As editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue (while it was still in print), Elaine Welteroth brought social issues, politics, and civic engagement to a magazine that was notorious for makeup tips, celebrity gossip, and fashion. Not only was Welteroth Teen Vogue’s first Black editor-in-chief; she was also the youngest.
After leaving the publication, Welteroth has taken up space in different arenas including as an award-winning journalist, as a judge on Project Runway, co-host of The Talk, and as the cultural ambassador for When We All Vote, a non-profit with the mission to “increase participation in every election and close the race and age voting gap by changing the culture around voting, harnessing grassroots energy, and through strategic partnerships to reach every American.”
Welteroth’s memoir More Than Enough is about her professional career, childhood, and college years. The insightful, relatable, and interesting stories resonate with young professional women. Reese Witherspoon said of More Than Enough, “Elaine’s book is a call for young women to find their voice and spark their courage—it’s a book I would have loved to discover as a young woman starting my own career.”
Tara Westover is an author and historian who wrote the award-winning memoir, Educated. A #1 NY Times bestseller, the memoir is a look into Westover’s upbringing by a survivalist, zealot, and negligent father, and her compromising, herbalist, midwife mother. The story is at times heartbreaking, enraging, and inspiring as Westover takes claim of her life, her future, and her education.
Chilling, eerie, and sometimes hitting a little too close to home, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and the sequel The Testaments are stories about women surviving in a society that is patriarchal, religious, and totalitarian. Stripping women completely of any rights to their bodies, ideas, or freedom, Atwood’s tales are more speculative fiction than science fiction.
While the two novels are Atwood’s most popular, she has written several novels, poems, and short stories during her career. Cat’s Eye, Oryx and Crake, and Alias Grace are all ranked in the top 10 Atwood novels.
Margot Lee Shetterly’s book, Hidden Figures and the subsequent movie of the same name is a story of genius Black women who made huge contributions to science and paved the way for women in STEM. The story of these women who worked for NASA during the 1960s and were literally called “computers” finally came to the mainstream through the fabulous storytelling of Shetterly.
Shetterly is currently working on The Human Computer Project to shine a light on more women who worked for NASA and NACA. Its mission is “to tell the stories of the pioneering women who worked as mathematicians and ‘computers’ at the NACA and NASA in the early days of aeronautics and the American space program.
Our hope is that these role models will inspire a new generation of women and minorities to pursue careers in STEM fields and that everyone will gain a broader sense of what mathematicians, engineers, and scientists look like.”
Toni Morrison was an acclaimed author, professor, and book editor throughout her lengthy career. After graduating from Cornell University with a Master of Arts degree in 1955, she taught at different universities, landing back at her alma mater Howard University teaching for seven years there. She then worked for Random House as an editor, becoming the first Black woman to work as a senior editor in the fiction department. She also was a professor at Princeton University as the Robert F. Goheen Professor in the Humanities.
Morrison’s first novel, The Bluest Eye was published in 1970, and Sula her second novel was released in 1975. Beloved, one of her most well-known novels, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. In 1993, Morrison won the Nobel Prize in Literature and was awarded the Presidental Medal of Freedom in 2012.
Glennon Doyle is an author, speaker, and the president of Together Rising, a non-profit which has raised over $25 million for people in need.
Doyle has written memoirs including Carry On, Warrior, Love Warrior; and most recently, Untamed. With over a million copies sold, Untamed is an emotional, empowering, and insightful read about the cages society puts women (and men) inside.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, Brené Brown is an author, researcher, professor, podcast host, and lecturer. After her Ted Talk went viral in 2010, Brown’s work on vulnerability, shame, and courage was given new life.
What can we say about Michelle Obama that hasn’t been said? She’s a brilliant author, humanitarian, attorney, podcast host, and the former First Lady of the United States. During her time as First Lady, she advocated for poverty awareness and the complicated issues surrounding it such as nutrition, education, and physical activity.
Her memoir, Becoming, was published in 2018 and became the number one international bestseller. It has now been adapted for young readers to inspire, challenge, and encourage a new generation of successful people. We highly recommend the audiobook—hearing her tell her story in her own words using her own voice is powerful.
Isabel Wilkerson is an author, professor, and esteemed journalist. Wilkerson went to Howard University and was the editor-in-chief of her college newspaper, The Hilltop. In 1994, Wilkerson won a Pulitzer Prize in Feature Writing for reports on the Midwestern floods of 1993, and her in-depth profile on a 10-year-old boy living in Chicago’s Southside that all read more like short stories than newspaper articles.
In 2010, her first book, The Warmth of Other Suns was published and became a New York Times bestseller. Toni Morrison called the Oprah’s Book Club pick “profound, necessary, and a delight to read.” Caste was published in 2020 and also spent time on the New York Times bestseller list, peaking at number three.
Ursula K. Le Guin was a prolific author whose catalog “includes 21 novels, 11 volumes of short stories, four collections of essays, 12 children’s books, and six volumes of poetry,” according to PBS. Overwhelming as it may be—do yourself a favor—choose a starting point and dive into Le Guin’s worlds of fantasy and science-fiction.
Her book The Left Hand of Darkness won both the Nebula Award and Hugo Award in 1969. Other works from Le Guin include the best of her blog, No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters; the science fiction series The Earthsea Trilogy; and her first novel, Rocannon’s World.