Book Your Vacay: 11 Summer Reads (& Listens) for Women Leaders

Resist the urge to consume the mindless beach read this summer. You know what we mean, the cotton candy of a novel that if you left it in the sand it would be OK with you.Instead, perhaps choose one or more of these more recent releases that has the possibility to inform, edify, uplift and inspire you in your work and your ambition. You just may get a laugh along the way –or a few keen strategies —as you take notes on what these authors have to offer.[bctt tweet=“Does your #beachread have the possibility to inform, edify, uplift & inspire you?” username=“takeleadwomen”]Consider that reading – or listening to an audio book— is not just a way to pass the time on the plane or in the hammock. It can make you smarter, more empathetic, more employable and a better leader.“It is no secret that reading boasts a myriad of personal benefits, and is often credited as one of the main hobbies of a wide range of people. But did you know that the more you read, the more attractive you look to potential employers?” writes Helena Roots in Business Insider.“Often, reading will ask you to question and to think logically, to analyze and balance information. An employer will want people on their team who are able to think logically and to review information and situations calmly and methodically,” according to Roots.A recent study by Kingston University in London “shows that reading — particularly reading literary fiction — can make readers more empathetic. By reading, appreciating and understanding the complex emotions of others, you will be better able to appreciate the emotions of others and be more considerate and tactful. This is a highly attractive quality in a potential employee,” Roots writes.[bctt tweet=“This summer pick up something off of the #TakeTheLead list of books for ambitious #womenleaders “ username=“takeleadwomen”]To that end, here is Take The Lead’s list of books for ambitious women leaders (including of course the classic by Take The Lead’s co-founder) who want to dive into developing their powers to achieve their goals. Trigger warning: some of the titles include some slang, and by that we mean, swear words.

  1. You Don’t Look Your Age and Other Fairy Tales, by Sheila Nevins. Producer of more than 500 documentaries as president of HBO Documentary Films for over 30 years, Nevins delivers personal, candid essays as “the best friend you never knew you had. She is your discreet confidante you can tell any secret to, your sage mentor at work who helps you navigate the often uneven playing field, your wise sister who has “been there, done that,” your hysterical girlfriend whose stories about men will make laugh until you cry. Sheila Nevins is the one person who always tells it like it is,” according to BookBub.

  2. How Exceptional Black Women Lead, by Dr. Avis Jones-DeWeever. Founder of the Exceptional Leadership Institute for Women, Jones-DeWeever asks, “Does your ‘all’ include a career that is free of persistent roadblocks along the way, or at least one that is aligned with your passions and greatest ambitions? Does it consist of loving and supportive personal relationships that produce a home environment that provides a sense of peace, a safe space for personal reflection, and a source of deep restoration and renewal? And does it include regular ‘you’ time that feeds your spirit, exercises your talents, and nurtures your dreams? If you answered no to any of these questions, it’s time to embrace the full breadth of your greatness. Join the sisterhood of barrier-breaking women committed to maximizing their career potential while building a personal life that they love.”

  3. You Are a Badass at Making Money, by Jen Sincero. According to Sincero, “My hope is that by speaking, coaching and writing about all the things that make me excited to be spinning around on this planet of ours, I’ll inspire you to recognize, and pursue, whatever it is that floats your banana, to tap into your own little badass, to be you times two, large and in charge, huge like The Nuge.”

  4. Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy,by Sheryl Sandberg. Facebook’s COO and author of Lean In, the book that launched a movement, now writes about life after the sudden death of her husband. “I was lucky for a long time. And then I wasn’t,” Sandberg said in a recent talk at Wharton as part of the Authors@Wharton speakers series.

  5. Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People, by Vanessa Van Edwards. On her site, the Science of People, Van Edwards writes, “I don’t use gimmicks or tricks. By using current research out of academic institutions and research organizations around the world, I’m able to share the latest people science in an actionable, applicable and un-boring way. Have I mentioned? I’m anti-boring.”

  6. The Universe Has Your Back: Transform Fear into Faith, by Gabrielle Bernstein. Founder of “, a social networking site for women to inspire, empower and connect, Bernstein was named “one of 16 Youtube Next Video Bloggers, one of Mashable’s 11 Must-Follow Twitter Accounts for Inspiration and is on the Forbes List of 20 Best Branded Women.” In her latest book, “The lessons help listeners relinquish the need to control so they can relax into a sense of certainty and freedom. Listeners will learn to stop chasing life and truly live. Making the shift from fear to faith will give listeners a sense of power in a world that all too often makes them feel utterly powerless,” according to the book’s description.

  7. 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do by Amy Morin. Psychotherapist and contributor Morin writes, “Everyone experiences jealousy at one time or another. Left unchecked, however, jealousy can turn into resentment and bitterness. And those emotions can be downright destructive. In my therapy office, I’ve witnessed how destructive resentment can be. People who feel as though they don’t measure up often grow consumed with hostility. So whether you’re angry your co-worker got promoted over you, or you’re feeling bad that your friends earn more money than you do, it’s important to stop resenting other people’s success.”

  8. Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott. The founder of Candor, Inc., Scott was previously “a CEO coach at Dropbox, Qualtrics, Twitter, and several other Silicon Valley companies. She was a member of the faculty at Apple University, developing the course ‘Managing at Apple,’ and before that led AdSense, YouTube, and Doubleclick Online Sales and Operations at Google. She was the co-founder and CEO of Juice Software, a collaboration start-up, and led business development at two other start-ups, Delta Three and Capital Thinking. Earlier in her career, she worked as a senior policy advisor at the FCC, managed a pediatric clinic in Kosovo, started a diamond cutting factory in Moscow, and was an analyst on the Soviet Companies Fund,” according to her author description.

  9. Weird in a World That’s Not: A Career Guide for Misfits, F*ckups, and Failures by Jennifer Romolini. The chief content officer of Shonda Rhimes’s, Romolini was editor-in-chief of HelloGiggles and Yahoo Shine and the deputy editor of Lucky magazine. In her first book, she tackles failures and an unlikely path to doing what you want to do.

  10. Get Over Your Damn Self: The No-BS Blueprint to Building a Life-Changing Business, by Romi Neustadt. Former lawyer, then PR executive, Neustadt built “a 7-figure business in less than three years that’s allowed her and her doctor husband John to design the life they really wanted. The founder of, she offers strategies and tips.

  11. No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power,by Gloria Feldt, co-founder and president of Take The Lead. Her best-selling book serves as the foundation of the 9 Leadership Power Tools Learning Program. “It’s hard to change a culture while you’re living in it, and the combination of stereotype threat, implicit bias, fear of losing roles in which we are comfortable even though they limit us, and remaining structural barriers such as organizations designed for men by men with wives at home, conspire to make the pace toward parity somewhere between 63 and 500 years, by various estimates. I can’t live 500 more years no matter how hard I try. So I had to do something to disrupt the pattern,” Feldt writes.

We hope you take these suggestions to heart—and in your overnight bag this summer. Keep in mind there are plenty of other lists as well. Perhaps try Fortune’s Best Business Reading  or Inc. Com’s Bestselling Business Books.