With summer upon us, I have visions of women everywhere sitting poolside reading their favorite books while sipping a margarita with a little paper umbrella emerging from the icy goodness. While there are plenty of wonderful novels that would make fantastic reading, I’ve chosen the top ten non-fiction books that I felt were both essential and inspiring for women. They cover a range of subjects from finances to female empowerment. Most importantly, they are written by women who are transforming lives, one book at a time.
1. Shark Tales by Barbara Corcoran
About the author: Barbara Corcoran is businesswoman, author, host of a top business podcast and a motivational speaker. Founder of the Corcoran Group, New York’s premier real estate company, Corcoran is one of the most powerful brokers in the nation. She is a frequent small business and real estate contributor on every major network and has been an investor/Shark for the past nine seasons on ABC’s show Shark Tank.
Brief synopsis: This is the inspiring true story of Shark Tank star Barbara Corcoran and her sage advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. After failing at twenty-two jobs, Corcoran borrowed $1,000 from a boyfriend, quit her job as a waitress and started a small real estate company in New York City. She gradually built it into a $6 billion business, and after reading this book, you’ll feel like you can do it too.
2. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
About the author: Angela Duckworth, is the Founder and CEO of Character Lab, a nonprofit whose mission is to advance the science and practice of character development in children. In 2013, she became a MacArthur Fellow and professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. An expert in non-I.Q. competencies, she has advised the White House, the World Bank, NBA and NFL teams and Fortune 500 CEOs.
Brief synopsis: In this book, Angela Duckworth shows anyone striving to succeed that the secret to achieving success isn’t just talent, but a blend of passion and persistence she calls “grit.” She takes us on a journey to visit cadets struggling through their first days at West Point, teachers working in some of the toughest schools, and young finalists in the National Spelling Bee. Duckworth also shares what she’s learned from interviewing dozens of high achievers including JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon and Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll. Most importantly, she shows us that grit can be learned. This book is truly life changing.
3. Nice Girls Don’t Get Rich by Lois P. Frankel
About the author: Dr. Lois P. Frankel, President of Corporate Coaching International, is a bestselling author, executive coach and an internationally recognized expert in the field of leadership development for women. She provides pro bono consultation and workshops to nonprofit community agencies and earned her doctorate in Counseling Psychology from the University of Southern California.
Brief synopsis: Lois Frankel reveals that the things we learned as a girl may be preventing us from becoming financially independent and following our own dreams. She tackles the outdated concepts that keep women from having the wealth they deserve and offers valuable tips to help us take control of our money and our lives. This book will provide you with the financial savvy you need to change negative behaviors, make intelligent money choices and embrace the life you want.
4. The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates
About the author: Melinda Gates is a philanthropist, businesswoman and global advocate for women. She is the co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and is also the founder of Pivotal Ventures, an investment company working to drive social progress for women and families in the U.S.
Brief synopsis: In this moving and compelling book, Melinda Gates shares lessons she’s learned from the amazing people she’s met during her work and travels around the globe. As she writes in the introduction, “That is why I had to write this book—to share the stories of people who have given focus and urgency to my life. I want all of us to see ways we can lift women up where we live.” Throughout this unforgettable narrative, Gates introduces the reader to remarkable women and shows the power of connection. She proves that when we lift others up, they lift us up too.
5. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
About the author: Elizabeth Gilbert is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love, as well as the short story collection, Pilgrims. A Pushcart Prize winner and National Magazine Award-nominated journalist, she works as writer-at-large for GQ. Her journalism has been published in Harper’s Bazaar, Spin and The New York Times Magazine.
Brief synopsis: Elizabeth Gilbert digs deep into her soul in this profound book to discuss her unique perspective on creativity. She offers valuable insights into the nature of inspiration and asks us to embrace our curiosity. Creativity is inside all of us in one form or another, and Gilbert offers the motivation to overcome our fears and discover it. She provides excellent advice in this light-hearted yet thoughtful book.
6. The Woman Code by Sophia A. Nelson
About the author: Sophia A. Nelson is an award-winning author and journalist. She is also a corporate leadership trainer and motivational speaker. Nelson can be seen frequently on CNN, and other networks offering political and social commentary.
Brief synopsis: In this powerful book, Sophia Nelson calls women to follow a meaningful life code that will lead them to fulfilling and successful lives. The code she describes is a way of living, navigating life’s challenges, and positively interacting with other women. It reveals a timeless set of principles that will help women balance the increasing demands of work, family and friendship. Nelson not only calls on women to practice purpose in their lives, but she also shows us how to do it gracefully in this wonderful book.
7. Money: A Love Story by Kate Northrup
About the author: Kate Northrup is an entrepreneur, speaker and writer. Through her network marketing business, seminars, and her 30,000-mile Freedom Tour, she has mentored thousands of people in their pursuit of financial freedom. She also hosts an online talk show, Glimpse TV.
Brief synopsis: It’s time for women to break the money taboo. How do we do that? By talking about it! Kate Northrup does a great job of removing the fear around talking about money. Using client stories and her own story of going from $20,000 of debt to financial freedom, Northrup takes the conversation to a new level in this amazing book. She shares exactly what it takes to change your relationship with money so that you can love your life.
8. Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin
About the author: Gretchen Rubin has written several bestselling books, including The Happiness Project and has an award-winning podcast called Happier with Gretchen Rubin. Through her books, podcast and other projects, she shares insights, stories and tips that help people understand themselves to create a happier life.
Brief synopsis: In this book, Gretchen Rubin tackles the tough question around how humans change. The answer is through habits. It takes work to create a habit, but once habits are formed, we can harness their energy to build happier, more productive lives. Rubin presents a practical, concrete framework that allows readers to understand their habits and change them for the better. Whether you want to sleep more, spend less time on your mobile phone or lose weight, this book will help make change possible.
9. Secrets of Six-Figure Women by Barbara Stanny
About the author: The author of six acclaimed financial books, Barbara Stanny is the leading authority on women, wealth and power. For over 20 years, she’s been on a mission to revolutionize women’s relationship with money. A bestselling author, coach, speaker, and workshop facilitator, Stanny helps women to create the wealth and life they deserve.
Brief synopsis: In this book, Barbara Stanny identifies the seven key strategies of female high earners based on extensive research and hundreds of interviews, including more than 150 women whose annual earnings range from $100,000 to $7 million. By following Stanny’s step by step framework, every woman can successfully make the money they desire.
10. More Than Enough by Elaine Welteroth
About the author: Elaine Welteroth is an award-winning journalist, author and judge on the show Project Runway. She was most recently editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue and is now a leading expert and advocate for the next generation of trailblazers.
Brief synopsis: Elaine Welteroth tells the story of her rise in the world of media and high fashion, and her early struggles never feeling quite “good enough.” Ultimately her ambition was ignited, and she became aware of her mission to celebrate diversity in the fashion and media industry. This groundbreaker successfully delivers a memoir that will inspire young women everywhere.