Must-Read Books for Women Professionals

The daily grind has a way of sometimes beating us down, even if it sometimes rewards us in small ways. Women professionals are the epitome of a balancing act that sometimes takes tumbles — between work, family, trying to hit the gym, and everything else you have going on, it might seem like you’re continually sliding backwards instead of powering forward toward your goals.

The trick to success isn’t to avoid failure. It’s to get back up and brush yourself off and try again. If you need some uplifting material to help you succeed in it all, here are 30 books written by women who know what it’s like to be in your shoes. They’ve made the most of their hectic lives and are successful both personally and professionally. Now they’re sharing their advice to help you do the same.

1 - Lean In

Lean In: Women, Work, and The Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg: Written with a bit of humor and wise perspective, Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World, gives her view on women in the workplace. In Lean In Sandberg works to dispel the myth that women can “have it all” and attempts to show women they should take risks and pursue their goals in life. If you’re struggling to stop saying “I can’t,” this book is just what the confidence doctor ordered.


Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder by Arianna Huffington: When pushing forward for success, sometimes the drive gets the better of us. Huffington’s story of learning how to grow professionally while still investing in her own well-being is eye opening and a must read for any go-getter trying to prove herself to the world. This book is a phenomenal read for any manager or business owner, not only for their own personal growth, but also for their employees.


Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges by Amy Cuddy: If you’ve ever wished you could turn that pounding heart of nerves in your chest into a confident drum beat driving you forward, Cuddy’s book is for you. Amy Cuddy writes about how we can all access our own personal power and feel confident in our skin, simply by adjusting our behavior, mindset and body language. Banish regret from your life. Read Cuddy’s book to find out how you can reach for your dreams and take risks that will allow you to reap big rewards.

4- Girl Boss

#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso: Maybe you’re the black sheep of your family and friends, never really having found your place, but you don’t mind it. You’re comfortable in your skin, and own who you are. #GIRLBOSS is for you and an anthem you should play loud. Amoruso started from the bottom and is now the founder and CEO of Nasty Girl, an online fashion retailer with over 350 employees. #GIRLBOSS is filled with wit and cunning remarks. If you’re a bit of a sasspants with attitude and grit, this book should be at the top of your list.

5- Yes Please

Yes Please by Amy Poehler: If you’ve ever dreamed of what it would be like to hang out with Amy Poehler for a day, your dream has arrived. While Amy Poehler is hilarious and witty, Yes Please is filled with honest and personal tales that make it a truly inspirational read for women from all walks of life.

6- Girl Code

Girl Code: Unlocking the Secrets to Success, Sanity, and Happiness for the Female Entrepreneur by Alwill Leyba Cara: Go back 50 years ago, and women entrepreneurs would be a rarity in the workforce. But in the raging 21st century, power-playing females are not only empowering themselves to start their own ventures — they are also helping along their friends and sometimes even their direct competition. Cara dives into what it means to be a woman and entrepreneur and how wisdom should be shared, not hoarded.

9- Womenomics

Womenomics: Write Your Own Rules for Success by Claire Shipman and Katty Kay: Life is all about balance, and sometimes, figuring out how to balance work, life, kids, and finances feels like a teeter totter you simply can’t balance. Womenomics shows women how they can have it all without doing it all in their professional and personal lives.

11- Unfinished Business

Unfinished Business: Women Men Work Family by Anne-Marie Slaughter: Slaughter’s written work is known far and wide, especially since her article for The Atlantic, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” drew both ire and sympathy from readers. In recent years, Slaughter has given much thought to business, especially the business of living. This read is ideal for someone struggling to balance work and life, and you may be surprised by what Slaughter has to say.

12 - Playing Big

Playing Big: Find Your Voice, Your Mission, Your Message by Tara Mohr: Women are more prone to struggle with internal self-doubt and the battle between seeking praise from an outside source versus an intrinsic fountain inside themselves. Mohr’s book delves into how women can take ownership of their careers for themselves and not for others. This book is all about bold and courageous action — it will teach you how to play big in life and the workplace.

