Books: Monday Micro Reviews

Mistakes_I_Made_at_Work_cover

Every Monday, I post “micro reviews” of each book I’ve finished that week. Based on a 5 star system, I will rate each of the books based on multiple criteria. Let me know your thoughts! Do you agree? Disagree?

Monday Micro Reviews for Monday, August 25, 2014:

Mistakes I Made at Work 5 Influential Women Reflect On What They Got Out of Getting it Wrong by Jessica Bacal
Format: ****
Content: ***
Entertainment value:***
My gut impression: ***
Review: It was a great idea and some of the information was helpful. However, I was disappointed. The book didn’t live up to its potential. There was no real substance and few concrete take aways. Nothing made a lasting impression.

Human Remains by Elizabeth Haynes
Writing style (word choice, use of literary devices): **
Plot: *
Entertainment value:**
My gut impression: **
Review: Nothing was particularly interesting about this book. The characters were not likeable or well formed. The plot was dismal. I definitely do not recommend it.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Writing style (word choice, use of literary devices): ****
Plot: *****
Entertainment value:*****
My gut impression: *****
Review: I’m a sucker for Liane Moriarty and this book was no exception. It was light, fun and clever. Did I learn anything or walk away a changed woman? No. Did it do an amazing job of entertaining me and helping me unwind during a mind numbingly stressful week? Absolutely.

Runner’s World Big Book of Marathon and Half Marathon Training by Jennifer Van Allen, Bart Yasson, and Amby Burfoot

Format: *****
Content: *****
Entertainment value:****
My gut impression: *****
Review: The authors of this book collected helpful information with practical takeaways. I now feel like I have a solid grasp on injury prevention, training methods, nutritional tips, and runners’ stories to be more confident as I train for races.

Currently Reading:

Dare: Straight Talk on Confidence, Courage and Career for Women in Charge by Becky Blalock

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis Continue reading

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An important article: 12 things white people can do now because Ferguson

Like millions of other people around the world, I am devastated by the killing of unarmed teen Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer. I grew up in St. Louis and I love my hometown, but there is no doubt that there are stark changes that need to made: systemic, policy, interpersonal, and attitudinal.

12 things white people can do now because Ferguson by Janee Woods is one of the best articles I’ve read over the last couple of weeks.

Because, when it comes to the fundamental wrongness of this situation, it doesn’t matter what kind of a kid Michael Brown was. Regardless of whether or not he was going to college or whether or not he was involved in a shoplifting incident, he- like countless other black teens and men- was viewed as having a higher potential for violence based on the color of his skin. He was a human being deserving of dignity and life the same as everybody else.

Tell me: Have you come across any articles regarding Michael Brown and Ferguson that have expanded your perspective or helped you acknowledge things of which you were previously unaware?

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Books: Monday Micro Reviews

Good morning and happy Monday! Welcome to the inaugural edition of Monday Micro Reviews.

Little reviews? What’s the deal with that?

Okay, so I love discussing and recommending new books. However, I don’t always have the time (or inclination) to write a lengthy review of each book I read.

So every Monday, I will post “micro reviews” of each book I’ve finished that week. Based on a 5 star system, I will rate each of the books based on multiple criteria. Let me know your thoughts! Do you agree? Disagree?

Monday Micro Reviews for Monday, August 18, 2014

On Beauty by Zadie Smith
Writing style (word choice, use of literary devices): *****
Plot: ****
Entertainment value:***
My gut impression: **
Review: I love Zadie Smith’s word choice and use of humor. Unfortunately, I found the main character repulsive and boring- would have loved the POV to have been with the female characters. Also, the story seemed to meander without ever really going anywhere. Lots of build up followed by vague non-conclusions.

Afterward by Rosamund Lupton
Writing style: ****
Plot: *****
Entertainment value: *****
My gut impression: ****
Review: A strange and interesting mystery with entertainment value. Reader must be ready to suspend disbelief to follow the premise of the story.

Let’s Pretend it Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
Writing style: ***
Plot: ****
Entertainment value: *****
My gut impression: ****
Review: Fascinating stories from Lawson’s life. Written a little silly at times but overall an important, hilarious book for anyone who’s ever felt a little odd or different.

