What to Read in 2018: 23 Books for Entrepreneurs, Written by Women

What to Read in 2018: 23 Books for Entrepreneurs, Written by Women

Thankfully, the year-end regret that you binged more Netflix than books is closely followed by another chance to do it right. Another stab at being a better you! Isn’t that what the self-help pundits, fitness gurus and motivational gifs keep telling you? But what does it actually mean?

If I eat one fewer donut today, am I not a better version of me than I was yesterday? Maybe not. But you do need to define “better” for yourself. Does Best You travel more? Does she work out 3 times a week?

Best Me reads more.

I realized halfway through 2017 that I wasn’t, for whatever reason, making time to read—a hobby that I love. I recognized that a shift in my habits would require a more powerful motivation: competition. I dusted off my Goodreads account, and established an aggressive (public) goal for my 2017 Reading Challenge. I fell short by two, but I still read 23 books within the last half of the year. Slow start, strong finish!

What motivates you to stick to a habit?

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I'm not alone. “Read more” tends to rank high on the list of resolutions each year. And, many self-taught entrepreneurs credit books (vs. formal education) with giving them the tools and motivation to get their companies off the ground. If books are on your own list of be-better activities or you want to start a business this year, get serious about reading:

  • Establish clear goals—how many books do you want to read? How will you track your progress? What do you want to learn? Write it all down.
  • Rearrange your life to carve out time. Block your calendar and set reminders.
  • Pick a format that’s most conducive to your lifestyle.
  • Enlist the support of a book club or online community.
  • Compete with yourself. Challenge yourself to up your consumption each month.
  • Download an app like Goodreads to help you create a queue of literary conquests, and track your progress.

What should you add to that queue?

Books for Entrepreneurs, Written by Women

We’ve published book roundups before. Our last one in 2014 recommended 40 excellent titles for our entrepreneur readers. It was time for a redux, but I was troubled: only 7 books in that previous list were written by women.

Surely, I thought, we could do better.

This time, we bring you a list of 23 books all written by women. They have been read and reviewed by some amazing women here at Shopify, too—UX Researchers, Marketers, and Designers alike weigh in on their picks. But don’t get me wrong. This list isn’t just for women. It’s for entrepreneurs of all ilks, and anyone in pursuit of self-improvement.

Add these 23 women-penned titles to your reading list in 2018 (plus 4 bonus titles from our own to-read lists):

  1. Grit: Passion, Perseverance, and the Science of Success
  2. The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance—What Women Should Know
  3. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
  4. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
  5. The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store
  6. The Sleep Revolution
  7. In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs
  8. Take Pride: Why the Deadliest Sin Holds the Secret to Human Success
  9. The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life
  10. Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table
  11. If You Have to Cry, Go Outside: And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You
  12. The 52 Lists Project: A Year of Weekly Journaling Inspiration
  13. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
  14. The Art of Asking
  15. You Can Heal Your Life
  16. Bossypants
  17. Unfinished Business
  18. Yes Please
  19. Worry-Free Money: The Guilt-Free Approach to Managing Your Money and Your Life
  20. Worth It: Your Life, Your Money, Your Terms
  21. What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend: A Short Guide to Making the Most of Your Days Off
  22. You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth
  23. Female Innovators at Work: Women on Top of Tech

1. Grit: Passion, Perseverance, and the Science of Success

Angela Duckworth, 2016

Approx. read time: 9 hours

Goodreads rating: 4

Amazon rating: 4.5

Buy this book.

Recommended by: 
Casandra Campbell, Executive Expansion Pack, Shopify

“I have long believed that consistent effort is the key to entrepreneurial success. The people who ‘make it’ don't always have the best ideas or the most resources. Instead, they keep working and making incremental improvements day after day—no matter what gets thrown at them. This is what Grit is all about. Angela Duckworth uses new research to explain why perseverance and focused learning are the keys to accomplishing greatness in any field. She doesn't just explain why this is true, she teaches readers how they can cultivate more grit in themselves and the people around them, too." – Casandra Campbell


2. The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance—What Women Should Know

Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, 2014

Approx. read time: 6 hours

Goodreads rating: 3.7

Amazon rating: 4.4

Buy this book.

