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10 inspirational books for International Women's Day

Celebrate International Women's Day with these must-read books

Assorted book covers. Credit: Hachette Book Group / Harper Perineal / Penguin Random House

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March 8 is approaching—are you stocked up on feminist literature for International Women’s Day? The holiday, which was established to commemorate women's social, political, and cultural achievements, sounds like as great of an opportunity as ever to hunker down with a book that’ll make you proud to identify as a woman or help you navigate the unique challenges of womanhood. Here, are the 10 most inspiring books to read this International Women’s Day that’ll make you laugh, cry, or both at the same time.

1. Untamed by Glennon Doyle

On left, book cover that reads "Untamed." On right, person motioning hand to right while speaking on stage.
Credit: Harper Perennial

Untamed by Glennon Doyle encourages readers to truly embrace who they are.

Author and activist Glennon Doyle has this magical way of making you feel free to be who you are. Untamed, her third New York Times best-selling work of non-fiction takes you through her quest to “untame” the version of herself previously suffocating under patriarchal oppression. The book highlights numerous traumatic elements that forced her to stay shrunken in a cage—be it her eating disorder or unstable heteronormative marriage—and they inspire you to think about the own ways in which might you unknowingly shrink yourself, too. From celebrating her undying love for her now-wife Abby to teaching her own daughter Tish to be free, this empowering tale is a must-read on International Women’s Day, and every day of the year going forward.

Get Untamed from Amazon for $16.47

2. Health At Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight by Lindo Bacon, PhD

On left, book cover that reads "Health At Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight." On right, person smiling.
Credit: BenBella Books, Inc.

Healthy, sustainable living doesn't have to look a certain way.

Health At Every Size, based on a global movement of the same name, is obligatory reading for anyone who lives in a body. Lindo Bacon, Ph.D. (formerly Linda), a clinical psychotherapist and intersectional body liberation advocate with an extensive background in nutrition and sports medicine, shares why our bodies have a preferred weight that allows us to operate most efficiently, and that our bodies can quite literally be at the pinnacle of health at any size pre-determined by genetic and environmental factors. Their work of non-fiction is indeed rife with plenty of peer-reviewed academic research, but as someone who’s struggled with body image their whole life, the data is easy to digest, entertaining, and inspiring enough to help quiet dysmorphic thoughts, if just for a brief moment. Health At Every Size will teach you how to stop reducing your self-worth to the number on the scale while helping you view your body as worthy of celebration this International Women’s Day.

Get Health At Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight from Amazon for $13.49

3. Wild by Cheryl Strayed

On left, book cover that reads "Wild." On right, person smiling.
Credit: Penguin Random House

Cheryl Strayed's story will captivate you.

If you’ve been looking for permission from The Universe to make that one big leap, let Wild by Cheryl Strayed be your sign. In the wake of her divorce and her mother’s death, the New York Times best-selling author decided to uproot her life at age 22 and hike the Pacific Crest Trail alone for three months. The author uses incredibly powerful prose to invite you into her psyche during this intense period of introspection and triumph over her surroundings, inspiring the reader to do the same. Despite all the unfortunate—sometimes silly—mishaps along the way involving unreliable backpacking supplies and bloody blisters, Strayed’s story will inspire anyone on this International Women’s Day to attempt the unthinkable because it might just come true.

Get Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail from Amazon for $9.29

4. Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby

On left, book cover that reads "Wow, No Thank You." On right, person looking downwards.
Credit: Penguin Random House

This honest, yet hilarious book is sure to leave you thinking.

We all have that one friend whose lack of filter immediately brings our guard down. If you’re looking for a laugh this International Women’s Day, allow prolific author Samantha Irby to be your BFF. As a woman married to a woman while raising two white children, suffering from multiple chronic illnesses, and living in a conservative Red state, her third collection of essays is at once hilarious, brave, and political. Her highly relatable views are especially apropos given the times—she makes a case for always staying indoors, speaking to as few people as possible daily, owning a wardrobe only of pajamas, and hoarding toilet paper. While she takes readers through her daily discomforts, it’s in her unmatched sense of humor that’ll help you make light of your own, too.

Get Wow, No Thank You: Essays from Amazon for $6.94

5. Maybe You Should Talk To Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb

On left, book cover that reads "Maybe You Should Talk To Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed." On right, person smiling while leaning against wall.
Credit: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company

Reaching out to talk to someone is one of the most noble things you can do for yourself.