What about you? How did you feel about the books listed above? What books have you read in the last week?

Currently reading:
Dare: Straight Talk on Confidence, Courage & Career from Women in Charge by Becky Blalock
Mistakes I made at Work: 25 Influential Women Reflect on What They Got Out of Getting it Wrong by Jessica Bacal
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Human Remains by Elizabeth Haynes

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50 Novels by Female Writers Under 50

Last week, Emily Temple of Flavorwire wrote an article that caught my eye: 50 Excellent Novels by Female Writers Under 50 That Everyone Should Read. Naturally, I’m excited about any article that promotes reading more female authors. I decided to go through Temple’s list and see which books I would like to add to my own to-read list.

Here’s what I’m thinking. Like anyone who takes a look at the list, I have Opinions. Also, a staggering addition to my “to-read list”.

What about you? What would you have added or removed from the list? Any of these books on your to-read list?

Absolutely:

  • Boy, Snow, Bird  by Helen Oyeyemi: This critically acclaimed novel would not have been one I would have wandered to prior to making a concerted effort to read books out of my typical realm. Great opportunity to expand my reading.
  • An Untamed State by Roxanne Gay: How have I not already heard of this?? Ransom, psychological after math, Haiti… I can’t wait.
  • Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones: The first line of this book (“My father, James Winterspoon, is a bigamist) is enough to have me totally hooked.
  • The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton: I actually received this book as a Christmas present and have yet to tackle it. At 832 pages, It’s one of those “I know I’ll love it once I get into it but it just feels daunting right now” books.
  • No One is Here Except All of Us by Ramona Ausubel: The premise is intriguing and the Goodreads reviews are polarizing. Again, not the type of book I would pick out unless I was actively trying to expand my horizons. Excited to see how it goes!
  • The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. I have picked up this book time and time again and I just need to read it. Officially on The List.
  • Kinder Than Solitude by Yiyun Lee. A mystery and character exploration that moves between the 1980’s and present day, China and the US. I’m in!
  • We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo. How have I not read this yet??
  • A Partial History of Lost Causes by Jennifer DuBois. While I don’t care much about chess, I do find Huntington’s terrible and fascinating. Plus, I loved her other book, Cartwheel.
  • Salvage the Bone by Jesmyn Ward. The cover is familiar but I don’t think I’ve ever picked up the book. It looks brutal- the kind of book that will break your heart.
  • 2 A.M. At the Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino. I just picked this one up the other day! It looks like a sweet novel.
  • Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat. The story of a girl who is sent from the impoverished village in Haiti to live in New York with her mom, whom she doesn’t know or remember.
  • The Last Illusion by Porochista Khakpour. A boy raised in a bird cage who is then let loose. I’m a sucker for books that focus on childhood development (We Are All Completely Beside OurselvesLucy)
  • The Enchanted by Rene Dunfield. The story of a death row inmate who finds escape through reading books and re-imagining the world around him. Definitely out of my wheelhouse by the reviews are amazing.
  • Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl. I read her most recent book Night Film and loved it for all of its gritty weirdness. Will definitely check this one out.
  • The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis. The timing (Great Migration) and the structure (1-2 chapters devoted to each character) are interesting to me.
  • The Panopticon by Jenni Fagan. I have had this on my iPad for so long and I just need to sit down and read it.
  • The Invention of Everything Else by Samantha Hunt. A novel about time travel, love, and Nicola Tesla. Very intrigued.
  • Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson. A political Middle Eastern love story. Yes.
  • Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi. Family coming together after a death and trying to make sense of the family connections, secrets and lore. Set in Ghana.
  • The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer. A ‘grand love story’  and a story of brothers whose lives are torn apart by war. The reviews are good. I’ll check it out.

