Navigating Career & Cause: 26 Remarkable Books That Paved My Way

“Books have transformative power. They shape our thoughts, guide our actions, and inspire our passions” – gapmuse
Image of woman sitting in her garden reading a book with a stack of books on her lap.

“What are your favorite books?” My 13-year-old teen (who I still refer to as my little one, much to her resistance) asked during a visit to our local library to find a new genre of books for her to read.

Before I answer, I must share how this visit materialized.

During summer break, my older daughter suggested that my little one had outgrown her series of books at home. She recommended that I explore other genres with her sister and that visiting the library to find new reads might help. 

She noticed I was frustrated because my little one wasn’t reading the books we’d bought over the holidays and earlier this year. She also tactfully and kindly (because that’s who she is) relayed that my approach to getting her to read more during the summer was not motivating and unlikely to achieve the desired result. Ouch!

Image of teen girl browsing books at the library.
My little one at our local library. She ended up picking up the classic “Pride & Prejudice” by Jane Austin, and “Bliss” by Lauren Myracle.

Though I’m a good mother, I sometimes need guidance, like anyone else. Thankfully, my older daughter is always willing to help me, unsolicited. 🙂 Understanding that she knows her sister quite well and typically has a pulse on how she’s feeling, I agreed with her recommendation. 

I thought about her question on my favorite books and replied, “That’s a tough one.” “I love all kinds of books, but if forced to pick my favorite genre, I would have to pick two: historical fiction and books about love and family, especially those that explore the complexity of human nature. I love books that help me escape to another place, make me utilize all my senses, and feel my emotions. I also enjoy a non-fiction book – a good memoir or autobiography, a well-written business and management or marketing book, books about social issues and feminism, and self-help and personal development.”  

I didn’t tell her, but these four genres are my gateway to refining my business skills and enhancing my leadership. They help me become a better person, be the best at what I do, be a better advocate for women and girls, and an unapologetic feminist

Our conversation about my favorite books, my older daughter’s nudge to explore new reads for her sister, plus our library adventure led me to reflect on the books that have profoundly influenced my career and advocacy for women and girls.

This blog post is an ode to the authors who have guided my professional and advocacy journey and given me an immeasurable sense of purpose.

Image of a woman at a Moment of Lift book tour with Melinda Gates.
Moment of Lift Book Tour with Melinda Gates. This book and tour had a profound and lasting impact on my advocacy for women and girls.

I relish every moment I pass by my small bookshelf and take a glimpse of them or each time I visit our gapmuse Pinterest bookshelf. I must confess that I have many books in boxes because I don’t have the space to fit a larger bookshelf.

I have always been fascinated (and a little envious) with home libraries. I dream that one day, I will be able to house all my books in my very own home library. It would be quite something! Until that happens:

Here are the 26 remarkable books that have paved the way for my career and advocacy for women and girls categorized by genre or primary theme, some of which may overlap: 

Business and Management:

Self-help and Personal Development

Memoir and Autobiography

Social Issues and Feminism

Psychology and Marketing

Bonus! Current Reads: “Unbowed” by Wangari Maathai; Covenant of Water, by Abraham Verghese. The former is in the social issues and feminism genre, while the latter is historical fiction. Next on the list are “Unmasking AI” by Joy Buolamwini and “100M Leads” by Alex Hormozi. They are in the social issues and business and management genres, respectively.

Finding a good book can be challenging. Thankfully, many notable figures and organizations offer great recommendations. My favorites are:

How do you discover your books? Please tell us your secrets so we can find more incredible books too!

A good book can change your career trajectory, influence how you interact with the world around you, give you a sense of hope, relieve stress, or bring you joy. By publishing this list, I hope to make it easier for you, especially for women (and men) young in their professional journey, to discover a book that transforms your career or motivates you to champion women and girls across the globe.

Looking for more book ideas? Visit our gapmuse Pinterest bookshelf. Have kids, or are you searching for gift ideas for kids in your friends and family circles? Check out our gapmusekids bookshelf. Happy reading!

What books have shaped your journey? Please share so we can be inspired and add to our bookshelves!

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