock reveals her heartwarming story of growing up multiracial, poor, and transgender in America. She is a voice to an often discriminated and misunderstood population while instilling hope that you can push past fear to become your true self.

Why we love it: Mock is not only an advocate for the acceptance of all, but she also inspires others to acknowledge their true selves and be who they really are, despite what the rest of the world thinks.

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Harper Perennial
'Bad Feminist: Essays'

Through a collection of hilariously honest essays, Roxane Gay outlines how subtle messages in mainstream society feed discrimination against women, and the culture we consume can become who we are. As a culture, it's easy to get caught up and let the discrimination of women in songs and other media continue. Gay emphasizes that we can do better in identifying areas that need to be improved.

Why we love it: Gay's language is funny, yet brutally honest, so that readers can understand important messages and relate.

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Haymarket Books
'Men Explain Things to Me'

Have you ever heard of the phrase "mansplaining" — and does it drive you nust. Then you should read Rebecca Solnit's book 2015. Solnit points out what often goes wrong in conversations between in men and women, namely, men wrongly assuming they always have the answer.

Why we love it: Some of us may have had something "mansplained" to us, and the accounts of others who have had this happen to them too are both hilarious and relatable.

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Hay House Publishing
'Mirror Work: 21 Days to Heal Your Life'
$10.19 (32% off)

Does it really take 21 days to break or create a habit? The idea came from the 1960 novel,  by Dr. Maxwell Maltz. Louise Hay's Mirror Work outlines a 21 day program that involves what she coins "mirror work." The practice involves looking at yourself in the mirror and stating positive affirmations that reflect positivity and self-love, with the goal of breaking down any negative thought patterns you may have about yourself.

Why we love it: It's easy and require minimal time or effort. Think about how many times you look in the mirror a day, and imagine how your body image and self-esteem may change if you begin to state positive affirmations about yourself and your life as you do so.

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'The Female Eunuch'

Though written in the '70s, this book is one that all modern women should have on their shelf. Germaine Greer became one of the first advocates for asserting that sexual liberation was the key to women's freedom from the oppression of men, with the traditional nuclear family being a force in keeping women limited. 

Why we love it: In light of women coming forward to address situations of abuse and harassment, it's important to reflect on a book that was an influential factor in propelling the women's rights movement.

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Inspirational Books Girl Wash Your Face
Nelson Books
'Girl, Wash Your Face'


Everyone's felt overwhelmed and unworthy at times, and author Rachel Hollis — founder of the lifestyle website — goes through all the lies we tell ourselves chapter by chapter, from insecurities to self-confidence destroyers.

Why we love it: She's vulnerable, honest, and shares her own personal struggles to help other women grow as much as she has.

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Inspirational Books You Do You
Hachette Book Group
'You Do You'


In this book, author Sarah Knight teaches readers how to find true happiness from living life on your own terms — and how to stop being bossed around by people on a power trip. She also wrote bestsellers and .

Why we love it: It'll give you the confidence to reach for your goals, turn your flaws into strengths, and become the #girlboss you've always wanted to be.

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Inspirational Books This Is Me
Harper Collins
'This Is Me'


If you watch This Is Us (or even if you don't) this book from Chrissy Metz, who plays Kate on the show, is a must-read. She talks about the lessons she's learned and takes readers on her own personal journey to self-acceptance.

Why we love it: It's raw, honest, and will make you love this actress even more than you already did, all while getting some inspirational, life-bettering advice in the process.

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Inspirational Books Stop Feeling Like Shit
Hachette Book Group
'How to Stop Feeling Like Sh*t'


Andrea Owen is a life coach and her self-improvement book won't be like any you've ever read before. It'll teach you to stop listening to your inner critic and empower yourself to live a more fulfilling life.

Why we love it: It's not your average life advice. Instead, it's like reading a book from a best friend who will tell you the honest truth on how to succeed — and not beat around the bush.

