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2017 Book Recommendations

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!

2017 book recommendations

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.

Lifestyle Books

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!

Fiction Novels

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.

Business/Career Books

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!

Happy reading!

Bring Your Boldest Self To Your Biggest Challenge

Picture this. You’ve prepped for a work presentation for weeks. Crunched the numbers, created great visuals and considered questions you might be asked. Minutes before the presentation begins, you start to doubt yourself. An inner nagging voice asks, “What makes you an expert in this area?”

Or, you’re walking away from a challenging talk with your best friend, partner or boss. In your heart of hearts, you’re wishing for a “do-over”. You’d be a better listener, use alternate words or act differently.

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10 Books to Inspire Your Next Creative Business

It’s February and you’re on your way to putting your 2017 goals into action. This might be the year that you finally kickstart that side business. But where to begin? You need some inspiration.

Books have always given me the knowledge and the courage I need to push through, so here are my top 10 books you should read as you plan your next creative business. Whether it’s an Etsy store or forming your own agency, these are books which will inspire, guide, and even console when it feels like things are not going right.

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5 Books That Every Working Woman Needs to Read

Here are five books that will allow you to boost your confidence, build your networking skills and provide you with the information and inspiration you need to stylishly succeed:

Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi

We’ve all heard the saying: “It’s not about what you know, but who you know.” Never Eat Alone is not only your ultimate guide on how to build a strong professional network but how to leverage your connections to help you advance in your career. Through a perfect balance of actionable advice and personal stories, Keith Ferrazzi demonstrates how his decision to never eat a meal alone (no matter where he is in the world) has allowed him to build a lifelong professional network, career success and a magnetic personal brand.

Daring and Disruptive Playbook by Lisa Messenger

The Daring and Disruptive Playbook is the much-needed companion to “Daring and Disruptive” as author Lisa Messenger provides prompts and exercises to help guide you through a journey of self-exploration. The “playbook” (not to be mistaken with a workbook!) allows you to uncover your inner entrepreneur, discover your true passions and create an action plan for cultivating a daring and disruptive life.

I am that Girl by Alexis Jones

Becoming the best version of yourself is not a simple journey, but author Alexis Jones has created the ultimate guide to inspire you to become “That Girl”, a girl that inspires, a girl that unapologetically pursues her passions and a girl that is authentically remarkable. Through learnings from honest interviews with girls and women around the world, Jones provides you with the motivation you need to begin creating an awesome life.

The Career Code by Hillary Kerr and Katherine Power

There’s no question that authors Hillary Kerr and Katherine Power have valuable career experience as the dynamic duo are also the co-founders of Clique Media, the technology powerhouse behind top fashion platforms such as Who What Wear, MyDomaine and Byrdie. The Career Code is an excellent accumulation of what they’ve learned throughout their impressive career, both as employees and employers, providing an honest yet actionable account of what it takes to succeed in your career, in style, of course! From resume checklists to outfit ideas for every dress code, The Career Code is a valuable resource for all women whether they’re a new grad or a working professional.

Light is the New Black by Rebecca Campbell

If you’ve ever asked yourself, “What is my true purpose?”, Light is the New Black needs to be your next read. It is just the inspirational book you need to discover your inner light and soul purpose and feel empowered enough to share it with the world. Author Rebecca Campbell beautifully shares her story of self-discovery to provide a guidebook for women who crave the feeling of getting in touch with their soul to discover their calling and awaken their light while simultaneously inspiring others to do the same.

Have you read any of these? What are your favourite career books?

 

*I wrote this article for the Winter 2016 issue of Curated Life. Head over and take a read!