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David Canfield
October 23, 2017 AT 12:36 PM EDT

“She told me I had something important to say,” Lena Dunham says of the first time she met Michelle Obama. “I needed to hear that. Every woman does.”

In the new essay collection Courage Is Contagious, public figures ranging from activist Janet Mock to historian Jon Meacham to comedian Patton Oswalt pen touching tributes to our most recent first lady. Compiled by Nick Haramis, the book is an extension of his wildly popular feature on Obama in T, The New York Times Style Magazine, a communal celebration of what she brought to the White House.

Courage Is Contagious will be released in hardcover by Random House on Tuesday, along with its official audiobook. The latter features many of the collection’s authors reading their own essays, giving each a deeply personal touch. In one such example, two ninth-grade girls — one in training to be a boxer — talk about how Obama emboldened them to be themselves.

EW can exclusively reveal eight gorgeous excerpts of the audio essays featured in Courage Is Contagious. Listen below to hear Issa Rae reveal how Obama inspired her HBO series Insecure, Oswalt discuss how she taught his late wife — also named Michelle — “how to be a role model,” Meacham provide historical perspective on how she and President Obama exceeded the standard of American leadership, and much more.

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