Possibly:

  • The Anatomy of Dreams by Chloe Benjamin. This one doesn’t come out until September but is already getting great reviews. However, I once made the mistake of taking classes at a psychoanalytic institute and don’t have a lot of patience with psychological theories that don’t have some sort of strong scientific basis. The plot looks interesting but I have the feeling the characters may get on my nerves.
  • The Vanishers by Heidi Julavits. While I’m interested in readying about the female power dynamic, I’m hesitant about this book in general. The “psychic powers” element of the book could be really fantastical and interesting (evoking a feeling similar to The Night Circus) or just really cheesy. We shall see.
  • Vacation by Den Olin Unferth. This one’s straddling “possibly” and “probably not” for me. It’s received some amazing reviews. That being said, I don’t tend to enjoy books that are very stylistic with the prose. Also, the premise of a man following his wife following another man- with some dolphins and a boy thrown in- sounds a little bit too whimsical/trying to be very clever for me. That type of clever-whimsy- while I feel like I should like- just tends to annoy me.
  • Atmospheric Disturbances by Rivka Galchen. This one has an interesting premise: a husband obsessed with the idea that is wife has been replaced by a simulacrum. However, there are a lot of negative reviews on Goodreads that cause me to pause. One reviewer commented that this book is “so hip I can’t see past my pelvis”. Other reviews complain that it is too self-consciously smart- leaving readers with a feeling that the author’s main point is to prove how smart she is. That concerns me. But I love dark books, so I may end up reading it after all.
  • White Teeth by Zadie Smith. I did not love On Beauty. I felt it had a lot of potential and I liked a few of the characters a lot- unfortunately, they were not the ones the reader spends the most time with. I despised the main character and felt that there wasn’t much resolved or changed by the end. However, White Teeth‘s plot seems interesting and it has received a lot of critical acclaim. I think I will end up reading it- but probably not any time soon.
  • Ugly Girls: A Novel by Lindsay Hunter. This book has the danger/thriller aspect that I love, but the female power struggle plotline could go either way. I was one of the few people who really didn’t like Megan Abbot’s The Fever.
  • The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff. I bought this one for my mom a few years ago and neither of us got around to reading it. Looks like it could be good but isn’t particularly compelling.
  • A Person of Interest by Susan Choi. The premise is interesting but the reviews are very divided. It’s been criticized for being dense and spending too much time on scene descriptions. I think I may still pick it up, but not feeling a sense of urgency.
  • Nobody is Ever Missing by Catherine Lacey- seems like it could be the kind of book that puts the reader in a funk. That being said, I do love books that portray mental deterioration, so I may end up reading it.
  • Tampa by Alissa Nutting. Novel of a female teacher who obsessively goes after young male students to have sex with them. Super on the fence about this one. Not so interested in the sex scenes but the characters could be interesting.
  • We Take Me Apart by Molly Gaudry. A novella in free verse written about mothers and daughters, cooking and cleaning and home- doesn’t really sound like my thing. But those who enjoy that sort of thing have loved it. So if my tastes begin to expand in this direction, I will definitely pick it up.
  • Woke Up Lonely by Fiona Maazel.The plot seems really interesting but the reviews on Goodreads are all over the place. A lot of complaints about over-stylized prose and underdeveloped characters makes me think I’ll wait on this one and focus on some of the other books I’m more excited about.
  • Ghost Lights by Lydia Millet. It was short-listed for a Pulitzer, which is interesting- and it sounds like it could be pretty funny. But the narrator seems like kind of a jackass and I’m not really sure I want to spend that much time with him.
  • Ten Thousand Saints by Eleanor Henderson. Looks like it could be very good but I don’t feel compelled to purchase it right now. Something to check out next time I’m at a loss for something to read.

Probably Not:

