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The 20 Most Inspiring Books from the Last 10 Years That Every Woman Should Read

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The 20 Most Inspiring Books from the Last 10 Years That Every Woman Should Read

I am woman, hear me roar!

Oh yes, I am wise, but it’s wisdom born of pain

Yes, I’ve paid the price, but look how much I gained

If I have to, I can do anything

I am strong

I am invincible

I AM WOMAN!

~Lyrics from “I Am Woman” by Helen Reddy

Women are strong, sexy, intelligent, resourceful, nurturing, intuitive and resilient. Sometimes being all of these things (and more) comes at a price. As women there are times when we become depleted and we need to be inspired, rejuvenated and our fire needs reigniting.

Reading is one of the most empowering things any person can do for themselves. A good book–I mean a really good book–can touch your soul, heal your heart and stir your creative juices.

Below is a list of 20 books that every woman should read. They will inspire, educate, transform and bring back your roar!

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1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

    I had to begin with this epic and well penned story. To be more exact, this isn’t just a book, it is an emotional journey.

    Katniss, this book’s title character, epitomizes Helen Reddy’s anthem for women. As a protagonist, she exhibits strength during her weakness. She is outwardly fearless while inwardly she is petrified. She is you in hero form. You may have seen the movie but the movie is vastly inferior to this work of art by Suzanne Collins. This book is a timeless classic. You will cheer and cry. You will walk away inspired.

    2. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

      This New York Times bestseller is set in the 1970’s and is described as being, “A profoundly moving story of family, secrets, and longing…[it] is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.” It is a story that shows how to survive loss and tragedy without losing yourself.

      3. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

        Bad Feminist is as a sharp and funny funny collection of essays that provide an accurate look at the ways in which our culture consumes us and snatches our identity. Roxane Gay takes us on her journey and describes life from the lens of a black a woman. She comments on trends and recent events and how they have effected feminism. In the end, this book is really an inspiring call-to-action and highlights areas in which we as women need to do better.

        4. The Goldfinch by Donna Tart

          The New York Times describes “The Goldfinch” as “a rarity that comes along perhaps half a dozen times per decade, a smartly written literary novel that connects with the heart as well as the mind…. You keep waiting for the wheels to fall off, but in the case of “The Goldfinch,” they never do.”

          This is a historical fiction story that recounts the experiences of a young boy loses his mother in a terrorist attack at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. This story is perfect for women as it explores the meaning and purpose of art as well as love, friendship, and the pain of loss.

          5. The Confidence Code by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman

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            This New York Times Bestseller is a practical guide for helping women gain and maintain self-confidence. The principles in this book are based on time tested research on gender, behavior, cognition and genetics.

            6. Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

              Set in the 1950s, Boy, Snow, Bird opens on the Lower East Side of New York City, with a young white woman named Boy Novak running away from her violent father. She finds her self in Massachusetts where she meets a widower, a jewelry craftsman, Arturo Whitman, in Flax Hill, Mass. They marry and she becomes obsessed with her new stepdaughter, Snow.

              This novel is a remake if not hugely reminiscent of the famous fairy-tale, Snow White. The interesting twist in this novel is that Boy’s husband is a very light-skinned black man, who “passes” as white. This novel poetically discusses the the themes of color and race relations, self-love and acceptance wrapped in the familiarity of a well-known tale.

              7. Knowing Your Value: Women, Money and Getting What You’re Worth by Mika Brzezinski

                This New York Times bestseller is a collection of interviews from the world’s most successful business women. This book uses the stories and success of other women to show you how to thrive in your career and financially and understand your self-worth as a woman.

                8. Drink by Ann Dowsett Johnston

                  Drink is part research reporting and part memoir that delves into the realities of the rising rates of women alcoholics. This book looks at the psychological and social pressures extreme and risky drinking behaviors has had on women in general. This book, while addressing alcoholism in women, is a picture of how society can shape and manipulate the behavior of an entire species.

