Our must-read empowering books from and for women

Do you have new year's resolutions? Maybe to read more books or more importantly - to work on yourself? To accept yourself more, to get ahead in your job, to make your secret dream a reality?

As you know, we at AMELI are big advocates that we can learn from women and that we should support one another. I've always devoured books and love to dive into other worlds and lives. My current favorites are books by strong, inspiring women who have changed the world and still do. I created a list of my personal must-read books that will empower and inspire you -  maybe you use the time in lock-down to dive into one of them. 

Shonda Rhimes - Year of Yes 

We dedicated one of our first blogposts to this book as it was destiny to read it. Shonda Rhimes is the award-winning creator and executive producer of blockbuster television series like Grey’s anatomy or Scandal. Therewith, she has revolutionised the film industry. In her book, she describes how she overcomes her insecurities by saying one year “Yes”. 

Lessons learned: Never before has a book made me laugh and reflect at the same time, I think it was even one of the reasons to finally start with AMELI. My biggest lessons are to actually start doing, believe in my skills and accept to be not perfect in everything. Further, it emphasized that we as women can together change society. 

"Happiness comes from being who you actually are instead of who you think you are supposed to be."

Melinda Gates - The Moment of Lift

In her book, Melinda tells the stories of the inspiring people she has met through her work all over the world, digs into the data, and powerfully illustrates issues that need our attention - from child marriage to gender inequity in the workplace. Her biggest takeaway? "If you want to lift a society up, you need to stop keeping women down." In Moment of Lift, she encourages her readers to support women everywhere— and her narrative will leave you feeling empowered and ready to get involved in any way you can. 

Lessons learned: The Moment of Lift is an urgent call to courage. It changed how I think about myself, my family, my work, and what's possible in the world. It was one of the big motivations for us to spend 5% of our profits to NGOs supporting women's education.

"Women and girls should be able to determine their own future, no matter where they’re born."

Sheryl Sandberg - Lean In 

Sheryl Sandberg is Facebook COO and one of Fortune magazine's Most Powerful Women in Business. In her book Lean In, she draws on her own experience of working in some of the world's most successful businesses and looks at what women can do to help themselves, and make the small changes in their life that can effect change on a more universal scale.

Lessons learned: Sheryl Sandberg’s witty, direct, and informative approach makes reading Lean In an empowering act in itself. However, my two biggest learnings are probably asking myself "What would you do if you weren't afraid" and the attitude that "done is better than perfect".

“Women need to shift from thinking "I'm not ready to do that" to thinking "I want to do that- and I'll learn by doing it.” 

Glennon Doyle - Untamed 

The successful author and “patron saint of female empowerment” (People) explores the joy and peace we discover when we stop striving to meet others’ expectations and start trusting the voice deep within us. It is the story of how each of us can begin to trust ourselves enough to set boundaries, make peace with our bodies, honor our anger and heartbreak, and unleash our truest, wildest instincts.

Lessons learned: By relating her learnings to stories of her live, Glennon shows us the importance of listening to our instincts and make no justification for the choices in your life, especially as a women in today's world. My personal learning is to stop justifying my choices to others and listen more to my inner voice. 

“When a woman finally learns that pleasing the world is impossible, she becomes free to learn how to please herself.”

Michelle Obama - Becoming

In her autobiography, the former first lady, illustrates the challenges and highlights in her life and show the transformation to the fearless female leader she is today. 

Lessons learned: Michelle's story is of inclusion and advocacy for women in light of obstacles, and every female around the world can take away messages of strength and determination from her story.

“For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end.”

Sophia Amoruso - #Girlboss

Only halfway through the book yet, but I can find myself and our start-up in so many sections. Before launching her online clothing platform Nast Gal, Sophia Amoruso was broke and homeless. In her book, she tells her story and emphasizes that the path to success is often very jagged.

Lessons learned: This book is real, gritty, and relatable to the average girl looking to rise up. It gave me hope that we actually can make it. 

"You create the world, blink by blink. It is entirely yours to discover and yours to create.” 

Brené Brown - Daring Greatly

Brené Brown is a bestselling author and research professor at the University of Houston. I first heard of Brené Brown through the Netflix documentation and couldn't stop to soak in all her knowledge and wisdom. I also watched the Ted Talks and read three of her books. My highlight is the book "Daring Greatly". Daring Greatly is the culmination of 12 years of groundbreaking social research, across every area of our lives including home, relationships, work, and parenting. It is an invitation to be courageous; to show up and let ourselves be seen, even when there are no guarantees.

Lessons learned: Since I read the book, I am guided by the principle "Courage over Comfort" and I am grateful to have stumbled over this phrase as it change the way I make decisions and overcome obstacles. 

“I want to be in the arena. I want to be brave with my life. And when we make the choice to dare greatly, we sign up to get our asses kicked. We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both. Not at the same time.”

Jane Fonda - My life so far 

Jane Fonda as actress and activist, feminist and wife, workout guru and role model. In this extraordinary memoir, Fonda shows that she is much more. From her youth among Hollywood’s elite to her film career and her activism today, Fonda is brave and reflective by writing about intimate details and personal truths giving the readers the chance to relate and motivate them to reflect on their own lives. The book is filled with insights into the personal struggles of a woman living a remarkable life.

Lessons learned: Jane Fonda's honesty and reflective thinking about her own faults, her struggle with Bulimia, accepting herself and putting her needs first really moved me. It's a story of personal growth and unexpected depth that motivated me to reflect on my life as well. 

"The challenge is not to be perfect - it's to be whole."

On my personal reading list for this year are the following books, I can't wait to read them. Also, if you have some recommendations - I am looking forward to hear of them. 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg - My own words

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, also known as “Notorious R.B.G.,” is a Supreme Court Justice who has become a certified cultural icon and fodder for many memes. In her book, she  gives “a comprehensive look inside her brilliantly analytical, entertainingly wry mind, revealing the fascinating life of one of our generation's most influential voices in both law and public opinion” (Harper’s Bazaar).

“My mother told me to be a lady. And for her, that meant be your own person, be independent”

Gloria Steinem - My Life on the Road

Feminist icon Gloria Steinem shares her experiences on the road while fighting for women's rights in the 70s and 80s. I am looking forward to read about the first-hand experience of a woman who has been at the forefront of the nation's most progressive, feminist moments. 

"A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men."


Maya Angelou - I know why the caged birds sing 

I came across Maya Angelou because of the Black Lives Matter debate. She was a writer, poet, and civil rights activist. In the six volumes of her autobiography, Maya Angelou captivates the story of her odyssey of survival and the search for self-determination as an Afro-American woman in a racist society. Angelou’s entrancing testimony of her past tells a story of being forced to confront the ugliness of the world but still finding a way to sing a hopeful song.  I hope that reading the book will give me a better understanding of the BLM situation and empathy.

“Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can't take their eyes off you.” 


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