20 Summer Reads For Ambitious Women

October 11, 2017

Whether you're outside on your patio or hanging out at the beach, take a little time this summer to check out these must-have reads for ambitious women—like you!



1. Willpower Instinct, by Kelly McGonigal

Procrastination and lack of self-discipline are the greatest enemies of productivity and success. The Willpower Instinct is the first book to explain the new science of self-control and how it can be harnessed to improve our health, happiness, and productivity. Dr. Kelly McGonigal is a professor at Stanford University where she teaches on many subject including self-discipline. She gives great insight into our willpower, and lack thereof through a psychological lens. 

2. Bossypants, by Tina Fey

A personal favorite of mine, and great personal insight of understanding just how the hilarious Tina Fey came to be. Fey recounts everything from her humble upbringing, to her career highs and lows, and the unique experience of being a hugely successful woman in comedy. Bossypants takes the idea of becoming an "overnight success," and shows the kind of hard work that having great ambition actually requires.

3. My Fight / Your Fight, by Ronda Rousey 

What does it take for Olympic judo medalist, UFC bantamweight champion, Ronda Rousey to become the toughest woman on Earth? Rousey recounts the toughest fights of her life—in and outside the Octagon—revealing the painful loss of her father when she was eight years old, the intensity of her judo training, her battles with love, her meteoric rise to fame, and the secret behind her undefeated UFC record. Rousey shares hard-won lessons on how to be the best at what you do, including how to find fulfillment in the sacrifices, how to turn limitations into opportunities, and how to be the best on your worst day.

4. #GirlBoss, by Sophia Amoruso 

From starting up as an eBay store at 22 as a way to distract her from a boring job, to receiving almost 50 million in investment capital from Index Ventures, Sophia keeps it real in describing her journey from typical, I-don’t-know-what-the-hell-I’m-doing-with-my-life twenty-something, to heading board meetings on the direction of her million-dollar company with corporate heavyweights, and opening her first flagship bricks-and-mortar store on Melrose, Los Angeles. Her opening piece of advice? “Life is short…don’t be lazy”. 

5. Strong Woman, by Karren Brady

The youngest managing director of a PLC in the UK (her explanation: the word “no” didn’t quite feature in her vocabulary. Ever.), Karren Brady is sharp, witty and empowering other women, and you can’t really get much better than that. Strong Woman explores her upbringing, her forays into the largely male-dominated football industry, and what kept her resilient in her climb to power. While inspirational, it is also practical – once her story is told, Brady offers hands-on advice to women looking to get ahead at a young age whilst balancing work with the things that really matter: family and friends. 

6. Minding Her Business, by Ivy Ejam

Sometimes, it's hard for entrepreneurs to gain the confidence they need for their growing business. Minding Her Business is meant to motivate those women, and everything happen based on your mindset and in order to change your circumstances, you must change your thoughts. This book serves as a guide for ambitious women to create a life that they absolutely love and deserve. Through self-love, empowerment, the laws of attraction, spirituality, and various visualization techniques, Ivy Ejam teaches and motivates everyone to acquire the proper mindset in order to achieve success in all areas of their lives.

7. Leave Your Mark, Aliza Licht

The past five years have shown that online influencers, particularly in the realm of fashion, are leading the course of the industry. Aliza Licht, Senior Vice President for Global Fashion Communications at DKNY was for many years known simply as, “DKNY PR Girl” – the real-life equivalent of Gossip Girl. Her contribution to social media at Donna Karan from as early as 2009 changed the face of fashion PR into what it is today. Her book applies not only to those looking to get into the fashion industry but to anyone stepping into a career for the first time, with tips on how to shine amongst your co-workers, which office “characters” to look out for, and useful Dos and Don’ts for seeking advice from potential mentors.

8. Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office, by Lois P. Frankel, PhD

Do you find yourself speaking in a higher pitch to senior staff? Do you have a habit of applying makeup in public and fiddling repeatedly with your hair? Does your vocabulary favour wishy-washy words which undermine your knowledge and authority? Dr. Lois P. Frankel delivers this classic text which is filled (literally, so much in there) with real-life case studies of behaviours women adopted which either stalled or sabotage our careers and advice on what we readers can do to enhance them instead. The text opens up with a self-assessment questionnaire which helps to determine what “category” you may need to work on the most, and is structured to allow you to flit about the chapters at your own pleasure instead of reading from cover to cover. Being successful, she notes in the introduction, does not involve trying to emulate “masculinity,” nor does it rely solely on such behaviors.

9. Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert's, Big Magic is definitely not just a title for ambitious ladies in the arts. The writer herself defines creative living as: "living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear." Who isn't totally on board with that? Filled with great advice and personal anecdotes, Big Magic acts like a step-by-step guide for anyone interested in following their ambition a little more closely, or reigniting it all together.

