2018 Reading List

This page serves as the ongoing list of books I’m reading in 2018, which I update around the end of each month.

Last year, I started publicly tracked all of the books I read, and then wrote a round-up piece of what I learned by tracking my reading list with my top recommendations from the year. I regularly share my book recommendations as part of my newsletter. In 2018, I’ll be doing the same. By paying more attention to what I consume and where I spend my mental energy, I hope to streamline my learning, grow in awareness, and build my knowledge.

My 2018 goals:

  • Read 35 books this year.
  • Read more books by women (at least 50%) and people of color (at least 25%).
  • Select one or two “big” reads each quarter to master as part of life-long learning.

Accountability — as of December 2018

  • Total number of books: 54
  • Total number of authors: 60 
  • Women authors: 46 (77 %)
  • POC authors: 15 (25%)

Got a great book you love? Send me a note and let me know what I should read next. hello (at) sarahkpeck (dot) com.

January 2018

Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert. I ordered this in paperback, even though I’d read most of it on my kindle earlier last year. Chewed it up. So good. Better for me to read a few pages each morning than coffee or tea.

A Second Chance, by Catherine Hoke. Heartbreaking and beautiful. Cat Hoke builds a program for prisoners to become entrepreneurs, and her recidivism rate (the rate at which people return to prison if they’ve been once) drops from an average of 75% to 5% if folks go through her program.

Elevating Child Care, by Janet Lansbury. This and other books have influenced our family’s philosophy on parenting: we explain what’s happening while we’re doing it, we strive to operate with respect for all human beings, always, and we understand that leadership (acting like a CEO) can be more powerful than trying to accommodate.

Oh Crap! Potty Training, by Jamie Glowacki. My little one looked at me with earnest eyes, signed the word, and said “poop!” to let me know what he’s doing. Figured I’d read a book about what’s coming in our toddler time soon. My favorite message from this book was that potty training is a chance to learn a lot about how your child learns—how they process, what they communicate, what they need, how to help them—and one of these months soon, we’ll be teaching our child that our society has a place that we put our bodily functions and expectations around what to do with it all.

The book I want to focus on this quarter is “The Righteous Mind,” by Jonathan Haight.

Courses: Mel Robbin’s Creative Live class, Tara Gentile’s Marketing Class (with Creative Live), and The Marketing Seminar.

February 2018

Family Business, by Malinda Pennoyer Chouinard and Jennifer Ridgeway, the Patagonia book on integrating child care into their work headquarters, and why it’s the future of work.

How Toddlers Thrive, by Tovah P. Klein, about the simultaneous “I’m a big kid!”—”I’m little and need a hug” paradox that exists when you’re growing up and need to push your boundaries, and the very real and accidental ways we shame kids by making fun of what they can’t do yet when they are still working really hard to figure things out.

Real Food For Pregnancy, a brand-new book by Lily Nichols all about how the nutritional recommendations for pregnant women don’t line up with the modern diet, so our diets don’t get us the nutrients we need. (She’ll be an upcoming guest on my podcast, and sent me a review copy before the interview.)

You Squared, about changing how you think about taking quantum leaps in your life and business. In a nutshell: doing more of the same will get you more of the same. We have to actively break past habits (and thinking) to get new revolutions in outcomes.

The E-Myth, about the common mistakes people make when they leap into the world of entrepreneurship, a book which has me daily asking the question: Am I doing this like an entrepreneur, or a technician? And: Is there a better way to do this?

March 2018

Meet The Frugalwoods, by Elizabeth Willard Thames, about a couple that retire at age 34 after aggressively saving and learning to love frugality. Then, they move to a farm/homestead in Vermont with 66 acres of land and their little one.

Conspiracy, the latest book by Ryan Holiday, about how Peter Thiel conspired to bring down Gawker.

The Rise And Fall Of D.O.D.O., by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland. Smart, funny, clever sci-fi and time-travel book that pulled me in and captivated me immensely.

April 2018

Born A Crime, by Trevor Noah. Born in South Africa, Trevor Noah shares the challenges of being a child of mixed-race in a world where his very identity was against the law. The book blends his personal history with a narrative look at the end of apartheid in South Africa and how it influence his life.

