Today we’re taking you on a tour of our top ten books for the summer. From leadership to communications advice to beach reads, hopefully we’ve unearthed a little something for everyone. Some of these are old, some of these are new, but we’re excited to offer our recommendations. Read on and let us know if you have any suggestions or additions! We’re voracious readers and want to hear from you!
Hillbilly Elegy is a remarkable and personal memoir about growing up in flyover country and the social and regional experiences of America’s white working class.
For many, President Trump’s election was a wake-up call. If you’re still looking for answers on why it happened and the deeper cultural shifts taking place in America, here’s where you should start.
“As a cultural emigrant from one group to the other, I am acutely aware of their differences. Sometimes I view members of the elite with an almost primal scorn—recently, an acquaintance used the word “confabulate” in a sentence, and I just wanted to scream. But I have to give it to them: Their children are happier and healthier, their divorce rates lower, their church attendance higher, their lives longer. These people are beating us at our own damned game.”
- Whiplash: How to Survive Our Faster Future by Joi Ito
The world is changing faster than it ever has at any other point in human history. All the rules that we’ve lived and worked by for the past 50 years, much less the past millennia, are being overturned.
“Are you ready for brain implants? Wait, don’t answer. Change doesn’t care if you’re ready. Change outpaced humans sometime late in the last century.”
With leading-edge research from the MIT Media Lab, Joi Ito lays out nine organizing principles for thriving in this tumultuous time.
- Leading Through the Turn: How a Journey Mindset Can Help Leaders Find Success and Significance by Elise Mitchell
Mitchell is a PR person herself, a unique communications entrepreneur who has a track record of success. More than that, Mitchell’s writing is infectiously energetic and empowering.
“Regardless of where you are in your personal or professional life, the first thing you have to embrace if you want to lead with a destination philosophy and a journey perspective is a willingness to explore the roads – even if you feel unprepared, unqualified, and unsure.”
If Mitchell’s book is geared toward entrepreneurs, Sinek’s is for the masses. You can use this to guide your business strategy or your personal goals in life.
“Think of this book as the gun that fires at the beginning of the race. That bang fills you with excitement and energy as you set off. But it is the lessons you will learn as you run the race—as you learn to live your WHY—that will inspire you and show you what you are capable of. And remember the most important lesson. The goal is not simply for you to cross the finish line, but to see how many people you can inspire to run with you.”
Not sure if this is for you? Give his TED talk a test drive. It’s all about his first book, Start with Why, and will give you a great introduction to his style and philosophy.
- Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
Time for some beach reads! This ridiculously funny, New York Times bestseller is also about to become a summer blockbuster, so now’s the perfect time to read it. Crazy Rich Asians is an insider’s look at Singapore society and the gossip, backbiting, and scheming that occurs when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend for the wedding of the season.
“I have no idea who these people are. But I can tell you one thing – these people are richer than God.”
Needless to say, it’s a spectacle and a satisfying beach read!
- Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
One of the past year’s literary favorites, Little Fires Everywhere is a simultaneously witty, wise, and tender.
“Like after a prairie fire…It seems like the end of the world. The earth is all scorched and black and everything green is gone. But after the burning, the soil is richer, and new things can grow….People are like that, too, you know. They start over. They find a way.”
If you’re here for action and adventure, this book isn’t for you. But if you’re in the mood for some soul-searching, then you’ll fall in love with this tale about motherhood, identity, and breaking the status quo.
- Long Story Short: The Only Storytelling Guide You’ll Ever Need by Margot Leitman
Want to be a storytelling champion? As it says on the tin, here’s the only storytelling guide you’ll ever need.
“We are all selfish. Unless your story is also our story, we won’t give it a chance.”
Leitman was a comedian before she was an author and her humor shines throughout the story. This isn’t a book for tips on writing. It’s a book on storytelling. Everything from small groups to big public speaking opportunities comes back to your ability to connect with your audience. Here’s Leitman’s secret sauce.
Now that you know how to tell a story, you’re probably ready to get the grammar part squared away. And if you’re as big of nerds about proper punctuation as we are, you’ll love it – period.
“The rule is: the word ‘it’s’ (with apostrophe) stands for ‘it is’ or ‘it has’. If the word does not stand for ‘it is’ or ‘it has’ then what you require is ‘its’. This is extremely easy to grasp. Getting your itses mixed up is the greatest solecism in the world of punctuation. No matter that you have a PhD and have read all of Henry James twice. If you still persist in writing, ‘Good food at it’s best’, you deserve to be struck by lightning, hacked up on the spot and buried in an unmarked grave.”
Eats, Shoots & Leaves is not new, but it’s never stale.
- Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull
Written by the co-founder of Pixar, Creativity, Inc. is both handbook for originality and an all-access trip through the history of Pixar, which has dominated the world of animation for over twenty years.
“The first principle was “Story Is King,” by which we meant that we would let nothing—not the technology, not the merchandising possibilities—get in the way of our story.”
We all – kids and parents – enjoy Pixar as entertainment, but do we really understand the complexity and creativity involved in these productions? It takes a Herculean effort to create one of these films, much less create one that is innovative, artistic, and entertaining all at the same time. Everyone could stand to borrow a few pages from Pixar’s playbook.
- Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling and Anna Rosling Ronnlund
An instant bestseller and called “one of the most important books I’ve ever read” by Bill Gates, Factfulness is a book that sets out to fight ignorance and promote a shocking message: The world, for all its imperfections, is in a much better state than we might think.
“Think about the world. War, violence, natural disasters, man-made disasters, corruption. Things are bad, and it feels like they are getting worse, right? The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer; and the number of poor just keeps increasing; and we will soon run out of resources unless we do something drastic. At least that’s the picture that most Westerners see in the media and carry around in their heads. I call it the overdramatic worldview. It’s stressful and misleading.
In fact, the vast majority of the world’s population lives somewhere in the middle of the income scale. Perhaps they are not what we think of as middle class, but they are not living in extreme poverty. Their girls go to school, their children get vaccinated, they live in two-child families, and they want to go abroad on holiday, not as refugees. Step-by-step, year-by-year, the world is improving. Not on every single measure every single year, but as a rule. Though the world faces huge challenges, we have made tremendous progress. This is the fact-based worldview.”