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: 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: You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero

It’s my belief that this book became a bestseller based on title alone. And while that may be probable, You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero definitely has merit as an inspiring self-help book.

I picked up this book because 1) that title, duh and 2) it’s been recommended on several blogs that I read. But really though, the title alone is all the affirmation you need.

It was a little less focused on the “badassery” than I expected though. It was a little less edgy than I thought it would be. But it was full of motivational genius.

There wasn’t actually anything new in this book. I felt that I’d heard it all before. Sincero did not tell me anything I didn’t already know. She even alludes to that a few times though. Continue reading

2019 Reading List: American Sniper by Chris Kyle

This is the second time I’ve read American Sniper, by Chris Kyle. If you know me at all, you’ll know that’s highly unusual for me – I don’t read books twice because there are way too many other books in the world that I haven’t read yet.

In this case, this book was chosen as the book for my book club at my new place of work. I started the book club here when I started my new job at the end of November, and I was thrilled that a few people said they wanted to read with me.

If it were any other book, I might not have picked it up again. I might have said, Oh, I’ve read that, so I’ll just wait till you all are done and talk about it later. But this was American Sniper. I remember loving this book the first time I read it. I remember feeling like my eyes were opened to this whole new perspective on war and combat and service – things I’d never truly considered before.

Many people have seen this movie, but I never have. I would love to, just haven’t gotten around to it yet. But now that I’ve read the book twice, I can say that it was definitely a different experience each time. Continue reading

2018 Reading List: Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture, edited by Roxane Gay

I went to the library to get the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I wanted to get into the Christmas spirit, to remember gratitude and appreciation, and to relive childhood memories of decorating the tree with this black and white film playing in the background.

I found the movie, but I also ended up checking out this book, titled Not That Bad: Dispatches for Rape Culture, edited by Roxane Gay.

Perhaps I was compelled to pick it up since I’d just done a self-defense workshop a few days before. Perhaps I’ve been feeling frustrated with reports of sexism and sexual abuse that seem to permeate the news. Whatever the reason, I opened this book, which was featured prominently on a stand near the library entrance, and I read the first few pages.

I wasn’t sure how to write this “book review” or if I should even write it at all. I was worried about whether my opinions would come across too strongly for this smattering of book review readers I have here. I was worried that the word “rape” might scare people off or worse, instigate a fight, a defense, a discussion.

But the more I thought about it, I realized that that’s exactly what we need, to change this rape culture. We cannot be afraid of the word “rape.” We can’t be afraid to talk about it, or voice our opinions. I hope we all have the same opinions. That rape is wrong, that no means no, that silence means no, that drunk girls aren’t asking for it.

I wrote a little essay of sorts in my journal after I finished this book, so I’ll write it for you here. Because whatever my thoughts are, those might be the thoughts of someone else too. And they just might be the thoughts that someone needs to hear. Continue reading

2018 Reading List: Playing Big: Practical Wisdom for Women Who Want to Speak Up, Create, and Lead

I feel strongly that women are meant to have a bigger role in our communities, education systems, government, and businesses. I love reading books about strong women. I love hearing about powerful women who create change. I know that the world will be better off when women no longer see and hear the internal and external arguments about whether and how they can succeed.

I believe all of this 100% and yet, I am still yearning to figure out how to create an impact of my own. I still have a strong desire to learn what it is that holds women back, and more importantly, how to communicate that to others.  Continue reading

2018 Reading List: My Story by Elizabeth Smart

Right before I visited Salt Lake City, Utah, I read Elizabeth Smart’s memoir, My Story. I swear, I had no idea that Elizabeth Smart was from SLC. I know that the story of her abduction was big news at the time, but I was only 12 years old. I heard her name and vaguely knew the circumstances from the 5 o’clock news clips, but I wasn’t really familiar with the details.

That’s why I picked up her memoir.  Continue reading

2018 Reading List: Factfulness by Hans Rosling

How much do you know about the world we live in?

No, really. How much do you know? Do you know how many girls worldwide go to school? Do you know many households in other countries have electricity? Do you know the proportion of people living in poverty worldwide?

These topics are not typically things that are on our radar. The answers aren’t found on the five o’clock news, or in your Instagram feed. There is no headline that reads “Five families in Somalia confirm indoor plumbing is working.” There’s no reason to bring up the state of endangered species at your next happy hour. But we all have estimated answers to these questions anyway. And it is our estimated worldview that shapes our opinions about so many other things.

Our estimated answers to these questions are wrong. And our view of the world we live in is wrong.  Continue reading