We’re Going To Need More Wine, by Gabrielle Union. A memoir of Hollywood, race, and growing up as a black woman in different places in the United States.

You Are A Badass At Making Money (50% read), by Jen Sincero. I’ve been studying money and mindset work a LOT lately, and this book came highly recommended by friends. In the middle of it now!

Lucky Bitch, by Denise Duffield Thomas. I grabbed this book after meeting Denise in a business group I’m in, and following my latest curiosities around money, growth, and mental blocks. The book was surprisingly honest and straightforward, and I’ll confess it kicked me into gear in areas I was definitely procrastinating.

Courses: Marie Forleo’s B-School (I finally signed up! Year of growth, please. I’m taking the slow train and doing one module per month.) Also, Denise Duffield-Thomas’ “Money Bootcamp,” because I’m jumping into the deep end with money-mindset-manifestation stuff and letting myself go fully into learning as much as I can.)

May 2018

My Morning Routine: How Successful People Start Every Day Inspired, by Benjamin Spall and Michael Xander. Many years ago, I contributed an essay to this site about my typical morning routine—back when I was childless, twenty, and waking up early to do big morning workouts. It’s startling to see how much my life has changed, yet stays the same now that I’m a parent. I was skeptical that these essays would apply to me now, but I actually ended up inspired to reinvigorate my own routine today, even if for a brief few weeks.

Amateur Hour: Motherhood in Essays and Swear Words grew on me slowly, starting out with punchy wit and humor, a la McSweeney’s, before dropping me into the ache and pain and complexity of parenting. Written by the same woman who authored “I Am The One Woman Who Has It All,” and “Job Description For The Dumbest Job Ever,” I laughed and cried and read several bits out loud to my husband, finally shoving the book over to him to have him read the chapter on Dad Camp.

Choose Wonder Over Worry, by Amber Rae, a narrative and pragmatic tale of how to lean into the fear and discomfort of living, as it’s ultimately the place of growth and teaching. At times I lost the thread of how to navigate the particular worry voices to successful outcomes, but some chapters stood out to me in particular. I imagine each person will resonate with a different section as they apply it to their lives.

This Will Be My Undoing, by Morgan Jerkins. This memoir was gripping, well-researched, and fluid in its writing. She talks about what it’s like to grow up black and female in America, and how intertwined those labels are to her identity. I couldn’t put the book down.

June 2018

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person (Audible book), by Shonda Rhimes. Want to know who is going to write a great book? A television writer with three amazing hits to her name. I listened to this read out loud by the author, and it delivered. Such a great book.

This Is Just My Face: Try Not To Stare, by Gabourey Sibide.

The Fourth Trimester: A Postpartum Guide to Healing Your Body, Balancing Your Emotions, and Restoring Your Vitality, by Kimberly Ann Johnson. Incredible book on the full spectrum of what happens to a woman’s body during and after pregnancy, and how to take care of yourself throughout it all.

The New Rules of Work: The Modern Playbook for Navigating Your Career Kindle Edition, by Alexandra Cavoulacos and Kathryn Minshew. I’m in the middle of researching my next chapter on the intersection of work and parenting, and thought this book would have more on how work culture itself has changed; instead, it’s more about how to network, find work, and understand the game before the job. I skimmed this quickly rather than read thoroughly.

The Work Revolution, by Julie Clow. This book has been on my list for years, and I appreciate the deep dive into how we got where we are, work-wise, and what to measure (and build) instead.

July 2018

Movement Matters, by Katy Bowman. After throwing out my back again in July, and being forced to slow down (thank you, body), I dug into the research by Bowman on her website, Nutritious Movement. This separate collection of essays talks about how we are a moving species, and what the long-term impacts of a sedentary lifestyle can be. More than that, I’m learning how to reframe my daily patterns, and ask questions about how movement is so much more than we give it credit for.

And Now We Have Everything, by Meaghan O’Connell. This book, ‘on motherhood before I was ready,’ is a beautiful and honest look at what transpires in the adventure to, during, and into motherhood. Like many memoirs, I crave personal stories and read through this at lightening speed. It did not disappoint.

