Inspiring books for women
Here’s a list of inspiring books for women. Whether you are looking for personal success as an entrepreneur, or inspiration to become the best you can be, all the books offer a different point of view in life and some practical advice on success and how to build a more meaningful life.
Essential books for driven women
To get you started, we’ve selected a couple of books that have had the biggest impact on us, and which have become renowned classics world over. If you only read three books from DrivenWoman Reading List, read these.
“What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve”
The book introduces the idea of using belief and ‘coding’ the unconscious mind to work on the success plan. Hill suggests anyone can achieve what ever they want if they literally ‘put their mind to it’.
I can support this idea, as only days after reading the first part of the book my mind started filling with ideas and practical steps to move towards the goal I had envisioned. I also started prioritising the activities I had written down as the ways I was going to give the universe in form of my services in exchange of the riches.
The book was published in 1937 and was a starting point to personal success literature. Hill was inspired by Andrew Carnegie asked him if he’d interview and analyze over 500 successful men and women, many of them millionaires, in order to discover and publish the formula for success. All of his advice is still valid today!
This book is about ‘mind management’. Sounds daunting, but it’s not. Steve Peters makes understanding how our brain works very accessible to all of us. And when you start to understand how your brain works you can start to control your ‘chimp’, the primitive part of your brain that reacts on impulse and emotion, not logic. The chimp is often helpful, but most times actually not and may get you into all sorts of trouble. By learning to manage your thoughts you can start to become the person you would like to be.
Understand how you measure success, why you should define some ‘life rules’, a difference between motivation and commitment or how to erase guilt, blame and regret and truly learn from your mistakes. Packed with simple but effective ways to improve your life, it’s a ‘must read’ for mastering personal excellence!
Books on personal development, happiness and meaning
Once in a while a book comes along which has the power to transform our lives for the better. ‘Daring Greatly’ by Brene Brown is one of those books. It is uplifting and insightful, and based on years of rigorous research involving hundreds of interviews.
I discovered Brene Brown through her TED talks – www.ted.com – and was struck by her authenticity and openness. Her message is practical and simple – we squander our lives if we wait to be perfect or bullet proof. The only way to really live is to believe that we are enough, practice gratitude, deal with shame and face uncertainty, exposure and emotional risks. In essence, we transform our lives by having the courage to be vulnerable. This is not weakness, it is the willingness to show up and show who we really are, to truly connect with others, to live with the discomfort of being a leader or parent. It means practising our values and pushing back against a culture of scarcity, blame and comparison with others.
Here are three steps you can take right now: practice courage and reaching out; talk to yourself the way you would talk to someone you really love; and own your story – that way you get to write the ending.
Book was reviewed by Jenny Oklikah.
This is a must read/listen to book whoever believes she/he is superior, different, entitled and has a need to constantly validate oneself. According to Dr Dweck these kinds of people, called Fixed Mindset (FM) people, believe that the human traits and qualities are cast in stone. They protect their fixed traits by avoiding challenges and failure as these would endanger their faultless appearance. They undermine effort, and blame others for their misfortunes. Enron and Chrysler were lead by FM CEOs who put their personal pride before the corporation. Notwithstanding his huge talent tennis star Mc Enroe never reached his full potential due to his fixed mindset.
People with Growth Mindset (GM) believe that abilities and personal qualities can be cultivated by through effort. They don’t see failure as reflection of their intelligence, as FM do, but as mere challenge to learn and become smarter. They are fearless, focus on development, and believe that everyone can improve with right tools, teaching and mindset. Jack Welsh, CEO of General Electric, rooted out his fixed mindset to transform GE by growth mindset of listening, caring and nurturing. In sports Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods have shown how talent is converted to greatness by hard work and continuous learning.
Mindset can be employed not only to business and sports but also to relationships, parenting, coaching and teaching. One can change the mindset, and in the end of the book Dr. Dweck shares growth mindset strategies and gives practical advise how to apply them in everyday life.
Dr. Dweck is renowned psychologist at Stanford University who conducts research on achievement and success.
