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What to Read: 4 Books by Women at the Top of Their Game

March 08, 2016

Sonia Sotomayor, Mindy Kaling, Sophia Amoruso, Shonda Rhimes: What do these four women have in common? Though they have different backgrounds and work in vastly different fields, they’ve all risen to the top of their industries via intelligence, perseverance, conviction, and a healthy dose of humor.

Their stories will inspire, entertain, and motivate you to use your voice, pursue your passions, and go after the career you want.   

books by women

1. My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s journey to the top wasn’t easy. After growing up in a housing project in the Bronx, she went on to study at Princeton and Yale School of Law, and she ultimately become one of the country’s most revered legal minds. In her memoir, she talks about having anxiety on her first day in open court—and how it disappeared once she hit her stride. Sotomayor’s story reminds us that even the most successful women experience moments of uncertainty, and that fear can ultimately be the most effective motivator.

Our favorite quote: “…Experience has taught me that you cannot value dreams according to the odds of their coming true. Their real value is in stirring within us the will to aspire. That will, wherever it finally leads, does at least move you forward. And after a time you may recognize that the proper measure of success is not how much you’ve closed the distance to some far-off goal but the quality of what you’ve done today.”

books by women

2. Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

Multi-dimensional Mindy Kaling is that killer combination of savvy and fun: She’s an astute businesswoman, and she’s not afraid to talk about how much she loves shopping for clothes. She’s now the showrunner of The Mindy Project, as well as the show’s lead actress. And though she’s one of the most visible women in comedy today, many consider her an unlikely star. Her book’s central question, “Why not me?”, challenges the notion that someone of Kaling’s background and body type shouldn’t be a leading woman. Her story demonstrates that, although she was not an overnight sensation, she paved her own path with ambition and tenacity.

Our favorite quote: “Work hard, know your shit, show your shit, and then feel entitled.”

books by women

3. #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso

Ever heard of a little company called Nasty Gal? Sophia Amoruso is the founder and CEO of the clothing company, which skyrocketed to success and was named one of the fastest growing retailers by Inc. In her memoir, Amoruso explains how she went from being a petty thief to the CEO of one of the world’s buzziest businesses. Her journey is a reminder that it takes clear-sighted vision and gumption to break through the noise, and that entrepreneurialism comes in all different forms.

Our favorite quote: “In whatever you do, you’re not going to stand out unless you think big and have ideas that are truly original. That comes from tapping into your own creativity, not obsessing over what everyone else is doing.”

books by women

4. Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

Ever since showrunner Shonda Rhimes entered the scene, Thursday nights haven’t been the same. Rhimes is the creator of the wildly successful Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, and has been lauded for showcasing more actors of color in lead television roles. Her memoir recounts how she, despite being an introvert, decided to say yes to everything— and how the world opened up as a result. She was always a force to be reckoned with, but now everyone knows it.

Our favorite quote: “I am not lucky. You know what I am? I am smart, I am talented, I take advantage of the opportunities that come my way and I work really, really hard. Don’t call me lucky. Call me a badass.”


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Sarah duRivage-Jacobs is an actor / writer / improviser who lives between New York and L.A. with her cat, Jasper. She enjoys time travel, BBC television, and receiving mugs as gifts. Read more of Sarah's posts.


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