Mama ain’t got time for that summary: This post is a running list and short review of all of the personal development books that I read or listen to.
This is a running list of personal development books for women that I have read (or listened to). I’ve included a short description for each as well as my review on a scale of 1-10.
The list of personal development books for women are in alphabetical order just to keep it simple. Also, can I ask for a favor? Please email or message me with recommendations if you don’t see one of your favorites on this list. I’m always looking for more and I love snagging a book that got a good review from one of my people 🙂
This list was last updated on May 07, 2021.
The best personal development books for women and my review!
168 Hours by Laura Vanderkam
9/10: Most people know that we have 24 hours in a day. But did you know that there are 168 hours in a week? 168 Hours is all about how to use your week to live a balanced and fulfilled life. I loved the perspective on balance in this book. Instead of thinking “there aren’t enough hours in a day”, think about what you can accomplish in a weeks time. It’s kind of freeing and helps you not stress what happens in just one day.
Atomic Habits by James Clear
10/10: Small things compounded over a long period of time, make a big difference. This book is all about how that concept, applied to habits, can change your life. This is one of my must read books. It’s not a heavy habits book, James breaks things down so they are backed by science, but digestible by anyone.
p.s. James has a fantastic email newsletter for personal development if those types of subscriptions are interesting to you.
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
7/10: Elizabeth Gilbert is probably best known for Eat, Pray, Love, but this is my favorite of her books. It’s all about the mindset and approaches you can take to live a creative life. Her book encourages you to live an inspired life, to go after what makes you feel on fire, and filter the voice in your head (yeah you know the one).
Believe It by Jamie Kern Lima
7/10: Jamie is the founder of IT Cosmetics, which is now one of the biggest names in beauty, but had an up and down rocky story of becoming what they are today, fueled by a deep belief and a heck of a lot of hard work from founder Jamie. The story of IT Cosmetics fascinated and inspired me and much about Jamie’s personal life was really interesting as well. The book didn’t get a super high review from me because of the flow, it was slow in certain areas and just didn’t captivate me like other books.
Burnout by Emily and Amelia Nagoski
8/10: This book definitely hits the list for personal development books for women. I felt super rah rah feminist after reading this book. While I might have felt as passionate as the authors about many of the topics discussed, there were so many little bits of gold and “ohhhh my gosh, me too” moments. The best part about this book is that it made me feel seen as a working mom with a whole heck of a lot to juggle. If you’re in need of a “you’re not alone” type pep talk, this might be your read!
Chasing the Bright Side by Jess Ekstrom
9/10: The book details Jess’ journey with her company Headbands of Hope. Jess Ekstrom is my kinda girl. I resonated so much with her perspective on optimism and the benefit it can have on your life. To Jess optimism means “that we see and understand the bad, but still believe it can be good.” It doesn’t mean bad things and hard times don’t happen. It means that you are in control of how you react to the bad things and hard times — are you defeated or do you grow?
The Decision by Kevin Hart
8/10: I like to switch it up between a more serious book and a light hearted book, but I mostly read personal development. I bet you can guess by the author that this book falls more on the light hearted side of the spectrum. Don’t get me wrong, Kevin talks about some heavy stuff and some really important lessons about perseverance and not listening to the hater — but it’s Kevin, so it will make you laugh super hard too. I picked this book up on Audible as a recommendation from my brother and don’t regret it one bit!
Don’t Keep Your Day Job by Cathy Heller
7/10: I started listening to the Don’t Keep You Day Job podcast a few years ago and binged it like Bridgerton. She’s an entrepreneur hype girl. She’ll help you find your purpose and make you believe that you are truly capable of anything. I liked the book, but after binging the podcast it didn’t feel like I had any new takeaways. So, binge her podcast overtime or buy this book for the quick hit.
p.s. in case you’re debating, she’s really engaging so it’s a good one for Audible.
Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink
10/10: Not all personal development books for women are made equal. This book speaks to everyone on a quest to become a better leader. It actually helps you be a better leader too. I heard Jocko speak at a leadership conference for work and immediately listened to his book afterwards because his story and message was so intriguing to me. The title is very self explanatory — taking ownership to the extreme to live a life of true leadership and integrity.
p.s. Jocko’s voice is intense. I actually liked it because it brought me back to my college athlete days, but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea so if you plan on listening to this on Audible, make sure you sample it first to know you’ll like it.
Fierce, Free, and Full of Fire by Jen Hatmaker
9/10: The title of this gem gives you the right vibe. It’s got a really endearing punch to it. Jen is a Christian and does speak to her Christian beliefs in the book. Her approach to that topic is confident, but nothing close to pushy. She invites you to believe whatever you believe, but believe something! The book covers a wide range of topics, from body image, to life purpose, to a mother’s love. I especially liked Jen’s style of reading the Audible book. She has a lovable southern accent, she takes breaks to say “hey reader” which always follows with a tidbit that only the Audible listeners get to hear, and she included clips from her Podcast with relevant guests to enhance the content.
