Savvy Women

18 Fascinating Books To Read This Summer

photo credit: chen zo Unsplash

I love to read all year round, and there is always a stack of books by my bed. I read a chapter or two every night before I go to sleep. But, for me, lazy summer days are the most conducive to getting some long reading sessions in. My favorite books usually end up being recommendations from friends so I thought I’d tap into the power of Twitter and crowdsource a list of good books to devour during the next few months. The response was as expected. I got an impressive list from fellow passionate readers. Thank you!

 

“Anyone around this Friday afternoon to recommend some good reads for the summer? I like both fiction and nonfiction, professional development ok too. #bookworm #books #reading”

Below, I’ve listed the books and brief comments that I copied from Goodreads and Amazon reviews, (with a few from the person that made the recommendation). I’ve also included Twitter handles of everyone who chimed in and the authors, so you can follow some fellow bookworms on Twitter if you like.

Enjoy!

The History of Soul 2065 by Barbara Krasnoff (@BarbK) recommended by @twcarey, “Amazing mosaic novel. Wow wow wow.” “Powerful and dreamlike, this intergenerational meditation on family, mortality, and hope is far more than the sum of its parts.”

Someone Who Will Love You In All Your Damaged Glory by Raphael Bob-Waksberg (@RaphaelBW) recommended by @twcarey, “Raphael knows love like no one else. And he knows good writing. When you mix those two things, you have a powerful and dangerous combination. Because with some short stories, or even paragraphs, Raphael can make you FEEL things.’

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight (@NikeUnLeash) recommended @calebsilver, “As a sucker for biographies and success stories this will be my all-time favorite for its 360-degree view of the personal and professional life of an entrepreneur.”

Becoming by Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) recommended by @EllenYChang, “Her spirit is so incredibly deep and strong. The stories from her childhood, her brother, her neighborhood, her family, inform us in a brilliant voice about what it was like in the place and time she grew up.”

Everything That Remains: A Memoir by the Minimalists by Joshua Field Millburn (@JFM) recommended by @abbie_kaiser, “I just finished Everything that Remains by @TheMinimalists and I found it incredibly thought-provoking. Even if Minimalism isn’t on the top of your interests, it’s rich with story and a new perspective on what it means to live a full life.”

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn (@KateQuinnAuthor)  recommended by @LandisWeaver “A great story with true historical events woven throughout along with real people that participated in defeating the enemy. An original novel that brings to light the efforts of brave women during WWI & WWII.”

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green (@hankgreen)  recommended by @Landis Weaver, “This book grabbed my attention and didn’t let go until I finished the whole thing in one day. A meditation on fame and power and humanity wrapped in a thrilling, engrossing shell. Warning: you will want the next one right away. And it does have some strong language, but I didn’t feel it was excessive.”

Normal People by Sally Rooney recommended by @money_matriarch,
“How do two damaged people, who long for nothing more than to be “normal”, navigate the intricacies of a relationship? This book tore my heart out and stomped on it, and I mean that in the best possible way.”

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee (@minjinlee11) recommended by @money_matriarch, “What a marvelous, deeply engrossing novel about four generations of a Korean family in Japan. There was a lot of story here and a lot of history, and it is all rendered in impeccable prose with a touch of steeliness.”

How To Do Nothing by Jenny Odell (@the_jennitaur) recommended by @money_matriarch,
“Excellent and thoughtful book, probably the best I’ve read on the topic of the attention economy precisely because Odell resists facile prescriptions and instead critiques the roots of the problems we are currently facing and which social media is exacerbating.”

The Last Cowboys by John Branch (@JohnBranchNYT)  recommended by @rachel_elson,
“John Branch has captured an incredible tale about an incredible family in Utah. And it is so very well told. Not only do readers learn about what it takes to be a world champion rodeo competitor and the importance of family, but it’s a portrait of southwestern Utah (think Zion National Park) and environs and the challenges to those who live there.”

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (@erinmorgenstern) recommended by @rachel_elson,
One word to describe this: Enchanting! What a beautifully written story, with such vivid imagery that you can practically see the scenes and smell the smells as you’re reading.”