  • The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner. This book is also critically acclaimed. However, I don’t tend to do well with books about artists in New York in the 60’s and 70’s. I think I may be the only person on the planet who really didn’t like Patti Smith’s memoir of her relationship with Robert Maplethorpe: Just Kids.
  • The Peculiar Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender. I have picked up this book so many times- I even had a copy at one point. But I just have this feeling that reading this book will leave me feeling vaguely depressed while I’m reading it.
  • Madeleine is Sleeping by Sarah Shun-lien Bynum. The concept of this book seems to be to be a little bit too pretentious for me. I’m not really interested in the intersection of a young girl’s dreaming and reality (certainly not enough for an entire novel). Throw in the blurred lines between dream & reality and the erotic overtones, and I see myself getting annoyed.
  • Threats by Amelia Gray. This book has been described as having an “experimental” style. If there are 2 things I don’t appreciate in novels, it is experimental style and magical realism. Just can’t get into it.
  • Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique. Another one with magical realism. Yanique was compared to Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I know we’re supposed to love him, but Love in the Time of Cholera just annoying. Too silly. I did like 100 Years of Solitude. Anyway, this book also apparently deals with incest, which is another dealbreaker for me. Regardless of the literary merit, once incest comes into play I can’t hang.
  • Green Girl by Kate Zambreno. I already survived my own shallow, coming-of-age meditations on beauty and life and the “emptiness” and “cruelty” of humanity. I don’t want to spend time in someone else’s.
  • The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas. Quantum physics, philosophy, and a manuscript containing a metaphysical spell? No thank you.
  • The Orange Eats Creeps by Grace Krilanovich. The main character spends the entire novel meandering around while on drugs. Nope- I’m not 18 anymore and don’t find it interesting.
  • Stone Arabia by Dana Spiotta. The book is touted as a “rock and roll novel”, which does nothing to entice me. Also sounds like the author moves back and forth in POV without much notice. As mentioned, experimenting too heavily with structure does nothing for me.
  • Among Others by Jo Walton. If I go through a phase where I’m craving a memoirish book that also includes elements of sci fi and fantasy, I will definitely go for this one. But I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

Already Read:

  • Swamplandia! by Karen Russell. Not a fan. It had huge promise and I was so excited about the idea of it. But I never really connected with the characters and I spent the last half of the book feeling bored and empty. 2 stars.
  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Probably the best book I’ve read this year. My sister loves Adichie’s TED talk & the book was getting such good review that I decided to give it a try. Just- so fantastic. 5 stars.
  • Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. It has been so long since I’ve read this one, but I remember really enjoying it. It’s a graphic novel memoir that describes a young girl’s experience growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. 4 stars.
  • In the Woods by Tana French. I love, love Tana French. Her novels: psychological thrillers wrapped in murder mysteries centered around various detectives on the Dublin Murder squad- are deliciously chilling and fascinating. I would probably recommend The Likeness over In the Woods, but everything she writes is worth reading if you enjoy the genre. 5 stars.
  • The History of Love I liked the idea of this book and I think it could have been amazing. I loved the parts that followed the young girl. But the parts that followed the old man were really boring and depressing. 3 stars.

Books I Would Add to the List

  • The Possibilities by Kaui Hart Hemmings. This book was funny, touching & included some of my favorite characters in recent memory. Hemmings wrote The Descendents, which I have yet to read or see- so The Possibilities was my first introduction to her.
  • Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh. Brosh has developed a devoted legion of fans from her website: Hyperbole and a Half. She is brilliant at depicting her childhood absurdities, explaining depression and somehow making you laugh along the way. Anyone- especially those who have struggled with depression and/or anxiety- will feel a connection to this book
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Fantastic, compelling and unselfconsciously clever. I love, love this book.
  • I wish I could include Ann Patchett and Marian Keyes, but they are both exactly 50. But check them out anyway.

What about you? What books would you add/remove? Does the “50 Under 50” inspire you to pick up any of the books included on the list?

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Goal #1 Asking for a Raise

One of the ways in which I intend to use this website is to chronicle my experiences as a youngish professional: stories, mistakes, successes and what works/what doesn’t. And, of course, what I’m reading along the way.

I’ve had a pretty wild ride in my first year in a leadership position. Before I took the role, a couple of people in my department were secretly planning to leave and start a directly competitive company- and they had asked me to join them. I declined and then got promoted. Naturally, this caused some tension and uncomfortable conversations. I struggled with whether loyalty in this context meant loyalty to the company- and telling my bosses what I knew- or if it meant loyalty to the people that I had until recently considered friends. Those first few months in the role involved sleepless nights, a lot of tears (privately, at home under the covers), and even more Twizzlers and battered copies of US Weekly (don’t judge- it’s soothing). I did my best not to cower in my new office as the Troublemakers- who were taller, older, and angrier than me- made their presence known.

Looking back, I’m proud of how I handled the situation. I believe I acted with integrity. And after the Troublemakers were gone, I rebuilt my team and we have experienced unprecedented growth. I did all of this while maintaining (and expanding) my project management responsibilities as well.

