The best books with real talk by women authors

Why are we passionate about this?

We are relatable women who have successful careers in a predominately male industry.  We have run businesses, built teams based on trust and inclusion, become authors, speakers, and advisors, while simultaneously raising children with our also working husbands.  This is not done with ease or without making trade-offs, but we will share our stories and hope to inspire other women.  We believe in supporting women in all areas of our lives and we love to lift up the ones who have impacted us.

We wrote...

Steel Toes and Stilettos: A True Story of Women Manufacturing Leaders and Lean Transformation Success

By Shannon Karels and Kathy Miller,

Book cover of Steel Toes and Stilettos: A True Story of Women Manufacturing Leaders and Lean Transformation Success

What is our book about?

This book describes the transformation the authors led to convert operations from traditional manufacturing to a lean enterprise.

Kathy (executive leader responsible for profitability) and Shannon (transformation leader) share the finer points of a comprehensive change process, the challenges and triumphs, and the real emotion involved during their quest for success. Each describes the professional journey from their unique perspective and the highlights of an endearing friendship that was formed along the way. This story will inspire female leaders in any organization, showcasing an example of high-performing women thriving in an intense and fast-paced world. Their story provides a powerful case study of women supporting each other in the workplace to drive positive culture and significantly improved business results by leading with authenticity and inclusivity.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books we picked & why

Book cover of Leading with Grit and Grace: A Journey in Organizational Culture Change

Shannon Karels and Kathy Miller Why did I love this book?

Leading with Grit and Grace outlines the journey of an organization’s cultural transformation as told by its inspirational leader, Ashleigh Walters.

For Kathy, when reading this book, it felt as though she and Ashleigh had gone to the exact same school of leadership. Although in reality, it’s not a traditional leadership school, but becoming educated as a real live manufacturing leader, with all of its trials and joys.

Her book made Kathy feel as though she instantly had a kindred spirit out there, and she could not stop smiling through the entirety of this true story!

By Ashleigh Walters,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Leading with Grit and Grace as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Lessons to Lead By: The journey to organizational culture change starts with you, the leader. Have the courage to take the road less traveled when you identify that change is necessary. Inspire personnel to solve problems while continuously improving processes. Learn from your failures and become more innovative and creative with each iteration. Know that life is full of adversity, but prepare to forge ahead and celebrate success along the way. Remember, if you lead with determination, resilience and persistence (GRIT), as well as empathy and compassion (GRACE), you can accomplish goals you once thought were unattainable. In all that…

Book cover of Minivan Mogul: A Crash Course in Confidence for Women

Shannon Karels and Kathy Miller Why did I love this book?

Many women struggle with confidence in some aspect of their lives, but Alex Perry let’s you know you are not alone in the Minivan.

She is right there next to you talking about all the things that deplete our confidence and provides practical, thoughtful ways to overcome them. Alex shares hilarious stories throughout the book that are highly relatable and by the end you feel like you have a new best friend.

This book is authentic, encourages you to be your once in a lifetime self, reminds you that we are all awkward and to embrace all of it! Jump in the Minivan with Alex and take her advice on why being confident can be so much easier than doubting your fabulous self. Shannon did and enjoyed every word!

By Alex Perry,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Minivan Mogul as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Trying to be confident in today’s world is tough. Brutal, actually.
When was the last time you got on social media and thought,
“Man, that really helped me feel better about myself?”
Give me a break!

Sound familiar?
Then hop in; we’re going for a ride.

OK, so you’ve got some confidence issues. Of course you do! Who doesn’t these days? In a world where women are constantly bombarded by unrealistic beauty standards, “Sunday best” glimpses into the lives of others via social media, and TEDx talks on how to give perfect TEDx talks, where does an Average Jane fit…

Book cover of Energize Your Workplace: How to Create and Sustain High-Quality Connections at Work

Shannon Karels and Kathy Miller Why did I love this book?

Kathy loved this book by Jane Dutton, and found herself exclaiming, “Yes!” as she read through this book that validated the energy she did receive abundantly through small moments of connection at work!

As a senior executive, Kathy could have thousands of people in her organization. Wanting to know each and every one of them was a luxury she could not afford, so she did her best to make those opportunities she did have for meaningful connections, no matter how brief, to count for her and the other person with whom she was interacting.

