12 of the Best Audiobooks for Women

There is something to be said for listening to an audiobook where the message resonates with you deeply – as if the writer is speaking directly to you. Sometimes the message comes right when you need it. Other times the message is a slow burn, kindled under the lens of new experiences. 

Whether you need a little tough love, a laugh, a dose of healing, or some hard-earned wisdom, there are gold nuggets to be mined in every title of these must-listen audiobooks for women. 

A note about the books on this list – while many are written by women, some specifically for women, I think anyone can find something of value in them.

Listed below, in no particular order, are 12 of the best audiobooks for women. Trigger warnings are included where appropriate. Please take care while listening.

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

Full of personal anecdotes, candid observations, and actionable tips, Lean In has something for every working woman, not just those aspiring to succeed in the corporate world. Sandberg addresses how society and the workplace hold women back and how we, as women, hold ourselves back. The candid observations may sometimes make you cringe if you recognize yourself or others in these situations. Sandberg also offers practical suggestions for how both women and men can redefine gender roles in the workplace and at home.

Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski

In Burnout, sisters Emily and Amelia Nagoski help us understand that the Stress Cycle is an actual biological process and, left uncompleted, leaves our bodies in a constant state of stress and tension. If you’ve ever felt stressed out by the ever-present idea of self-care (you’re not doing it enough, you’re doing it wrong, you don’t have the time), this book is for you – for the most overwhelmed and exhausted among us. It includes practical tips and exercises for breaking the stress cycle and finding the path to relaxation and wellness.

Untamed by Glennon Doyle 

Part memoir, part call-to-action, Untamed is one the most popular books of the last few years for a reason. Chronicling her journey into becoming more fully herself, Glennon Doyle details how she walked away from her carefully constructed life in order to live a life that was truly hers. If you’ve ever felt you’re living your life in a way that you should instead of a way that fully feels like you, then this book is for you. Glennon shows us how to show up in our lives as ourselves, allowing others to show up fully as themselves. Untamed will leave you wanting to unleash your most beautiful, true self upon the world.

Know My Name by Chanel Miller 

Before everyone knew her name, she was known as Emily Doe. Her victim impact statement against the man who sexually assaulted her went viral and caused a lasting change in California law. In Know My Name, Chanel Miller bravely shares her story while also observing stunningly beautiful and achingly painful truths about the world. While this book is written by a woman and resonates with women, it is a book for all survivors, regardless of gender.  Trigger Warning: sexual assault.

The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times by Michelle Obama

If you’ve listened to Becoming, you know that Michelle Obama is a fantastic writer and audiobook narrator. In The Light We Carry, she asks some fundamental life questions (“What tools do we use to address self-doubt or helplessness?”), and then shares habits, tools, practices, principles, and wisdom that she has learned and used to overcome obstacles in her own life. The Light We Carry is an inspiring mix of practical advice and personal stories that help guide us through the most challenging times in an ever-changing world.

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D. 

The Body Keeps the Score details the relationship of trauma not just in the mind but also in the body and the connection between the two. Weaving together psychology, neuroscience, and biology, Dr. van der Kolk provides hope and healing for anyone recovering from trauma or who wants to better understand how to help others. He also shines a light on the fact that many more people suffer from trauma than we may realize, whether from growing up in a home with alcoholism or being in a relationship with domestic abuse. While this is one everyone can benefit from reading, if you have suffered from any form of trauma or abuse, please listen with care. Trigger Warning: abuse.

Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies: and other Rituals to Fix Your Life, from Someone Who’s Been There by Tara Schuster 

While the title sounds like a prescriptive guide to self-care, with all of our problems solved by fresh flowers and newly lit candles, this book is so much more. Schuster, a successful TV executive in her late 20s, was professionally a success and personally a mess. Having grown up without true parental guidance, Schuster had to learn to parent herself and relearn how to be an adult. Full of practical tips that worked for her, Schuster’s writing is candid, humorous, and refreshing.

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes

On the surface, The Year of Yes is a memoir that chronicles Shonda Rhimes’s early life, from her massive success as the creator of shows like Grey’s Anatomy to the year she decided to say yes to every opportunity that scared her. Rhimes chronicles how she stopped using the excuse of being “busy” (a legitimate reason as a working mom) and challenged herself to stop hiding. The Year of Yes gets to the root of how we make many of our decisions: fear. If you ever find yourself saying “no” to opportunities out of fear of the unknown, this book is for you. 

Everything’s Trash, but It’s Okay by Phoebe Robinson

Everything’s Trash is a collection of modern, witty, and hilarious essays that don’t pull any punches in their observations of the world today. Robinson shares personal anecdotes and her perspective on everything from the beauty industry to gender, race, and dating. Robinson’s lived experiences and unique viewpoint offers a candid and refreshing take on societal “norms” that deserve reconsideration. Everything may be trash, but Robinson’s humor can help us laugh even through the worst of it.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson 

While this isn’t a book targeted just to women, it is a book I feel like every woman could benefit from reading. Many women tend to give too many f*cks about too many things. Manson’s candid approach details how, with limited time and energy, we have to decide which things are worthy of that time and energy. What we really need to give a f*ck about, and how to let everything else go. Manson explains why the “power of positive thinking” isn’t as helpful as embracing the truth of our lives – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Manson’s perspective is refreshingly honest and is the tough-love wake-up call many of us need.

What Happened to You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing by Oprah Winfrey & Bruce D. Perry

What Happened to You is a transformative book that can help us not only understand ourselves better but also understand others with empathy. If you have ever beaten yourself up for your behavior or struggled to understand why you make the choices you make or do the things you do, this book may offer powerful insight. As Oprah Winfrey shares stories from her own past and other anecdotes, Dr. Bruce Perry connects the dots on how these experiences shape who we become. It allows us to make a shift from the judgmental question of “What’s wrong with you?” to the empathetic question of “What happened to you?”. The narration with both authors is more like listening to a conversation between two people, which makes for a great audiobook experience. Trigger Warning: abuse.

Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience by Brene Brown

In many self-help books, you’ll find the author prescribing connecting with others as one of the keys to a good life. In Atlas of the Heart, Brene Brown helps us break down and understand our fundamental human emotions and then gives us the language to share these emotions to build connections with others. If you haven’t read Brene Brown before, Atlas can introduce you to many of the concepts and research in her previous material. The audiobook experience is especially well-done, as Brown stops and rereads some sections to help make the material sink in in a meaningful manner.

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