This list of books about amazing women tell you stories about the influence that women have had on history, throughout the world, for centuries. You may know some of them, but most have either been forgotten or ignored. In some cases, others took credit for their achievements.
These women will awe and inspire you. They will show you what life was like for women and some of the struggles women still fight to overcome today.
Let us know what you think and others you’ve read that you couldn’t put down!
Written by: Anjali Tamang
Published: January 8th, 2021
The word trafficking evokes a specific image for many people: a young girl from a developing country being lured by promises of jobs and education only to be forced into prostitution. This is what happened to Anjali Tamang, but her story doesn't end there. Since escaping from years of sex slavery at the age of twelve, she has been fighting for others trafficked and working in the industry.
In 2009, she was even named one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People in The World for her work helping others. Learn more about this incredible woman so we can understand what it is like to start in slavery and then lead the fight to stop it.
Written by: Kirstin Downey
Published: March 3rd, 2009
The story of Frances Perkins is an inspiring one. She was the Secretary of Labor under FDR and his closest adviser, becoming one of the most influential women in history. Her career took off when she advocated for workers' rights as a young social worker in New York City at the turn of the century.
After working with Eleanor Roosevelt on various projects, President Franklin D Roosevelt appointed her Secretary of Labor in 1933-1945. She helped create many pieces that are still used today, like minimum wage law and Social Security. She was also instrumental in getting FDR to get the New Deal programs during her time.
Written by: Priyanka Chopra Jonas
Published: February 9th, 2021
Priyanka Chopra Jonas penned her autobiography in 2018. Even though she was a former Miss World and Bollywood actress, who seems to have made it, she shares intimate details of her life from growing up in India to making it big in Hollywood. This includes both the ups and downs.
The book includes many photos from Priyanka's childhood and early career and candid commentary on being a woman in the public eye. Priyanka is both relatable and inspirational; we love that she has found success while staying true to herself.
Written by: Malala Yousafzai
Published: October 8th, 2013
Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate. She is known for human rights advocacy, especially the education of women and children in her native Swat Valley in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, northwest Pakistan, where the local Taliban had banned girls from attending school. Her advocacy has grown into an international movement.
She first became famous after being shot in the head by the Taliban. This book documents her life before that horrible event and how she has continued to fight for equality for women everywhere.
Written by: Anne Frank
Anne Frank was a 13-year-old girl who lived in Amsterdam during World War II. She kept a diary of her life from June 12, 1942, to August 1, 1944. Her diary is now world-famous and has been read by millions of people around the world. Anne's family went into hiding to avoid deportation after Jews were deported from Nazi-occupied countries. They hid for two years before being discovered by the Nazis on August 4, 1944.
The Nazis sent the family to concentration camps where they all died except for Anne's father, Otto. He survived Auschwitz concentration camp and published his daughter's diaries, which became one of the most important books about Jewish Holocaust victims and their horrible experiences.
Written by: Michelle Obama
Published: November 13th, 2018
Michelle Obama's Becoming is an autobiography about her life growing up in Chicago, her experiences at Princeton and Harvard Law School, being an executive, and eventually becoming the First Lady of the United States. It also gives insight on some of the issues she cares deeply about, including racial discrimination, education for young black women, and healthy living.
It is an excellent reminder of how a woman can rise to the top and still be humble, caring, and more. Many funny moments will keep you entertained while learning more about our former First Lady.
Written by: Tina Fey
Published: April 5th, 2011
Tina Fey's Bossypants is a memoir that covers her life, from childhood to adulthood. Her early years in Pennsylvania were filled with happiness and laughter. She went on to study theater at the University of Virginia before moving to Chicago, where she joined Second City and met her future husband.
After successful stints as a cast member on Saturday Night Live, head writer for SNL, producer for 30 Rock, Emmy Award winner, Golden Globe Winner (among many other awards), Tina Fey has made it big in Hollywood.
Written by: Maya Angelou
Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou is an engaging autobiography that follows her life from childhood to adulthood. She talks about her family, being black in America, racism, and sexism, becoming a mother at 17 years old, civil rights movements of the 20th century, and so much more.
This book provides readers with a new perspective on the history they may not have learned or experienced for themselves yet in school. It will also inspire anyone to fight for more and stand up for what they believe in no matter the odds against them.