‘Mindset’ review was written by Anne Anttonen 1 May 2014
An incredibly inspiring book written by Victor Frankl, a former Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, that offers a profound assessment into the human condition and insight into finding greater meaning and purpose in life. ‘The last of the human freedoms’, Frankl believes, is the ability to ‘choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.’ When we are no longer able to change a situation ‘we are challenged to change ourselves.’
This book was recommended by Gemma Hopkins, founder of Design In Scent
This book is an insightful and inspiring read and one that I highly recommend. He talks about one of the leading theories of happiness, what causes suffering and the seven keys to enlightenment and contentment.
H = S + C + V
Happiness = Set Point + Conditions of living + Voluntary Activities
Researchers have found that 40% of happiness depends on your ‘Set Point’ which refers to your genes and your upbringing (Nature and Nurture). Children’s brains have neurons that mirror the brains of adults around them, so if a child is surrounded by unhappy adults, the nervous system will be programmed for unhappiness even before he has any cause for unhappiness himself.
The good news is that neither your brain nor your genes are fixed structures, they are constantly changing and evolving. Research has shown that the brains set point can be changed through:
- Drugs (not ideal as it’s a short term with potential side effects)
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
- Living conditions only account for 7% to 12% of happiness.
Almost 50% of the happiness formula depends on Voluntary Activities which are the things we choose to do every day. According to researchers, making other people happy proves to be a fast track to happiness and its effect is long lasting. Turning to creative expression to make yourself happy can also generate positive results that last a lifetime.
The key message of the book to me is that some of us are lucky to come from a great nature and nurture set point but if you don’t, it doesn’t mean you cannot change it. Living conditions are only a small contributor to happiness and what really matters is how you choose to live your life, turning to your creative expression and how important it is to not get mindlessly wrapped up in the delusion of the ego!
This review was written by Avril McDonald. She’s the founder of Feel Brave Ltd, a company that creates beautiful characters and stories to help kids manage tough emotions and feel brave – because we all have to be a little brave sometimes.
Books on wealth and money
Girls, don’t be shy. We women need to pick up our money game! For removing any negative beliefs about money, here’s a short guide.
For too long I had been burying my head in the sand about finance and leaving it to someone else to sort out and then it struck me someone else was no better at it than I was, in fact quite the opposite. It was time to take control but what I needed was an idiot’s guide and this book is it. Mrs Moneypenny writes a column for the Financial Times and co-presented with Dr. Heather McGregor the Channel 4 series Superscrimpers.
She writes with intelligence and compassion, acknowledging that sometimes the vicissitudes of life hit us where it hurts financially. A kind of finance bible it gives you the lowdown on growing your wealth from throwing an Ann Summers party to earn some extra cash to investing in stocks and shares, taking in mortgages, savings and pensions along the way. In short she covers every financial base you can think of.
Full of practical tips on how to make a step change in attitude from tomorrow, the book is a fantastic resource stuffed with useful links and references including Mrs M’s own personal endorsements and recommendations. Written with great clarity it is an easy to read one-stop shop for anyone (men included!) who wants to be financially literate but doesn’t know where to begin.
Book review by Carole Howard, a DrivenWoman member
We love this book. The tittle makes most women embarrassed to even pick it up in the bookshop. (Luckily there is no embarrassment factor shopping at Amazon!) But why? Why shouldn’t women be aware of the ideas and practises for making more money? This book deals with the reasons why you want to get rich, how rich you want to get, and are you willing to do what it takes. It is a great guide for understanding equity and negotiations. And it is written with the most brilliant wit that keeps you laughing all the way through!
Books on business and entrepreneurship
For those who of you who are on your entrepreneurial journey this is an interesting new book. It’s a frank and humorous account on how three guys from Copenhagen made it to Sillicon Valley. Even if tech is not your thing, there’s great insight into building a company, trusting people around you to help and making it through the tough times. And what’s best, it’s written with great self irony and humour. A truly enjoyable read! Find out more: www.startupland.com
The ultimate book for creating the lifestyle you want. Life is not about working hard and dreaming of retirement, you should live your dream now and create mini-retirements as you go along. Decide what you want to do and then work backwards to generate the income to need to live your dream. Published in 2007, the book has spent more than four years on the The New York Times Best Seller list, has been translated into 35 languages, and has sold more than 1,350,000 copies worldwide. It started a location independent movement and has inspired many authors such as Chris Guillebeau. Even if you don’t want to travel and explore the world, this book is a must read as it will change the way to think about work and what options you have creating the life you want.
