Finding your path in life can often be a long and winding journey. It’s frequently filled with speed bumps, detours, wrong turns, and more than one “scenic route.” During our most difficult stretches, it would be convenient to have a road map to help us get on track. The bad news is that no such map exists because each of our journeys is unique. Fortunately, there are inspiring and successful women in our community who have used the power of the written word to share their personal stories of triumph that may offer guidance. If you’re feeling a little lost and need help finding your way, get inspiration from these five empowering books written by women.
Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed
If you loved Wild, this book is a must read. Part advice column, part memoir, Tiny Beautiful Things is a touching, humorous, and raw examination of the collective human experience from a diverse array of backgrounds. This book is a collection of advice columns written by Cheryl Strayed, who writes under the pen name Sugar. What sets it apart from old-school, cheesy advice columns is that Strayed uses her own life experiences to draw connections and create kinship with those who seek her counsel. The letters will make you laugh, break your heart, and hopefully help you find some meaningful life advice while letting you know you’re anything but alone.
Roxanne Gay is a Vogue-reading, pink-loving feminist, and she’s proud of it. Her poignant and intellectual observations about socio-economic issues in our society are perfectly presented through pop culture topics, making them funny, engaging, and approachable. It’s hard not to love Gay’s razor sharp wit and knack for presenting her bold and sometimes contradicting viewpoints unapologetically. She examines the pressure women face to fit neatly into a particular version of mainstream feminism, and her hope to “never be placed on a Feminist Pedestal…people who are placed on pedestals are expected to pose, perfectly.” Her essays are refreshing because she owns her imperfection and inspires her readers to do the same.
If you’re obsessed with the badass female characters of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, you need this book right now. Shonda Rhimes is the mastermind behind these binge-worthy TV shows, but her own path to success and empowerment didn’t happen overnight. Even as an acclaimed screenwriter who tells the stories of bold, fierce women, Shonda struggled to engage in her own life with confidence. In Year of Yes, she shares her adventures that come from making a one-year commitment to saying “yes” to every situation presented in her life. This book is insightful, hilarious, and will motivate you to have more fun and create your own “Year of Yes.”
Brene Brown’s books are the holy grail of empowerment. Each one is unique and useful in its own way, and all are thematically rooted in the power of vulnerability and the extensive research on shame she conducted as a social worker. While every one of them is worth reading, Daring Greatly is the most inspiring as it discusses the power of having the courage to allow for vulnerability in the pursuit of the things in life we most want. The title borrows from a quote by Teddy Roosevelt, who famously said, “It is not the critic who counts…the credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena…who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” This book is like a great therapy session, girls’ night, and phone conversation with your mom all wrapped into one. When you’re finished, you’ll want to buy an extra copy to give to your best friend.
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
Written by the best-selling author of Eat, Pray, Love, this book is perfect for artistic souls who are stuck in a creative rut. Filled with humor, compassion, and some blunt real-talk, Big Magic is the perfect book to reignite your imagination and inspire you to create. Gilbert tackles some of the biggest pitfalls for artists, such as fear and insecurity, and offers tools to overcome them. She also shares the secrets of her own creative process and offers nuggets of advice to summon your personal muse. (Spoiler: it involves changing out of your sweatpants and putting on lipstick.) It’s an entertaining and encouraging read to empower the magical artist in all of us.
Do you have a favorite empowering book that’s not on this list? Let us know in the comments!
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