Here’s proof that no one’s perfect: your therapist has a therapist. In this New York Times best-selling memoir, clinical therapist and advice columnist Lori Gottlieb takes the reader through the intimate experience of both counseling patients and undergoing psychiatric care herself. Gottlieb strips the stigma away from mental illness and its treatments by grappling with the same issues as her patients, often transferring her lessons learned in therapy to sessions on the other side of the couch. At once relatable and insightful, this book makes for the ideal feel-good read this International Women’s Day.

Get Maybe You Should Talk To Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed from Amazon for $13.46

6. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

On left, book cover that reads "Bad Feminist." On right, person smiling while holding face in hands.
Credit: Harper Perennial

Roxane Gay shows readers that, contrary to popular belief, the perfect feminist doesn't exist.

There is no perfect feminist. In fact, there is no “good” feminist. There is only a “bad” feminist, which author, professor, and pop culture critic Roxane Gay proves in her New York Times best-selling work of non-fiction, Bad Feminist. The book, which is part memoir and part cultural criticism, explores the ways in which feminism paints women as “aggressive,” alienating far too many women from the conversation. She urges you all to embrace your own brand of feminism, and in doing so, celebrate all the many ways feminism manifests itself across race, ability, socioeconomic status, and more.

Get Bad Feminist: Essays from Amazon for $8.44

7. Quit Like a Woman: The Radical Choice to Not Drink in a Culture Obsessed with Alcohol by Holly Whitaker

On left, colorful book cover that reads "Quit Like a Woman: The Radical Choice to Not Drink in a Culture Obsessed with Alcohol." On right, person leaning on hand while looking into distance
Credit: Penguin Random House LLC

Quit Like a Woman challenges us to look more introspectively at our current habits.

In her New York Times best-selling debut, author and activist Holly Whitaker not-so-gently nudges women towards a life without alcohol. She argues that because alcohol is so central to women’s lives—it’s served at baby showers, for crying out loud!—addiction is a natural response to our pervasive drinking culture. In this glorious debut, Whitaker removes the stigma surrounding alcoholism by taking the reader through her own recovery, showcasing how marketing campaigns are all targeted towards women, and offering a feminist approach to recovery for those who are ready to live their best booze-free life.

Get Quit Like a Woman: The Radical Choice to Not Drink in a Culture Obsessed with Alcohol from Amazon for $18.85

8. How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran

On left, book cover that reads "How to be a woman."
Credit: Harper Perennial

Consider How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran the guide to being a modern woman.

If we can all agree on a bible for women, let this be it. Caitlin Moran’s insightful and entertaining New York Times best-selling memoir and work of cultural criticism prove that when we empower women, we empower everyone. Rife with witty and relatable observations about body hair and high heels to more somber topics like reproductive rights and mental illness, her portrayal of the human female experience is a must-read this International Women’s Day that’ll leave you feeling seen, heard, and everything in between.

Get How To Be A Woman from Amazon for $15.99

9. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

On left, book cover that reads "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)." On right, Mindy Kaling smiling while biting finger.
Credit: Crown Publishing Group

As if we needed another reason to love Mindy Kaling.

We know and love The Mindy Project for Mindy Kaling’s portrayal of a loveable OB-GYN who juggles both her cushy career and love life. But in her non-fiction debut, the actress gets real about her own life that’s a lot less glamorous and a lot more relatable. As a child of two immigrant parents from South India, she was raised in a way that, well, raised eyebrows—from her parents “feeling prosperous” for raising a statistically rare chubby Indian child to impart bookish qualities that made her far from popular, you’ll find yourself nodding your head in recognition all throughout the book. Both Kaling’s unique upbringing along with her career in a male-dominated field contributed to her feelings of alienation, but she’s proof that a few close fulfilling friendships are more valuable than ever trying to fit in.

Get Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)from Amazon for $18.97

10. Shrill: Notes From A Loud Woman by Lindy West

On left, book cover that reads "Shrill: Notes From A Loud Woman." On right, person smiling.
Credit: Hachette Book Group

Lindy West teaches readers that being a woman is a layered experience.

Being a woman is hard. Being a woman on the internet is even harder. New York Times best-selling author Lindy West is a beacon of confidence in her hilarious memoir Shrill, which outlines her battle going up against internet trolls, defending and embracing her body size, and proving that women can be funny, complicated, and messy while still being worthy of respect. The book will give you a sense of belonging this International Women’s Day, making it an ideal read for someone in your life who also needs a pep talk from the queen of confidence herself.

Get Shrill: Notes From A Loud Woman from Amazon for $11.99

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