13- Mistakes I Made at Work

Mistakes I Made at Work: 25 Influential Women Reflect on What They Got Out of Getting It Wrong by Jessica Bacal: If you’re a millennial woman just entering the workforce and are looking to read only one book, let it be this one. Bacal tells the stories of several powerful women — the founding editor of Jezebel and a Stanford psychology professor among them — in a captivating way. Mistakes I Made at Work gives women a head start to learn how to ditch perfectionism and learn from the best.

14 - The Confidence Effect

The Confidence Effect: Every Woman’s Guide to the Attitude That Attracts Success by Grace Killelea: Even though women are battling their ways into corporate positions, numerous women are passed over every year for promotions they not only deserved, but were well-qualified for. Why? Killelea’s book focuses on the disparities in confidence between men and women and why confidence is such a strong deciding factor for getting ahead in the corporate world. This book is a must-read for anyone looking to seize opportunities either in the workforce or in their personal life.

15- What Works for Women at Work

What Works for Women at Work: Four Patterns Working Women Need to Know by Joan C. Williams and Rachel Dempsey: Talk about a mother-daughter duo! Williams, a renowned expert on women and the workplace, and her daughter partnered to write this book. They interviewed 127 working women to find out what women need in their toolbox to get ahead in the workforce. Don’t miss out on what they found!

16- I Know How She Does It

I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time by Laura Vanderkam: Vanderkam’s book seeks to break “I don’t know how she does it” down to its core and then build women back up again by helping them understand how powerhouse women are successful and show you how you can do it, too. This book is based on solid research — Vanderkam collected time logs from women who make $100,000+ a year. From learning the “good enough” mentality to knowing what works for family time, Vanderkam shows women the ropes on how they can maximize time and be a fury in the workforce.

17 - Bossypants

Bossypants by Tina Fey: Lighthearted but informative, Bossypants shows readers a glimpse into one of the most successful female comedians alive. Tina Fey shows women how to keep a sense of humor through it all, regardless of ups and downs.

18 - PushBack

Pushback: How Smart Women Ask — And Stand Up — For What They Want by Selena Rezvani: If you struggle with how to present yourself and ask outright for the things you want out of life, Rezvani’s book will provide you with all of the insight you need. Whether you’re seeking a promotion or better job assignments, this book will shed light on the things holding you back.

19- Beyond Happy

Beyond Happy: Women, Work, and Well-Being by Beth Cabrera: Finding what you want out of life is easier said than done. That’s why Cabrera’s book is a valuable resource when sketching out your life plans. For those who love assessments, you’ll enjoy this book because it contains guides to help you move toward your best self both personally and professionally — so you can start living your most authentic life.

10- The Confidence Code

The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance — What Women Should Know by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman: Even though it is the 21st century and women are better educated than ever before, women still struggle to make as much as men and prove themselves in the corporate world. Kay and Shipman dive into how real women can close the gap and find the career they deserve and love. At any stage in your life, you can read this book and reap something beneficial from it.

20 - Ladies Who Launch

Ladies Who Launch: Embracing Entrepreneurship & Creativity as a Lifestyle by Victoria Colligan & Beth Schoenfeldt: Working that 9 to 5 but have your head stuck in the clouds about what you would do with your own business? Welcome to the world of women as entrepreneurs. Ladies Who Launch provides insight and wisdom to women contemplating taking that leap into a new lifestyle full of possibilities. If you have the entrepreneurial itch, this book is for you.

21- How Remarkable Women Lead

How Remarkable Women Lead: The Breakthrough Model for Work and Life by Joanna Barsh & Susie Cranston: Five years of research were poured into this book, and Barsh’s work does not disappoint. Analyses of the different types of leadership are well fleshed out, and the personal stories are interwoven in a seamless fashion.

22 - Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office

Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office: Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers by Lois P. Frankel, PhD: Deemed a must-have book for women in business, Frankel’s book teaches women about the traits they learn as children that ultimately sabotage them in the workforce. From exploring gender roles and stereotypes to learning the art of negotiation, Frankel discusses how to address “nice girl” errors and to make the most out of your career.

