The best books for ambitious women aspiring to break through barriers by embracing their authentic selves

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been passionate about personally and professionally lifting women up throughout my career. Today, it is how I spend my time and energy – in a way that makes a difference to those individuals and the greater world. Books have always filled my insatiable desire to continuously learn and explore mysterious, unknown worlds. As a writer, I read books to expand my understanding and push my comfort zones. I also read them so that I can share with others what I have learned in the hopes they will have a positive impact on them – a pay-it-forward of sorts. I hope you enjoy the books on this list as much as I have!


I wrote...

Book cover of Grace Meets Grit

What is my book about?

Ever wonder how seemingly subtle leadership behaviors impact workplace perceptions and performance? Hint! Leadership biases affect women much more often than men. Grace Meets Grit explores the subtle and rarely talked-about leadership behaviors through the lens of gender. Learn how to embrace your authentic leadership qualities to achieve greater personal and team performance.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Work Pause Thrive: How to Pause for Parenthood Without Killing Your Career

Daina Middleton Why did I love this book?

The myth that family can’t come first or that taking a break kills your career unfortunately is alive and well today.

Yet, this is flawed thinking and doesn’t reflect the true stories of successful women who have paused their careers and gone on to do great things. Lisen names the myth and reveals the stories of trailblazing women who have disrupted the traditional career paradigm to be successful at building a career and family.

By Lisen Stromberg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Work Pause Thrive as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

We worry putting our family first means we'll be forced to abandon our careers. We're afraid if we pause our careers, we'll be forever off-track. This thinking is outdated—forget what you've heard about how pauses are career limiting, about how those who pause lack ambition, or that if you do pause you won't be able to re-enter the paid workforce. That's a flawed reality, one that doesn't reflect the truth of the careers of some of the most successful women in this country.

Author Lisen Stromberg knows this success firsthand. After the birth of her second child, she did something…


Book cover of Embrace the Power of You: Owning Your Identity at Work

Daina Middleton Why did I love this book?

Authenticity is the key to success in the workplace.

I love how Tricia tackles head on how she overcame her fear and shame to embrace her authentic self in the workplace resulting in personal and professional success.

Her book provides a step-by-step approach that enables embracing authenticity achievable for everyone, even those who feel workplace stereotypes prevent them from doing so and understand fear is inhibiting them from doing so.

By Tricia Montalvo Timm,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Embrace the Power of You as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Embrace the Power of You

In the competitive world of Silicon Valley, corporate lawyer Tricia Montalvo Timm knew that talent and drive weren't enough to succeed. She had to belong. Timm took a cue from her days as a child actor, when she had to change her name to get auditions. As an adult, she downplayed her Latino heritage and her life as a mother to fit in. And it worked: at the height of her success, she sold software company Looker to Google for $2.6 billion. But when a LinkedIn post about her roots went viral, she knew she…


Book cover of The Empathy Edge: Harnessing the Value of Compassion as an Engine for Success

Daina Middleton Why did I love this book?

For too long emotions have been systematically suppressed at work.

In today’s highly competitive workplace where culture and leadership matters, embracing emotions is a competitive advantage for leaders and companies alike.

Maria’s book demonstrates why businesses should cultivate empathy and shares the winning traits of empathetic leaders who foster greater productivity and loyalty.

By Maria Ross,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Empathy Edge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Furious customers? Missed deadlines? Failed products? The problems your business faces may stem from a single issue: lack of empathy.

Being empathetic at work means seeing the situation from another's perspective, and using that vantage point to shape your leadership style, workplace culture, and branding strategy. Pairing her knowledge as a branding expert with proven research and fascinating stories from executives, change-makers and community leaders, Maria Ross reveals exactly how empathy makes brands and organizations stronger and more successful.

Ross shows why your business needs to cultivate more empathy now, and shares the habits and traits of empathetic leaders who…


Book cover of More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are (No Matter What They Say)

Daina Middleton Why did I love this book?

Highly-acclaimed and inspirational, Elaine tells her personal story and her personal struggles and self-reflection as a Black woman.

She goes into great detail about what she could have done differently – and she’s only in her 30s. She is the first Black person to be named Editor-in-Chief at Teen Vogue at the tender age of 29.