So. It’s been almost a year since I accepted this role and 2 since I started with the company. Which means it’s about time to ask for a raise. My bosses definitely hedged their bets and offered me a modest raise when I embarked on this new position. I don’t blame them- I was secretly relieved because it felt like less pressure on me. I had never been a supervisor before and if I failed epically, at least I hadn’t cost the company too much money in the process.

But now I’ve proven that I can not only survive but flourish in a leadership position. And it’s time to make a salary that reflects the growth and revenue that I have generated. I am strong, I am confident, and I am… really nervous.

So I’m going to do what I always do when I feel nervous. Over-prepare. I’m going to study for this meeting. I am going to arm myself with the facts of my case, I will read up on negotiation tactics and persuasion and power. I am going to treat this like I’m studying for the MCAT. I am going to own the shit out of this review.

I will share helpful tips and strategies that I learn along the way. I will explain the strategies that I have chosen to use and why. And I will absolutely let you know how it goes.

Now it’s time to gather resources. What books should I read? Which websites should I check out?

Here’s what I’m working with so far:

  • What Works for Women at Work by Joan C. Williams
  • Mistakes I’ve Made at Work: 25 Influential Women Reflect on What They Got Out of Getting it Wrong by Jessica Bacal
  • How Remarkable Women Lead by Joanna Barsh and Susie Cranston
  • Ask for It: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever
  • Smart Talk: The Public Speaker’s Guide to Success in Every Situation by Lisa B. Marshall
  • Pushback: How Smart Women Ask and Stand Up for What They Want by Selena Rezvani
  • Nice Girls Don’t Get It by Lois P. Frankel and Carol Frohlinger
  • Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement without Giving In by Roger Fisher and William Ury*
  • Dare: Straight Talk on Confidence, Courage & Career for Women in Charge by Becky Blalock
  • Knowing Your Value by Mika Brzezinski
  • Secrets of Six-Figure Women by Barbara Stanny
  • Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman by Gail Evans

I’m planning this meeting for the the beginning of October, so I have just about two months to plan my attack. As always, any advice, book recs, hilarious Onion headlines, words of encouragement, or candy is appreciated.

Currently reading:

  • Mistakes I’ve Made at Work: 25 Influential Women Reflect on What They Got Out of Getting it Wrong by Jessica Bacal
  • The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
  • Afterward by Rosamund Lupton
  • The Runner’s World Big Book of Marathon and Half Marathon Training by Jennifer Van Allen , Bart Yasso, and Amby Burfoot
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Books by Women: Beginning the Master List

The_Secret_History,_front_cover

As I embark on this year of reading women, I have a running list of want-to-reads.

Currently, my to-read list is a random smattering of books that I have downloaded onto iPad or have purchased and are glaring at me judgmentally from the shelves. Here’s what I have on my to-read list thus far:

Memoirs/biography/personal humor essays

  • The Mockingbird Next Store: Life with Harper Lee by Marja Mills
  • The Romanov Sisters by Helen Rappaport
  • Eleanor Roosevelt by Blanche Wiesen Cook
  • You Learn by Living– Eleanor Roosevelt
  • A Fighting Chance by Elizabeth Warren
  • My Boyfriend Wrote a Book About Me by Hilary Winston
  • People are Unappealing by Sara Barron
  • Pretty in Plaid– Jen Lancaster
  • It Looked Different on the Model– Laurie Notaro
  • Suits: A Woman on Wall Street by Nina Godiwalla
  • Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton
  • Etched in the Sand by Regina Calcaterra
  • Alice: Alice Roosevelt Longworth, from White House Princess to Washington Power Broker by Stacy Cordery
  • How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
  • Let’s Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell
  • The Queen’s Bed: An Intimate History of Elizabeth’s Court by Anna Whitelock
  • Her Last Death by Susanna Sonnenberg
  • American Rose: A Nation Laid Bare: The Life & Times of Gypsy Rose Lee by Karen Abbott
  • The Brontes: Wild Genius on the Moors, the Story of Three Sisters by Juliet Barker
  • The Astronaut’s Wives Club by Lily Koppel
  • Queen of the Conqueror: The Life of Matilda, Wife of William I by Tracy Borman
  • The Creation of Anne Boleyn by Susan Bordo
  • Soldier Girls by Helen Thrope
  • I Remember Nothing by Nora Ephron
  • Crazy Salad & Scribble Scribble by Nora Ephron
  • Fallen Leaves by Adeline Yen Mah
  • Infidel by Ayaan Hirslali
  • Everybody Was so Young by Amanda Vaill