Recommended by: 
Katrina Bautista, Senior Designer, Shopify

“We’ve all read the articles about shifting stance and speech patterns to appear more confident, but The Confidence Code challenged how I think about behaviors we associate with ‘capability’ and ‘doing a good job’ that actually erode our own self-confidence. Behaviors like over-preparation instead of action, seeking too much feedback from others at the cost of our decision-making, and self-exclusion/self-selection (declining from compliments and opportunities because we feel we lack merit) are all conditioned behaviors that we can unlearn, hopefully transcending perfectionism in favor of courage and action in a world where we are constantly apologizing for our own greatness.” – Katrina Bautista

The Confidence Code challenged how I think about behaviors we associate with ‘capability’ and ‘doing a good job’.

3. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

Susan Cain, 2012

Approx. read time: 10 hours

Goodreads rating: 4

Amazon rating: 4.5

Buy this book.

Recommended by: 
Kayla Boyer, Recruitment Lead, Shopify

“I think this book is great for entrepreneurs because it really teaches you about yourself—what kind of environment helps you best achieve flow state, what kind of environment you do not work well in, etc.” – Kayla Boyer


4. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Elizabeth Gilbert, 2016

Approx. read time: 5 hours

Goodreads rating: 3.9

Amazon rating: 4.5

Buy this book.

Recommended by: 
Dayna Winter, Content Marketer, Shopify

“What struck me about this book was that it threw out a lot of popular ideas about chasing creative dreams. Elizabeth Gilbert, best known for her novel Eat Pray Love, is candid about her distaste for the blind pursuit of passion. ‘Don’t quit your day job (yet)’ is a consistent message. She suggests that the pressure to provide (as in paying your bills) can kill your creativity. I resonated with her notion that creative ideas have their own life force—that they are things to be nurtured, lest they pack their bags and find a more attentive host. Big Magic reads along in a series of anecdotes, many of them personal to the author’s own bumpy path to literary success, but the lessons she distills are universally relevant to artists and creators in any field.” – Dayna Winter


5. The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store

Cait Flanders, 2018

Approx. read time: 3 hours

Goodreads rating: 3.8

Amazon rating: 4.1

Buy this book.

Recommended by: 
Lindsey Peacock, Content Marketer, Shopify

"I’ve followed Cait’s blog for more than half a decade now and even though I know her story well, her debut book offered even deeper insights. While it's a quick read, the book deftly tackles the topics of personal finance and minimalism. Through her own journey, including paying down almost $30,000 in debt and a self-imposed shopping ban, Cait demonstrates that owning less really can mean more. Once you’ve cleared out all the physical and mental clutter, it’s far easier to follow your deepest passions." – Lindsey Peacock

The Year of Less demonstrates that once you’ve cleared out all the physical and mental clutter, it’s far easier to follow your deepest passions.

6. The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time

Arianna Huffington, 2016

Approx. read time: 9 hours

Goodreads rating: 3.4

Amazon rating: 3.7

Buy this book.

Recommended by: 
Solmaz Shahalizadeh Kalkhoran, Data Director, Shopify

"I really liked the fact that the book removes the glorification of all-nighters and burnout as signs of success, and talks about the science of sleep and its necessity. My takeaway from the book is to pay more attention to getting enough sleep, rather than cutting it out when I'm short on time." – Solmaz Shahalizadeh Kalkhoran


7. In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from Over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs

Grace Bonney, 2016

Approx. read time: 7 hours

Goodreads rating: 4.1

Amazon rating: 4.3

Buy this book.

