70 Inspirational Books All Women Should Read in Their Lifetime

Get ready for goosebumps!

inspirational books for women
Courtesy of Random House

Reading an awe-inspiring memoir written by a successful and driven woman can do wonders for your self-esteem. There’s nothing as empowering as reading about how someone you admire pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and defied all odds. It starts to make you think you can, too — and there’s no reason you can't! These inspirational books for women by women will give you all the motivation you need to get out there and start leading the life you want to live.

Whether you’re seeking career advice, the cure for a broken heart, or just want proof that hard work pays off, these titles are packed with inspiring antidotes and sage wisdom. The wide range of advice featured in these books, written by women like Michelle Obama, Melinda Gates, Shonda Rhimes, and more will help you make positive changes in your life — and their messages will stay with you long after the last page.

Courtesy of Viking
'Leaving The Witness: Exiting a Religion and Finding a Life'
$16.80 (40% off)

In Leaving The Witness, author Amber Scorah shares her personal experience with walking away from her religion when she begins to question her faith. After traveling to China as a missionary and leaving her religious community for the first time, Scorah is introduced to new ways of thinking that subsequently turn her world upside-down. 

Why we love it: After leaving her faith, Scorah is shunned by her family and friends, left to start new in Shanghai, where she has no formal education or support system.  Raw and real, Leaving The Witness proves that strength comes from within. 

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Courtesy of Simon & Schuster
'Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person'
Shonda Rhimes .com
$13.01 (23% off)

Even hugely successful people can fall into predictable routines. Shonda Rhimes, creator of the shows Grey's Anatomy and Scandal, found herself in one of these ruts, afraid to try anything new. When her sister pointed out that she never reached outside her comfort zone anymore, Rhimes decided then that something had to change. For the next year, she would say yes to everything that scared her.

Why we love it: It can be easy to assume that Rhimes, the creator of some of the most groundbreaking television shows, has it all together — so hearing about how even she has trouble with public speaking makes anything seem possible. 

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Courtesy of Macmillan
'The Moment of Lift'
$16.49 (37% off)

Philanthropist Melinda Gates has spent the last 20 years traveling the world, meeting people from all walks of life. She's learned a lot from these experiences, but her biggest takeaway? "If you want to lift a society up, you need to stop keeping women down." In Moment of Lift, she encourages her readers to support women everywhere— and her narrative will leave you feeling empowered and ready to get involved in any way you can.

Why we love it: This is the first time Gates has written about her personal life. She writes about the road to equality in her own marriage to Bill, opening up about some of the struggles they faced in trying to maintain an equal parenting role. 

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Courtesy of Simon & Schuster
'Note to Self: Inspiring Words From Inspiring People'
Simon & Schuster .com
$8.45 (58% off)

Note to Self gives notable figures — ranging from Ruth Badger Ginsberg to Kermit the Frog — the chance to write inspiring letters to their younger selves. Collected by CBS This Morning anchor Gayle King, these note-to-self essays are filled with words of wisdom that are just waiting to give you chills.  

Why we love it: Reflection is always powerful, especially when it comes from highly successful people. 

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Courtesy of St. Martin’s Press
'So Close to Being the Sh*t, Y'all Don't Even Know'
St. Martin's Press .com
$11.18 (59% off)

In this hilarious collection of personal essays, actor and comedian Retta shares side-splitting stories of her path to success. Reflecting on her time on Parks and Recreation, she shares her honest opinions of Hollywood and explores heavy topics, like the racism she's experienced — all while remaining upbeat and positive.

Why we love it:
 Retta's narration is refreshingly honest, authentic, and, frankly, relatable. She proves that hard work pays off, even in a seemingly impossible industry, and she'll make you laugh while she makes her point.

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Courtesy of Little, Brown and Company
'Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination'
Little Brown and Company .com
$10.99 (27% off)

J.K. Rowling gave an inspiring commencement speech to Harvard's graduating class of 2008, pressing upon them the importance of creativity and imagination. Very Good Lives is that same speech, published in book form, to be enjoyed time and time again.  

Why we love it: JK Rowling is no stranger to failure — her Harry Potter book pitch was rejected 12 times before Scholastic scooped it up. Here, she imparts the lessons that rejection had taught her

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Courtesy of Knopf
'Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Life'
$21.05 (40% off)

Who's more inspiring than Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the trailblazing 107th Supreme Court Justice? Fifteen years in the making, this biography written by Jane Sherron de Hart explores the experiences that shaped Ginsburg's passion for justice and her advocacy for gender equality. 

Why we love it: Though the length of this book can seem intimidating (it's just over 750 pages), it does a wonderful job at exploring RBG's truly inspiring life. 

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Courtesy of William Morrow
'Life After Suicide: Finding Courage, Comfort & Community After Unthinkable Loss'
$14.93 (40% off)

Shortly after they divorced, Dr. Jennifer Ashton's ex-husband took his own life, shattering her world to pieces. In her heartbreaking yet uplifting memoir, Life After Suicide, she shares her story, offering first-hand advice to others who have also been affected by suicide. 

