Every year, I track the books I read and write short summaries of the books all on one page. This page is my ongoing reading list for 2019. (I also did this in 2017 and 2018, this is my third year in a row.) Recording what I read has improved the quality, breadth and number of books I read, which inspires me to keep doing it. If you’re curious, you can read more about why I track the books I read, how to decide what book to read next, and how to finish a book. Or you can read my book summaries, below, for new book ideas and recommendations.
Read 36 books, read at least 50% books by women, read at least 50% books by people of color. To see what books I’m currently reading in 2019, scroll down the page. I update my book progress monthly.
Stats as of the end of June 2019
- 18 books
- 16 by women (88%),
- 5 by people of color (28%).
January? I was returning from maternity leave, figuring out daycare and a nanny, and beginning to set up the plans for launching our Startup Pregnant community mastermind, and I don’t think I read a single book.
The Fifth Vital Sign: Master Your Cycles & Optimize Your Fertility, by Lisa Hendrickson-Jack. In health, we often look to the four vital signs (body temperature, pulse, blood pressure, respiration rate) as our key indicators of wellness. Women, however, have a very clear and regular pattern that most health providers do not track, and it’s a huge clue and window of opportunity for learning about our own health: our menstrual cycles. Lisa Hendrickson-Jack shares how and why to track our menstrual cycles (and also what to look for if you’re not yet cycling or post-menopausal), and why this immense amount of data and information can be so important for our long-term health, our fertility, and our own body awareness.
GuRu, by Ru Paul. I picked up this book in the library because I love the body positivity, self-awareness, and philosophical perspectives by this gender-defying, drag beauty who constantly challenges us to rethink what we think we know and how we think we’re supposed to show up in the world. The book was a very quick read, filled with single-page quotes and full-color images and playful stories, I flipped through it while on the subway one week while doing daycare pickups and dropoffs, and very much enjoyed it.
The Art of Gathering: How We Meet And Why It Matters, by Priya Parker. We used Priya’s book as the foundation for our yearlong mastermind program, to meet and gather together as a community. We kicked off our time together talking about how to best come together in community. I loved the intentionality of having a purpose, designing the beginning (which comes far before the “start” of an event), and thinking through not just the sequencing of events, but also the closing. Perhaps my biggest takeaway was that intentionality requires edges and boundaries. It’s okay to say no in pursuit of a better event. A twelve-person table is very different than a party of 45 people. Decide what it’s for, and then design from there.
Do Less: A Revolutionary Approach To Time And Energy Management For Busy Moms, by Kate Northrup. I always feel like Kate is reading my mind, and she and I joke that we’re swimming in a similar ocean during this lifetime. Her recognition of the physical and bodily cycles we inhabit and how they relate to our work and ‘productivity’ has been instrumental in women shifting their work schedules to align with their cycles of energy and creation. It’s a magical process. In this book, she has 14 different ‘experiments’ to tap into a new way of managing your time and reducing your workload, both literally and energetically. Even just doing one experiment could shift things.
Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos, by Lucy Knisley. This stunning graphic comic is a heart opening novel of the trials of getting pregnant and how hard pregnancy can be. Lucy shares her stories around how hard it was to get pregnant, having surgery to help get pregnant, and then suffering through preeclampsia and swelling up during the third trimester. She undergoes a traumatic and intense delivery and has to return to the hospital after the delivery. Ultimately, they decide that the risk is too high to try for another kid, and decide to be a one-child family. The story is beautifully written and illustrated, and full of pause moments that open up a chance to educate the reader about the realities of miscarriage, pregnancy challenges, nausea, and trauma.
Weird Parenting Wins: Bathtub Dining, Family Screams, and Other Hacks from the Parenting Trenches, by Hillary Frank. This book is a collection of advice from parents. Sometimes hilarious, sometimes painful, it’s a quick and easy read to skim through parent wins, even the weirdest ones. I liked the narration by the author most—I found myself craving more of Hillary’s stories, and being a little disappointed that it was a collection of quotes from other parents. Still, I laughed and by the end I was really enjoying it.
Best Articles: The Open Secret of Mom Bias At Work, I Was A “Lean In” SuperFan But Lean In Failed Me, It’s Not Enough To Be Right, You Have To Be Kind, The Rise Of SnowPlow Parenting, Where Are The Mothers?
New Podcast: The Double Shift.
What No One Tells You: A Guide to Your Emotions from Pregnancy to Motherhood, by Alexandra Sacks, MD, and Catherine Birndorf. MD. How can a book cover all of the emotions and feelings you have about getting pregnant or becoming a parent? This one does a really good job. I felt seen and heard, but also witnessed hundreds of other threads that I’ve also seen and heard in my friends, and left feeling relieved, because the complex and layered emotions of becoming a parent are just that: complicated, overlapping, intense, and totally normal. It’s okay if you feel these things, and it’s normal to feel like everything is changing. From your relationships with your partner, your own parents, and your family, to the way that you feel about work, to being unsure about what’s next—this book was a guide to feeling a little less alone and a little more aware of all that was going on for me in my inner world and mental landscape. Highly recommend for new and expecting parents.
