11 Books by Women Authors That Inspire Us

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we asked staff across the KIPP Foundation to share a book by a woman author that personally inspired them in their life. From critically acclaimed fiction to works that explore the intersection of race and intersectionality, check out this list of books by women authors curated by KIPP Foundation staff and what it means to them.

  1. We Do This ‘Til We Free Us by Mariame Kaba

“Mariame Kaba shares, “Nothing that we do that is worthwhile is done alone.” Her vision for ordinary people coming together to do the work of remaking our world for the better is a testament to the power of community.”– Emilie Raczek, Senior Director, Early Childhood and Elementary Literacy

2. Borderlands / La Frontera: The New Mestiza by Gloria Anzaldúa

“As a Chicanx, Anzaldúa’s book allowed for me to learn more about myself from a theoretical perspective. She presented me with tools and concepts that I could use, such as my lived experiences feeling like I was stuck in the borderlands of being neither from here nor from there given my Mexican background. As a queer Chicana feminist, Anzaldúa also allowed me to feel seen.”  Chris Reynoso, Manager of External Impact – PACE

3. all about love by bell hooks

“hooks says “the word ‘love’ is most often defined as a noun, yet…we would all love better if we used it as a verb,” She beautifully creates space for the reader to explore what love is.  I’ve read this book a few times and continue to deepen my own understanding again and again.” Kinnari Patel-Smyth, President – KIPP Foundation

4. Dare to Lead by Brené Brown

“This book made me realize and learn some of the skills I needed to operationalize my values, both in my personal and professional life. When I read Dare to Lead, I felt like I had plateaued. I wasn’t seeing any real growth. Nothing was wrong with my career, but nothing was great about it either, everything just… was. Just being… wasn’t good enough for me. I’d fallen out of touch with the creative process it takes for growing professionals to continue to feed that developmental energy. In reading DTL I realized the uninviting culture in my workplace was hindering every aspect of my development.

What I learned was that true leaders “take the time to translate values from ideals to behaviors—if you’re not going to teach people the skills they need to show up in a way that’s aligned with those values and then create a culture in which you hold one another accountable for staying aligned with the values—it’s better not to profess any values at all.

Dare to Lead helped me transform the way I show up in all areas of my life.” – Jamelfrey Pacheco, Sr. Manager – National Alumni Network

5. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

“Yaa Gyasi’s writing invokes a deep sense of urgency to acknowledge and dismantle the lasting impacts of colonialism. Her story follows seven generations of a family and reflects their courage, pain, and power over the years while honoring their humanity.” – Dylan Alles, Manager of Policy and Advocacy

6. Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now by Maya Angelou

“Maya Angelou’s words in this book inspired me to be a strong woman.  I read this in high school at a time when I wasn’t so sure about myself her words inspired me to be confident and unapologetic for fighting for women’s rights.  My favorite passage is “The woman who survives intact and happy must be at once tender and tough. She must have convinced herself, or be in the unending process of convincing herself, that she, her values, and her choices are important.”– Maria Alcon-Heraux, Director of Communications

7. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

“The book centers an aspiring slam poet in the Bronx as she navigates family, religion, and other identity through poetry. I love that the book centers a young woman of color. I could connect and relate to aspects of the character and context.” Paola Valdivia, Director – STE Instruction

8. Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall

“I am inspired by Mikki Kendall’s “Hood Feminism,” a book about the intersectionality that exists within feminism that is often excluded by mainstream feminism.

I, like all Black women, exist at the intersection of racism, sexism, and misogynoir and this book’s 18 separate essays do a phenomenal job of focusing on overlooked issues that impact millions of women like the education gap, food and housing insecurity, poverty, reproductive justice, and many more feminist issues.

This book inspires me because it is a fierce reminder that feminism must be inclusive of all women and that it requires all who call ourselves feminists to commit to doing the work.” Alexus March, Social Media Coordinator

9. More Than Enough by Elaine Welteroth

“More than Enough inspires me to persevere and work with others to amplify voices that are marginalized in our work.”Pamela Moeller, Sr. Director – Leadership Coaching

10. Mindset by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. 

“Reading this book, particularly the part about parenting and education transformed my way of being with my children completely.  I remain grateful for this book, even so, many years later.”– Andie Davis, Executive Assistant to Chief of Policy & Public Affairs

11. Personal History by Katharine Graham

Personal History cover

“I read this biography while interning at the Washington Post. It was fascinating to feel like I was getting a first-hand account of American history, a master’s class in business, and a deep understanding of what it took to be the first-ever woman of a Fortune 500 company. The candor was generous and surprising for a book published in the late 90s!” Susan Ciccone, Senior Director – Marketing