The Best Self-Development Listens for Women

From discovering self-love to finding that work-life balance, these self-development audiobooks are great additions to any woman’s listening library.

The best self-help audiobooks for women zero in on universal themes nearly every woman grapples with in her daily life. From body image issues and impossible beauty standards to the expectation that a woman should always be nice, women confront many forces that leave them fractured and hurt. In these listens, experts on self-help for women offer a healing balm to that pain with suggestions on how to introduce more self-love and self-acceptance into daily life. In this list of the essential self-dev titles for women, find some positivity, empowerment, and comfort to add to your audio routine.

Average Is the New Awesome

Women are often caught in the struggle to “have it all,” and with their social feeds highlighting their seemingly more successful peers, it’s not hard to see why. Fortunately, in Average Is the New Awesome, journalist Samantha Matt gives each woman the permission she needs to embrace being average and stop feeling the toxic pressure to be perfect. Humorous and heartfelt, this listen will kickstart your mindset and help you love the person you are, not the person you feel you must be. Listeners should expect laughter and many resonant moments from Matt’s narration of her own words.

The Body Is Not an Apology

Feeling insecure about your body? Many women struggle alongside you to accept and love themselves. To reclaim joy in your body, try The Body Is Not an Apology by activist-poet Sonya Renee Taylor. This groundbreaking, bold audiobook helps you rewire your negative thoughts towards your figure and transform them into body positivity. Covering topics like shame, guilt, and building a self-love practice in an era of mass loathing, The Body Is Not an Apology challenges each listener to imagine another way of relating to her own incredible body. Add this pick to your listening queue if you want to add more self-love into your audio rotation.

Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies

By her late 20s, Tara Schuster was by any measure a success. Not only had Schuster worked on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, she was also crucial to the launch of the critically acclaimed show, Key & Peele. Yet depression and anxiety began to surface in her life, and eventually, Schuster could not outrun her unhealthy coping methods. From that experience, the author coaxed lessons that any woman can use to bring more self-love into her life and compiled them into this title. Be prepared to gain valuable insight and nod along with Schuster’s frank yet comforting narration.

Do What Feels Good

Entrepreneur Hannah Bronfman’s attitude of self-acceptance and owning positive beauty standards was formed early on as she witnessed a close family member struggle with disordered eating. Now a wellness influencer, Bronfman channels her past experiences into positive ones as she promotes a two-fold philosophy about being healthy: it's beautiful and should bring you pleasure. In Do What Feels Good, Bronfman adapts her point of view into an easily accessible manifesto on living life with healthy indulgences. Serving up recipes along with resources, both in this is an inspiring listen from which every woman can draw a little light.

Everything's Trash, but It's Okay

Ready for some truth talk? Actress and New York Times best-selling author Phoebe Robinson cuts through the noise and delivers a fiery and funny guide on how to get by as a woman when the world is a mess. A true Millennial, Robinson packs many pop culture references in her book, deploying skilled examples that resonate while talking about topics like feminism, intersectionality, and how society’s notion of beauty is problematic. By drawing on her own experience, Robinson brings an unapologetic candor to her hangups. Listeners who love a dose of tough love with humor won’t want to miss Robinson’s sharp storytelling and narration.

I Really Needed This Today

Sometimes all it takes to feel uplifted and empowered is the perfect quote. And in I Really Needed This Today, that’s exactly what Today show host Hoda Kotb has curated. Across 365 mind-expanding quotes and sayings, listeners get a daily dose of wisdom to schedule at their convenience. Whether you need a spark of hope in the morning or a thoughtful reflection before bed, I Really Needed This Today is the perfect companion to a woman’s journey through life.

The Likeability Trap

How many times have we heard someone call a female character “unlikeable?” Whether in fiction or in their real lives, many women feel pressured to be “likeable,” a gendered term that demands women to be just the right level of nice, successful, and ambitious. This impossible standard is what acclaimed journalist Alicia Menendez identifies as an impossible “likeability trap.” Menendez’s The Likeability Trap digs deep to uproot the history and core of this unhealthy expectation and offers listeners a way out of the conundrum. Prepare to be extra enlightened and emboldened by the author’s passionate narration.