Cribsheet: A Data-Driven Guide to Better, More Relaxed Parenting, from Birth to Preschool, by Emily Oster. Another winner from Emily, a book that deals with so many of the conflicting parenting choices that can come up when raising young kids. From vaccinations (get them!) to screen time (not as bad as everyone says) to her personal household management tools (asana, #geekalert), to whether or not sleep training is something you choose to do (your choice, and kids are fine either way)—I love the way she presents data and evidence and shows how to make choices within a range of evidence, and why many choices can be the ‘right’ choice in some cases. I think her Expecting Better book was such a standout; this one repeated the idea of “using that data” a few too many times (in my opinion), but on the whole was a great read and very informative.
Forward: A Memoir, by Abby Wambach. I LOVED this book. It was easy to read, fluid, and the story just unfolded over the pages. Abby shares her memoir and the inside of her journey as a gay teenager to her soccer playing to her addictions and struggles on and off the field. One of the longest USA champion players and a dominant force on the soccer field, Abby is an incredible leader and powerful voice in our generation.
Wolfpack: How to Come Together, Unleash Our Power, and Change the Game, by Abby Wambach. Short, sweet, and punchy: this book is the manifesto companion to her memoir. This is a rally call for girls and women everywhere to become a unit, to band together, and to join the wolfpack.
Articles that stood out: The Truth About A World Built For Men
Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad, by Austin Kleon. I’m a huge fan of Austin’s work and books, and loved this book overall. I keep it on my nightstand because the cover is a mantra to my life right now: Slow down, okay, but don’t stop. Just keep going. At times I wished I could hear more of Mr. Kleon’s voice—the number of quotes and assembly of characters was well-done, but almost too well done. I wanted to know more of what he thought, too. Still a solid, wonderful book.
All The Rage: Mothers, Fathers, and the Myth of Equal Partnership, by Darcy Lockman.
Birth Strike: The Hidden Fight over Women’s Work, by Jenny Brown.
🎧 Podcast episode with Jenny Brown coming!
Educated: A Memoir, by Tara Westover. Brilliant book, page-turner. The author has captured what it’s like to grow a mind from a child-like observational acceptance of the world and the way it is, to an expanded, vast reach of information and knowledge. Her story—growing up in Utah in a home unlike many others—is gripping and dark; her journey to finding herself uplifting and inspiring.
Little Fires Everywhere: A Novel, by Celeste Ng. I listened as an audio book and loved it. A story of everyday suburban life, with the complications and competitions of parenting, motherhood, real estate, and raising teenage children.
The Body Has Its Reasons: Self-Awareness Through Conscious Movement, by Therese Bertherat and Carol Bernstein. This book was first passed on to me through yoga teacher training in 2013, and I read part of it but never finished it (there were stacks of textbooks to get through and I wasn’t able to finish this one. It called back to me this year, and I read through and found this book easy to read and absorb and yet the implications of understanding our body and how it really works still seems like such a foreign concept to our modern world. Even now,
The Making of A Manager, by Julie Zhuo. A young twenty-something joins a rapidly growing team—one of the largest in the world, at Facebook, and soon becomes a manager. Julie documents her growth and the steep learning curve of becoming a manager, including the ways she excelled at leading a team, and the hard lessons she had to learn about doing too much herself, how to run efficient operations, what to look for when hiring, and how to become not just a good manager, but a great one. This case study of her experience gave me a ton to learn from, with lessons I’ll use on my own teams.
Dare To Lead, by Brené Brown. I struggled through this book. I’m a huge Brené Brown fan, and this book felt sleepy and like it could have used another round of organization. I imagine that the book was on a tight deadline amidst more projects happening than I can fathom, and I aspire to be as prolific as this author. I was probably not the target audience, either; it felt directed at a more corporate crowd and managerial crew that needs the data around vulnerability and shame before being able to make institutional change. Some good nuggets and workflows, but it took me several months to finish.
Brave, by Rose McGowan. McGowan is known for her direct, honest messages and tweets and her tireless work in breaking down the misogyny built into the Hollywood institutions. As such, she’s become unabashed about talking about sexism, ageism, and other -ist problems throughout the media and movie industries. At first, I had a hard time listening because she sounded so fed up and angry: but to be clear, the struggle was all mine—not hers—because I’ve been raised in a world that tells us women shouldn’t be angry, loud, or direct. After a few chapters in, I settled in and found I quite enjoyed hearing it, frankly and clearly. Listened via audiobook.
City of Girls, by Elizabeth Gilbert. Who doesn’t love an easy summer read about the busiest city in America at the height of the 1940s and 1950s? Gilbert writes about girls and theater and sex and counter-culture, and of women who remain single but not asexual in a time when neither was culturally appropriate. Delicious read.
The Modern Meeting Standard, by Al Pittampalli. I’ve been writing more about how to organize teams and run clear communications, so I picked up a book I’ve been meaning to read for a while. This was quick, aimed at a corporate office, about how to simplify and reduce meeting overhead. I wished, at times, it had provided more visibility into the root of the problem of meetings—why ARE they so bad?—(I have a few additional ideas.) Spurned my thinking and reminded me just how bad most meetings and gatherings really are.