Fiction

  • Lucky Us by Amy Bloom
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  • The Book of Unknown Americans– Christina Henriquez
  • Landline by Rainbow Rowell
  • Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
  • The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
  • The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
  • The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
  • The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
  • The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling)
  • The World We Found by Thrity Umrigar
  • One Plus One by Jojo Moyes
  • Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
  • The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
  • MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood
  • The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
  • Burial Rites by Hanna Kent
  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt
  • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
  • Friendship by Emily Gould
  • Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner
  • The Divorce Papers by Suson Rieger
  • The Panopticon by Jenni Fagan
  • The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles by Katherine Pancel
  • Blood and Beauty by Sarah Dunant
  • Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
  • Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Neter
  • 2 a.m. at the Cat’s Pajama by Marie-Helene Bertino
  • The Eternal Wonder by Pearl S. Buck

Business

  • Thrive by Arianna Huffington
  • What Works for Women at Work by Joan C. Williams
  • Mistakes I’ve Made at Work: 25 Influential Women Reflect on What They Got Out of Getting it Wrong by Jessica Bacal
  • How Remarkable Women Lead by Joanna Barsh and Susie Cranston
  • Ask for It: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever
  • Leading with Questions: How Leaders Find the Right Solutions by Knowing What to Ask: Michael J. Marquardt*
  • Smart Talk: The Public Speaker’s Guide to Success in Every Situation by Lisa B. Marshall
  • The Trusted Advisor by David Maister*
  • Pushback: How Smart Women Ask and Stand Up for What They Want by Selena Rezvani
  • Nice Girls Don’t Get It by Lois P. Frankel and Carol Frohlinger
  • Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement without Giving In by Roger Fisher and William Ury*
  • Leadership without Excuses: How to Create Accountability and High Performance by Jeff Grimshaw*
  • Dare: Straight Talk on Confidence, Courage & Career for Women in Charge by Becky Blalock
  • Lead & Influence: Get More Ownership, Commitment, and Achievement from Your Team by John Wiley*
  • First Time Leader– Gillian Davis and George Bradt
  • Own the Room by Amy Jen Su and Muriel Maignan Wilkins
  • The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lenciono*
  • Knowing Your Value by Mika Brzezinski
  • Secrets of Six-Figure Women by Barbara Stanny
  • The Girl’s Guide to Being a Boss by Caitlin Friedman
  • Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman by Gail Evans
  • Leadership the Eleanor Roosevelt Way by Robin Gerber
  • Flow by Mihaly Csikzentmihaly*
  • Good to Great by Jim Collins*
  • Tell to Win by Peter Guber*
  • Difficult Conversations by Sheila Heen & Douglas Stone

Mystery/Thriller

  • Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little
  • Visitation Street by Ivy Pochoda
  • Save Yourself by Kelly Braffet
  • Fever by Mary Beth Keane
  • Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
  • The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

Nonfiction: Women/Gender/Sociology

  • Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine
  • Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Sheryl WuDunn and Nicholas D. Kristof
  • Appetites by Caroline Knapp
  • The Trip to Echo Springs: On Writers and Drinking by Olivia Laing
  • Careless People: Murder, Mayhem & the Invention of the Great Gatsby by Sarah Churchwell
  • Drink: An Intimate Relationship between Women and Alcohol by Ann Dowsett Johnston
  • Locker Room Diaries: The Naked Truth about Women, Body Image, and Re-Imagining the “Perfect” Body by Leslie Goldman
  • In the Company of Women: Indirect Aggression Among Women by Pat Heim and Susan A. Murphy
  • Mean Girls Grow Up by Cheryl Dellasega
  • The Introvert and the Extrovert in Love by Marti Olsen Laney
  • The End of Men and the Rise of Women by Hanna Rosin

Random

  • Nice Girls Don’t Get Rich- 75 Avoidable Mistakes Women Make with Money by Lois P. Frankel
  • Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
  • Miscellaneous running books
  • Miscellaneous writing books
  • Miscellaneous personal finance books

* Starred authors are men with business books that have come highly recommended and will most likely help me reach my professional goals

What should I add? What are some of the most influential books written by women that you have read?

