Well folks, we are well into 2019 and once again, I have committed to reading at least one book a month for the year. I have to say, I think this might be my forever new year’s resolution. Recently, I read an article that said that despite high literacy rates globally, leisure reading is at an all-time low, falling by more than 30 percent since 2004. People. We are better than this. Reading has so many benefits: it can teach us new skills, it allows us to escape reality for a while and can help us find common ground with others who may share similar interests.
So, if you find yourself near a book store or library anytime soon, I challenge you to go in and buy/rent a book. Or, if you’re a Prime member, consider downloading a book on Audible. If you’re in need of a suggestion, consider one of the following:
FOR THE LEADER YOU ASPIRE TO BE:
Dare to Lead by Brené Brown
“I define a leader as anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes, and who has the courage to develop that potential.”
Whether you’ve been in leadership for years or are just getting involved for the first time, I think this book can be beneficial to anyone in a management position. Brené gives practical advice about what it means to lead wholeheartedly and how embracing vulnerability can help encourage and empower any team. When leaders lean into vulnerability, they build trust and create a space for people to connect and share differences more openly. Through a combination of personal stories and research from a variety of fields, Brené talks about empathy, being able to “rumble” within difficult conversations, recognizing shame, and using these concepts to become more daring leaders.
I listened to this book on tape and I thought the delivery was great. Brene’s writing is genuine and conversational and I think that delivery would not have translated as well if I had been reading the book. The skills and techniques she discusses can help anyone decide what kind of leader they want to be.
FOR SEX, DRUGS AND ROCK & ROLL:
Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
“Music can dig, you know? It can take a shovel to your chest and just start digging until you hit something.”
Taylor Jenkins Reid is a master of her craft. Daisy Jones and the Six transports readers to the most iconic age of rock n’ roll. It documents the rise and fall of a fictional rock band during the 1970s. The story is filled with sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Underneath it all, this is a powerful book about relationships, addiction, self-sabotage and how group dynamics can interfere with the creative struggle. The book is told through a compilation of interview responses from the band members, crew, and the band’s family members, allowing readers to follow different points of view while reflecting on what led to the band’s infamous split.
What stood out to me most about Daisy Jones and the Six was the complexity of the characters. Even the smaller, supporting characters had detailed, layered storylines. The details of the story were so realistic and the emotions evoked were so raw that there were several times I had to remind myself that this was a work of fiction. I also have to commend Taylor Jenkins Reid for creating powerful and dynamic female characters. Throughout the story, there are messages of female empowerment and women supporting women.
I would highly recommend listening to the audio version of this story. I think the interview layout of the story allows for a very unique experience that is better received audibly. You may also recognize some of the voices that narrate the story including Jennifer Beals, Benjamin Bratt and Judy Greer.
FOR A SPIRITUAL AWAKENING
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”
The Alchemist follows a young shepherd named Santiago in his journey to Egypt, after having a recurring dream of finding treasure there. He leaves home and embarks on a journey across the Mediterranean and the Sahara, guided along the way by a camel driver, an alchemist and other spiritual guides. But like so many stories of wanderers and their quests, The Alchemist ends where it began. What starts out as a treasure hunt for gold turns into a discovery of the treasure found within: wisdom, self-awareness and love.
Coelho is a great storyteller and constructs an inspiring tale about self-discovery, following your heart and chasing your dreams in order to achieve your Personal Legend, a concept equivalent to our purpose in life. I would recommend this novel to anyone who reads to not only escape reality but to understand a deeper spiritual connection with everything around them. Santiago’s journey, the people he meets, the omens he encounters, and the nature he speaks to, are all things that we can relate to. Coelho encourages his readers to pursue their dreams regardless of the challenges they may face.
FOR ALL THE FEELS
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
“Equality is treating everyone the same. But equity is taking differences into account, so everyone has a chance to succeed.”
Ruth Jefferson is an African American labor and delivery nurse with over 20 years of experience. During a routine check-up of a newborn, she is told that she has been reassigned to a new patient. The parents of the newborn are white supremacists and do not want Ruth to tend to their child. The hospital complies with the parents’ request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress and Ruth is the only other person in the nursery. Ruth finds herself conflicted: should she follow orders or intervene? When the baby dies, Ruth is held responsible and an agonizing legal battle ensues.
Jodi Picoult provokes so many emotions through this captivating story that tackles a variety of difficult topics through the perspectives of Ruth, her lawyer, Kennedy, and the newborn’s father, Turk. The level of research that went into writing this story is astounding. Her take on issues such as racism, antisemitism, the justice system, and labor discrimination, is nuanced and compassionate. Small Great Things may leave some readers feeling uncomfortable, considering the controversial nature of the story, but that’s the exact reason why it is worth reading.