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

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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                                          Last Updated on September 28, 2020

                                          How to Create an Action Plan and Achieve Your Personal Goals

                                          How to Create an Action Plan and Achieve Your Personal Goals

                                          There’s no denying that goals are necessary. After all, they give life meaning and purpose. However, goals don’t simply achieve themselves—you need to write an action plan to help you reach your goals.

                                          With an action plan, you’ll have a clear idea of how to get where you want to go, what it will take to get there, and how you’ll find the motivation to keep driving forward. Without creating a plan, things have a way of not working out as you waver and get distracted.

                                          With that in mind, here’s how you can set goals and action plans that will help you achieve any personal goal you’ve set.

                                          1. Determine Your “Why”

                                          Here’s a quick experiment for you to try right now: Reflect on the goals you’ve set before. Now, think about the goals you reached and those you didn’t. Hopefully, you’ll notice a common theme here.

                                          The goals you were successful in achieving had a purpose. Those goals you failed to accomplish did not. In other words, you knew why you put these goals in place, which motivated you to follow through.

                                          Simon Sinek, author of Find Your Why: A Practical Guide for Finding Purpose for You and Your Team, explains:

                                          “Once you understand your WHY, you’ll be able to clearly articulate what makes you feel fulfilled and to better understand what drives your behavior when you’re at your natural best. When you can do that, you’ll have a point of reference for everything you do going forward.”

                                          That, in turn, enables better decision-making and clearer choices.

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                                          I’ll share with you a recent example of this in my life. Earlier this year, I decided to make my health a bigger priority, specifically losing weight. I set this goal because it gave me more energy at work, improved my sleep, and helped me be a better father—I really didn’t care for all that wheezing every time I played with my kids.

                                          Those factors all gave me a long-term purpose, not a superficial short-term goal like wanting to look good for an event.

                                          Before you start creating an action plan, think about why you’re setting a new goal. Doing so will guide you forward on this journey and give you a North Star to point to when things get hard (and they inevitably will).

                                          2. Write Down Your Goal

                                          If you really want to know how to create an action plan for goals, it’s time to get your goals out of your head and onto a piece of paper. While you can also do this electronically through an app, research has found that you’re 42% more likely to achieve your goal if it’s written down[1].

                                          This is especially true for business owners. If they don’t schedule their time, it’ll be scheduled for them.[2]

                                          When you physically write down a goal, you’re accessing the left side of the brain, which is the literal, logical side. As a result, this communicates to your brain that this is something you seriously want to do.

                                          3. Set a SMART Goal

                                          A SMART goal pulls on a popular system in business management[3]. That’s because it ensures the goal you’ve set is both realistic and achievable. It can also be used as a reference to guide you through your action plan.

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                                          Use SMART goals to create a goal action plan.

                                             

                                            By establishing a SMART goal, you can begin to brainstorm the steps, tasks, and tools you’ll need to make your actions effective.

                                            • Specific: You need to have specific ideas about what you want to accomplish. To get started, answer the “W” questions: who, what, where, when, and why.
                                            • Measurable: To make sure you’re meeting the goal, establish tangible metrics to measure your progress. Identify how you’ll collect the data.
                                            • Attainable: Think about the tools or skills needed to reach your goal. If you don’t possess them, figure out how you can attain them.
                                            • Relevant: Why does the goal matter to you? Does it align with other goals? These types of questions can help you determine the goal’s true objective — and whether it’s worth pursuing.
                                            • Time-bound: Whether it’s a daily, weekly, or monthly target, deadlines can motivate us to take action sooner than later.

                                            Learn more about setting a SMRT goal here: How to Set SMART Goal to Make Lasting Changes in Life

                                            4. Take One Step at a Time

                                            Have you ever taken a road trip? You most likely had to use a map to navigate from Point A to Point B. The same idea can be applied to an action plan.

