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17 Books Every Women Should Read

In Living on September 21, 2011 at 7:23 am
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My at home library has quickly become a sea of books that’s has giving me hope, laughs, motivation and wisdom through out my adult years. I’ve rounded out some of the best books that’s had a great influence in my life and the women I know.



If you have outstanding balances on your credit cards…don’t have assets in your own name…are saving instead of investing, then chances are you’re not rich and not living the life you want. Without your awareness, behaviors learned as a girl are preventing you from becoming a woman who is financially independent and free to follow her dreams. Now, with the same frank advice and empowering information that made Nice Girls Don’t Get the Comer Office a bestseller, Lois Frankel tackles the 75 financial mistakes that keep women from having the wealth they deserve. She isolates the messages about money given to little girls that little boys never hear. Then she helps you discover the financial thinking that is keeping you stuck in old patterns, dependent relationships, and jobs where you earn less than you deserve. Once you get to the root of the problem, Frankel helps you solve it-with fabulous results. Her coaching tips help you take control of your finances and make more money than you ever thought possible. Do you make these “nice girl” mistakes? * Mistake #4: Not playing to win. Being polite, quiet, and fair to a fault is playing the financial game “like a girl.” * Mistake #10: Choosing to remain financially illiterate. Knowledge is power. Learn to manage your major purchases, investments, and banking. * Mistake #20: Spending as an emotional crutch. Understand your emotions; don’t make purchases just to lift your spirits. * Mistake #45: Saving instead of investing. Fear can keep your funds in low-interest accounts. Get educated about investing. Get wealthy. Frankel gives you the financial savvy to change negative behaviors, make smart money choices, and embrace the life you want sooner than you think.



A deeply moving story by a survivor of the commercial sex industry who has devoted her career to activism and helping other young girls escape “the life”

At thirteen, Rachel Lloyd found herself caught up in a world of pain and abuse, struggling to survive as a child with no responsible adults to support her. Vulnerable yet tough, she eventually ended up a victim of commercial sexual exploitation. It took time and incredible resilience, but  with the help of a local church community, she broke free of her pimp and her past.
Three years later, Lloyd arrived in the United States to work with adult women in the sex industry and soon founded her own nonprofit—GEMS, Girls Educational and Mentoring Services—to meet the needs of other girls with her history. She also earned her GED and won full scholarships to college and a graduate program. Today Lloyd is executive director of GEMS in New York City and has turned it into one of the nation’s most groundbreaking nonprofit organizations.
In Girls Like Us, Lloyd reveals the dark, secretive world of her past in stunning cinematic detail. And, with great humanity, she lovingly shares the stories of the girls whose lives she has helped—small victories that have healed her wounds and made her whole. Revelatory, authentic, and brave, Girls Like Us is an unforgettable memoir.


Bevere, an evangelical speaker and author known for tackling touchy topics with candor, wit and transparency, lays down the gauntlet again as she calls Christian women to cease trying to emulate men and embrace their feminine, strong nature. Bevere (Kissed the Girls and Made Them Cry) offers women a clear alternative to society’s take on the definition of true strength. Rather than relinquishing the power and influence that she believes women innately embody for the sake of mimicking men’s overt physical strength, women can choose to wield their impact for good by way of subtler, more feminine speech and conduct. Bevere expounds upon the ways women fight best “as caretakers of others’ hearts, by lifting another’s spirit by speaking strength to their weaknesses, and wisely offering images of healthier, life-enhancing practices.” She asserts that enemies often fall before influence rather than brute strength: “A gentle tongue can break a bone” (Prov. 25:15). Although some women will be put off by the book’s gender-essentialist stance (e.g., women are by nature more tender and more spiritual, etc.), others will resonate with that message. All will appreciate Bevere’s authenticity as she delves deep to unmask long-held misconceptions regarding women’ uniqueness and untapped potential.