                  9. The Financial Fast by Michelle Singletary

                    The 21-Day Financial Fast, written by award-winning writer and The Washington Post columnist Michelle Singletary, challenges women to look at finances differently. For twenty-one days, participants will put away their credit cards and buy only the barest essentials. The challenge is designed to not only change how you view and manage your money but also why you do what you do. Michelle challenges you take an introspective look at your relationship with money. It will end your dysfunctional relationship with money.

                    10. The Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

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                      This book is the ultimate motivational tool. Once you put it down, you will feel inspired to tackle that project, write your book, open a bakery or change careers. Elizabeth Gilbert is the award winning author of the wildly popular Eat, Pray, Love. She is all about unlocking your creativity and living fearlessly.

                      11. The Life Boat by Charlotte Rogan

                        This is a poignant novel is a gritty, naked look at what being a survivor really means. This book opens with a newly married couple being ripped apart by a horrible accident at sea and only half of the couple survives. This book follows the perils of what the survivors must do in order to survive. It shows the inner strength that lies within all of us. But it also shows that we are all capable of being horrible sadists.

                        12. I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This by Kate White

                          Kate White, who is also the author of Why Good Girls Don’t Get Ahead…But Gutsy Girls Do, has written another wise, witty and straight-shooting career guide for women. In this book, Kate inspires women to chase their career goals–no matter how lofty. She serves as a champion for high- achieving career- driven women.

                          13. Ask For It: How Women Can Use Negotiation To Get What They Really Want by Linda Babock and Sarah Laschever

                            This book tackles and explains the art of negotiation from a woman’s point of view. Negotiations look and flow differently for women in the workforce and this book gives a four-phased approach to negotiations. It is designed to teach women how to maximize their bargaining power and how to silence their negative inner self-talk. You will become a more confident and powerful go-getter.

                            14. Swamplandia by Karen Russell

                              Karen Russell has struck gold with her first novel. This tale about a girl’s courageous effort to preserve her grieving family’s way of life, is infused “with humor and gothic whimsy.” The New York Time’s praises Russell’s “exuberantly inventive language and her vivid portrait of a heroine who is wise beyond her years.”

                              15. Becoming Wise: An Inquiry Into the Mystery and Art of Living by Krista Tippett

                                This book is a culmination of wisdom gained from years spent interviewing scientists, philosophers, theologians, activists and poets on her award winning NPR podcast. She has taken all that she has learned, condensed and distilled it down to create a “master class on living.” This book encourages and instructs women how to live, love and exists on their own terms.

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                                16. The Immortal Life of Henerietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

                                  Described by NPR as “a remarkable feat of investigative journalism and a moving work of narrative nonfiction that reads with the vividness and urgency of fiction. It also raises sometimes uncomfortable questions with no clear-cut answers about whether people should be remunerated for their physical, genetic contributions to research and about the role of profit in science.” This book will cause you to think and it may just cause a shift in your worldview.

                                  17. Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring For Yourself by Melody Beattie

                                    This wildly popular, Amazon best-seller is what every woman needs to shake loose of codependency and to have healthy, drama-free relationships. Through a series of interactive activities and funny anecdotes, Melody Beattie, walks you through her simple and direct approach that leads to a path of independence, wholeness and satisfaction.

                                    18. Bossypants by Tina Fey

                                      Who doesn’t love Tina Fey? And this is all Tina Fey. This book is a light yet deeply insightful easy read. In this memoir of sorts, Tina takes us into her life and dishes the “tea” on what it’s like to be a woman in the male dominated comedy business. Expertly told, this book is full of the witt and humor you’ve come to expect from Fey but it is also a heroic tale of a woman who found success in the face of numerous obstacles.

                                      19. Better Than before by Gretchen Reuben

                                        This book is written by the New York Times’ bestselling author of The Happiness Project. This book is all about helping you to change by addressing your habits. She offers women a methodical approach to recognizing and changing dysfunctional behaviors, attitudes and habits that sabotage their success and rob them of happiness. She shows women how to tackle their number one enemy: herself.

                                        20. Come To The Edge: A Love Story by Christina Haag

                                          Every woman loves a good love story and Haag definitely delivers with this book. Christina details her five year romance with John F. Kennedy Jr. The Washington Post says that Haag’s story “lyrically and precisely recaptures the frenetic ecstasy of early love.” This book shows how true love surpasses wealth, status and fame. We all desire to love and be loved passionately and Haag expertly captures and exposes this all encompassing love in this well written story.