Recommended by: 
Katie Hudson, Affiliate Manager, Shopify

“'You can’t be what you can’t see' is written in the introduction of this book, noting that visibility is one of the most powerful tools to inspire people to pursue their dreams. This book does exactly that: it shares and highlights inspiring advice, quotes, and life stories of women from a variety of careers, backgrounds, places, and races. The book asks each of them a variety of questions from what they wanted to be as a child, to the best piece of business advice they were given when they started out, to sharing their personal/professional motto. This book is a breath of fresh air, and truly an inspiring read. The only thing that would make it better is if it featured more international women. Currently the overwhelming majority of the 100 women featured are from the United States. If you’re looking to gain different perspectives, or just soak up some serious inspiration, then you should definitely check it out.” – Katie Hudson

This book is a breath of fresh air, and truly an inspiring read.

8. Take Pride: Why the Deadliest Sin Holds the Secret to Human Success

Jessica Tracy, 2015

Approx. read time: 7 hours

Goodreads rating: 3.8

Amazon rating: 4.1

Buy this book.

Recommended by: 
Danielle Fortin, Recruitment Lead, Shopify

“Take Pride by Jessica Tracy, a professor at UBC, is all about pride and how important it is to find things that we take pride in. Also how to harness the feeling to achieve success. I’m sure many business owners/entrepreneurs would relate.” – Danielle Fortin


9. The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life

Twyla Tharp, 2006

Approx. read time: 9 hours

Goodreads rating: 3.9

Amazon rating: 4.4

Buy this book.

Recommended by: 
Alexandra Middleton, Producer, Shopify

"Writer's block, stuck in a rut, creative dead end, a business lull—whatever you call it, we all have those moments where we're trying to do something and feel like we can't produce anything even remotely good. And Twyla Tharp is no stranger to this. That's why, over her lifetime, she's developed ways to face and conquer the resistance we face in these moments. I've adopted a lot of her techniques into my own creative process, and like a dancer building a muscle, it will continue to strengthen." – Alexandra Middleton

Photo: Melissa Gross


10. Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table

Ruth Reichl, 2010

Approx. read time: 6 hours

Goodreads rating: 4

Amazon rating: 4.3

Buy this book.

Recommended by: 
Mary-Rose Sutton, Former Content Marketer, Shopify

“The unfortunate thing about the word 'entrepreneurship' is that it is so closely associated with the drive for financial success. What is often overlooked when it comes to entrepreneurship—and what Ruth Reichl proves to be the most important ingredient in her memoir, Tender at the Bone—is passion. Before she was a New York Times restaurant critic and editor-in-chief at Gourmet magazine, Ruth found a passion for food and the culinary industry. In particular, the role of women in restaurants dominated by male personalities was a problem she was passionate about overturning. Tender at the Bone proves that professional success can come from affection for your craft. A love of food and defining her own taste was what led Ruth to become one of the most well-known food writers in America. Warning: you may not want to read this on an empty stomach.” – Mary-Rose Sutton

Tender at the Bone proves that professional success can come from affection for your craft.

11. If You Have to Cry, Go Outside: And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You

Kelly Cutrone, 2010

Approx. read time: 4 hours

Goodreads rating: 3.7

Amazon rating: 4.2

Buy this book.

Recommended by: 
Jenny Izaguirre, Spanish Translator, Shopify

“This book describes how controlling your emotional intelligence and being clear in what you want in life can get you ahead. Kelly Cutrone is direct and she has no filter. She is a badass PR woman in NYC who has a Girlboss kind of past.” – Jenny Izaguirre


12. The 52 Lists Project: A Year of Weekly Journaling Inspiration

Moorea Seal, 2015

Approx. read time: 3 hours

Goodreads rating: 4.2

Amazon rating: 4.7

Buy this book.

Recommended by: 
Katie Hudson, Affiliate Manager, Shopify

"I have always been a list person. The 52 Lists Project is literally taking my list game to a new productive and uplifting level. The book is broken into the four seasons, with a list for each week that causes you to really think (mostly about the simple things in life). It is then followed by a task based on the list you’ve created. For example, ‘List the things you want to be known for’ … ‘Take Action: What steps have you taken this year that set you on track to becoming the person you want to be? What steps can you still take?’