For everyone who has ever yearned for a better life and a better world, Craig and Marc Kielburger share a blueprint for personal and social change that has the power to transform lives one act at a time. Through inspirational contributions from people from all walks of life and moving stories drawn from more than a decade of their experience as international change-makers, the Kielburgers reveal that a more fulfilling path is ours for the taking when we find the courage to reach out.
Me to We is an approach to life that leads us to recognize what is truly valuable, make new decisions about the way we want to live, and redefine the goals we set for ourselves and the legacy we want to leave. Above all, it creates new ways of measuring meaning, happiness, and success in our lives, and makes these elusive goals attainable at last.


They’re pushy. Forceful. Impatient. Always in a hurry. And they’re usually ready to tell others how to do their jobs “better.” Control freaks. Maybe you know one. Maybe you are one. What are you to do? Psychologist Les Parrott (a recovering control freak) helps readers relate better to the control freaks around them. And if you are a control freak, Les will help you become willing to lose the control you love. The book includes self-tests and a lifelong prescription for healthier relationships.




The Leveys, who teach stress-management methods to a variety of organizations, including the U.S. Army Green Berets, offer an inviting and highly practical manual for those who want to enhance “health and performance, master stress and deepen their appreciation of life.” They begin by discussing relaxation, presenting eight simple, discrete techniques for identifying and releasing tension within the body and mind. They then progress to concentration, offering 11 separate methods, including several deep-breathing exercises, designed to help one disregard distractions, stabilize the mind and bring one’s full attention to bear on the object of concentration. Proper relaxation and concentration are fundamental for successful meditation, which here is both a path to spiritual liberation and also a real-world strategy for altering harmful patterns of thought and behavior. The Leveys then offer 39 methods of meditation, from simply listening purposefully to one’s surroundings to imagining that one’s body is hollow. They round out the book with reflections on integrating all these techniques into everyday life and work. Many of the strategies found here are clear, step-by-step procedures; others are scripts suitable to record on tape to play back during a relaxation, concentration or meditation session. Although they do not advocate any particular spiritual tradition, the authors continually emphasize the depth and sacredness associated with these “inner arts,” resulting in a useful handbook that will appeal to a wide range of readers seeking increased tranquility in and mastery over their lives. 



In this first of five volumes of autobiography, poet Maya Angelou recounts a youth filled with disappointment, frustration, tragedy, and finally hard-won independence. Sent at a young age to live with her grandmother in Arkansas, Angelou learned a great deal from this exceptional woman and the tightly knit black community there. These very lessons carried her throughout the hardships she endured later in life, including a tragic occurrence while visiting her mother in St. Louis and her formative years spent in California–where an unwanted pregnancy changed her life forever. Marvelously told, with Angelou’s “gift for language and observation,” this “remarkable autobiography by an equally remarkable black woman from Arkansas captures, indelibly, a world of which most Americans are shamefully ignorant.”

Iyanla Vanzant knows plenty about dealing with just such “crap.” She has led a difficult life, full of periods of abuse and self-loathing, but she has managed to learn “the lessons beneath the tears” and move beyond her grief and into understanding. In Yesterday, I Cried, she passes these lessons along, continually stressing that past hardships can and should be used to teach us how to grow, heal, and love others and ourselves. The message is one that has been echoed in her bestsellers One Day My Soul Just Opened Up and In the Meantime, but when presented as a memoir, the result is particularly moving.

As any regular Oprah viewer knows, Vanzant is a feisty and charismatic orator, and her no-nonsense style translates well into print. She is candid about her experiences without ever painting herself as a victim, effectively coming across as inspirational rather than preachy or self-pitying. The tone of the book is especially engaging because she seems to be actively working out her problems as she writes, gently pulling the reader into what becomes a mutual catharsis. “Of all things to master,” she asks, “why did I have to pick tears?” By the end of Yesterday, I Cried, she finds the answer. And in searching the depths of her own soul, she encourages others to do the same.