This one will make you think, better understand the Black point of view and lift you up.

By Elaine Welteroth,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked More Than Enough as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

WINNER OF THE 2020 NAACP IMAGE AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING LITERARY WORK — BIOGRAPHY/AUTOBIOGRAPHY

NOW OPTIONED FOR DEVELOPMENT AS A TV SERIES BY PARAMOUNT TELEVISION STUDIOS AND ANONYMOUS CONTENT

“The millennial Becoming . . . Inspiring and empowering.” —Entertainment Weekly
 
“An essential read for women in the workplace today.” —Refinery29

Part-manifesto, part-memoir, from the revolutionary editor who infused social consciousness into the pages of Teen Vogue, an exploration of what it means to come into your own—on your own terms

Throughout her life, Elaine Welteroth has climbed the ranks of media and fashion, shattering ceilings along…


Book cover of Woman Between the Worlds: A Call to Your Ancestral and Indigenous Wisdom

Daina Middleton Why did I love this book?

As someone who has deep ties to Mother Earth and the outdoors, this book spoke to my soul whose roots are attached to some primitive calling.

Apela shares her lifelong journey of connecting with the essence of indigenous spirituality and culture and her passionate work to communicate, conserve, and celebrate sacred indigenous ways.

It made me think about the cost of living in our modern world and how healing Earth begins from within.

By Apela Colorado,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Woman Between the Worlds as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Apela Colorado shares her knowledge and experiences of indigenous wisdom and promotes an understanding between the indigenous and modern world perspectives.

A ceremonial journey to reconnect with the essence of indigenous spirituality and awaken to its beauty, power and potential in contemporary society.

In this book, Apela Colorado, the inspirational authority on indigenous wisdom, shares her lifelong journey of connecting with the essence of indigenous spirituality and culture. From China to Alaska, Benin to France, Apela recounts her passionate work to communicate, conserve, and celebrate sacred indigenous ways, all while reawakening to the wisdom of her Native American and French…


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Kanazawa

By David Joiner,

Book cover of Kanazawa

David Joiner Author Of Kanazawa

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

My book recommendations reflect an abiding passion for Japanese literature, which has unquestionably influenced my own writing. My latest literary interest involves Japanese poetry—I’ve recently started a project that combines haiku and prose narration to describe my experiences as a part-time resident in a 1300-year-old Japanese hot spring town that Bashō helped make famous in The Narrow Road to the Deep North. But as a writer, my main focus remains novels. In late 2023 the second in a planned series of novels set in Ishikawa prefecture will be published. I currently live in Kanazawa, but have also been lucky to call Sapporo, Akita, Tokyo, and Fukui home at different times.

David's book list on Japanese settings not named Tokyo or Kyoto

What is my book about?

Emmitt’s plans collapse when his wife, Mirai, suddenly backs out of purchasing their dream home. Disappointed, he’s surprised to discover her subtle pursuit of a life and career in Tokyo.

In his search for a meaningful life in Japan, and after quitting his job, he finds himself helping his mother-in-law translate Kanazawa’s most famous author, Izumi Kyoka, into English. He becomes drawn into the mysterious death of a friend of Mirai’s parents, leading him and his father-in-law to climb the mountain where the man died. There, he learns the somber truth and discovers what the future holds for him and his wife.

Packed with subtle literary allusion and closely observed nuance, Kanazawa reflects the mood of Japanese fiction in a fresh, modern incarnation.

Kanazawa

By David Joiner,

What is this book about?

In Kanazawa, the first literary novel in English to be set in this storied Japanese city, Emmitt's future plans collapse when his wife, Mirai, suddenly backs out of negotiations to purchase their dream home. Disappointed, he's surprised to discover Mirai's subtle pursuit of a life and career in Tokyo, a city he dislikes.

Harmony is further disrupted when Emmitt's search for a more meaningful life in Japan leads him to quit an unsatisfying job at a local university. In the fallout, he finds himself helping his mother-in-law translate Kanazawa's most famous author, Izumi Kyoka, into English.

While continually resisting Mirai's…


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