It’s one of the best books about amazing women!
Written by: Irin Carmon
Published: October 27th, 2015
Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a force in the Supreme Court for over 25 years. Her outspokenness, her dedication to equality and justice, and her ability to be well-respected by Democrats and Republicans. These traits have made her one of the most remarkable figures in American history.
This book is not only about Ruth Bader Ginsburg's life, but it also gives readers an inside look at how she became such an essential part of our country's judicial system while making sure that no one was left behind - including women. While on the Supreme Court of the USA, her decisions and opinions changed the country better for everyone.
Written by: Helen Keller
Throughout this book, she tells her life story and all the challenging obstacles that she had to overcome to succeed in life. She was born with blindness and deafness, which made it impossible for her to learn to read or write because no one could teach her. However, she can learn to communicate with others and change the world.
She also became a world-renowned author who traveled around the world giving speeches about women's rights. She fought for many causes such as women's suffrage, pacifism during World War I, and socialism throughout the United States. This book will take you through her journey from childhood until adulthood while inspiring you to realize you can do more than you ever imagined.
Written by: Billie Jean King
Published: August 17th, 2021
Billie Jean King is a legend in the tennis world. She was one of the first female athletes to break into a male-dominated sport and rise to prominence as a true champion. In this autobiography, she shares her life story, from early childhood through retirement from professional tennis.
Along the way, you'll meet mentors who helped shape her path and adversaries who tried to stop her progress. You'll also find out how Billie Jean dealt with sexism and how she has used those experiences as an advocate for gender equality ever since.
Written by: Mari K. Eder
Published: August 3rd, 2021
This book is a collection of little-known stories about women who helped change history during WWII. Author Mari K. Eder recounts stories from around the world, including those in America, Britain, France, China, and Russia, to name just a few countries that were involved in this incredible time for humanity.
Each story is unique, but they all share one thing in common: All of these women went above and beyond her call of duty to make sure she did what was necessary to help win WWII.
This book tells many untold stories about women's contributions to World War II through compelling narratives that highlight their bravery and ingenuity and their strength under immense pressure. If not for them, there might have been a very different outcome to the war.
Written by: Jeanne Theoharis
Published: January 29th, 2013
Rosa Parks was not the first person to refuse to give up her seat on a bus or train, but she is the one that most people think of when they hear "the civil rights movement." She became an icon for refusing to sit in the back of a segregated bus.
Most people think that this was just a random occurrence, but she, and others, had precisely planned this protest. This sparked what would become known as 'the Montgomery Bus Boycott.'
This book takes readers through Rosa's life, starting with her childhood, where she learned how important it was to stand up for herself and others. It also goes into her work in the NAACP, with Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and others.
This is one of my personal favorites on this list of books about amazing women.
Written by: Margot Lee Shetterly
Published: November 29th, 2016
This book follows the lives of three African American women who worked for NASA in Langley, Virginia. Their jobs were to do mathematical calculations, and they would help the engineers develop solutions for problems like getting men into space or figuring out what path to take when they got there.
They had to face discrimination from their co-workers and even their own families but persevered because they loved what they did and wanted to be part of this new era in history when men were exploring space.
This book gives a fascinating insight into these three women's lives and life at NASA during this time, as well as energy for African Americans during segregation.
Written by: Kate Moore
Published: May 2nd, 2017
This book is about the dark story of "America's Shining Women." The Radium Girls painted watch dials with radium paint in factories during World War I and II. During this time, radium was thought to be the ultimate tool and a cure-all. However, the reality was that radium was very dangerous, but these women did not know because they were told it was safe to use.
Many of these women later received cancer due to exposure to radium paint, which caused them many health problems. It also led them down a path that defined their lives by fighting for justice after exposure to this toxic material.
Written by: Liza Mundy
Published: October 10th, 2017
The American women code breakers who helped win World War II are getting the recognition they deserve. Liza Mundy's book, "Code Girls," is a novel about these women and how they broke through the boundaries of their time to help America in its fight against Germany, Japan, and Italy.
The book follows women from different backgrounds who all end up at one of the many secret government agencies created during this time.
If not for their tireless work to crack Nazi ciphers, the war might have ended very differently. These women eventually get jobs with private companies where they continue to work on top-secret projects for years after WWII. It is a much-needed area of history that has been ignored for too long.