David Bach’s Smart Women Finish Rich is a homage to the financial wisdom of his grandmother; it’s also an excellent foundation for women who are starting to get their financial lives in order. Bach’s approach to money management is rooted in years of investment seminars for women and his work as senior vice president of investments at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. During that time he recognized that “people rarely know what is truly driving them emotionally when it comes to money.” In response, Bach has written a guide to money management for women based on his belief that “financial planning is as much an emotional issue as it is an intellectual one.” Are you considering your values in your work and investing? What part of your daily work is driven by your goals in life? Is your latte habit preventing you from accumulating substantial wealth? Bach addresses tax strategies, wills, insurance, retirement plans, and investments in a highly accessible manner.Smart Women Finish Rich ably bridges the gap between simple saving strategies and preparing for widowhood and financial independence.



Toni Morrison’s Paradise takes place in the tiny farming community of Ruby, Oklahoma, which its residents proudly proclaim “the one all-black town worth the pain.” Settled by nine African American clans during the 1940s, the town represents a small miracle of self-reliance and community spirit. Readers might be forgiven, in fact, for assuming that Morrison’s title refers to Ruby itself, which even during the 1970s retains an atmosphere of neighborliness and small-town virtue. Yet Paradises are not so easily gained. As we soon discover, Ruby is fissured by ancestral feuds and financial squabbles, not to mention the political ferment of the era, which has managed to pierce the town’s pious isolation. In the view of its leading citizens, these troubles call for a scapegoat. And one readily exists: the Convent, an abandoned mansion not far from town–or, more precisely, the four women who occupy it, and whose unattached and unconventional status makes them the perfect targets for patriarchal ire. (“Before those heifers came to town,” the men complain, “this was a peaceable kingdom.”) One July morning, then, an armed posse sets out from Ruby for a round of ethical cleansing.



Strikingly similar to InStyle magazine’s recent Secrets of Style, this chunky little book purports to lay out the basics of dressing. Indeed, the editors make looking fashionable seem as easy as pie. Their book goes through all aspects of a woman’s wardrobe, from overcoats to undergarments, and suggests must-haves. For example, they say that to build an outerwear closet, a woman should have one overcoat, one warm parka, one spring jacket, one fall coat and one raincoat-and “if you live in Minnesota,” they say, invest in “some fun coats,” too. With sassy humor, the editors counsel readers on how to wear a twin-set without looking like “the dowager aunt” and suggest solutions to fashion challenges, like making casual pants look office-appropriate. They also share mini-profiles of “Lucky Girls,” including designer Shoshanna Lonstein and Lucky’s West Coast editor, Marlien Rentmeester. Like the magazine it’s modeled on, this tome is frivolous, instructive and fun. 



Pastor of Saddleback Church, a Southern Baptist mega-church in southern California with weekly attendance of more than 15,000, Warren now applies his highly successful “purpose-driven” framework, developed in the best-seller The Purpose-Driven Church, to individual experience. The same principles Warren has taught to thousands of pastors to help churches be healthy and effective can also drive lives, he says. The book argues that discerning and living five God-ordained purposes-worship, community, discipleship, ministry and evangelism-is key to effective living. His 40 short chapters are intended to be read over 40 days’ time, giving readers small pieces of his purpose-discovering program to chew on. Warren certainly knows his Bible. Of 800-plus footnotes, only 18 don’t refer to Christian Scripture. He deliberately works with 15 different Bible translations, leaning heavily on contemporary translations and paraphrases, as an interesting way of plumbing biblical text. The almost exclusively biblical frame of reference stakes out the audience niche for this manual for Christian living. It’s practical yet paradoxically abstract, lacking the kind of real-life examples and stories that life-application books usually provide in abundance. The book has flaws editing might have fixed. People are quoted without being identified, and subheads simply repeat lines of text, which tends to make the prose sound too simple. This book is not for all, but for those needing a certain kind of scriptural rock, it is solid.



No matter how sophisticated or wealthy or broke or enlightened you are, how you eat tells all.

