With summer upon us and National Book Lovers Day just around the corner (August 9), we thought it would be the perfect time to take a break from our usual fare and provide an escape into the world of books. Whether you’re looking for a good laugh (or a good cry) or maybe some food for thought (or for the soul), our Commonwealth book club has selected a few inspirational female authors to add to your reading list.
Educated, by Tara Westover
“You could call this selfhood many things. Transformation. Metamorphosis. Falsity. Betrayal. I call it an education.”
If you pick up this riveting memoir by Tara Westover, don’t be surprised when you just can’t put it down. Educated begins in the mountains of rural Idaho, where Westover is the youngest of seven children in a survivalist Mormon family. She doesn’t go to school or see a doctor when ill. She’s taught to live in fear of the federal government. But Westover’s curious mind and quest for knowledge lead her to a destiny far beyond her “shabby yellow house” at the base of a mountain. She goes on to realize academic achievement that many only aspire to—and discovers how the power of education can transform not only her life but her very selfhood.
Voices of Powerful Women, by Zoe Sallis
“Aspiration, not necessarily achievement, is what shows us the heart and mind of a person, and it can touch and move those who have the power to change things.”
This collection of interviews gathers the insights of 40 powerful women, including Christiane Amanpour, Maya Angelou, and Isabel Allende (just to name a few). The author, Zoe Sallis, asks 10 questions that uncover her interviewees’ greatest fears, their advice for younger generations, and the other women they most admire. The result is a fascinating gathering of ideas centered around the belief that we all have the ability to achieve our greatest ambitions and change the world for the better.
Untamed, by Glennon Doyle
“The braver we are, the luckier we get.”
When Glennon Doyle’s mother remarks one day that she has “not seen my daughter this alive since she was ten years old,” Doyle begins to ask herself, but where did my spark go? If you’ve ever found yourself wondering the same thing or can’t put a finger on why your life hasn’t turned out as “beautiful” as you once imagined, this memoir will hit home (and hard). The author’s journey to finding herself again will make you laugh, cry, and, perhaps most of all, think. About who you are and who you want to be—and what to do if those two versions of yourself don’t quite match.
Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
“And the scary thing I have noticed is that some people really feel uncomfortable around women who don’t hate themselves. So that’s why you need to be a little bit brave.”
If you’ve seen Mindy Kaling as Kelly Kapoor on The Office or as Dr. Mindy Lahiri on The Mindy Project, then you know she’s hilarious on screen. But she’s also a talented writer, having penned two best-selling memoirs (including this one), as well as being a recipient of numerous writing awards and nominations for her work on The Office. In Why Not Me? Kaling is at her best: down-to-earth, insightful, and laugh-out-loud funny. She lets us in on what life is like when you’re “a little bit famous” (people sometimes send her stuff), her process for writing a show starring (who else?) herself, and where she gets her confidence (hint: it involves a lot of hard work). You’ll likely be able to finish this book in a day, but you’re sure to be a Kaling fan for a lifetime.
Your Next Chapter: A Woman’s Guide to a Successful Retirement, by Alexandra Armstrong, CFP®, and Mary R. Donahue, PhD
“For the first time in history, professional women are facing some of the same issues men have primarily addressed with regard to leaving the workforce but with more complicated components.”
Full disclosure: Alexandra Armstrong is a Commonwealth advisor. But she’s also the first person to earn the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER(TM) certification in Washington, DC, and has been in the investment field for more than 40 years. Armstrong and her coauthor, Mary R. Donahue, use their combined expertise and experience to write a guide meant to speak to all women about the emotional, physical, and financial aspects of retirement. They discuss the inevitable peaks and valleys, how to address your current situation before you retire, and the choices many women face during the first year of retirement. So, if you’re getting ready to start your next chapter but aren’t sure where to begin, this guide will help you turn the page.
Becoming, Michelle Obama
“For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end.”
This memoir by the former first lady has been described as intimate, powerful, and inspiring. And we have to enthusiastically agree. She separates her life into three parts: Becoming Me, Becoming Us, and Becoming More. It takes us from her childhood spent on the South Side of Chicago to the eight years her family lived in the White House, with lots of challenges, successes, and surprises along the way. Her story is not always pretty or perfect, but it’s real—which is why so many readers have found this book and this woman so compelling.
The Benefits of a Good Book
In times like these, self-care has never been so important. Fortunately, reading has many benefits, including reducing stress, improving memory, and providing tranquility in a constantly changing world. So, settle in to your favorite reading nook and let these inspirational female authors take you away.