Currently reading:

On Beauty by Zadie Smith

Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton

The Runner’s World Big Book of Marathon and Half Marathon Training by Jennifer Van Allen , Bart Yasso, and Amby Burfoot

 

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Reading Important Books By Women: Chapter One

sonia sotomayor

This idea of being intentional when selecting books was intuitive before it was a conscious decision. It started near January of this year and swelled right before the wedding: I found myself choosing books specifically by women. Some of the books that I’ve read this year that I fall into the criteria I’ve selected moving forward (books by women and/or books that will help me become a strong leader and professional) include:

Memoirs/Biography

  • She Matters: A Life in Friendships- Susanna Sonnenberg (***)
  • Drinking: A Love Story–  Caroline Knapp (*****)
  • I Feel Bad About My Neck– Nora Ephron (*****)
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks- Rebecca Skloot (*****)
  • My Beloved World- Sonia Sotomayor (*****)
  • Let’s Pretend this Never Happened (*****)
  • I Am Malala– Malala Yousafzai (****)
  • Flappers: 6 Women of a Dangerous Generation– Judith Mackrell (****)
  • My Year with Eleanor– Noelle Hancock (*****)
  • Everything is Perfect When You’re A Liar– Kelly Oxford (*****)
  • Orange is the New Black– Piper Kerman (****)
  • Save the Date- Jen Doll (****)
  • I Don’t Know What You Know Me From: Confessions of a Co-Star– Judy Greer (*)
  • Her Best-Kept Secret– Gabrielle Glaser (***)

Fiction

  • Americanah- Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche (*****)
  • Oranges are Not the Only Fruit– Jeanette Winterson (****)
  • The Possibilities- Kaui Hart Hemmings (*****)
  • The Longings of Wayward Girls– Karen Brown (**)
  • A Circle of Wives– Alice LaPlante (****)
  • Frog Music– Emma Donoghue (**)
  • Not Without You: Harriet Evans (**)
  • Turn of Mind- Alice LaPlante (*****)
  • The  One & Only– Emily Giffin (****)
  • Heartburn– Nora Ephron (*****)
  • Instructions for a Heat Wave– Maggie O’Farrell (*****)

Business

  • Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office- Lois P. Frankel (****)
  • Executive Presence: What No One Ever Told You About Getting Ahead– Sylvia Ann Hewlett (***)
  • How to be Successful at Sponsorship Sales- Sylvia Allen (***)
  • Thanks for the Feedback– Sheila Heen & Douglas Stone (*****)

Mystery/Thriller

  • The Girl with All the Gifts– M.R. Carey (*****)
  • Sister– Rosamund Lupton (*****)
  • Ripper- Isabel Allende (****)
  • The Boy in the Suitcase– Lene Kaaberbol (****)
  • The Weight of Blood- Laura McHugh (****)
  • Invisible Murder- Lene Kaaberbol (****)
  • Death of a Nightengale– Lene Kaaberbol (****)
  • Into the Darkest Corner- Elizabeth Haynes (****)
  • Elizabeth is Missing– Emma Healey (***)
  • The Fever– Megan Abbot (*)
  • Cartwheel by Jennifer DuBois (*****)

Star ratings are out of 5 possible stars. Decision is based on a) writing style b) ability to entertain/inform c) that intuitive & difficult to articulate post-book feeling

So where should I go from here? I’m looking for books that do some combination of the following: inform me, entertain me, stretch me, expose me to ideas & cultures & perspectives that are new to me, make me an overall better human being, make me laugh so hard I pee my pants a little. And, of course, written by women. Recommendations, please!

Currently reading:

On Beauty by Zadie Smith

Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton (running audiobook)

The Runner’s World Big Book of Marathon and Half Marathon Training by Jennifer Van Allen , Bart Yasso, and Amby Burfoot

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Expansion

I remember the vertiginous feeling I experienced the first time I read Jeanette Winterson’s Written on the Body. It was the feeling of my perception not just expanding but fundamentally altering. The book is a love story in which the narrator is purposely genderless. This point of view technique shapes the narrative into multiple stories as the reader is encouraged to contemplate the main character’s actions and the implications depending on the narrator’s gender and/or gender identification.

