TED reached out to the women in their speaker community to compile a list of the influential books that inspired their success. From perceptive novels to lyrical memoirs, we gathered nine books that showcase the diversity not only of the women in TED, but of the work they do:
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Actress and activist Naomi McDougall Jones recalls first reading this classic as a child. She says she felt comforted by her kinship with Jane and the self-empowerment and dignity her character exhibits.
Good Woman by Lucille Clifton
Author and academic Julie Lythcott-Haims recognizes this collection of “poems on blackness, femaleness, mothering and the body” as the nudge that pushed her to begin understanding and accepting herself.
Madame Curie: A Biography by Eve Curie
Biologist Elizabeth Blackburn was first inspired to become a scientist by this Marie Curie biography, which showed her that “scientific research was a deeply worthwhile, even noble, calling.”
Bridge Across My Sorrows by Christina Noble with Robert Coram
Finance executive Michelle Knox’s memoir of choice relates directly to her TED talk on grief and death. She praises it for illustrating the resilience of the human spirit and the innate qualities that allow people to transform hardships into success.
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Author Anjali Kumar says Roy’s novel about Indian culture and society validated her own voice as an author and encouraged her to believe that “culturally diverse stories mattered.”
Just Kids by Patti Smith
Solar and space physicist Miho Janvier was inspired by Smith’s ability listen to her “inner artistic voice,” and says she works to incorporate a similar artistry into her own life.
In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens: Womanist Prose by Alice Walker
Artist Deborah Williams sought out work of other black female artists like Walker as a way of understanding the history of creative black women and ultimately exploring her own artistic identity.
Mothers and Others by Sarah Blaffer Hrdy
Abigail Marsh, associate professor of psychology at Georgetown University says this nonfiction book on parenting inspired her to understand the roots of human compassion and write her own book on the subject.
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
Writer Anne Lamott says this lush, philosophical novel “changed the lives of all the young women [she] knew” (Heir, TED Ideas, 3/7/18).