As winter settles in, we’re ready to review the piles of books that encourage us to keep learning and expanding our view of the world.
A few of our favorites – both personal and professional – right now:
Deacon King Kong by James McBride
Anita: My Mastermind group is reading this together. This group typically doesn’t read novels, but it’s a joy when we do. I get so much more out of a novel when I study it critically instead of merely enjoying the story. This hasn’t been the easiest read – I have a list of characters nearly two pages long to help keep everyone straight.
That said, it’s an amazing story of Deacon King Kong who lives in a housing project in south Brooklyn. There are entertaining parts -- like finding out about Jesus cheese and a yearly march of ants. There are also some eye-opening and horribly cruel parts that shed light on substance use, selling drugs, mob activity, and systemic racism.
How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram Kendi
Neither of us has finished this yet, but this book is an important milestone on our journey to learn about system racism. Kendi is helping us rethink our beliefs about race and is pushing us to examine the policies we support. Hard, but important things to wrestle with.
Virgil Wander by Leif Enger
Enger’s Peace Like a River is one of Anita’s all-time favorites so her expectations were very high for his most recent book. Virgil Wander did not disappointed.
He’s a masterful story teller. Mystical. Funny. Plus, she learned new words (and is thankful for a digital copy that allows her to easily look up words.)
Untamed by Glennon Doyle
We’ve been fans of Glennon’s for a while – and even spent an afternoon with her when she was the keynote speaker for Women’s Health Conference a couple years ago.
Rachel: I read this book just before George Floyd’s murder. Glennon primed my understanding of how I benefit from systemic racism as a white and able woman. Making me examine when I fall into the trap of “believing that becoming racially sober is about saying the right thing instead of becoming the right thing, that showing up is based in performing instead of transforming.”
Somewhere else in her book she wrote: “I reach deeply into the rich soil beneath me, made up of every girl and woman I’ve ever been, every face I’ve loved. . . . Nothing wasted. My entire past there holding me up and feeding me now, all of this too low for anyone else to see, just there for me to draw from….”
This theme of experience, learnings, glimpses into other understandings as soil was repeated in a book titled Emergent Strategy by adrienne maree brown.
It’s a well-marked book that invited me to consider my role in change.
Writing Tools by Roy Peter Clark
"Writing is a craft you can learn," says Clark. "You need tools, not rules.”
After nearly 25 years in the profession, our writer – Erin Hemme Froslie at Whistle Editorial – still goes back to this book for inspiration. Whether you’re preparing a slide presentation or drafting your first novel, this book will introduce you to strategies to make your writing stronger and more effective.
Prefer listening to your books? Check out: Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo or Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. Both are narrated by their respective authors and that makes all the difference in setting the tone.
Your partners in leadership.