Summer reading is a joy. Whether you are traveling to distant lands or putting your feet up in your own living room for a much-needed staycation, you may be wondering what to read next. We asked members of the Women Together team to make recommendations. Here are books that inspire, catalyze new thinking, or make an impact on how we see the world.
We hope you’ll find something here that will do the same for you. (And, please, share your thoughts and recommendations in the comments section below!)
Summer Reading List
The Relaxed Mind: A Seven-Step Method for Deepening Meditation Practice
by Dza Kilung Rinpoche
This book was gifted to me by Women Together presenter Wendy Palmer. I am getting so much out of it. I’ve been meditating for many years, and this book has brought me back to some beautiful, simple approaches that I’m incorporating into my daily meditation practice.
A Glorious Freedom: Older Women Leading Extraordinary Lives
by Lisa Congdon
Inspiring personal stories. Mini-biographies. Fun hand-lettered quotes. Intimate interviews. Beautiful uplifting illustrations. It’s hard to go wrong here.
From women like designer Vera Wang, artist Louise Bourgeois, and writer Cheryl Strayed, to lesser known women — executive turned photographer, marketer turned doctor, publisher whose career has morphed and evolved meaningfully over the years — the women in these pages decided at some point to care less about what others think and more about being themselves.
I believe every woman — regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, profession, or even age — will find themselves in these stories. They will also find comfort and inspiration — and, perhaps most importantly, encouragement to explore passions, follow dreams, and learn new skills, no matter how old or unsure they might be. If I could, I’d gift this book to every woman in my life.
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
by Brené Brown
I am reading this book a second time. I can’t say enough about it. She uses simple words that open my heart and remind me to be courageous, in big and little ways, all day long.
Keeping the Love You Find
by Harville Hendrix
This is one of the most practical and helpful books that I have ever read. It is an essential guide for developing a healthy relationship with oneself and others. One thing that really stands out for me is Harville Hendrix’s emphasis on the importance of self-love in the whole equation of having healthy relationships.
This book has helped me understand the connection between the underdeveloped parts of my childhood and the ways in which I see myself and experience others in relationship. And it has inspired me to want to understand how to reintegrate aspects of my self that I have denied or disconnected from so that I can experience a fuller and more joyful life.
I highly recommend it for everyone.
Play the Part: Master Body Signals to Connect and Communicate for Business Success
by Gina Barnett
(McGraw Hill Education, 2015)
This is an enjoyable read filled with easy, beneficial exercises. Gina’s suggestions around physical posture are actually helping reduce my computer-induced back pain. I’m also finally understanding how shifting the body in different ways really can shift the way you feel — and profoundly affect the way others respond to you. Kudos to Gina (who regularly teaches with Women Together for making this topic so simple and fun.
by Michael Ondaatje
Though he is known for his book The English Patient (and the movie it inspired), Michael Ondaatje has a lot of works to choose from. I have loved everything he’s written, so I jumped to add his newest book to my reading stack. I’m only about 100 pages in and, so far, this is an odd, quirky story told with the craft and creativity that are hallmarks of Ondaatje’s writing.
The story revolves around family in all its various forms—and, at its heart, is about community. It’s about how the instinctual effort to create connections is essential to our beings. While the characters in Warlight find lifesaving connection with strangers, we are perhaps more likely to find it in groups we feel aligned with, or in our workplaces. It reminds me of all the ways we create family and community wherever we go.
Man’s Search for Meaning
by Viktor Frankl
(Beacon Press, 1946)
A friend recommended this story of resilience. Whenever I’m feeling a lack in my life, I think of Frankl’s indelible hope. If there is one area in our lives where we have power it is in the ability to choose our state of mind. This is not always easy to do. And it takes awareness and work. But it’s a game-changing way to see the world. Hence, this is one that I come back to.
—Kimberly Jordan Allen
Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
by Cal Newport
(Grand Central Publishing, 2018)
A friend recommended this book to me, and as soon as it arrived I sat down and read a third of it, feeling like it was an answer to unsent prayers. The basic premise is that our best work (achieving better results in less time) happens through deep dives — intentional time set aside to focus on a particular project without distraction.
While I show up the best I can in this fast-paced, multitasking, collaborative world of ours, what I really crave in my worklife is focused, slow-moving solitude (not that working with others doesn’t help A LOT, just that it has its time and place). Though I am always busy working, I long to work in a more meaningful way, more deeply. I’m looking forward to reading the remaining two-thirds — and to putting Cal’s rules into practice once I find out what they are!
Shakti Leadership: Embracing Feminine and Masculine Power in Business
by Nilima Bhat and Raj Sisodia
I was made aware of this book by Antoinette Klatzky, executive director of the Eileen Fisher Leadership Institute. Right now, both in working with Women Together and in the culture in general, I am experiencing (and observing) definite shifts in the way the feminine and masculine are interacting, dancing, and collaborating. I’m experiencing this both in my work life and in my social and community life. It’s a challenging, exciting, and inspirational time.
This book offers guidance for this transitional moment. It explores ancient wisdom teachings on the interplay between masculine and feminine energy. Simultaneously, the book is grounded with practical examples of some of today’s successful leaders who embrace this emerging feminine power as they generate new models of success, innovation, and impact.