Jane systematically provides the science of how and why this works, along with so many useful tools for those to whom this does not come naturally!

By Jane E. Dutton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Energize Your Workplace as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Corrosive work relationships are like black holes that swallow up energy that people need to do their jobs. In contrast, high-quality relationships generate and sustain energy, equipping people to do work and do it well. Grounded in solid research, this book uses energy as a measurement to describe the power of positive and negative connections in people's experience at work. Author Jane Dutton provides three pathways for turning negative connections into positive ones that create and sustain employee resilience and flexibility, facilitate the speed and quality of learning, and build individual commitment and cooperation. Through compelling and illustrative stories, Energize…

Book cover of The Effort Myth: How to Give Your Child the Three Gifts of Motivation

Shannon Karels and Kathy Miller Why did I love this book?

Every parent with school-age children should read The Effort Myth

Sherri teaches parents how to help their children become independent, lifelong learners with the foundation of, “It’s not how hard you try that leads to success. It’s how you try hard.” Even if your child doesn’t struggle in school, Sherri taught Shannon ways to be a better parent for her child. 

She taught her how to really listen to what her child was telling her they wanted or needed, instead of assuming she knew. How to use coaching techniques to help with homework or tasks instead of saying, “Just try! Do the work! Put in the effort! (All phrases Shannon had previously used).

This book gave Shannon more confidence in ways to parent her child toward success!

By Sherri Fisher,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Effort Myth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Are you a well-meaning parent who tries to motivate your child by reassuring them that they just need to try harder?

Do you believe that gritty effort is the key to their success?

If so, you may believe in the false promises of the effort myth. Students often do try harder, and some make short-term improvements. However, focusing on effort may even make a student’s problems worse.

No one should have to suffer to be able to learn.

Of course, effort is necessary for work to be done successfully. However, trying harder is not sufficient by itself. That’s because it’s…

Book cover of The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It

Shannon Karels and Kathy Miller Why did I love this book?

If you suffer at times from Imposter Syndrome, as many women do, including Shannon, then you should pick up this book! 

Valerie provides insights into why we often think we are fooling others with our success. She asks thoughtful questions to help you become more self-aware of your competence type and how that affects your own self-sabotage and self-doubt.

She opened Shannon’s eyes to how women perceive and project their failure and provides incredibly helpful suggestions on how to flip the script on your thought process. Valerie created a safe space to help us all do some reflection, recognize we aren’t the only one’s carrying around this Imposter Syndrome and explains how to overcome it!

By Valerie Young,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Learn to take ownership of your success, overcome self-doubt, and banish the thought patterns that undermine your ability to feel—and act—as bright and capable as others already know you are with this award-winning book by Valerie Young.  

It’s only because they like me. I was in the right place at the right time. I just work harder than the others. I don’t deserve this. It’s just a matter of time before I am found out. Someone must have made a terrible mistake.
If you are a working woman, chances are this inter­nal monologue sounds all too familiar. And you’re not…

You might also like...

Book cover of This Animal Body

Meredith Walters

New book alert!

What is my book about?

Neuroscience PhD student Frankie Conner has finally gotten her life together—she’s determined to discover the cause of her depression and find a cure for herself and everyone like her. But the first day of her program, she meets a group of talking animals who have an urgent message they refuse to share. And while the animals may not have Frankie’s exalted human brain, they know things she doesn’t, like what happened before she was adopted.

To prove she’s sane, Frankie investigates her forgotten past and conducts clandestine experiments. But just when she uncovers the truth, she has to make an…

By Meredith Walters,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked This Animal Body as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Frankie Conner, first-year graduate student at UC Berkeley, is finally getting her life together. After multiple failures and several false starts, she's found her calling: become a neuroscientist, discover the cause of her depression and anxiety, and hopefully find a cure for herself and everyone like her.

But her first day of the program, Frankie meets a mysterious group of talking animals who claim to have an urgent message for her. The problem is, they're not willing to share it. Not yet. Not until she's ready.

While Frankie's new friends may not have her highly evolved, state-of-the-art, exalted human brain,…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in communication, women, and organizational culture?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about communication, women, and organizational culture.

Communication Explore 67 books about communication
Women Explore 619 books about women
Organizational Culture Explore 42 books about organizational culture