2019 Reading List: She Wants It by Jill Soloway

When you have a story to tell that’s this colorful and radical, where do you start?

Do you start with your family and drop right into the moment where your father reveals he’s trans? Or how about your successful career in television? Or do you go back a little further and start with the less successful years working on various TV shows? What about your children, born to two different fathers, 14 years apart? Or your later divorce to your husband? Or maybe you just start up front with the story about how you became a lesbian. You might want to start with your white privilege though. Or what about your fight for women’s rights? LGBTQ+ rights? Human rights?

The memoir, She Wants It, by Jill Soloway, covered all of these hot button topics and more. Continue reading

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2019 Reading List: Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

I will start with this: I love Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant. That’s why I picked up this book. I love Lean In. I love WorkLife. I love their Ted Talks. I love Facebook.

I did not love this book. And I’ll tell you why. Continue reading

2019 Reading List: The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

What would you do if your baby was kidnapped while you were at a party next door? How would you react? In The Couple Next Door, by Shari Lapena, Anne and Marco’s babysitter cancels last minute, so they decide to leave the baby at home while they go to a party, promising to check on her every half hour. They have a monitor with them and every time they check, the baby is fine. And yet. They get home after the party and the baby is missing. Continue reading

2019 Reading List: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This book was fascinating.

I had Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, on my list to read after seeing it recommended by a blogger I follow. It was insightful and eye-opening and poignant. It was also educational, but not in a condescending way.

This book follows the life of Ifemelu, who is from Nigeria. In the beginning of the book, and at various moments throughout, we get a peek into her present life: she is getting her hair braided at a new salon (in the U.S.) before she moves back to Nigeria. We don’t know much more than that at first, but the book slowly unravels her life, starting with the family and home where she grew up. In high school, in Nigeria, she fell in love with a boy, Obinze. They had a beautiful and frantic relationship, as most teenagers do, and then Ifemelu moves to America.

In America, she struggles to find her place. She struggles to find a job, to make friends, to meet good people. She never feels like she truly fits in to any group, but when she speaks to her parents, she no longer feels that she is a part of their Nigerian world either. Continue reading

2019 Reading List: All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

I read All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, by Bryn Greenwood, as part of my office book club.

In Greenwood’s novel, she explores flawed characters, dysfunctional families, inappropriate relationships, sex, drugs, child abuse, murder, friendship, and love. It sounds like there are more ugly things than wonderful things, in my opinion. Continue reading

2019 Reading List: Bored and Brilliant by Manoush Zomorodi

Do you eat breakfast with your phone in front of you? Have you picked up your phone in the last 20 minutes? Are you addicted to social media or gaming apps? Do you get panicky if you can’t find your phone (or if the battery is less than 20%)?

Chances are, you answered yes to at least one of those questions. Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Creative Self, by Manoush Zomorodi addresses this societal issue.

The book isn’t about cell phones though. Of course, phones are today’s number one source of entertainment and distraction, but the point of this book is that we don’t leave enough time in our day for unstructured thought. We never have to say ‘I’m bored.’ We have the opportunity and ability to jump from one source of media to the next. Facebook to Instagram to Candy Crush to text messaging to email and back again.

When is the last time you actually just – did nothing? I certainly can’t remember. Continue reading

2019 Reading List: Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown

I remember very distinct moments in my childhood where I was desperate to fit in. When I was younger, most of it seemed to hinge on having the right things or wearing the right clothes. I wore overalls in elementary school because I liked them, but then I got made fun of and never wore them again. I wanted Ugg boots in the worst way because everyone else was wearing them. But I also just wanted to be part of a group. I wanted to feel like I had people around me, who wanted to hang out with me. I wanted a seat at the lunch table. I wanted friends on the swim team. I wanted people to meet up with in homeroom. I just wanted people to like me.

Brené Brown’s book, Braving the Wilderness, takes a deep look at this longing to belong and what it really means. Continue reading

2019 Reading List: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

I don’t play video games, I don’t watch many movies, and I don’t know a thing about the 80’s. But I loved this book.

Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline (now a movie directed by Steven Spielberg, which I have not yet seen), was a book that didn’t depend on your knowledge of literally anything in the book. Sure, maybe it would have been more relatable had I ever played the game Joust. Maybe it would have been more impactful had I ever seen the movie War Games. Maybe if I knew more of Star Trek than just the name.

But I don’t know those things, and yet, I found this book impossible to put down because the structure of it, the framework, the plot, and the characters were so real. That was the only thing that mattered.

They could have been playing completely made up games, just like the OASIS is made up. They could have been watching movies that never existed. It didn’t matter. Continue reading

2019 Reading List: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

The second book selected for the MarketSpace book club was a novel titled, Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi. My co-worker who put this book on the list couldn’t remember where she’d heard about it, and after reading the synopsis online, the group was a little skeptical. But I told them at the very least we can all attempt to read it and if we don’t like it, we just stop. I’ve done that before.

So I downloaded the library book onto my Kindle, and once I started, I couldn’t stop. I didn’t want to put this book down. The chapters are longer, so that also makes it hard to find a stopping point, but I just didn’t want to.

I will try to make my own summary of the book a little more intriguing than the book jacket. Continue reading

2019 Reading List: How Women Rise by Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith

I just finished another career/self-help book called How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back from Your Next Raise, Promotion, or Job, by Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith.

I’d heard about this book through blogs or podcasts or something in the past year, so it’s been on my list for awhile.

It’s about the fact that all of the skills and tactics that make women successful up until the mid-to-upper career level may be the very things that are holding them back as they look to move to the upper management or C-level.

At first, this book didn’t really resonate with me. The introduction was long and odd – the intro seemed to be covering more of Goldsmith’s other book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, than it was intro-ing the actual book I was reading.

I was also very thrown off by the way the book was written in sort of third person and sort of first person. I actually didn’t realize that the “Sally” and “Marshall” that the book kept referring to were the authors until about halfway through, because it felt like they were referring to themselves in the third person, but the the next sentence they’d use the word “We.” I felt like the “we” was writing the book and Sally and Marshall were just hanging out. It was strange.

And then, I felt that I didn’t really agree with the book at all. They were trying to tell me that the skills I take such pride in weren’t good enough skills to have and that they would eventually hinder my ability to get ahead, if they weren’t already. My whole adult life, I’d been focusing on certain workplace skills. I’d been working on being a team player, I’d been showing gratitude to my team members, I’d been getting certifications to position myself as an expert. And they were telling me that at a certain point, that’s all wrong. I didn’t believe them. I almost put the book down. Continue reading