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                                          1 Are You Addicted to Productivity? 2 Is Avoiding Difficult Tasks And Doing Easy Tasks First Less Productive? 3 How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data) 4 10 Best Productivity Planners To Get More Done in 2021 5 13 Steps to Build a Positive Habit Stacking Routine

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                                          Last Updated on October 7, 2021

                                          Are You Addicted to Productivity?

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                                          Are You Addicted to Productivity?

                                          “It’s great to be productive. It really is. But sometimes, we chase productivity so much that it makes us, well, unproductive. It’s easy to read a lot about how to be more productive, but don’t forget that you have to make that time up.”

                                          Matt Cutts wrote that back in 2013,[1]

                                          “Today, search for ‘productivity’ and Google will come back with about 663,000,000 results. If you decide to go down this rabbit hole, you’ll be bombarded by a seemingly endless amount of content. I’m talking about books, blogs, videos, apps, podcasts, scientific studies, and subreddits all dedicated to productivity.”

                                          Like so many other people, I’ve also fallen into this trap. For years I’ve been on the lookout for trends and hacks that will help me work faster and more efficiently — and also trends that help me help others to be faster. I’ve experimented with various strategies and tools . And, while some of these strategies and solutions have been extremely useful — without parsing out what you need quickly — it’s counterproductive.

                                          Sometimes you end up spending more time focusing on how to be productive instead of actually being productive.

                                          “The most productive people I know don’t read these books, they don’t watch these videos, they don’t try a new app every month,” James Bedell wrote in a Medium post.[2] “They are far too busy getting things done to read about Getting Things Done.”

                                          This is my mantra:

                                          I proudly say, “I am addicted to productivity — I want to be addicted to productivity — productivity is my life and my mission — and I also want to find the best way to lead others through productivity to their best selves.

                                          But most of the time productivity means putting your head down and working until the job’s done.” –John Rampton

                                          Addiction to Productivity is Real

                                          Dr. Sandra Chapman, director of the University of Texas at Dallas Center for BrainHealth points out that the brain can get addicted to productivity just as it can to more common sources of addiction, such as drugs, gambling, eating, and shopping.

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                                          “A person might crave the recognition their work gives them or the salary increases they get,” Chapman told the BBC.[3] “The problem is that just like all addictions, over time, a person needs more and more to be satisfied, and then it starts to work against you. Withdrawal symptoms include increased anxiety, depression, and fear.”

                                          Despite the harmful consequences, addiction is considered by some experts as a brain disease that affects the brain’s reward system and ends in compulsive behavior. Regardless, society tends to reward productivity — or at least to treat it positively. As a result, this makes the problem even worse.

                                          “It’s seen like a good thing: the more you work, the better,” adds Chapman. “Many people don’t realize the harm it causes until a divorce occurs and a family is broken apart, or the toll it takes on mental health.”

                                          Because of the occasional negative issues with productivity, it’s no surprise that it is considered a “mixed-blessing addiction.”

                                          “A workaholic might be earning a lot of money, just as an exercise addict is very fit,” explains Dr. Mark Griffiths, distinguished professor of behavioral addiction at Nottingham Trent University. “But the thing about any addiction is that in the long run, the detrimental effects outweigh any short-term benefits.”

                                          “There may be an initial period where the individual who is developing a work addiction is more productive than someone who isn’t addicted to work, but it will get to a point when they are no longer productive, and their health and relationships are affected,” Griffiths writes in Psychology Today.[4] “It could be after one year or more, but if the individual doesn’t do anything about it, they could end up having serious health consequences.”

                                          “For instance, I speculated that the consequences of work addiction may be reclassified as something else: If someone ends up dying of a work-related heart attack, it isn’t necessarily seen as having anything to do with an addiction per se – it might be attributed to something like burnout,” he adds.