This book is technically a journal, and I’ve never been a journalling type of person. However, this is one book that I know, by the end of 2018, I will look back on and have fully completed. From which, I will probably know more about myself, and take action on things I would have procrastinated on, or never done in the first place. I highly recommend this book for yourself, or as a thoughtful gift for a friend.” – Katie Hudson

Photo: Moorea Seal


13. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

Brené Brown, 2015

Approx. read time: 8 hours

Goodreads rating: 4.2

Amazon rating: 4.7

Buy this book.

Recommended by: 
Emma Craig, Senior UX Researcher, Shopify

“Brené Brown describes herself as a researcher and storyteller, and in Daring Greatly she sets out to demystify vulnerability through both fact and story. Brown urges us to embrace and be comfortable with vulnerability—a state of being we often shy away from or perceive as weak.

Brown defines vulnerability as ‘uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.’ These are three elements that every entrepreneur is likely to encounter almost daily, and if the approach is to resist vulnerability, it will only persist. This book is an excellent resource for familiarizing yourself with the emotions associated with vulnerability, and becoming comfortable with the underlying vulnerability in most emotion and action. Ultimately, through embracing vulnerability and imperfection, readers have the opportunity to become more courageous and engage in greater work.” – Emma Craig

In Daring Greatly, Brown urges us to embrace and be comfortable with vulnerability.

14. The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help

Amanda Palmer, 2015

Approx. read time: 11 hours

Goodreads rating: 3.9

Amazon rating: 4.7

Buy this book.

Recommended by: 
Cassie Slack, Designer, Shopify

“The Art of Asking is a deeply personal, funny, and helpful book. From feeling like a fraud to asking to get paid or for a couch to sleep on, this book is full of useful stories—even if you're not dressed as a seven foot tall bride asking strangers for money.” – Cassie Slack


15. You Can Heal Your Life

Louise Hay, 1984

Approx. read time: 5 hours

Goodreads rating: 4.1

Amazon rating: 4.7

Buy this book.

Recommended by: 
Jenny Izaguirre, Spanish Translator, Shopify

“You Can Heal Your Life is about understanding your thought process and how your thoughts can make you sick, depressed, and miserable. It shows you the path to self-reconciliation and how to have positive thoughts that later transform into achievements in all aspects of life.” – Jenny Izaguirre


16. Bossypants

Tina Fey, 2013

Approx. read time: 5 hours

Goodreads rating: 3.9

Amazon rating: 4.3

Buy this book.

Recommended by: 
Dayna Winter, Content Marketer, Shopify

“Bossypants reads like a memoir, and less like the tactical management guide I expected. It was a great read—funny, vulnerable, and relatable—though Tina Fey’s script-writing prowess doesn’t necessarily translate to a great writing style for print. Shortcomings aside, I do think that this is an important read for women. Between laugh-out-loud moments are some hard learned lessons on the path to ‘having it all’. This is an incredibly successful woman who made it in a 'man’s world', still struggling with universal questions like: ‘Career or baby?’ If you get nothing else from this book but a few laughs and a feeling that your challenges are not yours alone, it’s still a worthy read.” – Dayna Winter

This is an incredibly successful woman who made it in a 'man’s world', still struggling with universal questions like: 'Career or baby?'

17. Unfinished Business: Women Men Work Family

Anne-Marie Slaughter, 2015

Approx. read time: 9 hours

Goodreads rating: 3.9

Amazon rating: 4.2

Buy this book.

Recommended by: 
Jenn Daly, Product Growth Manager, Shopify

“If you don’t know Anne-Marie Slaughter, now is a great time to get to know this remarkable woman. In her career, she’s held many notable positions such as first female Dean at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School. It was leaving her role at the U.S. State Department where she experienced the hostile environment faced by working mothers. In her book, Slaughter rationalizes that making changes to the workplace and government policy will benefit everyone.

As more women open Shopify stores, they are creating for themselves more flexible work the way Slaughter did when returning to teaching. I believe hearing the strong fight Slaughter has taken on to make cultural changes above the Lean-In movement is truly inspiring.” – Jenn Daly


18. Yes Please

Amy Poehler, 2015

Approx. read time: 7 hours

Goodreads rating: 3.8

Amazon rating: 4.2

Buy this book.

