I read a lot. I always have and it is the one thing I know that will be consistent with my personality. My hobbies and life goals may change, but I will always love a good book. The past few years I have been more intentional about trying to read non-fiction. Whether it’s biographies, self-help, or memoirs, I figured it would be good to branch out. Become a more well-rounded reader. To my surprise, there have been quite a few that have really, really stuck with me. Of course, there have been ones that I have found very boring and did not finish (I don’t believe you need to finish a book you start. If you read 50 pages and still don’t like it, stop. There are lots of others out there that you would enjoy so don’t waste your time out of some misguided sense of loyalty), but I am obviously just going to ignore those.
What I realized when thinking about which of the books made a lasting impact, was that most of them were written by women. Which is just plain awesome. I love nothing more than a good book written by an inspirational woman. And all of these fit that bill.
I Remember Nothing – Nora Ephron
I am soooo late to the Nora Ephron party, but later than never right? I just finished this book two days ago and am embarrassed to admit that it’s the first book I’ve read of hers. Yes, I know she wrote Sleepless in Seattle and When Harry Met Sally. I know she is a rom-com idol/queen/legend. But for some reason, it took me this long to actually ready her books. And now I need to go out and buy everything the has written because this was a complete *joy* to read. It was so witty and light, yet also touched on some heavier topics. I loved the lists she made about her likes and dislikes, and her chapter on the evolution of e-mail. There is also a whole chapter about a meatloaf being named after her, which sounds ridiculous but was amazing. In a few short days I have become a Nora Ephron Super Fan and I think my life will be better for it!
Better Than Before – Gretchen Rubin
I never was one for “self-help” books until I read this one. I don’t even remember what prompted me to check it out from the library, but I did and I’m so happy for that. Better Than Before is about figuring out the best way for different types of people to change their bad habits and also, how to start (and stick) to new habits. Part of the reason I like it is that it spends a lot of time talking about different personalities and the psychology of behavior, and I am a huge fan of figuring out why people do certain things (psych minor over here!). Although this book is rooted in anecdotes and not science, I still found it to be an inspirational and motivating read. I kept finding myself nodding along with sentences that resonated and making notes of things I could do for the future to help me stick to a gym routine, or write consistently. It’s been a couple years since I read it and actually think I may pick it up again soon to refresh my memory!
Bossypants – Tina Fey
Sometimes you just need a light and fun read. And we all know that Tina Fey is the queen of funny. I may be a Leslie Knope 4 Eva kinda gal, but there is no denying that the writing crown goes to Tina. I don’t think I have ever laughed so much while reading. It’s also just fun to read a book by a famous person and hear them talk about their life while working on such famous shoes like SNL and 30 Rock, etc. It’s a nice peek behind the Hollywood curtain.
Radical Candor – Kim Scott
Ok, this is is a little bit cheating because I’m not quite done with it. I am reading it with some people I work with as a book club and each week we read one chapter and then have a discussion about it. Kim Scott, the author, has worked for companies like Google and Apple and spends the book making an argument for how “Radical Candor” is the type of communication we should all strive for at work. The book is meant for managers, but I think the advice and ideas laid out are for anyone who has co-workers essentially. It is a great read to help with professional development and has already made an impact on how I handle different situations at work. Although the examples she uses come from a Silicone Valley context, and therefore may not be relatable to everyone, I think the main points she is trying to make about communication can work no matter what company you are at.
Educated – Tara Westover
If there is one book that made the most impact on me when I was done reading, it’s this one. I couldn’t stop thinking about this book for *days* after I finished it. Educated is a memoir from a woman who grew up completely off the radar with her unconventional family and eventually made her way to college, became a Gates Scholar, and got a PhD from Cambridge. It is a story of the author finding herself in a world that is larger and more different than she ever thought, and trying to reconcile her new life with the life her family is still living. I was completely absorbed by this story and in awe of everything Tara was able to accomplish, given where she started. When I finished this book, I pretty much spammed all the people I know and told them they *needed* to read this so we could have a mini book club about it. And now, I’m doing the same here.
Becoming – Michelle Obama
I sort of feel like I don’t need to explain why this is on the list?? But, I will briefly do so anyway. I read this book over the course of two days while laying on my couch with a serious case of jet lag after I returned from Christmas on the West Coast. This book was a great way to kick off 2019. It is beautifully written and contains great stories of MO’s life growing up. I’m pretty sure I was filled with giddiness when I got to the part where she met Barack. It was so adorable. The stories throughout “Becoming” are real, honest and vulnerable. I loved when she talked about her “swerve” moment in life where she decided to deviate from the path she assumed she should be on. I could totally relate to that. If you haven’t read this, do yourself a favor and pick it up now.