Anything by Attica Locke (@atticalocke) recommended by @rachel_elson. Her first novel is Black Water Rising: A Novel (Jay Porter Series). “She is one of those authors where I will drop everything to read any new work of hers. She’s also one of the crime authors I most recommend.”

Ladder To The Sky by John Boyne (@JohnBoyne) recommended by @naparose,
“A Ladder to the Sky is so hard to describe properly, but it’s so damn good that I’m going to give it a try: a man without scruples (or empathy, or any basic human emotions, really) wants more than anything to be an author. Never mind the fact that he can’t write.”

November Road by Lou Berney (@Lou_Berney) recommended by @RCastanedaUSN,
“A stellar piece of noir speculative historical fiction from Lou Berney, set amidst a background of a nation seeking to redefine itself with its social and political turbulence with the clamor for civil rights, feminism, and a fear of nuclear weapons.”

The Overstory by Richard Powers recommended by @LFCBetsy and @ihearttheroad,
“Wondrous, exhilarating novel about nine strangers brought together by an unfolding natural catastrophe. The best novel ever written about trees, and really, just one of the best novels, period.”

Lawrence in Arabia by Scott Anderson recommended by @AlexSkoirchet,
“It’s a fascinating read that mercilessly describes how a small group of western misfits and a Zionist agronomist shaped the modern Middle East pre and post WWI.”

Rachel Hollis’s books (@msrachelhollis)  recommended by @BionicSocialite, for example,
Girl, Stop Apologizing: A Shame-Free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals “Rachel Hollis has seen it too often: women not living into their full potential. They feel a tugging on their hearts for something more, but they’re afraid of embarrassment, of falling short of perfection, of not being enough.”

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Women and Wine: A Love-Hate Relationship

There has been a distinct shift in the way I and women I know feel about wine. Before it was considered sheer pleasure – enjoying a glass with a meal, wine-tasting with friends, and developing a palate. Then, somewhere along the line, it became more of a routine: come home from a day of work and pour a glass while making dinner. Then, maybe another one. Drinking wine became a little less “special occasion” and more of an everyday occurrence.

Women, Wine and Health
While we continued to enjoy wine, we followed the various studies that would come out about women, wine and health. Many concluded that moderate alcohol intake lowered the risk of heart disease because it acts as a mild blood thinner. Some studies touted the heart-healthy benefits of red wine because of an antioxidant compound, resveratrol, found in the skins and seeds of grapes. But there were also studies that showed a stronger link to women, alcohol and an increased risk of cancer, mostly driven by breast cancer.

Like many health studies, those about alcohol intake were often conflicting or inconclusive, but it did sew seeds of doubt as to whether that daily glass or two of wine was such a good thing for our health. We have begun to think that maybe we’d be better off without it. However, like many behaviors that become habits, we have found that wine drinking is not so easy to stop. In a recent gathering with a few women colleagues, discussing our goals for the coming year – 3 out of 5 said they’d like to curb their wine habit.

The Love-Hate Relationship 
Herein lies the love-hate relationship. We know that wine is probably not great for us – it may cause disease, it’s full of sugar, it makes us lazy, and it can be addictive. But, its pleasures are compelling: a glass of wine signals the end of a hard day of work and the start of a relaxing evening, it evokes a feeling of “la dolce vita,” and the alcohol takes the edge off whatever may be bothering us at the time.

My feelings about wine drinking have shifted. I have decided that I don’t want to drink wine as much as I used to. I don’t like the possibility that it might make me sick, is addictive, and I don’t want the extra calories. So I’ve taken steps to curb my habit: I’m not drinking wine on most weeknights, and I have substituted kombucha or mineral water with lemon in my wine glass.

Just out of curiosity and (because I’m a financial advisor!), I did a calculation to see how much money one could save by curbing a wine habit. To keep it simple, these are the broad assumptions:

– There are five glasses of wine to a bottle (5 ounce pours)
– Two glasses of wine consumed per night Monday-Thursday
– A bottle of weekday wine costs an average of $30.00
– Three glasses of wine consumed per night Friday-Sunday
– A bottle of weekend wine costs an average of $50.00.