More Than Enough

As editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue, and the second person of African American heritage in Condé Nast's 107-year history to hold such a title, Elaine Welteroth ushered in a new era of social awareness for a new generation of young women readers. Throughout her influential tenure, the magazine saw the dawning of a readership eager to participate in issues of social justice while also practicing self-love and self-acceptance. In More Than Enough, Welteroth relives her revolutionary leadership at Teen Vogue, adapting her key takeaways from her experience for listeners. Treat yourself to the experience of Welteroth narrating her own book, a performance that brings an extra level of intimacy to an already candid memoir.

the princess saves herself in this one

As little girls, many women are exposed to fairy tales where helpless princesses are rescued by dashing princes before going on to live happily ever after. Feminist poet Amanda Lovelace tackles the damaging impact of those stories in her verse while inviting women to bring more self-care and self-love into their lives. The first installment in Lovelace's women are some kind of magic series, the princess saves herself in this one reinvents such harmfun tropes. For an empowering listen, the audiobook is read by the author herself, and Lovelace’s narration enhances the poems by drawing precise meaning from each and every word.

Untamed

When Glennon Doyle published her best-selling self-development classic, Love Warrior, it seemed on the surface like life could not get any better. But behind the scenes, Doyle was going through a turbulent time after her husband’s infidelity came to light. Throughout that painful process, however, Doyle underwent an era of deep self-reflection, eventually realizing her identity as a queer woman. In Untamed, Doyle invites listeners to ask themselves the hard questions and invite uncomfortable—but liberating—truths to emerge just as she did. By narrating her own book, Doyle brings the same commanding voice she uses for her speeches.

Where to Begin

Only have an hour for an uplifting and inspiring listen? Check out Where to Begin by poet and author Cleo Wade. For many women, the current social turbulence crushes optimism that we can heal again together. In Where to Begin, Wade offers her prescription for how to find hope for personal and community resilience despite the challenges inherent in today’s world. This listen is the blueprint many women are looking for on how to begin taking better care of themselves, their loved ones, and their community. Brief but enlightening, Where to Begin is a great single-session listen for a quick pick me up.

Year of Yes

As the creator of TV series like Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, Shonda Rhimes penned strong, flawed, and relatable female characters. In her own life, however, Rhimes still struggled with confidence and routinely turned down invitations that might require putting herself out there. When her sister challenged her to stop saying “no” to experiences and start saying “yes,” Rhimes embarked on a year of being open to new opportunities, however anxiety inducing they felt. In Year of Yes, Rhimes reflects on how the experiment opened her world—and how it can change yours, too. This listen was a 2017 Audie Award Finalist for Audiobook of the Year, so you won’t want to miss this outstanding audio experience, narrated by the author herself.

Average Is the New Awesome

Women are often caught in the struggle to “have it all,” and with their social feeds highlighting their seemingly more successful peers, it’s not hard to see why. Fortunately, in Average Is the New Awesome, journalist Samantha Matt gives each woman the permission she needs to embrace being average and stop feeling the toxic pressure to be perfect. Humorous and heartfelt, this listen will kickstart your mindset and help you love the person you are, not the person you feel you must be. Listeners should expect laughter and many resonant moments from Matt’s narration of her own words.

The Body Is Not an Apology

Feeling insecure about your body? Many women struggle alongside you to accept and love themselves. To reclaim joy in your body, try The Body Is Not an Apology by activist-poet Sonya Renee Taylor. This groundbreaking, bold audiobook helps you rewire your negative thoughts towards your figure and transform them into body positivity. Covering topics like shame, guilt, and building a self-love practice in an era of mass loathing, The Body Is Not an Apology challenges each listener to imagine another way of relating to her own incredible body. Add this pick to your listening queue if you want to add more self-love into your audio rotation.

Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies

By her late 20s, Tara Schuster was by any measure a success. Not only had Schuster worked on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, she was also crucial to the launch of the critically acclaimed show, Key & Peele. Yet depression and anxiety began to surface in her life, and eventually, Schuster could not outrun her unhealthy coping methods. From that experience, the author coaxed lessons that any woman can use to bring more self-love into her life and compiled them into this title. Be prepared to gain valuable insight and nod along with Schuster’s frank yet comforting narration.

Do What Feels Good

Entrepreneur Hannah Bronfman’s attitude of self-acceptance and owning positive beauty standards was formed early on as she witnessed a close family member struggle with disordered eating. Now a wellness influencer, Bronfman channels her past experiences into positive ones as she promotes a two-fold philosophy about being healthy: it's beautiful and should bring you pleasure. In Do What Feels Good, Bronfman adapts her point of view into an easily accessible manifesto on living life with healthy indulgences. Serving up recipes along with resources, both in this is an inspiring listen from which every woman can draw a little light.

