Reading Habits of 5 Successful Women — and What You Can Learn from Them

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JLP Staff

Aging Well / / August 03, 2017

When we see successful people, we can’t help but wonder how do they do it? What is it that they do every day that helps them stay sharp, innovative and ahead of the game?

Turns out, reading is a common habit among some of the world’s upper echelon. Bill Gates’s and Elon Musk’s love for reading is no secret, and Warren Buffett also talks about his love for literature.

Successful women also have this habit in common. Check out what’s on the bookshelves of the homes of one of the world’s most famous authors, and the first female U.S. Secretary of State.

J.K. Rowling

An unsurprising successful woman on this list is an author who’s been widely credited for the resurgence of interest in reading among children and young adults.

The creator of the Harry Potter series has a long list of favorite books and has enjoyed reading since she was a little girl.  

J.K. Rowling’s book recommendations:

  • The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
  • Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin
  • The Diaries of Auberon Waugh by Auberon Waugh
  • The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge
  • Anything by Shakespeare

Emma Watson

Another successful woman from the Harry Potter world, actress Emma Watson, is an avid reader. Since her role as Hermione in the Harry Potter series, she’s blown up as an international figure.

Watson has gained a reputation for being a powerful feminist, a global UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and an inspiring speaker.

How does she stay so sharp? We’re willing to bet her reading habits have something to do with it. She even started her own feminist book club on Goodreads, Our Shared Shelf.

Emma Waton’s book recommendations:

  • The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler
  • My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem
  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  • Rookie Yearbook Four by Tavi Gevinson

Madeleine Albright

Madeleine Albright’s path to success was in politics: She was the first woman to become U.S. Secretary of State in 1997.

Well-educated and well-read, Albright reads all genres, including fiction. Albright’s love for reading transformed into a love for writing, and she is now a successful author.

The daughter of a published diplomat, Albright now has several New York Times best-sellers, including a memoir and other works inspired by her international career.

Madeleine Albright’s book recommendations:

  • Catherine the Great by Robert Massie
  • Citizens of London: The Americans Who Stood With Britain in Its Darkest, Finest Hour by Lynne Olson
  • Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
  • War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  • Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser
  • The Art of the Impossible by Vaclav Havel

Marissa Mayer

Marissa Mayer, who made headlines when she transitioned from her executive role at Google when she became president and CEO of Yahoo!, used literature for more than just reading early on in her career.

Mayer wrote software that automatically classified books, which she was then able to expand to advertisements.

Marissa Mayer’s book recommendations:

  • The Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. Norman
  • Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh (founder of Zappos)
  • Churchill by Paul Johnson

Oprah Winfrey

It’s no surprise that Oprah Winfrey is on this list. She reads so many books, she’s built a business around it. 

Every month, she selects a new book to read and discuss in her infamous Oprah’s Book Club 2.0

Oprah makes her book club a fully immersive experience for her followers, as she also provides tons of reading guides, book reviews, workshops, a Goodreads group and more. 

Oprah Winfrey’s book recommendations: 

  • The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
  • The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
  • A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
  • Night by Elie Wiesel
  • A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
Categories: Aging Well
About The Author
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Joan Lunden’s in-house research and writing team works with Joan to create content that complements her focuses and the interests of her fans. The team is dedicated to creating a thriving community through content and conversations, and hopes their work, like Joan’s, can make a difference in the lives of her readers everywhere.

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