Calculation:
2 glasses x $5.00 x 4 x 52 = $2080.00
3 glasses x $10.00 x 3 x 52 = $4680.00
Grand total: $6760.00 per year.

So another added benefit to reducing wine consumption is better cash flow!

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10 Tips to Being a Happily Self-Employed Person

A friend who recently left her corporate job and is now self-employed asked me how I manage to run a business while still enjoying an active, interesting life outside of work.  She wanted some suggestions, which made me reflect on what has been most important for me in achieving a healthy and happy work-life balance.

I focus on these ten goals – and I must emphasize that it is always a work in progress – I succeed at some better than others, but I’m always trying.

1. Be flexible about when you work and when you play.

Schedule your day creatively: wake up early to finish a project so you can slip out of the office for a long lunch with a friend, or work later in the evening so you can enjoy a daytime activity.

I find that fitting everything into a strict 8 AM-to-5 PM time frame is not my most effective or productive schedule. And hey, flexibility is one of the perks of self-employment people report valuing the most!

2. Don’t be afraid to say No.

If you receive an invitation to do something interesting – whether it be moderating a panel, traveling to a conference, becoming a member of a board, or chairing a committee – don’t say yes immediately.

Stop and think about how the request fits in with or enhances your priorities. No one can do everything, and you can quickly be overwhelmed if you say yes too often. If you get burnt out from being overcommitted you are no good to anyone.

3. Take great care of your physical self.

Regular exercise and healthy eating contribute to the energy, endurance, focus, and confidence of a successful career.

I make sure to schedule daily exercise and subscribe to Michael Pollan’s philosophy: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” I prioritize my physical health, which results in increased motivation and productivity. It’s a
win-win.

4. Quiet your mind.

For years I have been told that meditation reduces stress and anxiety and can increase productivity along with a multitude of other benefits. But I was too busy to slow down and try it.

I am now working on meditating in the morning – sometimes just going into a quiet room and taking a few deep breaths before starting the morning routine. I can now see where this habit is just as important as exercise and eating healthfully to having a balanced life.

5. Systematize everything you can.

This saves not only time, but the mental energy required to complete certain tasks and jobs. This applies to workflows at the office as well as household chores like paying bills.

Related: Financial Housekeeping: What To Do with Those “Old” 401(k)s

6. Spend time with people who lift you up.

Conversations and connections with positive, energetic people naturally make me feel positive and energetic, and those are the influences I choose to surround myself with. Seek out others to lift up – as a mentor, colleague, or friend – and empower optimism.

7. Work smarter, not longer or harder.

I used to sit at my desk until late in the evening, spending hours at my computer — which often resulted in a sore neck and shoulders (and being cranky when I got home) rather than my best work.

I am happier and more productive working in spurts – I work as a sprinter runs, with high-intensity, uninterrupted periods followed by a break to renew and refresh. I think more clearly and creatively, and stay fully engaged.

8. Develop support systems.

I am very lucky to have an extremely supportive spouse. We work as a team to manage the household, business, and pleasure aspects of our lives, and we outsource the tasks that we have neither the time or energy to do ourselves.

It’s tough to do it all, so play to your strengths and outsource what you need – personal assistant, tech support, housekeeper – delegate tasks so you can focus on that work-life balance.

9. Find a way to schedule uninterrupted work time.

If you are surrounded by people you are vulnerable to distractions. I find it’s much simpler to achieve a ‘flow’ state when I’m in a quiet space – and sometimes feel I accomplish a full day’s work in two hours when the flow is working.

If you have to, leave your office or home and go sit in a library, coffee shop or other alternative space to get some uninterrupted time.

10. Know yourself and where you want to put your energy.

When you can identify what makes you happy, and what is meaningful, you’ll be able to seek out the activities that support those interests and values.

I have a strong desire to live a varied and interesting life, and that knowledge drives me to stretch my limits by challenging myself and re-defining what’s possible — while focusing on taking care of myself so that I can continue to do more.

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