#1: I'm a traditionalist and love a good ol' fashion, paper book. I've tried reading on my iPhone/iPad but for me, there's nothing quite the same as physically holding a book in my precious hands. I love the smell & feel. I like to underline, highlight & make asterisks in my books (even the fiction--there's a method to my process!) and while I know that you can do some of that on a handheld device, I'm just not sold. When you find me reading a book you can be sure that I always have it on me--either in my purse (hence it averaging 837 pounds) or in my car. Always.
#2: I date all of my books. Whenever I'm starting a new read I write the month & year on one of the opening pages so I'll always have a record of when I first cracked it open. Dating my books also gives some additional context to all my highlighting/underlining--I can pick up a book from 3 years ago and, just by looking at my "notes", know exactly where I was at that point in my life. Which is kinda cool.
#3: I tend to read a lot and I read quickly. It's not totally uncommon for me to finish a 250-350 page book in 3 or 4 daysso when I'm really on it, I can read 3 books a month easily. It also helps that I watch very little TV.
Alright! So here's what I read in December 2015....
- Peace From Broken Pieces (Iyanla Vanzant): I had this book for 5 years but never seemed to be able to get all the way through it. I picked it back up sometime during the month to finish what I'd started (don't know when since I didn't date this book originally) and found it so easy to get through this time around. Some books just have to sit on the shelf until you're at a place where they speak to you and that's how this one was for me. You may know Iyanla as the the Life Coach often featured alongside Oprah and the host of the OWN Network show, Iyanla Fix My Life. This book is basically an auto-biography of Iyanla's incredible life--"part personal chronicle" & "part How to manual". I love reading about the shadows of people's lives and how they learned to navigate their minefields--especially the ones we don't often know about (reminds me how common my experiences really are). She shares so many deeply personal stories (her traumatic childhood, putting herself through law school as a single mom of 3, the unexpected death of her eldest daughter, her dangerous relationship pathologies, & her rock-bottom business moments) and all of the lessons she learned along the way--about God, love, personal responsibility and of course, "how to get peace from your broken pieces". If you're a fan of her work and her tell-it-like-it-is style, you'll love this book.
- God Is Always Hiring: 50 Lessons for Finding Fulfilling Work (Regina Brett): This book is divided into 50 short lessons (4-5 pages each) each interpreted through a spiritual lens. It's not a "Christian book" nor a Bible-based book, but as the title suggests, it does have a spiritual foundation based in universal Truth.I picked this book up during my Amtrak trip when I'd arrived in LA & stumbled upon a Barnes & Noble right up the street from my hotel. I almost left it in the store because it was hardback (heavy! bulky!) but am SOOO glad I snatched it up. I love how she weaves her lessons through the lens of creating meaningful work because it's one of the foundations of how I personally work and see myself as a business woman (Lesson #1: "When You Don't Get What You Want, You Get Something Better--Experience" & Lesson #27: "Clear the Path for the Person After You"). I like business books that speak to creating what works for each individual versus following a prescribed formula, so I loved that this book reframes success in ways that align with my core beliefs about life & business. If any of these topics are of interest to you, don't miss this one (even if you're not an entrepreneur).
- The Year of Yes (Shonda Rimes): If you're on ANY social media platforms I'm sure you've seen this book floating around the web. It was given to me as a gift for Christmas but I but I didn't start it until almost New Year's Eve so this was the last book I read in 2015 and my first book of 2016. I'll be honest--the beginning of this book was hard for me to follow because Shonda writes as a TV writer (like an episode of Grey's Anatomy!) but after I got about 50 pages in, I was hooked & finished it in 2 days! I loved this book because Shonda lets you all the way in her life and her personal challenge to commit to a year of saying "yes" to all of the things she normally shied away from. It's eye-opening to read about the more human side of the woman who "owns Thursday nights on ABC"--how uncomfortable she was in the spotlight and how she struggled with balancing her home life with her super successful work life, all while wondering if her speeches were good enough & figuring out who her real friends were. We have a tendency look at ultra successful people and make up a lot of stories about how webelieve they live & who wethink they are--but Shonda has a thing or two to teach you. I also loved reading her observations of women in business, feminine power & "likeability". A good reminder that underneath all of the titles, money & notoriety, we're really facing the same challenges & asking the same questions.
- The Game of Life and How to Play It: The Complete Works (Florence Scovel Shinn): "It is done unto you as you believe."If you believe this sentiment, then you will get your ENTIRE NATURAL LIFE from this book. Florence Scovel Shinn was a New Thought spiritual teacher & metaphysical writer in the early 1900s and The Game of Life and How to Play It is her most well known book. This is really a guide on how (and why!) to train your mind to believe in the outcomes you actually WANT to happen versus focusing on what you don't what (which is what too many of us tend to do). I personally believe that we design our lives through the power of the words that we speak/thoughts we think and this book, written in 1925, lays out the secret to a successful life which is basically to guard your mind....Every.Single.Day.(thoughts like "I'm fat/broke/dumb", "There are no good men available", "Life is rough" will literally drain the life from you). The Complete Works is a compilation of 4 of her books & if you believe in the premise, I can't recommend this book enough. I've highlighted so much in this thing that it looks like its been in my library since 1976. Buy a copy for yourself....and for a friend, too.
- The Purpose of Power: Find Meaning, Live Longer, Better (Richard J. Leider): Let me tell you something about airport bookstores--they're goldmines for books that you normally might skip over. I picked this one up during a work trip to Florida last month after getting hooked while reading a few pages to pass the time away while standing in line. This is another book about uncovering meaning & authenticity in your life/work under the premise that bringing your WHOLE self to everything you do is the only way to create true success ("...becoming aware of who you are and the choices that you are bringing to life during each day"). I love reading about stuff because, as a business owner, I find that so much of the entrepreneurial messaging is about following "this method" or "buying this program" or "recreating his/her model" when really, there are VERY few new ideas under the sun. And by "very few", I mean none. Each of us builds on something another person has done and in that way, the only way we can REALLY find success is to saturate everything we do with who we really are (even though so much of the broader messaging is about following the crowd). If you're interested in a primer on what it really means to have purpose, this is a great book to read.
- The Courage to Be Yourself: A Woman's Guide to Emotional Strength & Self-Esteem (Sue Patton Thoele): Seriously--this should be required reading for every woman walking the face of this earth. Hands down, period (how's that for an endorsement?!). It's easy to read & talks in-depth about some of my absolute favorite topics--women's empowerment, courage and self-esteem--which are measured by the way that we behave in relationship with ourselves and how we honor our own feelings ("Why do we so easily give ourselves away by doing more than we're comfortable doing?" and "Whenever we receive unacceptable treatment in silent suffering, or whine and beg ineffectually to be treated better, we ignore our limits and permit others to invade the boundaries of our self respect."). She champions doing your own work in unveiling your underlying assumptions, speaking your mind, facing your fears, and taking responsibility for your own emotional stability--lessons that will serve all women no matter where you live or how you earn your money ("To the extent that you feel the need to mother another adult, you will also shoulder his or her responsibility. If you are carrying all of the responsibility in a relationship, why should the other person even attempt to carry his or her own?" BLOOP). There are great practical assignments in this book but even if you don't do any of them, I promise that this book will make you think differently about how you show up in the world and assess whether you're showing up as the woman you know yourself to be. Questions only you can answer!
Look out for my February post in the coming weeks and of course, I'll share the 3 books I ordered for my trip to Bali, too! Would love to hear your feedback if any of you have read one of the titles above or if you have a good one to recommend, please leave the title in the comments!