Whether you want to lean in, lean out or just lie in a cool, dark room with a washcloth over your face—women face a host of challenges in balancing work and personal lives. Here are a variety of titles that will inspire you, confirm your worst fears or simply make you wish that tidying up really was magical. There's also some fiction mixed in because sometimes if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry.
Drop the Ball by Tiffany Dufu: This self-help book offers a breakdown of why women should let go and allow others to help. By setting more realistic expectations and communicating them, women can be more fully present and enjoy their lives and families more. Add Home Control Disease (HCD) to your vocabulary, and use this book to stop driving yourself crazy.
Off the Sidelines by Kirsten Gillibrand with Elizabeth Weil: Senator Gillibrand has spent the majority of her career in public service, and this memoir recounts the inspirations that led her to champion women’s issues. She manages to work in a demanding political arena and details how other women can also find ways to make their concerns heard. This is definitely a read for the Lean-In crowd.
I Don't Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson: I remember enjoying this novel before becoming a parent, and years later its central story is still a dilemma women face. Should we be forced to choose between work and family? Kate Reddy is going to try being a working mother and competing with the stay-at-home crowd. Maybe a one-way ticket to crazytown? Readers who enjoyed the quirkiness of people and events in Where’d You Go Bernadette? will enjoy this title.
The Life-changing Magic of Not Giving A F*ck by Sarah Knight: At first glance it seems purely a foul-mouthed satire, but once you get past the swears and jokes, there’s wisdom to be found. Knight uses her own life to illustrate how to free yourself from other people’s opinions and expectations, to dig deeper and find out what really matters so you can direct your energy in a way that revitalizes you, to say “no” with integrity and get rid of your mental clutter. Also, she uses the F-word. A lot. This one is for fans of Caitlin Moran.
The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger: This book is a classic story of a fresh-faced employee plunged into the exciting fashion industry, which gradually eats up her life. Andy tries to please her ever-demanding boss, then eventually realizes that she is sacrificing all the things that make her life worth living. It was made into an award-winning film with Meryl Streep.