The sheer amount of stuff there is to know in the world is sometimes overwhelming. Almost daily, I realize, “Oh crap. I don’t know enough about that particular social issue. Or this politician’s background. Or science in general.” Just trying to keep up with important issues can take a great deal of time and energy. But fortunately there are books every smart woman should read to keep her education going even years after graduation. Because it’s never too late to learn more about whatever topics interest you.
This ongoing education can get difficult once you’re in an established routine with a familiar career and daily expectations. There is a kind of confidence that comes from knowing all about your particular area of expertise, and it’s sometimes exhausting to educate yourself about an entirely new set of ideas. But learning more about the world is enlightening, and it’s always fun to have new topics at hand for discussion.
Overall, these books may help you discover a new passion or insight into other people’s lives. They can serve as a jumping-off point into entirely new schools of thought about history, or exciting scientific discoveries. Because there’s nothing like a good read to make the world a little less confusing.
1. To Rethink American History
Charles C. Mann's 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus delves into the fascinating history of life in the Americas before Columbus turned up. The Aztecs ran a city larger than any of its European counterparts, and Mexicans were experimenting with the genetic manipulation of corn. It was anything but savage.
2. To Make You Sound Like A Scientist
If you don't have a hard science background but want to learn more about the workings of the world, then this volume can help. The Science Book: Everything You Need to Know About the World and How It Works by National Geographic covers the basics of biology, chemistry, physics, and more in straightforward prose with gorgeous graphics. Science hasn't been this much fun since the days of watching Bill Nye.
3. To Better Understand Feminism
The word "feminism" gets thrown around the Internet so much, it's difficult to pin one meaning to it. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who gave an engaging TED talk on the subject, further outlines her understanding of sexual politics in We Should All Be Feminists.
4. To Really Grasp Money Matters
Niall Ferguson examines the alleged root of all evil in The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World. This look at the inner workings of the economy will make you see the world in a totally new way.
5. To Help You Trust Your Instincts
Because it's important to be both book smart and street smart, Gavin de Becker's The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence is a crucial read. It dispels myths about crime and encourages readers to trust their instincts.
6. To Think About The Universe
Curious about quarks and antimatter? Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time explains the mind-blowing concepts of astrophysics in a readable, fun book.
7. To Rethink American Education
John Owen's Confessions of a Bad Teacher details his experiences as a teacher at a public school in South Bronx. He outlines the realities of students, administration, and finances, and calls for reform.
8. To Learn More About Politics
If it's been a few years since your last civics class, then What You Should Know About Politics . . . But Don't by Jessamyn Conrad can serve as a great refresher. It's a spin-free primer on important party issues.
9. To Help You Philosophize
Need a good review of major thinkers? Paul Kleinman's Philosophy 101 is a fun read packed with illustrations and puzzles that make philosophy more fun than ever.