After three decades of studying, teaching and writing about our compulsions with food, bestselling author Geneen Roth adds a powerful new dimension to her work in Women Food and God. She begins with her most basic concept: The way you eat is inseparable from your core beliefs about being alive. Your relationship with food is an exact mirror of your feelings about love, fear, anger, meaning, transformation and, yes, even God.
A timeless and seminal work, Women Food and God shows how going beyond the food and the feelings takes you deeper into realms of spirit and soul—to the bright center of your own life.




Rodriguez follows bestselling memoir Kabul Beauty School with a superb debut novel centering on a group of women who come together in a Kabul coffee shop run by Sunny, a free-spirited American. Sunny takes in the young widow, Yazmina, the casualty of her uncle’s debt to Afghan thugs, who had taken the girl as payment but dumped her on the side of the road when they discovered she was pregnant. Halajan is a firecracker older widow who hides her cropped hairdo, jean skirts, and love letters under her burqa. Isabel, a hard-hitting BBC journalist on location to expose the story of the destruction of the poppy fields, uncovers a deeper truth: female workers addicted to the opium they handle who are then, some with their babies, jailed for “moral crimes.” Candace, a well-heeled Bostonian, has followed her Afghan boyfriend to Kabul to fund-raise for his school, but soon suspects his real motives for the school and their relationship. A craftsman and a storyteller, Rodriguez captures place and people wholeheartedly, unveiling the faces of Afghanistan’s women through a wealth of memorable characters who light up the page. 



If you believe that “everything happens for a reason,” you might find solace in this well-written self-help guide by psychotherapist Kirshenbaum (best known for the relationship guide Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay). Her premise is that “that no matter what happens to you, not only does something valuable come out of it but it’s just what you need.” Kirshenbaum details in separate chapters the 10 possible life lessons one might learn from unhappy life events, ranging from self-acceptance, feeling at home in the world and letting go of fear to finding true love or your hidden talents. Readers answer diagnostic questions to determine which lesson might be theirs. There is also a wealth of advice, such as a seven-step method to overcome fear and a list of the 10 elements of true love. Kirshenbaum is careful to note that what you learn doesn’t make up for what you have lost. Still, the case studies always end positively. And some don’t ring true: how likely is it that a mother will see the birth of a very sick infant as an opportunity to let go of fear? If you don’t believe there is comfort to be found in life’s worst events, this book isn’t for you. But if you’ve undergone a tragedy and are desperate to find meaning in it, Kirshenbaum’s smooth, comforting tone may give you some direction. 



The last thing Eloise Bingham wanted was to leave the comforts of her South Carolina home and family. But at the end of World War II, the young wife follows her husband, Isaac, to Philadelphia—only to experience his sinister and violent temper. Eloise’s children—and their children and grandchildren—will face their own trials over the next sixty years: Mattie, who has lived in her mother Eloise’s shadow, finds it takes a life-changing tragedy to help her break free; Lydia, Mattie’s strong-willed daughter, summons the resolve to rise above the cycle of abuse; and finally, Treasure, Lydia’s lively daughter, has the chance to be the first to escape her family’s destructive legacy.

 It will take unconditional love, old-fashioned family values, faith, and fearless determination—already embedded in each woman’s DNA—to triumph over a life plagued with unspeakable pain.



The surprisingly hopeful story of how a straight, nonpromiscuous, everyday girl contracted HIV and how she manages to stay upbeat, inspired, and more positive about life than ever before.
At nineteen years of age, Marvelyn Brown was lying in a stark white hospital bed at Tennessee Christian Medical Center, feeling hopeless. A former top track and basketball athlete, she was in the best shape of her life, but she was battling a sudden illness in the intensive care unit. Doctors had no idea what was going on. It never occurred to Brown that she might be HIV positive.
Having unprotected sex with her Prince Charming had set into swift motion a set of circumstances that not only landed her in the fight of her life, but also alienated her from her community. Rather than give up, however, Brown found a reason to fight and a reason to live.
The Naked Truth is an inspirational memoir that shares how an everyday teen refused to give up on herself, even as others would forsake her. More, it’s a cautionary tale that every parent, guidance counselor, and young adult should read.

(via Amazon)











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