Happy Book Lover’s Day! I love books every single day of the year but since it’s a whole day dedicated to them, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share a full list of the books I’ve really enjoyed since the start of 2017!
I’m sure my fellow book lovers can agree – there’s no better feeling than diving into a fresh new book. Whether you’re looking for fiction or non-fiction recommendations, I got your back! Since January, I’ve read over XX books, some released this year and others in the last few years that I didn’t get a chance to read right away. As I continue to read more this year, I’ll be updating this list so be sure to bookmark it to read my latest recommendations.
The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking
Did you know that Denmark is considered one of the happiest countries in the world? This is because they prioritize ‘hygge’ (the art of intimacy and cozyness) in their everyday life, from the clothes they wear to the type of restaurant they go to. It’s a short yet informative book that is perfect for anyone looking to improve their quality of life or anyone who loves that feeling of cozyness. I found this book to be extremely fascinating as it not only includes interesting historical facts but it provides practical steps to achieving ‘hygge’ right away. It also makes for a great coffee table book!
The Happiness Equation by Neil Pasricha
This book has singlehandedly changed the way I think about happiness. I am definitely one of many people who grew up thinking that as long as I worked hard and got a good job that I would automatically be happy. Author Neil Pasricha completely flips that old-school equation on its head and encourages us to be happy first and be completely unapologetic about it. I absolutely loved his writing style, the short chapters and his sketches that were thrown in which made it feel like I was chatting with a trusted friend. He also provides helpful tips on productivity, time management and motivation. I highly recommend this book for anyone who has been re-evaluating the concept of happiness is also looking for a much-needed kick in the pants to get work done!
The Color of our Sky by Amita Trasi
Based in India, this beautifully written non-fiction novel tells the story of Mukta and Tara, best friends who were torn apart after Mukta is kidnapped. Tara moves to America with her father after the incident and even after several years pass, she can’t help but think about what happened to Mukta. After another tragic incident, Tara decides to move back to India in hopes of finding Mukta as well as the truth about what happened. It’s a wonderful but heart-breaking story that highlights the underground world of human trafficking in India and the everlasting bonds of friendship. It’s an absolute page-turner – I was hooked from the very beginning and couldn’t help but finish it within just a few days. An absolute must-read!
New Boy by Tracy Chevalier
I read this book in roughly 4 hours as I could not put it down. Based in the 1970’s, Osei, a young black boy, moves to a small town in suburban Washington and becomes smitten with Dee, a young white girl in his class who becomes completely fascinated by the “new boy”. The two fall in love despite the racial tensions and their young romance infuriates teachers and classmates alike leading to a tragic ending. Although it’s not an unfamiliar storyline (based on the tragedy of Othello), I found myself completely engrossed in the characters and couldn’t wait to get to the end. Author Tracy Chevalier does a wonderful job of revitalizing the Othello story to make it relevant to today’s society.
Everybody’s Son by Thrity Umrigar
I really enjoyed this book and I’m still wondering why I didn’t discover Thrity Umrigar’s work sooner. In this beautifully-written but also emotionally-charged novel, she tells the story of Anton, a nine-year old living in the projects who is put into foster care after being left at home alone for 1 week without food, electricity or air-conditioning – during one of the worst-ever heat waves. Judge David Coleman, who is desperate to have another child under his roof after losing his son in a tragic incident, takes Anton in and leverages his power to ensure Anton stays with him. The story weaves the issues of race, power, privilege, money and politics together in a way that completely captures your attention from the first few pages and I found myself sad when it came to an end. I particularly enjoyed the way the author shared the growth of Anton as he navigated his “dual identities” and I hope Umrigar continues to tell his story in future novels.
The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See
Lisa See has never failed to disappoint me. Since reading Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (one of the best books I have ever read), I immediately buy any new books that she releases. Once again, See tells such a beautiful story that captures the unique routines and rituals that are often found in remote villages. In The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, we read the story of Li-yan who lives with her family in a remote Chinese mountain village where their lives revolve around their ‘Akha’ culture and the farming and selling of tea. However, Li-yan rejects her cultural customs when she has a baby before marriage and decides to leave the baby girl outside an orphanage instead of abandoning her in a forest. Through the novel, we follow along as she gains an education and builds a career all while still thinking about her long-lost child. See also weaves in the story of Haley (Li-yan’s daughter) as she grows up in America but struggles to navigate her Chinese-American identity. It’s a very well-written story that beautifully captures the everlasting connection between mother and daughter.
