The best books for advocates and activists

Stephenie Foster Author Of Take Action: Fighting for Women & Girls
By Stephenie Foster

Who am I?

I grew up in an Italian-American, Catholic household. Early in life, I was told I couldn’t be an altar boy. When I asked my mom why, she told me that girls weren’t altar boys…that seemed ridiculous to me and it started me on a lifelong journey of advocating for the rights of women and girls. I have built a career out of pushing for better laws and policies to provide women the same opportunities and resources as men. I’ve served as Chief of Staff to two U.S. Senators on Capitol Hill, General Counsel in the Executive Branch, and in senior leadership in the non-profit sector.

I wrote...

Take Action: Fighting for Women & Girls

By Stephenie Foster,

Book cover of Take Action: Fighting for Women & Girls

What is my book about?

Take Action: Fighting for Women and Girls is a well-sourced and important toolkit covering advocacy & activism, with specific information about four issues related to girls, women, and gender equality—the power and importance of education, expanding economic opportunities, eliminating gender-based violence and participating in politics and public life. Filled with loads of tangible resources—such as specific questions to ask, ideas for identifying decision makers, influencers, and organizations that can help, books and movies that inspire action…

Would-be activists will start their work, stay focused and goal-oriented and make positive change in the world, while finding themselves referring back to this guide again and again.

The books I picked & why

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We Should All Be Feminists

By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie,

Book cover of We Should All Be Feminists

Why this book?

This is a short, readable book that makes a compelling case about feminism and how it has a positive impact on society. It is easy to take in and very accessible. It encourages us all to talk about issues of equality and disparity and understand how we can all move forward together.

No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference

By Greta Thunberg,

Book cover of No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference

Why this book?

Another short book, of Greta Thunberg’s speeches on how she sees her work to address the climate crisis. She is a compelling voice and this book captures her views and perspectives. The book highlights how one person’s voice can literally change the conversation we collectively have on an issue. Greta started by sitting outside the Swedish parliament —by herself—with a sign protesting inaction on climate change. She has a clear message that resonates with people of all ages. This book of speeches is an easy way to understand her thinking, her outrage, and her advocacy.


By Isabel Wilkerson,

Book cover of Caste

Why this book?

This book challenges all of us to think about race in America and confront how racism has shaped the United States and had an impact globally. It also uses personal anecdotes to emphasize the academic discussion. I find this book particularly compelling as we all confront racism, sexism, and intersectionality. It made me question my views and how I would have responded in a particular situation. It also gave me a better understanding of the author’s experiences as a Black woman facing the world, and how those experiences are different from mine.

Secrets of the Sprakkar: Iceland's Extraordinary Women and How They Are Changing the World

By Eliza Reid,

Book cover of Secrets of the Sprakkar: Iceland's Extraordinary Women and How They Are Changing the World

Why this book?

The First Lady of Iceland (herself a Canadian) captures how Icelandic women have, and continue to, shape Icelandic society. Not all of the women she interviews consider themselves feminists, but they all are making their own way in the world without any apologies. Read it before your trip to Iceland!

You Don't Belong Here: How Three Women Rewrote the Story of War

By Elizabeth Becker,

Book cover of You Don't Belong Here: How Three Women Rewrote the Story of War

Why this book?

These three women journalists broke the barrier of women reporting on war. All were different in terms of background and approach, but all were gutsy and told the story from a different perspective than their male colleagues. Given they were reporting in the 1960s, there were overt barriers that each faced to doing what they loved, whether those were rules about women’s presence on the frontlines or norms about what kind of reporting women should do. In each of their own ways, they broke down those barriers and gave us all fresh, important reporting on the conflict in Vietnam.

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