                                          There Are Three “Distinct Extreme Productivity Types

                                          Cyril Peupion, a Sydney-based productivity expert, has observed extreme productivity among clients at both large and medium-sized companies. “Most people who come to me are high performers and very successful. But often, the word they use to describe their work style is ‘unsustainable,’ and they need help getting it back on track.”

                                          By changing their work habits, Peupion assists teams and individuals improve their performance and ensure that their efforts are aligned with the overarching strategy of the business, rather than focusing on work as a means to an end. He has distinguished three types of extreme productivity in his classification: efficiency obsessive, selfishly productive, and quantity-obsessed.

                                          Efficiency obsessive. “Their desks are super tidy and their pens are probably color-coded. They are the master of ‘inbox zero.’ But they have lost sight of the big picture, and don’t know the difference between efficiency and effectiveness.”

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                                          Selfishly productive. “They are so focused on their own world that if they are asked to do something outside of it, they aren’t interested. They do have the big picture in mind, but the picture is too much about them.”

                                          Quantity-obsessed. “They think; ‘The more emails I respond to, the more meetings I attend, the more tasks I do, the higher my performance.’ As a result, they face a real risk of burnout.”

                                          Peupion believes that “quantity obsessed” individuals are the most common type “because there is a pervasive belief that ‘more’ means ‘better’ at work.”

                                          The Warning Signs of Productivity Addiction

                                          Here are a few questions you should ask yourself if you think you may be succumbing to productivity addiction. After all, most of us aren’t aware of this until it’s too late.

                                          • Can you tell when you’re “wasting” time? If so, have you ever felt guilty about it?
                                          • Does technology play a big part in optimizing your time management?
                                          • Do you talk about how busy you are most of the time? In your opinion, is hustling better than doing less?
                                          • What is your relationship with your email inbox? Are you constantly checking it or experience phantom notifications?
                                          • When you only check one item off your list, do you feel guilty?
                                          • Does stress from work interfere with your sleep?
                                          • Have you been putting things off, like a vacation or side project, because you’re “too swamped?

                                          The first step toward turning around your productivity obsession is to recognize it. If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, then it’s time to make a plan to overcome your addiction to productivity.

                                          Overcoming Your Productivity Addiction

                                          Thankfully, there are ways to curb your productivity addiction. And, here are 9 such ways to achieve that goal.

                                          1. Set Limits

                                          Just because you’re hooked on productivity doesn’t mean you have to completely abstain from it. Instead, you need to establish boundaries.

                                          For example, there are a lot of amazing productivity podcasts out there. But, that doesn’t mean you have to listen to them all in the course of a day. Instead, you could listen to one or two podcasts, like The Productivity Podcast or Before Breakfast, during your commute. And, that would be your only time of the day to get your productivity fix.

                                          2. Create a Not-to-Do List

                                          Essentially, the idea of a not-to-do list is to eliminate the need to practice self-discipline. Getting rid of low-value tasks and bad habits will allow you to focus on what you really want to do as opposed to weighing the pros and cons or declining time requests. More importantly, this prevents you from feeling guilty about not crossing everything off an unrealistic to-do list.

                                          3. Be Vulnerable

                                          By this, I mean admitting where you could improve. For example, if you’re new to remote work and are struggling with thi s, you would only focus on topics in this area. Suggestions would be how to create a workspace at home, not getting distracted when the kids aren’t in school, or improving remote communication and collaboration with others.

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                                          4. Understand Why You Procrastinate

                                          Often, we procrastinate to minimize negative emotions like boredom or stress. Other times it could be because it’s a learned trait, underestimating how long it takes you to complete something or having a bias towards a task.

                                          Regardless of the exact reason, we end up doing busy work, scrolling social media, or just watching one more episode of our favorite TV series. And, even though we know that it’s not for the best, we do things that make us feel better than the work we should do to restore our mood.[5]

                                          There are a lot of ways to overcome procrastination. But, the first step is to be aware of it so that you can take action. For example, if you’re dreading a difficult task, don’t just watch Netflix. Instead, procrastinate more efficiently,y like returning a phone call or working on a client pitch.

                                          5. Don’t Be a Copycat

                                          Let’s keep this short and sweet. When you find a productivity app or technique that works for you, stick with it.