The Hate U Give by Angie Carter
This young-adult novel stayed with me even weeks after I finished it. The book takes you into the life of Starr Carter who lost one of her best friends to a drive-by shooting and then another to a racialized police shooting…all by the the age of 16. The author paints a very real picture of the pain, confusion, shock and anger that Starr experiences as she struggles to make sense of the tragedies. Everything that Starr has experienced so far would make you believe that she is twice her age…until she talks about highschool, sneaking out to parties and telling her dad about her boyfriend. It makes the novel more poignant, real, heartbreaking yet extremely impactful. In a society where racial tensions continue to heighten, The Hate U Give is an absolute must-read.
Talk Like TED by Carmine Gallo
Whether you’re looking to actually give a TED talk or simply improve your public speaking skills, you not only need to read this book but keep it on your desk for reference. This book breaks down the elements of a successful presentation while also providing tons of real TED talk examples. As I read through the case studies, I found myself stopping mid-way to pull out my phone and actually watch the TED talk in that moment. Reading this book has completely changed the way that I give my presentations and I have sticky notes on key pages for quick reference.
Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
I’m still mad that I didn’t read this book sooner because it was an absolutely amazing read! Nike founder Phil Knight tells the story of his life and how he built Nike from a one-man startup in his parents’ basement to the billion-dollar company we know and love today. I really enjoyed his writing style and I found myself constantly thinking about the book whenever I put it down for a break. His story is a helpful reminder for anyone who has an idea or is in the early stage of their business and is ensure of whether they’ll succeed. I really appreciated Knight’s transparency on how tough it was to build Nike and the numerous obstacles that they faced – especially monetary obstacles. Shoe Dog is an inspiring novel that goes beyond the usual general advice that we get in many business books. The lessons that Knight shares in Shoe Dog will stay with you for years to come.
Start with Why by Simon Sinek
So often we’re concerned with what we’re doing but when was the last time you stopped to consider why? Author Simon Sinek does an excellent job of highlighting why it’s important to start any business by considering the “why” first. The book covers important topics such as influence, trust, loyalty and tipping points – all to highlight what it truly takes to build a successful movement and inspire others. Start with Why is what inspired me to create The Why Women Panel and I’m confident that if you read this novel, it will positively change the way you think about the work that you do.
BRAG! The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It by Peggy Klaus
I picked up this book because I’ve always found it difficult to self-promote and it has truly changed the way I think about “bragging”. So often, many of us hold back from sharing our achivements and accomplishments in fear of sounding too cocky. This book will encourage you to become comfortable with your talents and highlight how to share them in a way that is sincere, confident and appealing to whoever you are speaking to. Through a number of helpful case-studies, Peggy Klaus highlights why we all need to know our “brag bites” and how we can leverage them to accelerate our careers. An absolute must-read and definitely one you will want to keep close for easy reference!
Build Your Dream Network by J. Kelly Hoey
Just when I thought I had a good-enough handle on what it takes to build and maintain a professional network, I read J.Kelly Hoey’s book and that all went out the window. Build Your Dream Network is absolutely the best book I have ever read on networking and I took notes while reading the entire way through! Hoey encourages you to go from random to purposeful networking – ensuring that each event or outing you attend is deliberate and in line with your current goals. Hoey’s approach to networking is extremely refreshing and encourages you to re-evaluate your current behaviour (most importantly, find ways to provide value to others!) while providing actionable tips for improvement. I particularly enjoyed the mini-interviews throughout the book as each of the interviewees shared excellent insights that are helpful to the average person but also people like myself who host their own events. If you’re only going to buy one more book this year, it needs to be Build Your Dream Network. I promise you won’t be disappointed!
Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown
Like many others who chose to read the book mainly due to its intriguing title (and of course the fact that she’s a well-known, bestselling author), I too decided to order it as I felt the title was speaking to me.
True Belonging is a concept that has personally always felt a little foreign to me and I was curious to read about her research in this area. By the first few pages, I was hooked and I read the entire thing in about 6 hours.
Braving the Wilderness takes you on a journey to understanding belonging, connection, collective joy and sadness and courage. From the beginning, Brown allows herself to be vulnerable as she tells her own story. But what I enjoyed most was how it covered self-sabotage – how we could be unknowingly blocking our own way towards true belonging and connection. Are we really listening or only listening to what we want to hear? Are we being kind, open and vulnerable?
Research-based books are not for everyone and granted there are some that are a bit too “academic” to really comprehend. But, Brené Brown has this way of weaving the research with personal stories and anecdotes that make her books relatable and impactful. There are some books you read and then simply move on to the next – but there are others (like this one), that you want to read in one sitting yet savour the knowledge and insight within the pages. Both while reading and for an extended period afterwards, I felt myself digging within myself to further understand who I am and how I could apply the insights within this book to become more courageous and connected to not only the people around me but my true self. Highly recommend for anyone who feels like they’re on a path of their own and want to feel more connected to themselves and the people around them.