Recommended by: 
Lindsey Peacock, Content Marketer, Shopify

"It's nearly impossible to encapsulate all the wisdom the popular Parks and Recreation star imparts in Yes Please. While incidentally funny with a dash of self-help advice, the book's most practical takeaway that's applicable to both life and business is ‘yes, and…’ Rather than saying ‘no’ or dismissing an idea or opportunity outright, build on it using this well-known improv exercise." – Lindsey Peacock

It's nearly impossible to encapsulate all the wisdom the popular Parks and Recreation star imparts in Yes Please.

19. Worry-Free Money: The Guilt-Free Approach to Managing Your Money and Your Life

Shannon Lee Simmons, 2017

Approx. read time: 6 hours

Goodreads rating: 4.4

Amazon rating: 5

Buy this book.

Recommended by: 
Desirae Odjick, Content Marketer, Shopify

"It's always important to understand your money situation—where it's going, how much you're making, and how much you can spend guilt-free—but it's even more important as an entrepreneur. You're managing business finances and personal finances, and Shannon's book makes the latter simple, easy, and totally stress-free. Understanding your money is a hugely powerful thing for anyone to do, and getting it handled is one less thing you'll have on your to-do list after reading this book!" – Desirae Odjick


20. Worth It: Your Life, Your Money, Your Terms

Amanda Steinberg, 2017

Approx. read time: 3 hours

Goodreads rating: 4

Amazon rating: 4.7

Buy this book.

Recommended by: 
Kristina Balaam, Application Security Engineer, Shopify

“As much as we may not like to admit it, money does play a large part in our entrepreneurial and professional successes. A former software developer turned entrepreneur, Amanda Steinberg now runs a financial media platform with over a million subscribers. In her book, she outlines essential financial information and provides tough love advice on taking the necessary steps to ensure a bright financial future.” – Kristina Balaam


21. What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend: A Short Guide to Making the Most of Your Days Off

Laura Vanderkam, 2012

Approx. read time: 1 hour

Goodreads rating: 3.6

Amazon rating: 4

Buy this book.

Recommended by: 
Liz Couto, Senior Content Marketer, Shopify

“Being a person who hates wasting time, I’ve always felt conflicted about weekends. Should I use that time for side projects and courses, or is it best to book sofa and TV time to help recharge for the week ahead? In reading this book, I finally got the answers I needed. It was great to learn about how accomplished individuals plan for these precious two days, and the impact that taking the time to (wisely) plan your weekends has on happiness." – Liz Couto

In reading this book, I finally got the answers I needed.

22. You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth

Jen Cincero, 2017

Approx. read time: 4 hours

Goodreads rating: 4

Amazon rating: 4.6

Buy this book.

Recommended by: 
Gwen Elliot, Course Producer, Shopify

“It’s time to accept the truth: You Are a Badass at Making Money. If you’ve somehow forgotten this (or simply never received the memo), it’s officially time to pick up Jen Sincero’s book and learn how to earn what you want and/or charge what you want for your products and services.” – Gwen Elliot


23. Female Innovators at Work: Women on Top of Tech

Danielle Newnham, 2016

Approx. read time: 4 hours

Goodreads rating: 4.6

Amazon rating: 5

Buy this book.

Recommended by: 
Kristina Balaam, Application Security Engineer, Shopify

“A must read for all aspiring (and current) entrepreneurs — not just those in tech. This book is chock-full of inspiring interviews from female CEOs, founders and inventors from all areas of the industry. The women interviewed openly share the challenges they've faced and the lessons they've learned on their journeys to becoming successful entrepreneurs.” – Kristina Balaam


Since we’re all big fans of lifelong learning around these parts, we’ve added a few more bonus titles to our own to-read lists for 2018:

Have you read any of these titles? What did you think? Are we missing any of your favorites? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Happy reading, Best You!


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About the Author

Dayna Winter is a Storyteller at Shopify. She follows more dogs than humans on Instagram and isn't a real redhead.

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