Whether it’s Priyanka Chopra’s 2021 memoir to Michelle Obama’s Becoming, many of the bestselling books of this decade have been by women. The topics they explore are not just relevant to women but apply to anyone trying to leave an impact on the world around them. In these books, they write about their greatest achievements, from Harvard degrees to Nobel Prizes. Yet they aren’t afraid to discuss their low points, such as experiencing bullying and getting their work rejected multiple times. So if you want to read the works of some of the most powerful and influential women in the world, here are our five recommendations.
Book 1: Harry Potter Box Set: The Complete Collection (Children’s Paperback) (Set of 7 Volumes)
About the Author: J.K. Rowling graduated from the University of Exeter before working for the non-profit Amnesty. During her time at Amnesty, she started writing Harry Potter, a children’s fantasy series based in Hogwarts, a school for magically gifted students. Though it wasn’t easy for Rowling to get her first book published, she went on to win numerous awards including the Nestlé Smarties Book Prize and the British Book Awards.
In this series, we follow a boy named Harry, whose life changes forever when he discovers that he is a wizard and must attend the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Alongside his friends Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, he goes on wonderful adventures; full of mischief and magic. If you love adventure and fantasy this is a fun and easy read. One of the best things about the Harry Potter series is watching these beloved characters develop and grow from young people to adults.
Fun factoid: J.K. Rowling’s manuscript was rejected 12 times! Yet the movies alone went on to make $8 billion internationally.
Best quote: “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.”
Book 2: Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead
Billionaire and former COO of Facebook Sheryl Sandberg wrote Lean In to help women pursue leadership roles and be successful while maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Since its release, it has been a bestseller and has sold more than 1 million copies.
There are many challenges for women in the corporate world, and Sandberg chooses to explore how the barriers women create for themselves; such as internalizing systematic discrimination and imposter syndrome, limit their potential.
In 2021, Lean In has become even more relevant due to the pandemic, as many women have struggled to keep their jobs due to schools around the world closing. Lean In is a great place to start if you want to explore what it takes to be a great parent, and also have a successful career.
Fun factoid: In 2012, Sandberg was elected to Facebook’s board of Directors, becoming the first woman elected on the board.
Best quote: “We hold ourselves back in ways both big and small, by lacking self-confidence, by not raising our hands, and by pulling back when we should be leaning in.”
Book 3: I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban
Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist and the youngest person in the world to be awarded a Nobel Prize. After she was shot by the Taliban due to her activism, she was taken to the UK for treatment. She continued to stay in the UK, going on to study at the University of Oxford for a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE). She now runs her charity Malala Fund, which helps provide education to girls in 8 countries.
This autobiography by Malala Yousafzai recounts her activism for girls’ education in Pakistan before she was shot.
She writes about what her childhood was like, her daily school commute and her determination to continue fighting for girls’ education even after it had nearly cost her her life. Yousafzai’s persistence reminds us why we must defend everyone’s right to an education as it is one of the pillars of a healthy and functioning society.
Fun factoid: Malala Yousafzai is named after the famous Afghani poet Malalai of Maiwand.
Best quote:“Peace in every home, every street, every village, every country – this is my dream. Education for every boy and every girl in the world. To sit down on a chair and read my books with all my friends at school is my right.”
Book 4: Unfinished: A Memoir
Priyanka Chopra is one of the most famous actresses in the world, starring in various projects both in India and in the US. Time magazine has named her as one of the most influential people in the world alongside Mark Zuckerberg and Leonardo Di Caprio. In addition to this, she is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador who has campaigned for children’s rights and women’s rights.
In this memoir, Priyanka Chopra reflects on the duality of her life as an actress in India and Hollywood.
Having endured bullying as a child in the suburbs of Boston, she was surprised by the admiration and success she received when she returned to India, winning the pageants Miss India and Miss World. She writes about the blessings and challenges of navigating a career in two different continents- something we rarely see. Chopra is not afraid to be vulnerable with the reader and share the highs and lows of a successful career in the entertainment industry.
Fun factoid: Priyanka Chopra’s role in “Quantico” made her the first South Asian actress to lead an American series.
Best quote: “From now on, if I was going to be an anomaly, I was going to be the shiniest damn anomaly around. I had no idea if I could pull off that sort of attitude or not, but I was sure as hell going to try.”
Book 5: Becoming: The Sunday Times Number One Bestseller
As the first African American first wife, Michelle Obama’s story to the Whitehouse is different from the women before her. While she chose to stay relatively silent during her husband Obama’s presidency, in her autobiography Becoming, she finally shares her story.
You read about her life before the presidency as a young girl in Chicago, the love story of meeting Barack Obama as well as their life in the White House. Michelle Obama is an engaging and witty writer, with a unique perspective on the political world she was drawn into.
Fun factoid: After graduating from Harvard, Michelle Obama practiced corporate law specialising in intellectual property at law firm Sidley Austin.
Best quote: “For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end.”
These women are great inspirations and will act as blueprints for future generations. It’s great to get to read their thoughts and ideas about the world around them. So which one of these books are you most interested in reading? Comment below.