One of my biggest goals for 2019 is to read as much as I possibly can. As a writer, reading is essential for expanding my mind and keeping me motivated. I also find a lot of my inspiration in following the journeys of others (especially hardworking, passionate women). The easiest way to do that is through the pages of a book.
Over the last year, I’ve been following the journey of many entrepreneurs, business owners, Jesus followers, and political activists. My goal is to not only encourage and grow my personal journey and network, but to help me see perspectives outside my own, be more culturally sensitive, and learn how connected we truly are.
These are a few of the female authors that have inspired me. There are so many more and I can’t possibly add them all to this list! However, I want to keep this as a running collection of powerful books by women that inspire me and add to it as I grow.
I hope you’ll join me in returning to this page and sharing it with your family, friends, and network. My desire is to share what I’m passionate about and who I’m reading, as well as build an online community of support and camaraderie (especially for female-identifying writers!).
1. Present Over Perfect, by Shauna Niequist
I swear, I’ve been raving about this book for the last three years. It’s one of the very few books that I can pick up off the shelf again and again, and each time, find a new line or chapter to resonate with.
The focus of this book is about putting aside the ‘more’ mindset and focusing on who you are in God’s eyes.
Your worth is not found in what you do, and Shauna explains that perfectly in chapter after chapter. She talks about being a people-pleaser, having a hard time saying ‘no,’ and overworking yourself trying to chase success.
One of the most powerful books by women, in my opinion, Present Over Perfect has something tangible and powerful for any momma, business owner, or ambitious Type-A person. It’s led me through some of the hardest moments of my life and encouraged me when my life felt so full, yet so empty.
[Here’s where you can purchase Present Over Perfect for yourself.]
2. “Todo Revoluciona,” by Angelica Mercado
I met Angelica years ago at the Streamlines Conference for writers in Northern Iowa. Attracted to her passion and vision, I’ve been following her work for years. She recently released her debut poetry collection, “Todo Revoluciona.” This collection highlights prominent social issues including cultural norms, political questions, racism, identity, and purpose.
‘Being of borderlands’ is how Angelica refers when speaking of herself. And because of this, her identity, perspectives, and life itself is often divided. This collection is a powerful reflection of what it means to be a first-generation immigrant in a culturally-conflicted world. Angelica writes with strength, passion, and fearlessness that makes this collection a must-read.
[You can purchase “Todo Revoluciona” right here.]
3. Not That Bad, edited by Roxane Gay
As issues of abortion, sexual harassment, rape, and abuse are prevalent and highly discussed in our modern day culture, so comes the need for books like Roxane Gay’s. Not That Bad is an anthology that shares transparent and often emotional essays of people who have experienced sexual harassment. The book questions why we often measure people’s experiences by how ‘bad’ we perceive them to be—and why this needs to stop.
A powerful book that challenges cultural norms and makes readers think about their own moral identities and beliefs, Not That Bad is an important read for any (and every) human.
[Here’s where you can purchase the book for yourself.]
4. Own Your Everyday, by Jordan Dooley
Jordan’s book just hit the shelves May 2019 and it’s already well-read by people all around the world. Having worked as her previous editor for submissions at Thought Catalog, I’ve had a behind-the-scenes peek at what she’s released. Her book is something you don’t want to miss.
What Jordan does so eloquently is creates, finds, and celebrates the beauty in everyday moments. Her book, Own Your Everyday is focused on the movement of being the best person you can be, right here, right now.
In a stream of heartfelt and honest essays, Jordan reveals the ups and downs of her personal life. She shares how the good, bad, and the ugly led her to the realization of her purpose in Christ—to simply be herself.
This book is an anthem for the everyday woman: the mom, the daughter, the sister, the friend, the aunt. It’s an encouragement that whoever you are and whatever you do, you are loved. And you have purpose in God’s eyes, even in your everyday existence.
[Here’s where you can buy Own Your Everyday right now.]
5. The Poet X, Elizabeth Acevedo
This book, although targeted for young adult readers, has been a strong addition to my collection because of the message it shares. About a young Harlem girl who discovers poetry, Poet X shares her experiences and how she uses words to find her identity and place in the world.
As the main character of the novel, Xiomara Batista, grows, she begins to express herself. Despite pushback from family and society, she fights to find her voice. The message is an encouraging mantra of never quieting your beliefs.
[You can find Elizabeth’s debut novel, right here.]
