The Giving Compass family pitched in to create this list of good reads by and about inspiring women. While far from comprehensive, this list offers a starting point for readers looking to learn more about amazing women who have shaped and continue to shape our world. Head down to your local library and pick up one (or several!) of these titles to celebrate women.

Biographies and Memoirs

Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood by bell hooks: Intersectional feminism comes to life with accounts of growing up as a black girl in the South.

Dying To Be Me by Anita Moorjani: How a long, hard battle with cancer resulted in a more fulfilling life, unrestrained by onerous cultural expectations for one woman.

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Francesca Cavallo and Elena Favilli: These quick accounts of real women - from scientists to pirates to race car drivers - are accompanied by wonderful artwork to inspire girls to grow up and change the world.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot: How one poor black woman's cells were used to unlock some of the biggest medical mysteries in history - without her knowledge or consent.

Persepolis: The Story of Childhood by Marjane Satrapi: An autobiographical graphic novel depicting the life of a young girl raised in Iraq during the Islamic Revolution.

Personal History by Katherine Graham: This 1998 Pulitzer Prize-winning autobiography offers a look into the history of The Washington Post - and the events that it disclosed.

Shrill by Lindy West: A funny and touching account of life as an overweight and opinionated woman in a culture that demands women to be beautiful and quiet.

Unbound by Steph Jagger: The story of a young woman who leaves her comfortable, successful life to ski 4 million vertical feet in a year across five continents.


Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: An exploration of race, gender, class, and documentation status in the West and Nigeria.

Beloved by Toni Morrison: A harsh look at the realities of slavery portrayed through the story of an escaped slave woman.

Economic Opportunity for Women

Better Together: 8 Ways Working with Women Leads to Extraordinary Products and Profits by Jonathan Sposato: A man's perspective on why women don't get the respect they deserve in the workplace and how to improve business culture.

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicolas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn: A collection of inspiring stories about women around the world who overcome hardship and tragedy to find success. 

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg: How women and the people who support them can work to close the gender divide in business.

Own It: The Power of Women at Work by Sallie Krawcheck: A combination of anecdotes, advice, and facts work together to tell a compelling story: greater gender diversity can and will improve business success.

Essay Collections

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay: Personal essays that explore politics, feminism, and more, questioning how we can all be better.

So Sad Today by Melissa Broder: An anxious women's essays on coping with mental illness in the modern world.