Why we love it: Raw and honest, Life After Suicide is a great comfort and source of hope for anyone who is facing an unthinkable loss. 

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Courtesy of Ballantine Books
'In Conclusion, Don't Worry About It'
$7.02 (53% off)

In this commencement-speech-turned-book, actor Lauren Graham imparts sage advice for anyone going through a transitional phase in their life. 

Why we love it: Gilmore Girl star Graham reflects on growing up and pursuing your dreams in a funny, authentic, and relatable way.

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Courtesy of Dey Street Books
'Yes Please'
Poehler Amy .com
$10.58 (38% off)

Amy Poehler's memoir Yes Please is equal parts hilarious and inspiring. The prolific actor and comedian writes about her path to success, first at Saturday Night Live then on Parks and Recreation, sharing the sage wisdom she's collected along the way.

Why we love it: It's notoriously hard for women to carve out space for themselves in the comedy world, especially during the time Poehler entered the scene. She made waves by standing up for herself in those early days, despite being the only woman in the room at times — and if that isn't inspiring, then what is?

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Courtesy of Running Press Adult
'You Are a Badass®: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life'
Jen Sincero .com
$8.91 (44% off)

In You Are a Badass, success coach Jen Sincero shares chapters of inspiring stories, sage advice, and easy exercises to help you create a life you love. 

Why we love it: This is the ultimate self-help book: it shows readers how to identify and change their self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors — and who doesn't want to get out of their own way to achieve success? 

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Courtesy of Ten Speed Press
'The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing'
Ten Speed Press .com
$9.69 (43% off)

You've probably seen every episode of Netflix's Tidying Up With Marie Kondo  — so why not read the book that inspired it in the first place? Japanese organizing consultant Marie Kondo attacks messy rooms with a head-on philosophy, encouraging readers to de-clutter all at once rather than little by little and to toss anything that doesn't spark joy.

Why we love it: There's no better feeling than coming home to a organized and clutter-free home. If you've been itching to downsize, consider this your sign. 

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Courtesy of Portfolio
'Cringeworthy: A Theory of Awkwardness'
$19.38 (28% off)

New York Magazine editor Melissa Dahl has had her fair share of awkward moments. Rather than wallow in the embarrassment of those encounters, she decided to investigate the science behind them instead — and she's come to a pretty inspiring realization: awkward moments are opportunities to test yourself. 

Why we love it: We've all felt awkward at times — learning there's value behind those cringeworthy moments makes them just a little bit easier to handle. 

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Courtesy of G.P. Putnam's Sons
'Gross Anatomy: Dispatches from the Front (and Back)'
$17.99 (33% off)

Journalist Mara Altman explores the root of society's expectations of the female body in this hilarious book of personal essays. Inspired to answer questions about her own body — how sweaty is too sweaty? Who decided that women should be hairless? What makes a cameltoe so revolting? — Altman interviews doctors, scientists, and wellness gurus to get to the bottom of things. 

Why we love it: Not only are Altman's descriptions laugh-out-loud funny, but watching her hold a microscope up to the way we think about our bodies— and realizing we don't have to conform to fit the norm — is liberating. 

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Courtesy of Random House
'Educated: A Memoir'
$13.44 (52% off)

This incredible memoir was written by a woman who had never stepped foot into a classroom before she turned 17. Kept out of school by a father opposed to public education, Tara Westover finally decides to leave her survivalist family in Idaho to pursue an education, eventually earning her PhD from Cambridge University. This inspiring memoir details her journey as a latecomer in America's education system.

Why we love it: Westover's determination to get an education, despite every obstacle, along with her persistence to purse her dreams regardless of the circumstances, is downright contagious. 

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Courtesy of Gallery Books
'The Last Black Unicorn'
Gallery Books .com
$14.26 (45% off)

Tiffany Haddish's The Last Black Unicorn is a laugh-out-loud funny memoir that details the actress and comedian's rise from rags to riches. Haddish, who was in and out of the foster care system as a child, balances stories of her tumultuous upbringing with hilarious descriptions of how she handles her newfound money despite still having a broke-person mentality. 

Why we love it: Haddish found success in her career because she wasn't afraid to be herself, even when others told her she was too loud or too upfront with her feelings.

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Crown Publishing Group
$17.84 (45% 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'
$10.19 (40% 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
$12.72 (20% off)

Girl boss was written for the women who never consider themselves leaders or CEOs. Before launching Nasty Gal and Girlboss, 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'
$18.36 (27% 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 Forbes, 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'
$8.79 (48% 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'
$11.07 (31% off)

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'
$10.76 (17% off)

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'

Does it really take 21 days to break or create a habit? The idea came from the 1960 novel, Psycho-Cybernetics 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'
$12.51 (22% off)

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 TheChicSite.com — 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 The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck and Get Your Sh*t Together.

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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