23 - Fast Forward

Fast Forward: How Women Can Achieve Power and Purpose by Melanne Verveer and Kim K. Azzarelli: Told from the perspective of two trailblazing women, Fast Forward is the ideal read for women of all ages seeking to empower themselves and others to achieve their goals. In today’s society, women control a vast portion of the wealth and purchasing power. Verveer and Azzarelli’s book shows them how they can use this purchasing power for the better, as well as how to find purpose and connect with others.

24- The Conquer Kit

The Conquer Kit: A Creative Business Planner for Women Entrepreneurs by Natalie MacNeil: Every day, we are inundated with technology and a bit of our creative energy is sapped from us. MacNeil’s book helps readers tap into their creative genius — yes, everyone has it! — to build women up as stronger business owners, mothers, and more. This guide is perfect for anyone who needs a fun and productive mental recharge.

25 - The 10 Habits of Highly Successful Women

The 10 Habits of Highly Successful Women by Glynnis MacNicol and Rachel Sklar: This book compiles essays from some of the most hardworking and accomplished women of our time. Witty and entertaining, The 10 Habits of Highly Successful Women succeeds in delighting readers of all ages. Since the book is broken into essays, it’s a perfect read for someone who may only want to read snippets at a time.

26- Headstrong

Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science — and the World by Rachel Swaby: An inspiring read from beginning to end, Headstrong shows women of all ages what it means to be a woman and succeed in life. Many women struggle with balancing a professional career as well as having a family, and Swaby’s book seeks out fifty-two women who deserve the highest praise for living a fulfilling life by making large strides in science.

27- Odd Mom Entrepreneur Out

Odd Mom Entrepreneur Out: Eliminate Guilt, Grow Your Business + Elevate Your Life by Rachel Olsen and Flesché Hesch: This collaborative effort seeks to target women who are striving to be great parents while also running a business. Eleven “mompreneurs” share their secrets on how they built up to 7 figure businesses while still being a mom and without sacrifice. Think it’s impossible? Give this book a read to find out more!

7- Women Don't Ask

Women Don’t Ask: The High Cost of Avoiding Negotiation — And Positive Strategies for Change by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever: It may come as a surprise that men are four times more likely to ask for a higher wage than their female counterparts who have the same exact qualifications. The art of asking and negotiating in life is an important skill. Babcock and Laschever’s book sheds insight on tools any woman can use to negotiate different areas of their life.

28 - Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman

Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman: What Men Know About Success that Women Need to Learn by Gail Evans: As with anything in life, there are rules people must follow. In business, there are rules to getting ahead, but many women fail to capitalize on the game to make the most of their position in business. While men may write the rules in business — or they did decades ago — women can still get ahead and well beyond their male coworkers if they know how to play the game.

29 - Style Bible

Style Bible: What to Wear to Work by Lauren A. Rothman: Nothing is worse than waking up in the morning before a long day of work and having to scramble to put together an outfit. You never know when you will stumble upon a networking opportunity, so make sure you put your best-dressed foot forward. Rothman’s tips are spot on for any working professional looking to climb the ladder or make a great first impression.

30 - The Female Vision

The Female Vision: Women’s Real Power at Work by Sally Helgesen and Julie Johnson: If you’ve thought before that you and your male coworkers don’t see eye to eye in certain situations, you’re probably right. In The Female Vision, Helgesen and Johnson deeply analyze how women have improved companies, simply by having a different outlook than men.

8 - Leading from the Front

Leading from the Front: No-Excuse Leadership Tactics for Women by Angie Morgan and Courtney Lynch: There’s nothing like the U.S. Marine Corps Academy to strengthen your leadership skills. Morgan and Lynch served in the Marine Corps as well as private consultants, and now they’re passing on their leadership knowhow to their readers. You don’t have to be the boss to gain knowledge from this book.


Don’t keep all these good reads to yourself — share with your friends and family. Don’t forget to tag me @SarahLandrum when you do!


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Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks.

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