                                          That’s not to say that you can’t make adjustments along the way or try new tools or hacks. However, the main takeaway should be that just because someone swears by the Pomodoro Technique doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for you.

                                          6. Say Yes to Less

                                          Across the board, your philosophy should be less is more.

                                          That means only download the apps you actually use and want to keep (after you try them out) and uninstall the ones you don’t use. For example, are you currently reading a book on productivity? Don’t buy your next book until you’ve finished the one you’re currently reading (or permit yourself to toss a book that isn’t doing you any good). — and if you really want to finish a book more quickly, listen to the book on your way to work and back.

                                          Already have plans this weekend? Don’t commit to a birthday party. And, if you’re day is booked, decline that last-minute meeting request.

                                          7. Stop Focusing on What’s Next

                                          “In the age when purchasing a thing from overseas is just one click and talking to another person is one swipe right, acquiring new objects or experiences can be addictive like anything else,” writes Patrick Banks for Lifehack .

                                          “That doesn’t need to be you,” he adds. “You can stop your addition to ‘the next thing’ starting today.” After all, “there will always be this next thing if you don’t make a conscious decision to get your life back together and be the one in charge.”

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                                          • Think about your current lifestyle and the person you’re at this stage to help you identify what you aren’t satisfied with.
                                          • By setting clear goals for yourself in the future, you will be able to overcome your addiction.
                                          • Establish realistic goals.
                                          • To combat addiction, you must be aware of what is going on around you, as well as inside your head, at any given time.
                                          • Don’t spend time with people who have unhealthy behaviors.
                                          • Hold yourself accountable.
                                          • Keep a journal and write out what you want to overcome.
                                          • Appreciate no longer being addicted to what’s next.

                                          8. Simplify

                                          Each day, pick one priority task. That’s it. As long as you concentrate on one task at a time, you will be less likely to get distracted or overwhelmed by an endless list of tasks. A simple mantra to live by is: work smarter, not harder.

                                          The same is also accurate with productivity hacks and tools. Bullet journaling is a great example. Unfortunately, for many, a bullet journal is way more time-consuming and overwhelming than a traditional planner.

                                          9. Learn How to Relax

                                          “Sure, we need to produce sometimes, especially if we have to pay the bills, but, banning obsession with productivity is unhealthy,” writes Leo Babauta. “When you can’t get yourself to be productive, relax.” Don’t worry about being hyper-efficient. And, don’t beat yourself up about having fun.

                                          “But what if you can’t motivate yourself … ever?” he asks. “Sure, that can be a problem. But if you relax and enjoy yourself, you’ll be happier.”

                                          “And if you work when you get excited, on things you’re excited about, and create amazing things, that’s motivation,” Leo states. “Not forcing yourself to work when you don’t want to, on things you don’t want to work on — motivation is doing things you love when you get excited.”

                                          But, how exactly can you relax? Here are some tips from Leo;

                                          • Spend 5 minutes walking outside and breathe in the fresh air.
                                          • Give yourself more time to accomplish things. Less rushing means less stress.
                                          • If you can, get outside after work to enjoy nature.
                                          • Play like a child. Even better? Play with your kids. And, have fun at work — maybe give gamification a try .
                                          • Take the day off, rest, and do something non-work-related.
                                          • Allow yourself an hour of time off. Try not to be productive during that time. Just relax.
                                          • You should work with someone who is exciting. Make your project exciting.
                                          • Don’t work in the evenings. Seriously.
                                          • Visit a massage therapist.
                                          • Just breathe.

                                          “Step by step, learn to relax,” he suggests. “Learn that productivity isn’t everything.” For that statement, sorry Leo, I say productivity isn’t everything — it’s the only thing.” However, if you can’t cut loose, relax, do fun things, and do the living part of your life — you’ll crack in a big way — you really will.

                                          It’s great to create and push forward — just remember it doesn’t mean that every minute must be spent working or obsessing over productivity issues. Instead, invest your time in meaningful, high-impact work, get into it, focus, put in big time and then relax.

                                          Are You Addicted to Productivity? was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton.

                                          Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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