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Inspirational Books When Action Follows Heart
'When Action Follows Heart'


In her new book, Woman’s Day editor-in-chief Susan Spencer proves even the smallest acts of kindness can make the biggest difference, whether it's giving up a parking spot to someone or sharing a smile. Inspired by the Kindness Project, these stories, quotes, and advice will inspire you to be better.

Why we love it: It'll give you all the tools and motivation you need to add more positivity to your life.

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Inspirational Books The Confidence Code
'The Confidence Code'


Authors Katty Kay and Claire Shipman assert that confidence is the primary reason men have more career success than women in this New York Times bestseller. This practical book by the authors of Womanetics is a guide to confidence women can use at any age or stage to achieve results at work.

Why we love it: It shares the stories of women who've used confidence to succeed to illustrate exactly how it's done.

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Inspirational Books Big Magic Creative Living
Riverhead Books
'Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond'


In this New York Times bestseller, Elizabeth Gilbert brings us more of her wisdom, this time on being creative. She encourages us to dig deeply within to purge unnecessary suffering, uncover the "strange jewels" hidden there, and express our creativity fearlessly.

Why we love it: Gilbert's practical spirituality is soulful, joyful, and helpful in inspiring us to achieve our goals.

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Inspirational Books I Shouldn't Be Telling You This
HarperCollins Publishers
'I Shouldn't Be Telling You This'


Former Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief Kate White shares her secrets to becoming a successful business woman in this New York Times bestseller. Called "a witty, wise, straight-talking career guide for women," this book provides the keys to professional achievement.

Why we love it: White shares her wisdom as a real-life powerbroker in a male-dominated industry.

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Inspirational Books Nomad: From Islam to America
Simon & Schuster
'Nomad: From Islam to America'


This powerful story is from the author of (which spent 31 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list). This book is a continuation of Ayaan Hirsi Ali's life story, this book is about her journey to America to start a new life away from the death threats she received from European Muslims for exposing truths about radical Islam.

Why we love it: It portrays a woman not too different from the rest of us who struggles to define herself outside the philosophies imposed on her early in life.

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Inspirational Books 'Knowing Your Value: Women, Money, and Getting What You're Worth'
Weinstein Books
'Knowing Your Value: Women, Money, and Getting What You're Worth'


Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski tackles the connection between women's self-worth and financial and career success in her New York Times bestseller. Using interviews across industries and fields, she tells us how powerful women moved up in their careers and provides research-backed answers to why the gender wage persists and what to do about it.

Why we love it: You'll learn the stories of influential women like Valerie Jarrett, Sheryl Sandberg, and Joy Behar.

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Inspirational Books 'Ask For It: How Women Can Use Negotiation to Get What They Really Want'
Penguin Random House
'Ask For It: How Women Can Use Negotiation to Get What They Really Want'


From Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever, the authors behind , this four-phase negotiation program teaches women how to negotiate. Based on years of research, it shows readers how to recognize what they truly deserve, maximize their bargaining power, and formulate the right plan for their situation.

Why we love it: You'll find out how to use your unique characteristics to slay that negative inner voice and build the best life possible.

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Inspirational Books 'Better Than Before'
Broadway Books/Random House
'Better Than Before'


New York Times bestselling author of Gretchen Rubin tackles the question of how we change by addressing our habits. She walks readers through how to transform negative, dysfunction-producing habits into those that help build happier, healthier lives.

Why we love it: Rubin uses humor along with realistic action items to help readers dissect their habits and reshape more productive lives.

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Inspirational Books 'Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living'
Penguin Random House
'Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living'


This Amazon bestseller by Krista Tippett is based on her NPR show and podcast, On Being. A veteran interviewer of scientists in a variety of fields, theologians from various faiths, and activists and poets, Tippett has placed those insights on life and being into narrative form.

