Today is International Women’s Day. And that’s not all that’s happening this week. Parents, carers, and educators around the world have also been pulling together creative (and not so creative) costumes for the school event of the year – World Book Day. (Disclaimer: I am in the not-creative camp. My child went to school in a store-bought unicorn onesie.)

Tying in with this week’s important themes of 1) celebrating books, creativity, and learning, and 2) recognising and honouring women and highlighting the gender inequalities that still exist, I wanted to share an excellent book, Invisible Women by Caroline Criado-Perez, which kickstarted the idea for this blog.

Invisible Women uses data to demonstrate how this world is built by men for men, and highlights the unseen daily bias that impacts the professional and personal lives of women. From the use of dummies with male proportions to test car safety to the urban planning of cities being developed for men who don’t have to do the school run, this was an incredibly eye-opening read. I was amazed by how many things I had just accepted as ‘the way things were’, and it made me question these and start to push for better. It’s a great read to help you become more aware of how these invisible biases may show up in your own communities and workplaces, and to prompt discussions about how you can begin to level the playing field.

And it got me thinking, what other incredible books by women are out there that we should know about and that could change our ways of thinking and working?

So, in celebration of International Women’s Day and World Book Day, some of the Aspire team have shared their top book recommendations by women authors.

Book Recommendations

Our recommendations are not just about management and leadership. They cover nonfiction and fiction, books about psychology, biology, data, motherhood, climate change, conflict, memory, and culture.

But there is a crucial link between them all. They are written from the perspective of women, a perspective that, sadly, still remains underrepresented in many contexts, including the professional world where the proportion of women in senior leadership roles (Vice-President, Director, or C-suite) was just 32.2% in 2023.

Often, books written by women are marketed as being for women, which suggests that people who do not identify as women have nothing to learn from these remarkable authors and their experiences. And this is where I wholeheartedly disagree.

As leaders, it is crucial to consider things from different perspectives, to hear different voices, to learn more about the world, and to question how things could be done differently, and better. We need to remember that the workplace is made up of a wide spectrum of humans who are living their own unique human experiences. Being more cognizant of the experiences of different people makes us more empathetic, generous, and inclusive as leaders, managers, and colleagues. Perhaps unsurprisingly, research by BetterUp in 2022 found that employees with managers who were considered to be inclusive reported 3.4 times more job satisfaction and job engagement.

Developing a deeper understanding of some of the social, physical, psychological, and professional experiences of 50% of the population feels like a pretty good place to start. And reading a wide range of different types of books from a diverse range of authors is a thought provoking and enjoyable way to do this.

[The Aspire team were so enthusiastic about this topic that we have too many recommendations to share in detail on this blog. So I’ll share a brief list here as a starting point. Watch out for social media posts with more details of each book that was recommended and why.]



Doug recommends Matrescence by Lucy Jones.

I’ll let him explain.

It’s a unique take on how motherhood changes a woman on every level (with some fascinating new research woven in) from biological to physical, emotional and psychological, and how it led to the author changing careers. Ultimately it makes some strong social and economic recommendations to heal our western world!

Kitty highly recommends The Memory Illusion by Julia Shaw.

Kitty says,

Julia Shaw is a huge inspiration to me, she’s a very accomplished psychologist who is also a great communicator and happens to be a glamorous woman on top of that. I think there is often this idea that in order to be successful or to be taken seriously in male dominated fields, women have to hide their femininity so I love that Julia Shaw doesn’t do that – it’s the same reason I love Legally Blonde and the Barbie Movie. Aside from that I found the book to be really enlightening and a bit frightening. I read it a few years ago now and haven’t stopped questioning my own thoughts and memories since – so it’s not one for the faint hearted. It has lots of interesting science about the way memory works and how easy it is to implant fake memories as well as the way they can change over time – it throws up a lot of big questions about the reliability of witness testimony and the dangers of leading questions. It’s all written in a really accessible way. I would recommend it to anybody who is ready to have their world rocked.

Andrew’s recommendation is Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career by Herminia Ibarra. Andrew explains:

Herminia is a Professor of Organisational Behaviour at London Business School and is an all-round legend. Her book beautifully unpicks what works when reinventing your career. It’s research-based, inspiring, practical and a great read for anyone considering a shift or change in role, job or career.

Marcus recommends You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters by Kate Murphy, saying:

Aside from the excellent practical advice, I found this book truly insightful and beautifully written. It’s given me plenty to think about in my personal and working life and how I can improve and sharpen one of life’s most important foundations.

Annemarie’s recommendation is When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chödrön.

It’s a wise and accessible guide for navigating the inevitable downs and ups of life. Compassionate, clear, and comforting.

Ian’s recommendation has a personal link: Fearless: Adventures with Extraordinary Women by Louise Minchin

He explains:

Fearless Adventures stars my cousin who is the first person ever to swim a mile inside the Antarctic Polar Circle. It’s a book filled with courage and hope.

Sally loves The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters by Priya Parker.

Two of the concepts in The Art of Gathering  particularly resonate with me: being a generous host and rule 7: it is possible to design your gatherings so that they encourage people to bring their authentic selves. Priya Parker uses the concept of the host on lots of different levels from small gatherings to leadership skills. Parts of the book feel very aligned to our values at Aspire.

Doron’s favourite is Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver.

I’ve been a fan of Barbara Kingsolver’s work for over 25 years and this book is as relevant today as it was when it first emerged over a decade ago.
It explores how climate change affects not just the world as a whole (or specific communities that are already directly feeling its impact) but also, more granularly, individuals. Set against the sudden, unsettling arrival of thousands of monarch butterflies in Appalachia, after they’ve abandoned their winter migration as a result of global warming, the novel is a thought provoking page turner and a brilliantly written one, at that.

Jess recommends The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read (and Your Children Will Be Glad That You Did) by Philippa Perry. Jess warns us to be prepared!

This book is not just for parents – it’s for anyone who cares about their relationships and wants to do them better, at home or at work. It’s pragmatic, illuminating and challenging at times. Be prepared to have your eyes opened!



From our own multi-award-winning Tee Dobinson is The Smile Story, which follows a smile and the impact that it makes as it is passed from one person to the next. Its pay-it-forward message makes it relevant for all ages, and reminds us all of the importance of being kind. Tee has also written four Tower Bridge Cat books for children, with their beautiful illustrations and entertaining story lines.

About World Book Day, Tee says:

The biggest compliment is when children go to school dressed up as Bella the Tower Bridge Cat!

Lucy’s recommendation is Violeta by Isabel Allende.

It’s a stunning fictional autobiography written as letters from a hundred-year-old Violeta recounting her extraordinary life, fraught with joy, passion, devastation and loss. What I feel affected me most is the elegance and charm with which the female lead embraces and challenges what life throws at her, and the humour she demonstrates highlights the tenacity we humans can show even at the toughest of times. Such a beautiful, moving read. Allende also wrote it at the age of 79. Tenacity indeed!

Kathy recommends Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

An extraordinarily talented writer, I have loved everything she’s written. This book is a brilliantly captivating dive into Nigeria’s troubled history during the Biafran War during the 1960s, a time and place I knew nothing about. Her storytelling is beautiful and carefully portrays the lives of ordinary people amidst extraordinary circumstances. It highlights the resilience and strength of her characters, particularly the women, and is a powerful story that delves into themes of war, love, and empowerment.


So, which one are you going to read first?

Grab yourself a drink, find a comfy spot, and get reading and learning. And let me know what you think!


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