The idea is that you should test your innovation as soon as possible by launching a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to see if there is a market for your idea. You can test the waters, take less risk and develop your product with the help of your target audience. This is the principle we are using for creating the DrivenWoman network, hence the early research event on 8. May 2013 in London.
Fantastic book on how to launch a company on a shoestring. Chris has studied hundreds of microbusinesses to find the best practices that work, including invaluable advice for the unexpected entrepreneur from creating your one page business plan to launching your product and raising more money. Very practical book with lots of inspiring examples.
Chris is also the author of 'The Art of Non-Conformity', 'A Brief Guide to World Domination'. It defines common assumptions about life and work and gives you the tools to life differently. A good book to read when you want to practise getting out of your comfort zone. Chris now hosts a popular World Domination Summit in Portland every year in July.
A must read from the former Chief Evangelist of Apple. This book is about being aware how we threat people around us and how we can enchant everyone we meet. It can be applied to customer service, designing enchanting products or just simply to becoming more lovable person to get what you want.
The book challenges the conventional thinking about building a business. The book has lovely one page, easy to digest nuggets of ideas on why you should not build your company for selling it, why you should pick a fight with your competitors and why meetings are toxic.
Books on life and love
This is the book I recommend the most! If you know me it is most likely I have not only recommended this book to you, but almost demanded you read this. In many cases I simply go and buy this book for you, my friend. It’s the most amazing book about loving your life.
The lessons can be applied to your relationships but also simply to living every day so that it matters and loving what you do. This is a must read for anyone in a relationship or for anyone looking for one. It is the best book to read in a divorce and would prevent many divorces if couples would read it together when getting married.
However, I could have also placed this in the Entrepreneurship section for many reasons. You gotta love life, and yourself to succeed.
If you only read one book this year, read this one!
Books on lifestyle, healthy living and wellness
Tom was diagnosed at a young age with a rare genetic disorder that leads to rampant cancerous growth and now lives with small tumours in his kidneys, pancreas, spine and brain. Determined to increase his odds of living, he made it his mission to learn as much as he could about creating a lifestyle for enduring health. This he has compiled into a book of bite-sized chunks focused on the daily decisions one makes with regards to eating, moving and sleeping and how the sum of your habits can determine your life span, even when it appears the odds are against you.
This book was recommended by Gemma Hopkins, founder of Design In Scent
We should all be more in tune with our bodies and listen to what it tells us. Everyone should pick what ever eating style or diet suits them best, but it’s important to be very aware of the things you eat. At DrivenWoman we believe that you need a healthy and strong body to do demanding and challenging things!
Natasha explains the ‘Alkaline Diet’. Foods are broken down into two classes – acid and alkaline. Our bodies function best when in an overall alkaline state, PH 7.365 and yet much of our current eating trends and diets are very acid-forming in the body, leading to internal stress on the digestive and other systems. The book helps us to learn how to prepare food that improves our digestion, balances our hormones and increases our energy. All recipes are really tasty, and yes, healthy. What’s not to like!
Books by driven women
This must be the most refreshing business book of all times. It’s both a story of a fashion entrepreneur and a guide to female empowerment. If the spirit and advice of Sophia Amoruso, the founder of fastest growing online retailer Nasty Gal, doesn’t get your juices going, then – well, quite frankly, I don’t think we can do much for you. Sophia is the real deal. Changing her fortunes from a shoplifter 8 years ago with zero funding or business background, to $100mio business woman today, there is very little excuses why we can’t try our best going forward!
An easy read, her story is very motivating and offers a ton of both practical and spiritual advice for success. She’s the girl who will kick your ass, and you don’t want to miss why.
Ps. It’s worth checking out the book’s webpage featuring stories of other ‘girlbosses‘.
As ‘how I did it’ business books go, this is a nice mixture of personal experiences and the realities of building a fabulously successful fashion business. Tamara shares her personal journey from fashion editor assistant to finding a cobbler in East London called Jimmy Choo with whom he went into business. There’s very exciting details and an insight that most things are not what they seem.
Especially women thinking of raising venture capital to grow their business should read her story.