In today’s post, I’m rounding up the best books for female entrepreneurs to read in 2021!
Even though the title of this post is Best Books for Female Entrepreneurs, most if not all of these book recommendations are for any boss babe—whether you own your own business or are climbing the corporate ladder. Most of these books are female authors and influential women, but a few of them are written by men.
I’ve included a mix of business books and life books. I’ve read almost all of these, so I can personally recommend them, and the few I haven’t read have been recommended to me and I’ve added them to my Kindle queue.
You won’t find books like Thrive by Arianna Huffington on my list, because honestly I was excited to read her book but found it to be so boring I couldn’t finish it. I think I got about a quarter of the way through. It was just so dry and so many studies about sleep and meditation. Those things are important and we get it. But like, tell us some of your life stories and advice, please! Sorry, Ari.
You also won’t find Rachel Hollis books on this list. She is just not my jam. I respect her hustle and she knows who she serves and who she does not serve—I’m just not a raving fan and fall into the latter category. I read either Girl, Stop Apologizing or Girl, Wash Your Face (honestly, can’t remember which) and just found some of it to be either really basic b*tch or a bit condescending. She tried to claim that watching too much TV was just as bad as being an alcoholic because they’re both addictions. She also shames people for watching porn (obviously that can be an unhealthy addiction too, but if it’s something you’re in to and occasionally enjoy to spice things up, I’m not here to judge you). Girl, just…stop. I’m also not religious so I don’t identify with that aspect which is a really central theme for her.
So these are my hand-picked books, for the business owners and the go-getters. Hope you enjoy, and if there’s any others I should add to my lists, let me know!
The 20 Best Books for Female Entrepreneurs to Read in 2021
Starting this list off with one of my absolute favorite books! This one is for every woman, whether you're a business owner or not. Big Magic is by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love. She has such a unique perspective on creativity, and describes it as almost a living thing that can come and go, and hop around and be shared. Her incredible personal stories about creativity and fate will have you believing it too. This book is so inspiring, and she encourages women to embrace their own curiosity and pursue the creative "jewels" hidden inside each of us.
Glennon Doyle's book Untamed came out last year and has been a best-selling hit. I loved the style and formatting of her book as it's a little unique. Each chapter is a different life lesson or thought, often tied to a personal story or memory of hers. One chapter could be lengthy, or it could be a few paragraphs.
A true champion for female empowerment, her book explores what our worlds could look like when women stop trying to live a life based on other people's expectations, and start living based on trusting our inner voice and instincts. Her incredible real life example of that: Having a beautiful family but realizing that deep down she was unhappy—at age 40 she realized she's a lesbian and she could either continue living a lie in order to keep her family happy, or she could shatter everything and rebuild her life as the person she knew deep down inside she was truly meant to be. I'll let you guess which option she chose. 😉
Another favorite book of mine that literally everyone and their mother should read. If you feel overcommitted, overloaded, or overworked (who doesn't??) you need this book in your life. The author, Greg McKeown, details the systemic principle of discerning the non-essential many to the essential few, and how to eliminate the non-essential so we can make the highest possible contribution toward the things that really matter. I love that this book guides you on how to reclaim control over your own choices and where you spend your precious time and energy, rather than giving others unspoken permission to choose for us. Because if we allow that, people will just pile more and more crap and expectations onto your plate.
Ah, this book is SO good. Again, this one is helpful for everyone. I actually did a podcast episode all about Habits and it's basically the cliff notes version of this book with examples from my personal life (rather than examples from a white guy which tend to be about baseball and going to the gym), and you can give that episode a listen here. But essentially, this book is all about systems and tips for creating healthy habits that stick, as well as eliminating bad habits. If you've tried to change your habits in the past and were unsuccessful, the problem wasn't you, it was your systems. Your systems and your habits are super powerful, and they are what compound to amazing, life-changing results in the longterm.
Marie Forleo is my digital mentor. I admire her so much and devour all of her content because it's just so damn inspiring, but also practical and useful. From being a B-School student to watching all of her MarieTV content, to reading her book, I'm just such a fan of hers. Her book is all about retraining your brain to think more creatively and positively in the face of setbacks. And after the cluster eff of a year we've all had, that type of resiliency is so important.
This one's a pretty easy read and, I mean, how do you not love the title? While it may sound a bit pessimistic at first, this attitude of "Let’s be honest, shit is f**ked and we have to live with it," is, according to the author, the best way to embrace fears and uncertainties so that we can find perseverance, honesty, and curiosity. There are only so many things we can give a f**k about, so the key is figuring out which ones really matter.
You've probably read Sheryl Sandberg's book Lean In, which really catapulted and inspired the conversation we now have about women in the workplace and women entrepreneurs. If you haven't read her second book, Option B, I really enjoyed this one. She wrote it after the sudden death of her husband, and it's an inspiring, and practical book about building resilience and moving forward after life’s inevitable setbacks.
I talk about The Daily Stoic on my podcast and Insta Stories pretty frequently. The book is set up for you to read just one page a day. Each day is a lesson or teaching based on wisdom from the ancient stoics. It's all about the art of living a better life, and I love reading a page each morning with my coffee. It's such a great way to start the day, set intentions, and reflect.
I haven't read this one yet, but it's on my list! It was recommended to me by Caila Quinn from The Bachelor, who I recently interviewed on the podcast (you can listen to our interview here!). It's all about intentionally building and designing a life that is both meaningful and fulfilling. Who doesn't want that??
