Once I no longer had a syllabus of required reading, I began devouring books fast and furiously. I read more in 2016 than I think I did in 2012–2015 combined.
These favorite books turned my 45 minute commute into the turn of a page, brought sleep faster than scrolling through Twitter, and were free with a library card — or $4 used on Amazon.
With genres including memoir, productivity, and comedic short fiction, these reads will keep you laughing while making you think.
The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer
A powerful read for anyone grappling with creative agency or just having a hard time asking for what they want. Amanda Palmer’s memoir details her scooping ice cream at Toscanini’s in Cambridge, working as a street performer in Harvard Square, and embarking on a successful music career with the Dresden Dolls. Her non-linear career trajectory has a single defining characteristic — she becomes especially skillful at garnering support through asking for help.
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
This was a reread for me in 2016 and each time I learn something new from it. Using the tactics at work, they work like a charm. These methods are even effective in email correspondence. So much so, I started keeping a folder of examples where I’ve started keeping a folder of good examples in my inbox as a reminder of best practices. It’s a favorite on many people’s lists for a reason — the book delivers exactly what the title says.
Spinster by Kate Bolick
Being single is fun but everyone is telling us over and over that we should couple up. I even had a family member tell me I was so smart I’d marry a CEO (I then told her I’ll be the CEO).
Kate Bolick owns the Single Lady status like nobody’s business. Her memoir intertwines her personal conflict between single status and marriage opportunities with the history of women in the workforce. It researches the rise of women, yet how we’re still subjected to unrealistic expectations (like marrying a CEO as an aspiration…)
Overwhelmed by Brigid Schulte
If you don’t have time to read a book, read this one twice. Its research encompasses how we manage time, why the “ideal worker” construct is ruining both men and women, and what we can do to remedy burnout.
One More Thing by BJ Novak
BJ Novak, an alum of The Office, writes hilarious pieces of short fiction that vary in length from one paragraph to a chapter. They’re thought-provoking and fun-sized, so they’re prefect to read on your beach vacation (which is what I did) or your morning commute.
There are so many details I missed the first time I read this series 10 years ago. Pick it up again and you’ll see how Joanne Rowling wove in more plot twists than you can possibly remember. Now please excuse me, I have to go reread why the Snitch opens at the close.