Why we love it: This deep-thinking, spiritually-inspired book will give you the strength to contend with the world where it is, but also hope for its improvement.

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Inspirational Books Persepolis
'Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood'


A New York Times Notable Book and one of 's "Best Comix of the Year" in 2003, this graphic novel by Marjane Satrapji uses black and white images to tell the story of an intelligent, outspoken only child growing up in Iran during the time of the Shah's overthrow.

Why we love it: It's a reminder of the cost of war and political repression, showing us how, with an indomitable spirit, we can persevere when faced with absurdity and human tragedy.

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Inspirational Books 'Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself'
'Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself'


This Amazon bestseller addresses an issue that still challenges women of all generations: codependency. Using the book's simple, straightforward strategies, readers can overcome destructive behavior, extricate themselves from other people's drama, and regain sight of their own lives.

Why we love it: Through a series of interactive activities supported by enlightening anecdotes, this book lays out a path to independence, wholeness, and lasting happiness.

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Inspirational Books 'Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots'
Simon & Schuster
'Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots'


This New York Times bestseller is the story of a young Jewish woman who escapes the strict Satmar sect of Hasidic Judaism into which she was born. While this sect conscribed her in every area of life, including what she read, the powerful female protagonists in books by and Louisa May Alcott (which she read secretly) helped Feldman envision a life where she controlled her own destiny.

Why we love it: This inspiring book emboldens women to imagine lives free of constraints imposed on them by others, particularly religious and cultural ones.

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Inspirational Books 'A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of a Course in Miracles'
'A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of a Course in Miracles'


Popular spiritual author Marianne Williamson wrote this reflection on her bestseller, , to demonstrate its applicability in the search for inner peace. This volume shows readers how, by accepting God and displaying love in our daily lives, we can overcome psychic pain.

Why we love it: You'll learn how to apply love as the salve for what ails you, bringing more peace to your life.

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Inspirational Books 'Come to the Edge: A Love Story'
Spiegel & Grau
'Come to the Edge: A Love Story'


This New York Times bestseller tells the love story between the author, Christina Haag, and John F. Kennedy, Jr. The two crossed paths frequently in childhood, but it wasn't until they were adults that JFK, Jr. revealed a long-time crush on Haag and their love affair began. The five-year relationship transformed them both.

Why we love it: This inspiring story of rediscovered love shows us how life-altering true love can be even for the wealthy and glamorous.

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Inspirational Books 'Fear of Flying'
Penguin Random House
'Fear of Flying'


This novel about female empowerment and freedom (said to have launched a sexual revolution) tells the story of Isadora Wing, who while at a crossroads in her five-year marriage, ditches her husband during a European trip to find a man who can ignite unbridled passion in her. What she finds instead are life lessons on liberation and happiness.

Why we love it: Though published in 1973, its original insight, energy, and acerbic intellect still apply to a modern audience.

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Inspirational Books 'Expecting Adam: A True Story of Birth, Rebirth, and Everyday Magic'
Penguin Random House
'Expecting Adam: A True Story of Birth, Rebirth, and Everyday Magic'


This national bestseller tells the story of how a pregnancy with an unexpected child alters a career-driven couple's life direction. When John and Martha Beck's unborn son, Adam, was diagnosed with Down syndrome. Beck and her husband were forced to rethink their entire lives and everything they valued.

Why we love it: Anyone who's ever had a curve ball thrown at them by life will appreciate the reflection on learning how to fly — successfully — without a net.

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Inspirational Books 'The Long Awakening: A Memoir'
'The Long Awakening: A Memoir'


What was meant to be the joyous occasion of the birth of her child turned into harrowing nightmare when Lindsey O'Connor fell into a 47-day coma during the birth. When she awakens, she knows who and where she is, but other life details remain murky. Her faith and that of her loved ones is challenged as she rebuilds her life.

Why we love it: As we take the journey of reawakening with this writer, her honest, poignant story, inspires faith against all odds.

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