We can all struggle with our confidence from time to time. And as much as I may have the occasional feelings of imposter syndrome, I know so many women who reaalllyy struggle with this—even if they already have amazing businesses. And not to generalize, but in my experience, I do find that women tend to have more issues with their inner confidence than men. And when I see this, I'm very often reminded of one of my favorite quotes: Carry yourself with the confidence of a mediocre white man. 😂 The authors, Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, provide an informative and practical guide to understanding the importance of confidence—and learning how to achieve it—for women of all ages and at all stages of their careers.
This book is a collection of over 60 letters from female entrepreneurs around the world—from women who own multimillion-dollar companies to small business owners and solopreneurs. Being a business owner or solopreneur can feel so isolating, especially during this pandemic when we're not able to go to coworking spaces and events. So if you're feeling a bit alone right now and in search of community or mentorship, this book is the perfect way to get some advice and inspiring stories from strong, successful women.
This book literally just launched a couple of days ago. It's by the founder of IT Cosmetics, Jamie Kern Lima. I haven't read it yet since it was just released this week, but I have listened to a couple podcast episodes with Jamie talking about her book, and her story is truly incredible. In her book, she talks a lot about your inner knowing, and how she's been able to connect with hers over the years to help guide her life and her decisions. She just knew that she was meant to create a cosmetics company and sell it at huge retailers like QVC, Sephora, and Ulta—even though she had zero experience in that industry, and she kept receiving "No"s from these companies. For three years, all she heard was no. But by following her inner knowing, she was able to get to where she is today—Founder of IT Cosmetics, which was acquired by L'Oreal for $1.2 billion.
So I will be the first to say, I don't love Jen Sincero's writing style. It's a bit cheesy, and there are just so many "ain't"s and odd slang in it that I find so distracting. But, I did get a lot of value out of this book, and there are some great money mindset exercises in it! I also feel like I read it at just the right time—it opened my mind up to investing in myself and my business in the form of a mastermind group. Shortly after reading it, I heard about Julie Solomon's Mastermind and started considering joining it. She's got two different masterminds depending on what level you're at—one for women looking to get clarity on and grow their business, and one for women whose businesses are already making six figures and they're looking to really scale.
I had never thought about joining a mastermind before, and I really do feel like this book came to me at the right time because my mind probably would have been closed off to Julie's mastermind and I wouldn't have given it much thought if I hadn't read this book. I ended up joining her mastermind for 6-figure and up business-owners, and it's been incredible. We're only a couple of months in and I'm seeing so many opportunities for growing and scaling my business and my revenue. It's been super exciting already and again, I don't think I would have made this investment in my business if I hadn't read this book!
Over the last year or so, I've been getting into manifesting. Why wouldn't I want to be at peace and trust that what I desire is on the way?? It can sound a bit woo-woo, but I like a little bit of woo in my life. All of the universe woo aside, even if all that manifesting and picturing things you want in your life actually does for you is motivates you to keep working towards your goals, that is HUGE. This book is all about creating the life and attracting the energy that you want. I'm here for it.
Brene Brown has so many amazing books to choose from! Her book Rising Strong is all about leaning into the discomfort, courage, and getting curious about life's sticky moments. It's an especially great read considering all of the challenges we've been facing over the last year and will continue to face.
We love a success story! And a female entrepreneur running a billion-dollar biz? Love to see it. Barbara Corcoran from Shark Tank shares her story about how she failed at many jobs (22, to be exact) and then borrowed $1,000 from a boyfriend, quit her job as a diner waitress, and started a tiny real estate office in New York City. She shares lessons learned and advice for anyone starting a business.
This one is authored by Adam Grant, who co-authored Option B with Sheryl Sandberg. Using studies and stories, he shares a new perspective on being original and choosing to champion novel ideas and values that go against the grain, battle conformity, and buck outdated traditions. He explores the question, how can we originate new ideas, policies, and practices without risking it all?
He shares some really interesting stories, like how Dr. Martin Luther King actually did not want or intend to be the face of and leader for the civil rights movement, and almost didn't deliver his famous I have a dream speech. These types of stories really got me thinking about how we can hold ourselves back due to lack of confidence or uncertainty, but if we do hold ourselves back, imagine what the world might be missing out on if we don't share those ideas and contributions.
Author Cara Alwill Leyba makes the claim that in today’s competitive marketplace, the fiercest thing a female entrepreneur can do is to support other women. And I 100% feel that. I actually talk about this a lot in an upcoming podcast episode with my friend Kara from Whimsy Soul. We dive into inner confidence, supporting other women, and collaboration over competition, so stay tuned for that!
This book teaches you how to build confidence in yourself, reconnect with your “why,” eradicate jealousy, and ultimately learn the power of connection. All essential things for living your best life and building a business or career.
This book is comprised of 66 letters of advice from female entrepreneurs (who have cumulatively made $1 billion in revenue). It's full of encouragement, wisdom, and practical insights, shared by remarkable women entrepreneurs. Perfect for when you need a little pick me up, motivation, or inspiration.
Girl on Fire is Cara Alwill Lebya's follow-up book to Girl Code. This read builds on this concept of women supporting women and shows you how to blaze your own trail—and that you don’t need permission from anyone to live fearlessly and start living your dream. She poses questions like "Who would you be if you stopped following *their* rules?" and "What would you create if you create if you had nothing holding you back?" The book explores how to show up for ourselves and design a life and career beyond our wildest imaginations without permission, selection, or validation.
Shop my list of best books for female entrepreneurs:
There you have it! My picks for the best books for female entrepreneurs to read in 2021 and beyond. Are there any books that I’m missing? Let me know, I always love hearing your recs and am always looking for new, inspiring books to read!
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