Sunblock? Check. Swimsuit? Check. Highly informative yet entertaining book about building your next business? Better take that with you, too. From can-do self-help mantras to tips of the capitalist trade, these diverse female authors offer valuable insights into the entrepreneurial world. Tan on the beach with Michelle Obama’s memoir in your hands, or lounge in an air-conditioned hotel room learning from Caroline Criado-Perez about how the world was designed for men. No matter how insufferable or how unforgettable your summer is, while you’re getting your Vitamin D pick up an ultra-boost of morale and a dose of good ol’ learning from these inspiring leading ladies.
1. Alpha Girls by Julian Guthrie
Guthrie’s fourth non-fiction book profiles a rare, if not endangered, breed: women who’ve made it as venture capitalists in Silicon Valley. Described on Guthrie’s website as “Hidden Figures meets The Social Network,” Guthrie weaves together a mesmerizing narrative of four female pioneers who planted their stake in a male-dominated cutthroat world — and succeeded. The women are Theresia Guow, the daughter of Chinese immigrants, who co-founded Aspect Ventures and now has a net worth of $500 million; Magdalena Yesil, a Turkish immigrant who became the first investor and board member of Salesforce; MJ Elmore, who backed and helped build the early computer and networking companies; and Sonja Perkins, who funded a number of big name communications companies. The book is currently being made into a television series.
2. Becoming by Michelle Obama
As intimate as it is inspiring, this former First Lady’s powerful memoir will shock you with its honesty. Divided into three sections, Obama intertwines the personal and the political to tell a story about a woman, her husband, and the family they raised. Oh, and the country they presided over for eight years. Released in November of last year, her memoir sold 725,000 copies the first day and became the top-selling book of the year in just 15 days. It’s Obama’s second book after American Grown, a book that promotes healthy living, and so far it’s possibly eclipsed even her husband’s public persona. It’s rumored that Barack Obama will publish his own memoir later this year, but he’s got some major shoes to fill.
3. How We Make Stuff Now: Turn Ideas into Products That Build Successful Businesses by Jules Pieri
Here’s a fun one — Jules Pieri, who we featured in our Fearless #Over50 list, put out this book to inspire the creator within you. Like a DIY kit for building your own business, Pieri speaks to makers, entrepreneurs, and anybody interested in the product creation process. From when the lightbulb in your head goes off to when you’re shipping your very first package, the book’s 21 chapters walk you through different steps to grow and expand your business as efficiently as possible. A treasure trove packed with digestible morsels of advice and experience, Pieri’s book will fuel your entrepreneurial flame and make sure it never goes out.
4. Invisible Women by Caroline Criado-Perez
James Brown arguably sang it best when he said “it’s a man’s world,” but Criado-Perez’s new book on gender inequality, as based on hard data and statistics, helps illuminate the same sentiment with numbers. Each page contains at least one eye-opening fact — you’ll learn that blind orchestra auditions have increased the proportion of female players to nearly 50%, most offices are five degrees too cold for women, Google’s speech recognition software is 70% more likely to understand men, and so much more. Backed by objective studies and thoroughly researched to the tee, Criado-Perez’s book is basically the Mueller report for data bias. With its wit and originality, the book exposes discrimination so wired in our systems that we never would have noticed it in the first place.
5. Brave, Not Perfect by Reshma Saujani
From the founder and CEO of Girls Who Code comes a self-help book that’s neither as puerile as Hannah Montana’s “Nobody’s Perfect” ballad nor as high-flown as Kantian theory of perfectionism. It strikes a middle ground as a delightfully constructive lesson on “how to end our love affair with perfection and rewire ourselves for bravery.” Inspired by Saujani’s TED talk, the book explores our age-old obsession with perfection and the importance of lightening the weight of expectations. Saujani balances scientific research and all-too-honest divulgences (she writes, “Oh, shit … why am I not happy?”) to deliver a timely dose of inspiration to any woman who’s ever felt not good enough. She wants them to know: you’re not alone, and you can be happier.
6. The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You by Julie Zhou
Great managers are made, not born. That’s what Julie Zhou wants you to know in her new leadership manifesto for those looking to take charge. Highly praised by CEOs and founders at a plethora of different companies, the book explores what it means to be a good boss for both the newly initiated and the old guard. Zhou herself was promoted to a manager position at Facebook at the tender age of 25 and shares her indispensable life story on winning the corporate rat race.
7. Wolfpack by Abby Wambach
Most remembered for her menacing presence on the soccer field, former U.S. Women’s National team player Abby Wambach lets out an audacious howl with her new book, Wolfpack. Wambach told the New York Times, “This isn’t just a female athlete’s story; this is every single woman’s story on planet Earth.” An empowering cry for women to unite and conquer, the book lists eight rules to challenge existing female norms in a provocative way. For example, she lists an “old rule” such as “Be grateful for what you have,” and then slightly revises it: “New Rule: Be grateful for what you have AND demand what you deserve.” In a very simplified yet hard-hitting format, Wambach makes her voice heard and hopes to instill in future generations this idea: “We have never been Little Red Riding Hood. We are the Wolves.”
[Related link: This former NFL cheerleader is teaching leadership to girls]