10. Wander Woman, by Marcia Reynolds

There’s a new generation of high-achieving women today—confident, ambitious, accomplished, driven. Yet, as master coach Marcia Reynolds discovered, many of them are also anxious, discontented, and frustrated. Today’s smart and competent women seek to realize their highest potential, yet the pursuit often leaves them feeling more exhausted than proud. The resolution isn’t in managing time. The challenge is to focus your energy on your purpose, to choose who you want to be and how you want to feel in the moment, and to maximize your gifts and talents. Reynolds helps women understand the roots of their restlessness and make their wandering a conscious strategy, not a reaction.

11. Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell

Journalist Malcolm Gladwell takes a scientific look at the myriad factors that contribute to high levels of success. From Canadian ice hockey players to The Beatles, Gladwell explores the different paths and definitions of success, and advocates for something he calls the "10,000 hour rule," which is basically a friendly reminder that practice makes better.

12. The Woman Upstairs, by Claire Messud

A novel filled with the unavoidable complications of having too-much or too-little ambition, The Woman Upstairs tells the story of Nora, an artist-turned-elementary-school-teacher who somehow became everything she thought she'd never be, and an ambition-filled family who changes her life forever. This may not be a how-to for changing your own ambitious life, but it'll definitely entertain and make you think differently about what some people will do to follow their ambition, and what others allow themselves to let go of.

13. am • BITCH • ous, by Debra Condren, PhD

Dr. Debra Condren doesn't mince words, "let's face it, there's just one word that our culture bestows on that supremely ambitious woman who unrepentantly values success in her career: bitch." Reclaiming the word as a virtue, she defines "ambitchous" women as those who make more money, have more power, get the recognition they deserve and have the determination to go after their dreams with integrity. A clinical psychologist and founder of the Women's Business Alliance, Condren shares her story of making career, family and big dreams work, while guiding other women toward embracing their ambitions. Condren grants her readers permission to take their careers seriously and to work toward their dreams rather than work their dreams around their lives.

14. If You Have to Cry, Go Outside, by Kelly Cutrone

Tough words from fashion and PR maven, Kelly Cutrone. If You Have to Cry, Go Outside features Cutrone's honest, no-guarded career advice, and combines stories from both her personal and professional life. Illuminating what it means to be a success without sacrificing who you are in the process.

15. Still Lifting, Still Climbing, edited by Kimberly Springer

This gorgeous collection of academic and personal essays uncovers the story of black women's activism in America after the Civil Rights Movement. Still Lifting, Still Climbing features inspirational and empowering stories of success in areas of feminism, anti-rape campaigns, mass incarceration reform, welfare rights, women's healthcare, and labor organizing. This is a must-read collection for any politically motivated, world changing activist.

16. The Best of Everything, by Rona Jaffe

The Best of Everything explores the idea that women really can have it all—ambition and success, love and family, professional lives as rich and complex as their personal ones, and more. Following the fictional stories of five women living and loving in New York City this novel, which was first published in 1958, still speaks to the experience of ambitious women everywhere today.

17. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou 

The poetic autobiography of author Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, tells the story of how one woman's creative ambition allowed her to overcome a series of born-into setbacks (racism, the political climate of America, physical and emotional trauma, being a woman in a male-dominated culture), and become one of the most celebrated writers of all time.

18. Quiet, by Susan Cain

For all the introverts out there (like, me) this one's for you. Susan Cain disputes the idea that introverts must overcome their inclination to silence in order to become successful and recognized members of society. Using examples of hugely transformative introverts—Rosa Parks, Chopin, and Steve Wozniak, to name a few— she shows how essential the introvert is to society, and how the natural skills of an introvert (listening, hesitancy to self-promote, independence) are some of the exact qualities needed to follow one's deepest ambitions.

19. What To Say When You Talk To Your Self, by Shad Helmsletter, PhD

That voice in your head can make all the difference in terms of how successful you are. Each of us is programmed from birth on, and as much as 75% or more of our programming may be negative or working against us Dr. Shad Helmstetter teaches you to become mindful of negative thoughts that are holding you back and replace them with with the productive and positive self-talk you need. Considered by many to be one of the most important and helpful personal growth books ever written.

20. Million Dollar Women, by Julia Pimsleur

Million Dollar Women gives women a roadmap to getting over the million dollar mark with their businesses. Julia Pimsleur speaks from having been in the trenches herself and has a genuine mission to help other women make it into the million dollar women club. It’s packed with insights, practical advice, and real-life examples. Successful entrepreneur, Julia Pimsleur provides an invaluable guide for any woman who wants to make a big jump.

URL: http://chicago-woman.com/things-to-do/20-summer-reads-for-ambitious-women/

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