Written by: Brenda Maddox
Published: October 1st, 2002
Rosalind Franklin was a scientist who made a significant discovery that led to the discovery of DNA. However, Francis Crick and James Watson took credit for her work, and she was ignored in history books.
She is called "the dark lady of DNA" because she worked in secret, and her contributions weren't appreciated until after her death. This is when the truth of how DNA was discovered along with many other essential breakthroughs. All of this wouldn't have been possible without her.
Written by: Azar Nafisi
Published: March 25th, 2003
Azar Nafisi's memoir Reading Lolita in Tehran is a heartfelt account of the author's experiences teaching Western classics to female students at an Iranian university during the Islamic Revolution. Because of the repression against women, she started having a weekly gathering of women to discuss literature and rights.
Given that it was illegal for women to leave their homes without wearing veils and all signs of overt femininity were subject to arrest, these weekly meetings were nothing short of revolutionary. The book has been credited with bringing international attention to Iran and its struggle for freedom and democracy. At the same time, she provided a fascinating perspective on what life was like under such repressive conditions.
Written by: Mackenzi Lee
Published: February 27th, 2018
In this book, Mackenzi Lee takes us on a journey through history to introduce us to 52 women who have been forgotten by society for one reason or another. We learn about these amazing women from various time periods and their accomplishments, as well as what they endured to get where they were in life.
Starting back in the 5th century B.C. and then moving up to today, these ladies came from all walks of life; some were involved with the suffragist movement, others fought for civil rights, and others simply wanted equality despite being considered less than men. NOTE: Mackenzi Lee also has a Twitter series with the same name if you want to learn more about women that have changed the world.
Written by: Ruth Ashby & Deborah Gore Ohrn
Published: June 1st, 1995
Women have always been an integral part of history. They've changed the world in ways big and small, changing the course of our culture with their courage, creativity, and determination. But often overlooked are countless women who shaped history before us - women like Cleopatra VII; Queen Elizabeth I; Marie Antoinette; Ada Lovelace; Ching Shih - whose stories deserve to be told too.
Something unique about this book is that it also highlights lesser-known women who have changed the world using the stories of more than 100 extraordinary women from across time periods in world history. Starting from ancient Egypt to present-day Iran, these diverse biographies show how each woman overcame adversity to change her own life and the lives of others.
Written by: Sonia Sotomayor
Published: January 15th, 2013
Sonia Sotomayor is a very successful woman who has accomplished many things in her life. She grew up poor and without much money to go around, but she became the first-ever Latino/a Supreme Court Justice. Even more impressive than that, she graduated college at the top of her class at Princeton University. Her book My Beloved World goes into how Sonia was happy even though they didn't have much because she had love from her family.
No matter the obstacles, Sotomayor has overcome them all to succeed and become one of the most powerful women in the USA. It is gratifying to read since this memoir makes readers feel like they are reading about someone they know personally rather than reading about a stranger's life story.
Written by: Lynne Olson
Published: March 5th, 2019
If you like reading about the history of WWII, this is a great book to read. It tells how Madame Fourcade led her team in the French Resistance and ran an underground espionage group that helped save Allied troops from Nazi invasion. The author, Lynne Olson, found out about Madame Fourcade's story after she interviewed over 300 people for her book on the Normandy Invasion.
Olson was able to interview some of Madame Fourcade's team members who were still alive at the time. If you want to read more about what it was like during WWII and find out about one woman's experience with resistance against German invaders, then this is a great place to start!
This page turner is another favorite of mine on this list of books about amazing women.
Written by: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
Published: February 16th, 2021
Author Gayle Tzemach Lemmon documents the lives of several women in a Kurdish town called Kobani. In 2014, ISIS invaded this area and used fear to convince people to rise up against their government. The Kurds were then forced into battle with no support from the U.S., providing arms for rebels in Syria until that point.
This story is about courage and resilience as these young girls fight to reclaim their land and rebuild a future for themselves after both have been taken away by war. This history was deeply researched, and there were over hundreds of hours of interviews of the women who fought heroically.
Written by: Chanel Miller
Published: September 24th, 2019
Chanel Miller is a former Stanford University student who was raped by Brock Turner while unconscious and passed out. Even though she could not resist or do anything to protect herself, he only served three months in jail for his crime.
