Looking for a New Year's resolution that will help you become grittier, more empathetic, and a better critical thinker in 2020? Then join us for a year-long reading challenge!
We've selected 12 non-fiction books (one for each month) to read in 2020. Some are memoirs, others are focused on business, psychology, social issues, and/or self-improvement, and some are all of the above!
In 2020, we want to broaden our perspectives, grow our skills, and talk about tough subjects — and we want all of you to join the conversation.
Our goal is to spark conversations about the actions we can take as individuals to advance our careers (e.g. developing leadership skills, self-confidence, etc.) and the systemic barriers (racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.) that often make capitalizing on those skills difficult. To that end, we'll talk not just about how we can improve our own skills, but also about how we can improve our environments — because who wants to be told time and time again that they should just be tougher, when they're clearly working in a toxic environment? And on the flip side, who wants to sit and wait for the world to change when there are things we can do to better equip ourselves for success in the world that already exists?
We're going to discuss things like:
- Why women are often told to do things more like men and why advice/actions that work for a man might backfire for a woman (e.g. to what extent does the advice and experience of a white male CEO resonate with women and especially women of color?)
- The problems with gendering skillsets in the first place (e.g. thinking of leadership as masculine and nurturing/empathy as feminine)
- Individual vs. systemic change and how to approach both
- How to talk about the different needs of various groups (women, people of color, LGBTQ+, etc.) without falling prey to stereotypes
- Skill-development: grit, optimism, leadership, networking, self-awareness, and more
- The #MeToo movement, race, and corporate greed
How to Participate
If you'd like to have an honest dialogue about any of the topics above...:
- Bookmark this post to see details about follow-up discussions for each book and sign up for a PowerToFly account and our newsletter (if you haven't already) so you're the first to hear about meeting dates and are able to log into the sessions.
- Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn for a chance to WIN a copy of each month's pick!!
- Read the book before the end of the month (and take notes on whatever interests you).
- Stay tuned for any pre-planned discussion questions and be ready to discuss! You don't have to agree with or like all of the books below, but you do have to be open to broadening your horizons and engaging thoughtfully and respectfully with the content and your peers.
We'll host a mixture of virtual chats, discussion boards, and maybe even a couple of chat and learns with select authors (stay tuned!!).
What We're Reading
It was hard to pick just twelve books, but we tried to select a mixture of books, old and new, that taken as a whole would give us a constructive framework for building a more diverse and inclusive workforce and finding our place within it.
January — That's What She Said: What Men Need to Know (and Women Need to Tell Them) about Working Together
It's no secret that women face challenges in the workforce. Author Joanne Lipman wants men to join the conversation. She covers topics like the respect gap, unconscious bias, interruptions, the pay and promotion gap, being heard, the motherhood penalty, and "bropropriation" and "mansplaining." (Be sure to invite the men you know to join this discussion!)
February — Becoming
In her memoir, Michelle Obama takes us all the way from her years growing up on the Southside of Chicago to her time in the White House and her life afterwards. She shares everything from the struggle she felt as an executive balancing her career and motherhood to her triumphs in the White House, and reflects on how she persevered through it all.
March — So You Want To Talk About Race
Author Ijeoma Oluo explores the complexities of race in the U.S., from systemic discrimination and white privilege, to reactions to modern movements like Black Lives Matter. Oluo offers candid responses to questions many are too afraid to ask, making space for much needed (but frequently avoided) dialogue.
Sometimes described as "Lean In for women of color," The Memo looks at the specific challenges women of color face in the workplace. Author Minda Harts shares her personal work experiences, and the advice she's learned along the way. (Be sure to check out her chat and learn on PowerToFly!)
May — The Ride of a Lifetime
Bob Iger shares the lessons he's learned as the CEO of The Walt Disney Company (which according to Oprah, he actually wrote himself — no ghost writers here!). The book discusses what he considers to be universal themes: working your way up the ladder, leadership, respect, and curiosity. We'll discuss just how universal his advice does or doesn't feel.
Psychologist Angela Duckworth argues that it is not talent that leads to success, but grit. She blends personal anecdotes, scholarly research, and interviews with high-achieving individuals to make her case. We'll discuss how grit can be developed, and how it can foster success in the workplace.
July — The Moment of Lift
The takeaway from Melinda Gate's book is a simple one: if you want to lift a society up, invest in women. A mixture of her personal experiences, research, and advice on how we can all make a difference, it gives us a more global understanding of the need for women's equality.
August — Educated
We'll shift gears with Tara Westover's coming-of-age memoir. Born to survivalists in Idaho, Tara grew up shielded from the outside world. She didn't step foot in a classroom until she was 17. Her story is an extreme one, but the struggle to reconcile family relationships with changing beliefs is universal. We'll talk about the role of education in shaping and changing one's perspective.
September — How to Win Friends and Influence People
One of the best-selling self-help books of all time, Dale Carnegie's famous book has been helping folks advance their careers and enhance their personal lives since 1936. No worries if you've read the book before. We'll be discussing how its advice holds up in 2020 — what still feels relevant and helpful, and what hasn't aged so well.
What better time than the two-year anniversary of the publication of Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey's initial Harvey Weinstein story to take a close look at how they brought his sexual harassment and abuse to light? Their book delves into how they conducted their investigation and its consequences for the #MeToo movement.
In honor of transgender awareness week, we'll read and discuss Janet Mock's memoir Redefining Realness in November. Mock shares her experience growing up in a loving but financially underprivileged household, determined to live as her authentic self.
"This powerful memoir follows Mock's quest for identity, from an early, unwavering conviction about her gender to a turbulent adolescence in Honolulu that saw her transitioning during the tender years of high school, self-medicating with hormones at fifteen, and flying across the world alone for sex reassignment surgery at just eighteen. With unflinching honesty, Mock uses her own experience to impart vital insight about the unique challenges and vulnerabilities of trans youth and brave girls like herself."