Kickass, by Mel Robbins. Robbins is captivating and delightful to listen to. With a no-nonsense directness and a capacity for getting to the root of any problem, Mel takes us into 8 coaching sessions with people who are struggling with everything from lack of motivation, to procrastination, to fear, to bad situations. She unpacks why people do what they do and inspires them to make change. It was especially easy to listen to because it felt like 8 podcast episodes and I could pick it up at any point. Listened via audiobook.
Overcoming Underearning, by Barbara Stanny.
Woman Last Seen In Her Thirties, by Camille Pagan. The book was… fine. I didn’t particularly enjoy it. Not a ton of page-turning plot, the scenes felt predictable, and the choice of outcomes—whether she rekindled her marriage to the husband who left her nearing retirement, or she struck it up with a fancy new fling from her new life—both felt too clean and tidy, and unremarkable. “Woman is saved by having a choice of men to marry, because to remain single is too hard.” Wait, now that I write this, I think she ended up choosing neither at the end—but perhaps the decision itself, even as a red herring, felt a little too neat. The pros: the book was a quick page-turner, it dealt with agism by reminding us that 50-year olds are independent and intriguing, and women can make choices that aren’t about men. Sort of? Listened via audiobook.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman. Amazing. This book caught me off guard, made me laugh out loud at the unexpected observations of everyday life, and then brought me deeply into the world of loneliness and the state of ‘being fine’ that afflict so many of us all. Brilliant book. Even better as an audio book, when read with British accents by a superb narrator.
Chillpreneur, by Denise Duffield-Thomas. Don’t let the title deceive you. This book might be Denise’s best book so far, and I loved it—the stories were delightful to read, and she takes big business concepts and distills them into practical, easy-to-follow steps. For example, marketing, in her words, is simply showing up and making offers. Most people forget to do one (or both!) and get afraid of showing up consistently, or, if they do show up, they forget to make offers. If you own a business and you have a product or service that helps people, then tell them about it! Chillpreneur was a great read to regain confidence in business skills and get creative about my next moves as an entrepreneur.
The Ripple Effect, by Greg Wells. This one grew on me. I originally described it to my husband as an “okay pop-science-self-help book,” but the more I read, the more I appreciated how comprehensive it is. It also firmly puts me in the tribe of geeks who like to nerd out about intermittent fasting, food and nutrition, health and wellness, and understanding how to maximize the relationships between sleep, nutrition, exercise, and meditation. If you’re into this kind of thing and want a broad refresher on the latest science, dig in.
The Power, by Naomi Alderman. An intriguing book with a rich premise: women—mostly young girls, coming of age—awaken to find that they have a new sort of power, a skein, that runs across their collarbones. With it, they can shoot electricity from their bodies and stun, or even kill, other people. Women can electrocute men, and they begin to realize the power that they have, and how everything has shifted. Where men used to have physical strength, women now dominate. Will the world work? This dystopian novel shows how power corrupts, no matter who has it, and how power ultimately does what it wants: power wants to grow.
In Pieces, by Sally Field. I’ve only loosely followed Sally Field’s career, and reading about her body of work took me through the decades someone can use to build a career. From following her instincts to act, to the desperation for work in a line of work that’s fickle, to the impact the men around her had on her life, Sally writes a memoir that’s hard to put down. Sorrowful, wistful, beautiful, human.
Small Animals, by Kim Brooks. Why are we living in a world of parenting that’s so fear-based? Only a few decades ago, Ramona Quimby—the beloved character of the book series—was allowed to walk to school by herself at age 5, and had responsibilities at age eight that would shock us in today’s world. Or, worse, get a parent locked up. Today, parents are unable to let their children run to the park alone, and forget about leaving your kid in a carseat (with the windows rolled down!) if you need to pop into a store and get a coffee or a pharmacy pick-up. Today’s parents must be constantly attached, monitoring, observant, never losing focus. More sinisterly, they are also always being monitored, as people report others to CPS, the police, and neighborhood watch groups. Rather than support each other in raising our future generations, we’ve gone bonkers and now live in a police state of our own making. Kim Brooks writes about what happened to her—and the years taken from her life—when she was reported by someone who filmed her leaving her kid unattended for a few minutes. When—and how—will we stop creating havoc by insisting that parents and families live in fear?
The Library Book, by Susan Orlean.
Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert A . Heinlein.
Story Grid, by Shawn Coyne.
You’ve Got 00:08 Seconds, by Paul Hellman.
The 1% Rule, by Tommy Baker.
How To Do Nothing, by Jenny Odell.
Everything is Figureoutable, by Marie Forleo.
Regretting Motherhood, by Orna Donath
Invisible Women, by Caroline Criado Perez
Eloquent Rage, by Brittney Cooper
Motherhood, by Sheila Heti.
Radical Candor, by Kim Scott.
Crucial Conversations, by Kerry Patterson.
Books I want to read next: Birth Strike. Programmed Inequality. How Long ’til Black Future Month? by N. K. Jemisin. Eloquent Rage, by Brittney Cooper.