11 Books to Buy People Who Loved Lean In

Debora L. Spar's Wonder Women

When Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In came out in March, its working girl’s pep talk seemed to be all anyone, XX or XY, was talking about. The Facebook COO has stirred up plenty of attention and plenty of emotion with a book that not only examines why women are still falling behind in the workplace but also lays some of the responsibility at their feet. Sandberg’s mix of personal anecdotes and tough love struck a chord with women who still believe they can have it all. If you know one of them, give her a glass of wine, for god’s sake, and one of these other motivating tomes.

Dare: Straight Talk on Confidence, Courage, and Career for Women in Charge, by Becky Blalock

Maybe she’s not lunching with Larry Summers and practicing yoga with Sergey Brin, but after a 33-year career at the top of a Fortune 500 utility company, Blalock has got some lady friends in high places, and she calls on 28 of them to supplement their own sage advice here.

Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection, by Debora L. Spar

One gets the feeling Spar, as one of the youngest female professors ever tenured at Harvard Business School and the president of Barnard College, knows a thing or two about the quest for perfection. She enters the “can we have it all?” fray backed with historical context and cold, hard research.

I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This: Success Secrets Every Gutsy Girl Should Know, by Kate White

Finally, Cosmopolitan gives us advice that doesn’t start with “8 ways” and end with “by tonight.” The latest book from the magazine’s longtime editor-in-chief offers less handwringing about the feminist mantle and more secrets to success. But don’t worry: there are still plenty of listicles and quizzes to keep you engaged.

Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average and Do Work that Matters, by Jon Acuf

How can a book with a title this aggro not get you psyched up to kick some corporate a$$? It’s like your high school gym teacher who works nights as a comedian yelling career advice in your ear for 288 pages.

Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success, by Adam M. Grant

Many women find themselves being givers—and not the Lois Lowry kind. Until now, that’s been viewed as a negative in the business world. Gender aside, this book shows that nice guys, or girls, do sometimes finish first.

Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work, by Chip and Dan Heath

Many women, especially those struggling with work-life balance, also find themselves being indecisive. The Heath brothers have a four-step process to help any leader, in business or at home, make the freaking call already.

Pushback: How Smart Women Ask—and Stand Up—for What They Want, by Selena Rezvani

If you don’t ask, you don’t get, argues Rezvani in this motivational manual on negotiating for higher pay, better assignments, bigger promotions, more benefits, and all those other things your douchebag coworker is getting that you’re not.

Knowing Your Value: Women, Money, and Getting What You’re Worth, by Mika Brzezinski

If she can hold her own opposite Joe Scarborough, I’m willing to bet Brzezinski has experience standing up to the boys’ club. This, her second book, focuses on fighting for fair compensation.

Break Your Own Rules: How to Change the Patterns of Thinking that Block Women’s Paths to Power, by Jill Flynn, Kathryn Heath, and Mary Davis Holt

Written by three women who own their own leadership consulting business, this book takes six “rules” that hold women back, like “Ask Permission,” and replaces them with ballsier (sorry) new rules, like “Proceed Until Apprehended.”

The Feminine Mystique, by Betty Friedan

Any woman attracted to Sandberg’s message (or any woman in general) should own this feminist classic, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Because you need to know where you came from to know where you’re going—and why it matters.

Personal History, by Katharine Graham

If it’s the peek into the personal life of a woman in power that attracted you to Lean In, then try this Pulitzer Prize–winning autobiography of the matriarch of the Washington Post Company. Graham didn’t claw her own way up the ladder, but she had to learn how to lead once circumstances put her at the top. Not a new title, but another classic.

What’s your favorite motivational read? 

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