It was my sophomore year of college and I was primed for mind expansion in a distinctly non-drug-related way. I was taking courses such as Psychology of Oppression and Philosophy of Women. I was reading Ann Sexton and Kate Chopin and Sylvia Plath. I had hot pink hair and a nose ring. Like every young woman who has been through this exact same phase, I was sure that I was one of the few people who really understood what it meant to be a woman and why that’s important.

And then, shit happened. I went through a rough period and self-medicated and lost the plot- literally and figuratively. I was adrift in my life and consumed by anxiety. I couldn’t hold down a job, let alone purposely move forward into a future. As my ability to care for myself deteriorated, so did my curiosity and capability to concentrate on reading important books.

And then, just as slowly and painstakingly as I spiraled downward, I began to claw my way back. I quit the bad things. I moved toward the good things. And I’ve been doing that ever since.

But when my curiosity returned, it no longer included thoughts of gender and feminism. Not that I wasn’t a feminist, but my focus was on other areas of knowledge. And so it’s been until recently, when two important things happened:

1) I received my first leadership role

2) I got married

And suddenly, gender matters again. I find myself instinctively reaching for novels and memoirs and business books written by women. Suddenly, women in leadership roles are much more interesting to me than they were a year or two ago. I find myself calling my mom even more than I already did to gain advice and perspective on how she has managed the role of wife and mother with her sense of self and independence.

I am excited to be a wife and a boss. And as I begin this new period of growth and learning, I am pulled toward the stories of other women and their struggles and successes. My sister has a habit of pointing out things that I had not previously noticed and then cannot un-see. For example: whether or not television shows have main characters of color and, if so, how they are portrayed. She exclusively reads books written by women- typically women who are a minority as a result of their color, sexuality, and/or gender identification. She encouraged me to, once again, read books that stretch me- whether it’s a book about a woman whose experience varies vastly from mine or it’s a book about the construct of gender in and of itself.

So, for my first year of marriage (and second of leadership) I’m reading books that are either a) exclusively by women or a) written by men/or women that I think will help me be stronger as a woman. This will take a few different forms:

  • Leadership books: by and for women; also classic leadership books, written by women and/or men  that will help me strengthen by skills and abilities as a female leader
    • Books I’ve already read in this category include: Lean In; Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office; Mindset: The Psychology of Success
    • Books I intend to read: What Works for Women at Work; How Remarkable Women Lead; Pushback: How Smart Women Ask & Stand Up for What they Want; and many more 
  • “Classic” authors and novels- both contemporary classics and “conventional” classics- written by women.
    • Novels/authors I’ve already read in this category include: Written on the Body; Jane Eyre; JK Rowling, Americanah; The Handmaid’s Tale
    • Novels/authors I intend to read in this category include: Donna Tartt; The Golden Notebook; The Joy Luck Club
  • Memoirs/non-fiction essays/biographies of women
    • Books I’ve already read include: Wild (Cheryl Strayed); Drinking: A Love Story (Caroline Knapp); My Beloved World (Sonia Sotomayor); Let’s Pretend this Never Happened (Jenny Lawson); I Feel Bad About My Neck (Nora Ephron)
    • Authors I intend to read include: Jen Lancaster, Laurie Notaro, Arianna Huffington, Elizabeth Warren. Eleanor Roosevelt
  • General books about women and/or gender (Half the Sky; Delusions of Gender)
  • General books that will make me a better human (Man’s Search for Meaning)
  • Books in the current pop culture conversation (Gone Girl)
  • Audiobooks that I can tolerate while training for a half marathon (psychological thrillers)

There is no book too lofty or too silly. Along the way, I plan to chronicle my observations and experiences, both with the books and with the roles in which I am embarking (boss, wife).

I would love to hear others’ thoughts, experiences and (especially) book recommendations. Welcome.

Currently reading:

On Beauty by Zadie Smith

Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton

The Runner’s World Big Book of Marathon and Half Marathon Training by Jennifer Van Allen , Bart Yasso, and Amby Burfoot

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