6. Girl, Wash Your Face, by Rachel Hollis
An acclaimed and widely-read book, Girl Wash Your Face is a powerful reminder that you have the ability to take back your own life. Written by business owner and driven mama, Rachel Hollis, this book will inspire you, challenge you, make you laugh, and remind you that the most powerful force in your life is the one you create.
With personal anecdotes and bits of faith sprinkled throughout, Girl Wash Your Face will center you, and encourage you into becoming the woman you’re destined to be.
[Here’s where you can find the book.]
7. “Water Lilies,” by Jacqueline Ann
A beautiful poetry collection on strength, love, moving on, and finding your true identity, Jacqueline Ann’s debut collection, “Water Lilies,” is an essential read for any women struggling with purpose and finding herself.
The beginning of the collection shares heart-wrenching poems about love and its ups and downs. Jacqueline then comes full circle with a reminder that relationships aren’t our identity—who we are in God is. And she gives our faith grounding and purpose through her eloquent, passion-filled words. “Water Lilies” is a great body of work to add to your reading list.
8. “The Sun and Her Flowers” by Rupi Kaur
Though many people argue that Rupi’s debut collection, “Milk & Honey, is her best work, I personally loved “The Sun and Her Flowers.” This second collection displays Rupi’s growth and identity as she speaks to powerful, yet painful topics.
“The Sun and Her Flowers” is all about blooming—a message I personally identify with in my work. The four sections speak to the experience of flowers as they wilt, grow, and regrow through changes in life. Just as flowers sometimes break and have to be re-born, so do people. This collection speaks to the ups and downs of our journeys and shares how, even in the most painful moments, we are still blooming.
[To order Rupi’s poetry collection, click here.]
9. Am I Enough?, by Grace Valentine
One of the biggest questions we all face is this one: Am I enough? Young writer and Jesus-follower, Grace Valentine, shares the answers to these questions with gentleness and strength. As her previous editor for Thought Catalog, I had the privilege of watching her grow, and this book is an incredible debut of contemplation and faith.
Am I Enough? tackles questions that people have, but are too afraid to acknowledge or ask. And with poise and power, Grace answers them. She doesn’t claim to be an expert, and actually, it’s her honesty and compassion that makes the book even more likable. Backed with Bible passages and personal stories that will make you smile, Grace shares the truth about being a follower of Jesus.
[You can find Grace’s book by clicking right here.]
10. Nineteen Minutes, by Jodi Picoult
Jodi Picoult has been one of my favorite authors since I was in my teens. What I love about her is how she creates such realistic characters and allows the reader to get an inside peek into each of their minds. Nineteen Minutes is a powerful story about a school shooting. So realistic and relevant, this book challenges the perspectives and emotions that resonate so deeply with our current culture.
Jodi so expertly writes stories that make readers question what’s truly right and wrong, even in tragic situations. She sheds light on different thoughts and ideas about gun violence, forgiveness, love, and mental health in ways that will make you question all you believe.
[Here’s where you can order your own copy of Nineteen Minutes.]
11. A People’s History of Heaven, by Mathangi Subramanian
Set in a place called Heaven, India, this book tells the story of five vastly different girls coming together in love. Love being the overarching connector between us all. The girls in the story: Christian, Muslim, Hindu, straight, and queer, accept one another without restrictions and despite the circumstances of their lives, are bound together.
A People’s History of Heaven is a powerful book that pushes back against cultural norms and stereotypes. It reminds each of us that it’s not about the ways we are different, but how, at the end of the day, love is what connects us. And when we live in love, anything is possible.
Elegant, vibrant, and powerful, Mathangi’s book takes a deep look at diversity and reminds us that each of us—no matter our sex, race, identity, or perspectives—belongs.
[Here’s where you can order your own copy of Mathangi’s book on Amazon].
More Powerful Books By Women:
This collection is meant to be a few of the most powerful books by women (in my opinion). As I grow and read more (which is my goal for 2019) I plan to add to this list. If there are books you’d love to see, or if you’re an author/writer who wants to collaborate and showcase her work, please send me an email and I’d love to chat.
*Disclaimer: This list is purely opinion-based and continually growing. It’s also meant to highlight powerful books by women (or those who identify as women). It is in no means meant to discriminate—but to simply bring honor to female authors/writers in the industry. Thanks for reading!
Featured Image Credit: Nicole Honeywill