With the primary season heating up, it's starting to look like this year's election will be monumental for women. But whether or not Clinton wins the nomination or the presidency, she has made history during her career as a politician, and like the many strong female leaders before her, Clinton shared her story in one of the many political memoirs written by women that you should consider reading this election season.
Since the Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence nearly 250 years ago, the U.S. government has been largely controlled by white, wealthy men. But, even in its earliest days, female politicians have been pushing boundaries and breaking down walls in an effort to carve a space for women in government. From Hattie Caraway and Clara Cressingham to Carol Moseley Braun and Sandra Day O'Connor, women in politics have been making their voices heard and fighting for their rights and the rights of other women from inside the patriarchal system that so often has tried to repress them. Thanks to these female politicians, the wants, needs, and rights of women have someone speaking up for them.
And, thanks to these female politicians' writing chops, we have the pleasure of finding out exactly how they climbed the ladder and went on to shatter some of the thickest glass ceilings. Here are 13 memoirs written by women in politics that you should check out this election season, because politics isn't a boy's club anymore.
1. Hard Choices by Hillary Rodham Clinton
You may think you know everything there is to know about the former Secretary of State and Democratic nominee hopeful, but Hard Choices, Hillary Clinton's memoir, will show you a whole other side to the famous politician. Focused on her four years serving as the Secretary of State for President Obama, Hard Choices guides us through some of the most historic events from the last decade — events we think we know everything about — from the point of view of someone who was actually there and involved in them, often times in a position to make a tough decision. An inspiring story about one of the world's most powerful women, this is a must read for anyone who wants to be more informed about this year's presidential hopeful.
2. Pearls, Politics, and Power: How Women Can Win and Lead by Madeleine Kunin
There are the traditionally inspiring political memoirs about someone's life and career in government, and then there are memoirs like Madeleine Kunin's, which actually asks women to stand up and get involved. A former three-term Vermont Governor and U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland, Kumin uses her own story and personal experiences in politics to illustrate how it's possible for women to obtain power in politics. Part autobiography, part critical essay, Pearls, Politics, and Power will have you off the couch and out on the streets campaigning. Who knows, it might even inspire you to become a politician yourself.
3. The Majesty of the Law: Reflections of a Supreme Court Justice by Sandra Day O'Connor
If you liked learning about former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's early days in her memoir Lazy B, you'll be even more fascinated with her follow-up memoir, The Majesty of the Law. In this national bestseller, the former Supreme Court Justice uses history, law, and her own experiences to reflect on the American government and her time serving it. A profound book from the first female to serve on the Supreme Court, The Majesty of the Law is at once a thorough and readable history lesson and an empowering story about one woman's rise to the top.
4. My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor
Some political memoirs can seem academic and detached, but not My Beloved World, Sonia Sotomayor's deeply personal memoir about her life and career leading up to her appointment as the first Hispanic member of the Supreme Court. With stark honesty and emotion, Sotomayor recounts everything about her life, from growing up in the housing projects in the Bronx to her years at Princeton and Yale to her private practice, all leading her to the very top. Sotomayor doesn't just talk shop, though. My Beloved World includes revealing details about her failed marriage, early family troubles, and what it's like being a Hispanic woman in politics. A poignant memoir, this book is a great read even if you aren't interested in politics.
5. A Fighting Chance by Elizabeth Warren
A personal hero of mine, I'm always thrilled to read anything about or by Elizabeth Warren, especially her memoir. In A Fighting Chance, Warren recalls the path that lead her to Washington — a strange, bumpy, and ever compelling one — and doesn't pull punches when talking about what it's really like in Washington and how it can get better. With A Fighting Chance, Warren, who didn't run for office until she was 62, not only shares her empowering story of a small fish fighting against the tide in a big pond, but reminds us that it's never to late to take action and make a difference.
6. No Higher Honor: A Memoir of My Years in Washington by Condoleezza Rice
Growing up during the Civil Rights era, former National Security Advisor and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice dreamed of a world where black women like herself could work in Washington, D.C. Decades later, that dream came true, and No Higher Honor chronicles the path that brought Rice from Birmingham, Alabama to Washington. Filled with details about her time serving the Bush administration — specifically the 9-11 attacks and the wars that followed — Rice's story is intriguing for modern history and political buffs as well as someone looking for a true and inspiring story.
7. Madam Secretary: A Memoir by Madeleine Albright
A fascinating book about one of the country's former most powerful politicians, Madeleine Albright's memoir has as much personal history in it as it does actual U.S. history. Madam Secretary chronicles Albright's life, from from her childhood to her historic appointment as the first female Secretary of State. Rich in detail, Madam Secretary may be over 700 pages long, but trust me, it's a true story well worth reading.
8. Off the Sidelines: Speak Up, Be Fearless, Change the World by Kirsten Gillibrand
Both a candid look F her personal life and a motivational guide for women who want to get more involved, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's book, Off the Sidelines, is the feminist political memoir inspirational how-to mash up you didn't know you needed. Using her own path to public service as a backdrop, Gillibrand's book is a true call to action; she asks women: what more could you be doing, for yourselves and for each other? Off the Sidelines is an essential handbook for women who want to change their world.
9. Grace and Grit: My Fight for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond by Lilly Ledbetter
If you've always dreamed of making a difference but never wanted to run for office, Lilly Ledbetter's Grace and Grit just might inspire you to keep chasing that dream. Though not a politician herself, Ledbetter made history when, after finding out she made thousands of dollars less per yer at her job at Goodyear than men with her same position, she fought for over a decade for equal pay for women, a battle she eventually won with President Obama's first official legislative act: the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act. A truly remarkable and brave woman, Ledbetter's story is one you don't want to miss.
10. Why Women Should Rule the World by Dee Dee Myers
You don't have to be elected to be in politics — just ask Dee Dee Myers, the real-life inspiration behind The West Wing's C.J. Craig and former White House Press Secretary. Why Women Should Rule the World explains exactly the benefits of having women in powerful positions, and how to get them there. An honest look at women in politics and power, Myers's memoir is all the proof we need that women can (and should) lead.
11. Forgetting to Be Afraid: A Memoir by Wendy Davis
A fast rising political star, Wendy Davis sheds light on her life and career in Forgetting to Be Afraid, her personal memoir about life, liberty, and the pursuit of power. Featuring an insightful retelling of her 11-hour filibuster on the Senate floor — the one she suffered through without food, water, a chair, or bathroom breaks to protect women's rights — this memoir is a fascinating read on both a political and personal level. A compelling story about hardworking, motivated woman determined to change her story, Forgetting to Be Afraid is a powerful book all women, hopeful politicians or not, should read.