Overwhelmed, by Brigid Schulte. Started this book in April and have been reading it slowly since. Highlighted everywhere. An amazing book about time scarcity, the ‘busy’ religion we’ve all adopted, and why time is a feminist issue. May be one of my top books of all of 2018.

Build An A Team, by Whitney Johnson. By the author of Dare, Dream, Do, and Disrupt Yourself, Johnson is back with a book all about building great teams. Focused on the learning curves of individuals and how they sit within your organization, I found useful strategies for dealing with people in the wrong learning curve, as well as people at the top, bored, and ready for their next challenge.

Parent Hacks, by Asha Dornfest. Re-read this classic favorite of mine in preparation for interviewing Asha for the Startup Pregnant podcast. Brilliant little illustrated book full of tricks and hacks for how to do parenting in creative, clever ways. My favorite? Don’t buy a specialized baby bathtub. You’ve probably got a laundry hamper somewhere that will do.

Minimalist Parenting, by Asha Dornfest and Christine Koh. Doing less: it’s so hard in a word that conspires to keep us so busy, and parenting is no exception. Beginning with a big-picture look at what you value, and a reminder to keep open space in your life, and then digging into specific time, clutter, and calendar strategies, this book is a toolkit for parents who want to feel less insane. Says Koh: “I don’t like driving,” — so each kid only gets one activity at a time.

Cracked Open, Never Broken, by Iman Gatti. A memoir of a Canadian immigrant losing her mother at a young age, navigating the abuse and neglect of a foster care system, and finding her way through and beyond the trauma of her childhood. It took a long time to get into the book—the first 100 pages are hard to read—and then found myself turning the pages much faster in the second half.

An Audience of One, by Srinivas Rao. Why creativity matters, but more than that: why you have to focus on the process, and the creative acts themselves, and not the outcomes. His main metric for success is writing 1,000 words a day. Doesn’t matter if they’re good words, bad words, or who judges them: he just makes sure to write.

August 2018

Body Full Of Stars, by Molly Caro May, a book that revealed places of rage inside my own body that I didn’t know that I was holding. 

Lilac Girls, by Martha Hall Kelly, a narrative fiction based on mostly true accounts of living through the second world war in Poland and Germany.

Alignment Matters, also by Katy Bowman — her compilation of five years of blogging about physicality, wellness, and movement. I’m learning how to reframe my daily patterns, and ask questions about how movement is so much more than we give it credit for.

September 2018

Bad Blood, by John Carreyrou. The true story of the Silicon Valley startup by Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos, at first a rocketship-unicorn until it was finally revealed just how much deception they’d pulled off. Reminded me of the books Conspiracy, Disrupted, and Hatched—all “can’t look-away” page-turners.

I’m re-reading Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth for round two, digging into Marie Mongan’s Hypnobirthing books, and then I read Parijat Deshpande’s new release, Pregnancy Brain, all about the mind-body connection and her experience with (and training in) high-risk pregnancy.

Pick Three, by Randi Zuckerberg. I couldn’t finish this one—the idea was too obvious, and self-explanatory. In addition, it largely covered dual-parent, high-income households and didn’t really talk to the majority of experiences of folks across America, so I didn’t feel like I learned much or that it was applicable beyond certain privileged scenarios.

Getting to Hell Yes, by Alexandra Jamieson and Bob Gower. This is a micro-book, maybe only 20-30 pages, that took less than a half hour to read. It’s all about how to set up conversations and projects using a 4-step framework they’ve been using for the last decade, and why it works so well. I’m trying it out on my family and team next!

October 2018

It Doesn’t Have To Be Crazy At Work, by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. They sum up everything I’ve felt about the insanity of work culture, and then some. Good work does not have to eat up or corrode all of life’s time and energy. Great work can be done in slow pieces, deliberately, and consistently. You don’t have to panic, hustle, or burn out to be brilliant. In fact, the opposite is much more likely true.

The Breakthrough Speaker, by Adam Smiley Poswolsky. This book is a great manual for anyone looking to get into public speaking. Covers all the bases, and then some. Highly recommend.

There Are No Grownups, by Pamela Druckerman. Lovely, easy book to read, about questions that matter in our forties. My husband and I read it at the same time and had several good conversations on our walks together.

