I’ve compiled a list of my favorite memoirs of women who have overcome the odds and gone on to do great things with their lives. Browse these 15 inspirational stories of women who lived with intention.

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There’s something about reading a story knowing that it was based on something that really happened. That someone, despite the odds, made it. These stories pump me up in my own life. They make my dreams and goals seem that much more attainable.

I love reading memoirs. And I’ve read a whole lot, from one end of the spectrum to another. I’ve read about drug addicts, cult survivors, entrepreneurs, divorcees, widows, missionaries and princesses. I can’t get enough of the true story.

Here are a few memoirs of women that left a lasting impression on me over the past few years.

1. “Kisses from Katie” by Katie Davis

This true story is about a girl from Tennessee who decided to live in Uganda for her gap year…which turned into adopting 13 daughters by the time she was 23.

2. “Educated” by Tara Westover

This book is about a girl raised in the mountains of Idaho who lives her life preparing for the end of the world because of her paranoid father. She goes on to receive an education after leaving home and learns the world isn’t exactly what she thought it was…and decides to do something more with her life.

3. “Twelve Clean Pages” by Nika Maples

A beautiful book of a woman’s journey with lupus as she fights for her life after suffering a massive stroke. She inspired me by changing the direction of her life and accomplishing great things for the good of others…you won’t want to miss this ending!

4. “The Hiding Place” by Corrie Ten Boome

This is a memoir of a woman who worked at her family’s watch shop during WWII in Holland. They joined the resistance hiding Jews in their home. I loved learning about the secret ways they communicated to get around the Nazis, but I especially loved the stories of their optimism and dependence on God’s goodness even after they were arrested. For a book that is about something so sad, I felt pumped up and empowered after I finished it.

Memoirs of women

5. “The Magnolia Story” by Joanna Gaines

The stories in these books are so inspirational to see that great things can come if we have the courage to just jump right in and give them a try.

Memoirs of women

6. “Eat Pray Love“ by Elizabeth Gilbert

I enjoyed reading about the author’s transformation after her divorce and year long journey around the world by going to Italy, India and Indonesia. I loved reading about her thought processes and seeking healing from the pain in her life. The overall message and feeling of the book was of warmth and exploration and love.

Memoirs of women

7. “Diana: Her True Story in Her Own Words” by Andrew Morton

Heartbreaking true story of Diana and her role as wife and princess in the public eye. I loved her bravery and passion for working with AIDS victims. Very detailed, well-paced novel about her impact on the world and personal struggles.

Memoirs of women

8. “Option B” by Sheryl Sandberg

This is an honest look at a woman’s journey after becoming a widow. She answer the question: What do you do when life wipes out your plans and lays a new path before you? She gives advice on how to embrace your new path and use it for good instead of trying to backtrack to a life you can never return to.

Memoirs of women

9. “Need You Now” by Plumb

A very honest memoir about the struggles and triumphs in marriage. Beautiful. You’ll laugh and cry in this one.

Memoirs of women

10. “The Year of Less“ by Cait Flanders

More than a book about decluttering and shopping less, the author takes you through her memoir of how her victory over alcoholism only emerged in new destructive habits. Throughout she learns how to deal with stress in ways that are healthier for her mind and body.

Memoirs of women

11. “The Longing in Me” by Sheila Walsh

Part memoir, part Bible study, this Scottish author takes us through the story of David as she recounts some of the trials in her own life and how she learned that only God could fulfill what she was truly searching for in life.

Memoirs of women

12. “Out of the Woods” by Katina Makris

This book personally resonated with me because the author tells her story of dealing with Late Stage Lyme. Her positive outlook and determination was so inspiring to me as a fellow lyme-sufferer. Beautifully written and hopefully optimistic.

Memoirs of women

13. “Girl, Wash Your Face” by Rachel Hollis

This book inspired me to start my blog and dream bigger about what it could be. Inspirational story of a girl with a traumatic childhood, no college education, and a multi-million dollar business.

Memoirs of women

14. “Imperfect Courage” by Jessica Honegger

Written by the creator of Noonday, the world’s largest fair trade jewelry company, this book goes through the journey of one woman’s mission to follow what she felt God was leading her to do even when it didn’t make sense. This book inspired me as a creator, a blogger, a mom and a Christian.

Memoirs of women

15. “It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way” by Lysa TerKeurst

This Christian living book is about a successful Christian author who then goes through a divorce. She offers advice and hope on how to navigate life’s detours.


What women inspire you? Come share your favorites in my Facebook Group!

Then check out a few more posts on intentional living here:

Happy Reading!