This memoir is profoundly touching and disturbing at times because she shows how victims of rape often become blamed instead of protected. Even though she hadn't done anything wrong, she still felt shame and blamed herself at times for what happened. However, using the written word, she takes back control and refuses to let the system decide what will happen for the rest of her life.
Written by: Wangari Maathai
Published: October 3rd, 2006
The Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 was awarded to Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan environmentalist, and political activist. Her work is now more relevant than ever as the effects of climate change become increasingly apparent with each passing year. She has dedicated her life to social justice and empowering women throughout Africa through sustainable development initiatives to help the environment and work towards rights.
Wangari Maathai's story is an inspiring one that will encourage people worldwide to continue fighting for what they believe in despite obstacles thrown their way. It shows us that we can make a difference by working together and taking care of our planet, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem at first glance.
Written by: Heather Clark
Published: October 27th, 2020
Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath by Heather Clark is a book that provides an in-depth look into the life of one of America's most iconic poets, Sylvia Plath. She was well known for her beautiful poetry, but she also had a tumultuous personal life with many ups and downs.
Unique for a person who lived such a short life, she wrote numerous books and over 800 poems. Clark discusses many sides to this woman who experienced much in her short time on earth. This includes her relationship with Ted Hughes and so much more, and then her suicide at age 30.
Written by: Gloria Steinem
Published: October 27th, 2015
My Life on the Road is a memoir by Gloria Steinem that describes her life and experiences, giving readers an insight into what it was like to be at the forefront of women's rights in America. She tells how she started as a journalist and later wrote about feminism and women's rights and created the influential "Ms." Magazine. She also writes about her travels around the world and meets leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi and others.
Throughout this book, we see her becoming one of the most influential feminist leaders in history. This book sheds light on some crucial moments in American history while also providing lessons for today's society about freedom of speech and equal opportunities for all genders.
Written by: Lindy West
Published: May 17th, 2016
Lindy West, a feminist writer for The Guardian and other publications, has written this powerful memoir. In it, she discusses how she's been fat since childhood and was told she should be thin and be quiet. However, she taught herself to be loud and proud about it over time, even with this sexist culture around her telling her that being "nice" was more important than being herself.
Along with discussing this journey of self-acceptance, West also touches on topics such as sexual assault and mental health stigma. She also gives readers the power to use this book to learn they should not be afraid to speak up in their lives if something does not feel right or makes them uncomfortable. Especially for women in our society, you may think you are alone, but others will stand by you since they have experienced the same issues.
Written by: Amy Poehler
Published: October 28th, 2014
If you've ever seen Kimmy Schmidt, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Parks and Recs, or Saturday Night Live, then you know Amy Poehler and her incredible style of humor. In this hilarious book, you will read many hilarious bits of poetry (yes, poetry), stories of her life, and advice on your career and relationships.
The beauty of this book is that it is both touching and hilarious at the same time. Poehler does a great job of being the person we all know from her shows while also being an everyday person at the same time.
Written by: Tiffany Haddish
Published: December 5th, 2017
It's the story of her life, including her upbringing in Los Angeles and how she became one of America's funniest stand-up comedians. Even though this might sound just humor, it also shows what it was like for Haddish to grow up in an abusive household with five siblings, molested at age eight, and turn to drugs when she turned fourteen. She speaks on the trauma that can happen in families across any socioeconomic level or racial background.
Throughout her life, she realized that through comedy, she would cope with the trauma in her past while also making people laugh and learn about their own choices. This book is relatable to anyone who has had trauma or dealt with mental illness because it shows how humor can be used as a healing process instead of destroying you.
Written by: Tara Westover
Published: February 20th, 2018
Tara Westover was born in a mountainside cabin in rural Idaho to a radical survivalist father who believed the earth is flat, vaccinations cause autism, and prayers will cure all diseases. Because of that, she never went to school, never saw a doctor, and spent her days working on the family farm.
But when it became clear that her brother would not survive his mysterious illness without medical attention, Tara decided she had no choice but to break out of their isolated life. She then started going to school and eventually graduated from Harvard and Cambridge. In this memoir of astonishing grit and courage, Tara Westover describes how she managed to survive and thrive in a world that her father tried to keep her from for her whole life.