The First 40 Days, by Heng Ou, with Amely Greeven and Marisa Belger. This book inspired me to set as much down as I could for my postpartum rest period (at least the first four weeks, because I had a toddler who still needed me). I also started drinking collagen and gelatin, and downing beef and chicken broths for nourishment.

The Perfect Mother, by Aimee Molloy. When I told my husband I was reading a thriller about a newborn gone missing, his response was “WHYYY?”—especially with our baby at home. It was easy to read, and didn’t scare me too much in the end.

Anything Is Possible, by Elizabeth Strout. Slow and hauntingly beautiful, this book captures the feeling of small-town Iowa and what it’s like to grow up in poverty.

Atomic Habits, by James Clear. I’m a sucker for a book about habits and personal development, and this one delivered. James and I went to college together, and I’m always impressed by his work. What he’s done is set out a system that helps you build better habits. You are the product of the way you spend your days. It’s not goals that matter, but systems. Master that, and you’ll go farther than any goal you can dream of.

My Name Is Lucy Barton, by Elizabeth Strout. After reading Anything Is Possible, I wanted to read more by Elizabeth Strout, so I picked up her next book. This book features one of the side characters in the other novel I read (although technically this book came first). Beautifully written. I’m going to pick up another book of hers soon.

November 2018

An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones. This reminded me of the feelings A Kind Of Freedom stirred up in me: that life is not predictable, orderly, or fair; that things can change at the drop of a dime; that even if you do your best, life can change everything on you. Well written and fast-paced.

Like A Mother, by Angela Garbes. A look into the history and science of pregnancy, asking questions like, what is a placenta? and, how does breastfeeding work? I was enthralled with both the questions and the writing. It’s going on my list of top recommendations for newly pregnant women, or anyone curious about how we all are born.

December 2018

The Last Black Unicorn, by Tiffany Haddish. I listened to this as an audio book, and Tiffany Haddish is a stand-up comic. She is brash, funny, edgy, and not afraid to share her truth. I felt uncomfortable at times (perhaps it was the profanity, and the timing of me being in a strange sloopy newborn postpartum haze), but overall enjoyed the listen.

Becoming, by Michelle Obama. I read this over the Christmas holiday. I enjoyed seeing inside of Michelle’s professional and personal journey. The beginning felt slow for the first 100 pages, but full of relevant context and details that later tied into the stories. Perhaps I naively thought I would see more of just Michelle’s life, but being married to the President of the United States means that her life is inextricably conjoined with Barack’s, and so much of the book was also her journey through the White House, and the time spent as a parent, an advocate, and a first lady.


The Power (started)

This Is Marketing (started)

Eloquent Rage, by Brittney Cooper (started)

Stranger In A Strange Land (not yet started)

The Reading List

(Books I’ve recently picked up and want to read, but haven’t yet): White Fragility, Squeezed, Homegoing, Inclusion, The State of Affairs, The Leavers, Difficult Women, The Underground Railroad, Meditations on Motherhood, Dare to Lead, Worth It, China Rich Girlfriend, Flow, The Sellout, The Messy Middle, Women Who Run With The Wolves, Come As You Are, The Personal MBA, Tribe of Mentors, The Inevitable, The Righteous Mind, How To Change Your Mind, We Were Eight Years In Power, The Ambition Decisions, Thirst.

A note on methodology:

Any form of counting is imperfect, and I found a few idiosyncrasies with quantifying number of books. What happens when there are multiple authors of one book? How about when I read multiple books by the same author? The spirit of this quantification is to invite more voices into the room, specifically by women and people of color. To that end, when I read multiple books by the same author, like Katy Bowman, I only counted it as one author (but as two books). When a book is authored by multiple people, I counted each of them as one author, for a simple but compelling historical reason: we have a bad history of counting people of color as less than a full person, and I simply cannot do that. It might not make mathematical sense, but to me, it makes the most logical sense. In the end, I counted the total number of women authors, authors of color, and overall number of authors and calculated percentages accordingly. The number of overall books read is for my record keeping.

Got a great book you love? Send me a note and let me know what I should read next. hello (at) sarahkpeck (dot) com.