Free to Focus by Michael Hyatt
8/10: I heard Michael Hyatt on several of my standard go-to podcasts and loved the tips he was giving in relation to his book Free to Focus so I went for it. And let me tell you the tagline for this book, “a total productivity system to achieve more by doing less”, pretty much sums it up.
Michael Hyatt outlines his productivity system, and walks through step-by-step with really relatable, real-life examples and tangible “whys”. I also appreciated the boundaries + “saying no” thread that seemed to make its way through the whole book. Since it’s something I’ll always be working on, it was speaking my language.
Girl, Stop Apologizing + Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis
7/10: I lumped these together because, well, when I read them, they kind of felt the same to me. They are both great with a home run message about tuning out all of the JUNK and getting gritty to become who you are truly meant to be.
The Joy Of Missing Out by Tonya Dalton
7/10: The Joy of Missing Out or JOMO is all about how to live more by doing less. I definitely resonate with this rationale and strategy related to productivity. Tonya paints the picture of what it looks like to intentional simplify routines, create automation, and more to make sure you are living your life instead of trying to keep up with it. Good read with practical tips. A little buttoned up and borderline cheesy for me at times.
Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
9/10: Did you read Lean In when the Lean In revolution hit? I was a late adopter on this book, but it’s a good one! Sheryl presents hard hitting facts that lit a fire within women everywhere. Then she calls you and all of your fellow women into action. It’s a book that will spark you to lead. To disrupt. And to trust in your ability.
The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod
7/10: Obviously I’m a big fan of mornings and this book is one that I latched onto when I first read it. It really helped to spark my dedications to mornings. But I don’t follow Hal’s SAVERS method. It’s wonderful. But as a mom, I needed something more flexible that makes me feel empowered no matter what my morning looked like. I have simplified his framework further and I believe it makes more sense for moms that are running 168 miles per hour each day. MOM LIFE needs to be as simple a life as possible.
If you’re curious about my perspective on mornings. Check out all of my posts on mornings!
More Than Enough by Miranda Anderson
9/10: I was recommended this book by a coworker and I think I listened to the whole thing in one day. I loved the content of the book, Miranda’s vibe, and the actionable takeaways. The book follows Miranda’s journey from an overload of stuff (and four kids adding to it), to living a freedom-inducing reasonable minimalist lifestyle. What I found really inspiring about Miranda’s story is that she was so fed up with the overload of things that her family had (and the subsequent cleaning + work needed to maintain said things) that they embarked on a journey to prove they could live otherwise — they spent one whole year without buying anything but consumables (toilet paper, food, soap, etc.). A WHOLE YEAR.
The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday
10/10: I have been mildly obsessed with Ryan Holiday’s Daily Stoics daily email newsletter for quite some time now. And while Ryan makes it clear this is not a book about Stoicism, it definitely highlights a stoic thought process. This book is full of things like — focus on what you can control, the choice is always yours, and your attitude is always in your control. Objective reminders like that are really good for me. They ground me when my emotions run wild. I loved this book, highly recommend!
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
6/10: There are some really interesting studies, case studies, and frameworks in The Power of Habit — it’s basically a habit nerd’s paradise. But the book didn’t do a great job of mixing the data and research heavy sections with actionable takeaways, so I got lost in the details. It also seemed to repeat the information and I couldn’t help but think it could have been an hour shorter. Because of that, the book was a little dry to me and I had to really commit to finish it.
If you want to dig into habits, I would recommend Atomic Habits first.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*CK by Mark Manson
8/10: This book is a 9/10 purely because in the first 10 minutes of listening to it, I was nodding my head so hard and hit the rewind button to listen to it again. The mental spiral I often creep down was repeated back to me and I actually laughed out loud. If you feel like you are stuck in your own way because you’re a people pleaser or highly conscious of what people around you are thinking — this book is for you!
I would definitely recommend this on Audible. It’s like a friend giving you tough love.
Untamed by Glennon Doyle
8/10: Let go of perfect. Be unapologetically you. Live your life to the fullest. Glennon is a great storyteller. I actually first read her work in Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy Beautiful Life. I think Untamed is a reflection of the evolution of her life. It raw, feminist, and hits the hard stuff head on all while still managing to inspire.
The best personal development books for women – what am I missing?
I am totally serious when I say please email or message me with recommendations if you don’t see one of your favorites on this list. I am always reading, mostly on Audible these days, and the best books I have read have been via recommendations. Thank you!