2019 Girlboss Reading List: 10 Books That Will Empower You in the New Year

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Girlboss Reading List: 10 of the Best Books for Women in 2019 by southern lifestyle blogger Stephanie Ziajka from Diary of a Debutante, best business books for women, best self help books for women in their 20s, cute reading photo, cute reading flat lay photo

Is there anything better than cozying up with a good book? Answer: no– especially not for those of us stuck in the middle of this crazy polar vortex. It’s taken me a few weeks to put it together, but I’ve finally rounded up the best books for women in 2019! Year after year, this reading list is one of my favorite posts to put together. From providing comfort and familiarity to offering practical wellness and career advice, books can help empower us to see the world in a whole new light, and I love being able to share my favorites with you guys. 

Some of these books were pulled from our own library– and by “our” I mean Kyle’s– and some were recommendations from dear friends and business peers. These ten reads, eight of which were written by women, will keep you motivated, inspired, and comforted that you aren’t alone in any of your personal or professional struggles. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have!

1. Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear

Having trouble changing your habits? Join the club. Kyle and I were about ready to quit when we started reading Atomic Habits— and we’re not alone. This book has nearly a 5-star rating on Amazon with over 500 reviews. It doesn’t necessarily contain any new or groundbreaking information on habit formation, but it reveals practical strategies, like forming build-able habits– ie. pairing desired habits with established habits, that can teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master tiny and simple behaviors that lead to legitimately life-changing results.

2. Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. by Brené Brown

Whether you’ve read Daring Greatly and Rising Strong or you’re new to Brené Brown’s work, Dare to Lead is for anyone who wants a practical and insightful guide to courageous leadership. Whether you’re leading a start-up, family business, non-profit, or social movement, Brené, who’s become a four-time #1 New York Times bestselling author and who helped me more than I can say during my eating disorder recovery, provides actionable tools for anyone who’s ready to choose courage over comfort and dare to lead.

3. Beyond the Label: Women, Leadership, and Success on Our Own Terms by Maureen Chiquet

In Beyond the Label, Maureen Chiquet, the former global CEO of Chanel, charts her unlikely path from literature major to global chief executive. Sharing the inklings, risks and defining moments that have shaped her exemplary career, Chiquet seeks to inspire a new generation of women, liberal arts grads, and unconventional thinkers to cultivate a way of living and leading that is all their own. Wise, inspiring, and deeply felt, Beyond the Label is for anyone who longs for a life without limits on who she is or who she will become.

4. Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Are Meant to Be by Rachel Hollis

If you’re worried that everyone else has life figured out and you’re just lost in the shuffle, Girl, Wash Your Face is for you. Rachel Hollis, founder of the TheChicSite.com and CEO of her own media company, uses painful honesty and clever humor to expose twenty lies and misconceptions that too often hold us back from living joyfully and productively. She examines the falsehoods that once left her feeling overwhelmed and unworthy and reveals the specific practical strategies that helped her move past them and give herself grace without giving up. Honestly, I wish I had read this ten years ago. It’s, in my opinion, one of the best self help books for women in their 20s. 

Also, if you loved Girl, Wash Your Face, Rachel Hollis is releasing a new book, Girl, Stop Apologizing: A Shame-Free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals, in March 2019! If it’s anything like her last, it’ll be another must-read, especially for young females. Pre-order it here.  

5. Imperfect Courage: Live a Life of Purpose by Leaving Comfort and Going Scared by Jessica Honegger

Want to make a move but scared to leave your comfort zone? Jessica Honegger, the founder of fair trade jewelry brand Noonday Collection, discusses the trials and tribulations of starting a rapid-growing business that impacts over 4,500 artisans in vulnerable communities across the world and challenges readers to trade complacency for a life of impact and adventure. Imperfect Courage is both an invitation and a challenge to bravely show up for ourselves, for the people we love, and for women everywhere. 

6. Earning It: Hard-Won Lessons from Trailblazing Women at the Top of the Business World by Joann S. Lublin

Earning It is an in-the-trenches career guide from Joann S. Lublin, a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist and management news editor for The Wall Street Journal. She combines her fascinating story with insightful tales of obstacles, milestones, and battles won (and lost) from more than fifty women who reached the highest rungs of the corporate ladder, most of whom became chief executives of public companies in industries as diverse as retailing, manufacturing, finance, and high technology.

7. Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist

My interest in Present Over Perfect was piqued when I saw the foreword was written by Brené Brown. Written back in 2016 in Niequist’s warm and vulnerable style, this collection of essays invites you to consider what it might look like to leave behind the exhausting pressure to be perfect and begin the practice of simply being present and connected with the people that matter most to us.

8. That’s What She Said: What Men Need to Know (And Women Need to Tell Them) about Working Together by Joanne Lipman

No, there’s no Michael Scott dialogue or man shaming in That’s What She Said. A recent Harvard study found that corporate “diversity training” has actually made the gender gap worse, and this book helps show women how we can champion equality by reaching across the gender divide. Filled with illuminating anecdotes, data from the most recent studies, and stories from Joanne Lipman’s own journey to the top of a male-dominated industry, it’s a game-changer in how we (both men and women) understand gender relations.

9. Almost Everything: Notes on Hope by Anne Lamott

I’ve been a huge fan of Anne Lamott and her candid, caring, and often hilarious writing style ever since Kyle recommended Bird by Bird when we first started dating. In Almost Everything, she calls for each of us to bring hope back into our lives, even when despair and uncertainty surrounds us– in the news, our families, and ourselves. Part memoir and part manual, it’s fantastic inspiration for a happy and hopeful new year. 

10. The Courage to Be Disliked: How to Free Yourself, Change Your Life, and Achieve Real Happiness by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga

The Courage to Be Disliked was not what I was expecting. Using the theories of Alfred Adler, a renowned giant of nineteenth-century psychology, this book is an ongoing dialogue between a philosopher and a young man/student. Over the course of five conversations, the philosopher helps his student to understand how each of us is able to determine the direction of our own life. Although unconventional, it’s essentially Marie Kondo for your mind, and it’ll help guide you through the concepts of self-forgiveness, self-care, and mind decluttering.

How many of these have you read? I’d love to know your thoughts! Also, if you’re looking for more book recommendations, check out my 2018, 20172016, and 2015 lists of the best books for women, as well. Happy reading!

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Photography by Catherine Rhodes


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