                                            Like a map, your action plan needs to include step-by-step instructions on how you’ll reach your goal. In other words, these are mini goals that help you get where you need to go.

                                            For example, if you wanted to lose weight, you’d consider smaller factors like calories consumed and burned, minutes exercised, number of steps walked, and quality of sleep. Each plays a role in weight loss.

                                            This may seem like a lot of work upfront, but it makes your action plan seem less overwhelming and more manageable. Most importantly, it helps you determine the specific actions you need to take at each stage.

                                            5. Order Your Tasks by Priority

                                            With your action steps figured out, you’ll next want to review your list and place your tasks in the order that makes the most sense. This way, you’re kicking things off with the most important step to make the biggest impact, which will ultimately save time.

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                                            For example, if you have a sedentary job and want to lose weight, the first step should be becoming even a little more active. From there, you can add more time to your workout plan.

                                            The next step could be changing your diet, like having a salad before dinner to avoid overeating, or replacing soda with sparkling water.

                                            Learn these tips to prioritize better: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

                                            6. Schedule Your Tasks

                                            Setting a deadline for your goal is a must; it prevents you from delaying the start of your action plan. The key, however, is to be realistic. It’s highly unlikely, for example, that you’ll lose 20 pounds within two weeks. It’s even less likely that you’ll keep it off.

                                            What’s more, you should also assign tasks a start and end date for each action step you’ve created, as well as a timeline for when you’ll complete specific tasks. Adding them to your schedule ensures that you stay focused on these tasks when they need to happen, not letting anything else distract you.

                                            For example, if you schedule gym time, you won’t plan anything else during that time frame.

                                            Beware the temptation to double-book yourself—some activities truly can be combined, like a run while talking to a friend, but some can’t. Don’t trick yourself into thinking you can both write and catch up on Netflix simultaneously.

                                            While you can use a paper calendar or planner, an online calendar may be a better option. You can use it to set deadlines or reminders for when each step needs to be taken, and it can be shared with other people who need to be in the know (like your running buddy or your mentor).

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                                            7. Stay on Track With Healthy Habits

                                            Without healthy habits, it’s going to be even more challenging to reach your goal. You could hit the gym five days a week, but if you’re grabbing burgers for lunch every day, you’re undoing all your hard work.

                                            Let’s say your goal is more career-oriented, like becoming a better public speaker. If you practice your speeches at Toastmasters meetings but avoid situations where you’ll need to be unrehearsed—like networking gatherings or community meetings—you’re not helping yourself.

                                            You have to think about what will help transform you into the person you want to be, not just what’s easiest or most comfortable.

                                            8. Check off Items as You Go

                                            You may think you’ve spent a lot of time creating lists. Not only do they help make your goals a reality, but lists also keep your action plan organized, create urgency, and help track your progress. Because lists provide structure, they reduce anxiety.

                                            There’s something else special about lists of tasks completed. When you cross off a task in your action plan, your brain releases dopamine[4]. This reward makes you feel good, and you’ll want to repeat this feeling.

                                            If you crossed out on your calendar the days you went to the gym, you’d want to keep experiencing the satisfaction of each bold “X.” That means more motivation to go the gym consistently.

                                            9. Review and Reset as Necessary

                                            Achieving any personal goal is a process. Although it would be great if you could reach a goal overnight, it takes time. Along the way, you may experience setbacks. Instead of getting frustrated and giving up, schedule frequent reviews—daily, weekly, or monthly—to see how you’re progressing.

                                            If you aren’t where you’d hoped to be, you may need to alter your action plan. Rework it so you’re able to reach the goal you’ve set.

                                            The Bottom Line

                                            When you want to learn how to set goals and action plans—whether you want to lose weight, learn a new skill, or make more money—you need to create a realistic plan to get you there. It will guide you in establishing realistic steps and time frames to achieve your goal. Best of all, it will keep you on track when you stumble, and we all do.

                                            More on Goal Action Plans

                                            Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

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