Everything's Trash, but It's Okay

Ready for some truth talk? Actress and New York Times best-selling author Phoebe Robinson cuts through the noise and delivers a fiery and funny guide on how to get by as a woman when the world is a mess. A true Millennial, Robinson packs many pop culture references in her book, deploying skilled examples that resonate while talking about topics like feminism, intersectionality, and how society’s notion of beauty is problematic. By drawing on her own experience, Robinson brings an unapologetic candor to her hangups. Listeners who love a dose of tough love with humor won’t want to miss Robinson’s sharp storytelling and narration.

I Really Needed This Today

Sometimes all it takes to feel uplifted and empowered is the perfect quote. And in I Really Needed This Today, that’s exactly what Today show host Hoda Kotb has curated. Across 365 mind-expanding quotes and sayings, listeners get a daily dose of wisdom to schedule at their convenience. Whether you need a spark of hope in the morning or a thoughtful reflection before bed, I Really Needed This Today is the perfect companion to a woman’s journey through life.

The Likeability Trap

How many times have we heard someone call a female character “unlikeable?” Whether in fiction or in their real lives, many women feel pressured to be “likeable,” a gendered term that demands women to be just the right level of nice, successful, and ambitious. This impossible standard is what acclaimed journalist Alicia Menendez identifies as an impossible “likeability trap.” Menendez’s The Likeability Trap digs deep to uproot the history and core of this unhealthy expectation and offers listeners a way out of the conundrum. Prepare to be extra enlightened and emboldened by the author’s passionate narration.

More Than Enough

As editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue, and the second person of African American heritage in Condé Nast's 107-year history to hold such a title, Elaine Welteroth ushered in a new era of social awareness for a new generation of young women readers. Throughout her influential tenure, the magazine saw the dawning of a readership eager to participate in issues of social justice while also practicing self-love and self-acceptance. In More Than Enough, Welteroth relives her revolutionary leadership at Teen Vogue, adapting her key takeaways from her experience for listeners. Treat yourself to the experience of Welteroth narrating her own book, a performance that brings an extra level of intimacy to an already candid memoir.

the princess saves herself in this one

As little girls, many women are exposed to fairy tales where helpless princesses are rescued by dashing princes before going on to live happily ever after. Feminist poet Amanda Lovelace tackles the damaging impact of those stories in her verse while inviting women to bring more self-care and self-love into their lives. The first installment in Lovelace's women are some kind of magic series, the princess saves herself in this one reinvents such harmfun tropes. For an empowering listen, the audiobook is read by the author herself, and Lovelace’s narration enhances the poems by drawing precise meaning from each and every word.

Untamed

When Glennon Doyle published her best-selling self-development classic, Love Warrior, it seemed on the surface like life could not get any better. But behind the scenes, Doyle was going through a turbulent time after her husband’s infidelity came to light. Throughout that painful process, however, Doyle underwent an era of deep self-reflection, eventually realizing her identity as a queer woman. In Untamed, Doyle invites listeners to ask themselves the hard questions and invite uncomfortable—but liberating—truths to emerge just as she did. By narrating her own book, Doyle brings the same commanding voice she uses for her speeches.

Where to Begin

Only have an hour for an uplifting and inspiring listen? Check out Where to Begin by poet and author Cleo Wade. For many women, the current social turbulence crushes optimism that we can heal again together. In Where to Begin, Wade offers her prescription for how to find hope for personal and community resilience despite the challenges inherent in today’s world. This listen is the blueprint many women are looking for on how to begin taking better care of themselves, their loved ones, and their community. Brief but enlightening, Where to Begin is a great single-session listen for a quick pick me up.

Year of Yes

As the creator of TV series like Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, Shonda Rhimes penned strong, flawed, and relatable female characters. In her own life, however, Rhimes still struggled with confidence and routinely turned down invitations that might require putting herself out there. When her sister challenged her to stop saying “no” to experiences and start saying “yes,” Rhimes embarked on a year of being open to new opportunities, however anxiety inducing they felt. In Year of Yes, Rhimes reflects on how the experiment opened her world—and how it can change yours, too. This listen was a 2017 Audie Award Finalist for Audiobook of the Year, so you won’t want to miss this outstanding audio experience, narrated by the author herself.


A freelance librarian, Sarah S. Davis, MLIS, writes about books on Book Riot, Electric Literature, PsychCentral, and others. She has published the best-selling quote collections Brave Brain and A Reader’s Library of Book Quotes. Currently, she is an MFA candidate at VCFA.

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