5 Summer Reads Suitable for Work and Pleasure
As we step firmly into spring, our cleaning, planting, and growing are well underway. Yet, beyond sweeping away the cobwebs of our homes, this can also be the time of year when we declutter and organize our minds. To aid in this growth/transition, you might take on new activities: like walking outside (just because you can), volunteering, planning summer trips, or even joining a recreational league. As you make your plans for the coming season, you might also find yourself putting together your reading list. (And if you are not, we encourage you to do so as reading has been proven to aid in stress reduction and enhance emotional intelligence.) So, as you make space in your home and mind, you may be looking for books that speak to you both professionally and personally. Here are 5 late-spring/early-summer reads suitable for both work and pleasure.
Books for Career Inspiration:
- Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility by Patty McCord.
McCord’s text lives up to its name. Taking on the traditional items we’ve come to expect in a work setting: annual reviews, retention plans, etc., and instead, irreverently delivering no-nonsense advice, McCord pushes the reader’s expectations of work. For example, she points out some basic and obvious observations about management: Managers have one, essential job: “A business leader’s job is to create great teams that do amazing work on time. That’s it. That’s the job of management.” Yet, even though we know this fact, it is easy to forget these basics and McCord helps instill the things you already know about work but may have forgotten (and she does it with levity).
This is a great book if you are looking re-enforcement about your role at work and if you are also looking for something with a bit of humor.
- Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. by Brene Brown
Brene Brown is a wonderful motivational speaker and research professor who understands that, in business, good leaders, are not the “harshest,” “toughest” people in the room. Rather, a good leader is someone who inspires and motivates and can be seen as a “real” person. In Dare to Lead, she states, “I define a leader as anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes, and who has the courage to develop that potential.” We all desire human connection and as Brown asserts that this connection benefits us in our careers. This is a powerful, insightful text for anyone who is in a leadership position or desires to be.
Books for Personal Inspiration:
- Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist
In our ever-moving culture, the idea of being “present” almost borders cliché, yet the importance of staying in the moment should not be overlooked and in Niequist’s text, we encounter this idea again, with fresh eyes. As Niequist points out, we are so often caught up in chasing some better version of ourselves — a new look, a better job, a “perfect” partner — we fail to recognize the person who we are in this moment. Niequist defines “present” this way: [To be present] “is living with your feet firmly grounded in reality, pale and uncertain as it may seem. Present is choosing to believe that your own life is worth investing deeply in, instead of waiting for some rare miracle or fairytale. Present means we understand that the here and now is sacred, sacramental, threaded through with divinity even in its plainness. Especially in its plainness.” Sometimes the things that are the hardest to see, are the things right in front of us; Niequist reminds us how important this is. This can be a great text if you are in flux—maybe you are in-between jobs, maybe you are in a job you aren’t sure about—this text will help you focus on the here and now.
- Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis
Hollis leaped onto the scene with her first book, Girl Wash Your Face, which left readers asking for more. Hollis’ second book acts as an actionable follow-up to her first. In it, she helps her readers understand what the next step looks like. If you’ve read Girl Wash Your Face (and if you haven’t, do) this is a great text to help a reader take the next step. The best thing about Hollis is that she meets her readers where they are at; she reminds us: “Not having the knowledge makes you teachable, not stupid. Not being in shape makes you moldable, not lazy. Not having the experience just makes you eager, not ignorant.” We must be willing to go forward without apology and without fear. This text is perfect for you if you are in the position of making a new move: a new job, a new position, more hours. Hollis empowers her reader to feel ready, no matter what.
- Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
Famous for her first book, Eat, Pray, Love, Gilbert again, asks the reader to go on a journey, but this time the journey is towards engaging one’s creativity. We sometimes have a limited view of what creativity can be: we tend to think of traditional mediums like painting and poetry, but Gilbert reminds her reader that, “Pure creativity is something better than a necessity; it’s a gift. It’s the frosting. Our creativity is a wild and unexpected bonus from the universe.” Creativity can be anything that keeps us pushing ourselves to grow — it can be music, it can be design, it can be building model airplanes, or collecting stamps. When we free ourselves to be creative, we free ourselves to explore. This is a great book for anyone looking to reignite her own passions, or those seeking to find new ones.
Though taking the time to read can be difficult, there are truly so many benefits. First, reading before bed can help you sleep more soundly. Secondly, reading gives your mind a break from constant movement; it helps you slow down; it allows you to process the day. And even if you don’t have time to read in a traditional sense, there are so many great ways to listen to books now, whether you are in the car or working out, and audiobooks are incredibly accessible. One app that is free is Hoopla. You can download Hoopla to your phone and access many current texts free of charge — you simply need to have a local library card.
Each of the recommended books offers something to its reader both on a professional and human level. Whether you listen in the car, or read by candlelight, you are doing yourself a great service when you open yourself up to a new idea or thought. Reading helps remind us that we are more than just our job; we are complete persons.