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I love to read. And so do my clients. I am forever burying my nose in a book or making notes of recommendations I hear from other women in my practice. Here are some of my favorites finds organized according to a few key topics. If you’ve got more I’d love to hear from you! Enjoy.
A research organization that works with corporations and professional firms to assure the advancement of women in the workplace, this is my absolute go-to website for statistics and the latest research on women’s leadership. Click on the Research & Knowledge tab for a full index of topics that will take you to their “quick takes” as well as more extensive research reports.
How Remarkable Women Lead: The Breakthrough Model for Work and Life by Joanna Barsh & Susie Cranston
The authors relate personal stories and extensive research on the feminine leadership traits – meaning, framing, connecting, engaging and energizing – of both men and women in business. Their exploration results in the creation of a new Centered Leadership model, and points to the particular relevance for the challenges leaders face today. What I like most are the links they establish between joy, happiness, and performance.
How Women Mean Business: A Step by Step Guide to Profiting From Gender Balance Business by Avivah Wittenberg-Cox
A follow-up to her earlier book, Why Women Mean Business, this one underscores the evidence that shows that balance leads to more innovation and better business performance, but then moves to the specifics (lots of good case studies are in this) of how organizations can make that happen sooner rather than later.
The Female Vision: Women’s Real Power at Work by Sally Helgesen & Julie Johnson
I adore this book for its insistence that women, in fact, DO see the world from a different angle than men. Moreover, it invites women to see this difference as a powerful asset and invites readers – and organizations as a whole – to nurture and sustain that gift as organizational leaders.
The First Sex: The Natural Talents of Women and How They Are Changing The World by Helen Fisher
Far from the “we’re all the same” gender neutral tomes that are out there, this book was written with differences in mind – quite literally. Citing her research into the anatomy and physiology (namely, our brains), the author demonstrates exactly why women are different from men – and makes a strong case for how these differences enable women to be highly effective leaders, given the complexity and challenges in our world and the competencies in demand.
The Glass Hammer
This on-line community was designed for women executives in financial services, law and business and offers a ton of great resources and perspectives on women’s leadership. I subscribe to their weekly newsletter, which summarizes the quick hits of the week. Great tips, insights and statistics.
Influence: How Women’s Soaring Economic Power Will Transform Our World For The Better by Maddy Dychtwald
Acknowledging the emergence of women as an economic force, the author’s research points to the huge cultural transformation that is about to occur – a tipping point – in which women will exercise their leadership to make a difference in the world. A provocative book that offers readers a “sneak peek at the world turned right-side up by women.”
Mustang Sallies: Success Secrets of Women Who Refuse to Run with the Herd by Fawn Gerber
This book is where I found the language to describe the essence of the women I work with – as well as the woman I am. Rather than coaching women to “fit in” or “play by the rules”, it calls us to honor and leverage our natural instincts to challenge the status quo, don’t pretend, blow whistles and dare to blaze a trail for others to follow. Validating, audacious and bold!
The Secret of Sovereignty: Women Choosing Leadership, at Work and in Life by Dede Henley Sharing my belief that the world needs the strength and talents of women, the author of this book asserts that the key to unlocking women’s leadership power is to reclaim the feminine, effectively restoring the balance. Far from a “fix the women” book, this invites women to “free ourselves” and offers inspiration and guidance on how to do just that.
Why Women Mean Business: Understanding the Emergence of Our Next Economic Revolution by Avivah Wittenberg-Cox and Alison Maitland
This was the first book I read about leveraging women leaders in the workforce that didn’t make it simply a diversity issue or the “right thing” to do. It’s extremely readable (great companion website, too!), but it’s also dripping with data and statistics that illustrate their point that it’s good for business – the bottomline – to have more women at the table.
Why Women Should Rule the World by Dee Dee Meyers
Blending memoir, social history, and a call to action, the former White House press secretary for Clinton underscores the need for women to play a significant role as leaders of our world – not because they are the same as men, but precisely because they are different. Refreshing, direct and compelling.
Women Lead The Way: Your Guide to Stepping Up to Leadership and Changing the World by Linda Tarr-Whelan
With a clear objective to close the leadership gap, this book calls women to pioneer a distinctive approach to leadership – one that emphasizes collaboration, communication, and consensus. Offering a “women-led strategy for change” that is both compelling and practical, the author combines advocacy, research and tactical guidance to support women leaders in reaching the tipping point of 30% representation.
Finding and Following Your Calling
What Should I Do With My Life? by Po Bronson
I read this book when I was first considering starting my own business. It’s well written and chocked full of stories of real people taking the plunge into the unknown. Very inspiring.
Sacred Contracts: Awakening Your Divine Potential by Caroline Myss
Framing the question “why am I here” as sort of an easter egg hunt for grownups, the author invests readers to open their eyes to the clues – in our relationships and apparently “random” events – that will help us to piece together our sacred purpose on earth. Her work with archetypes is especially illuminating.
This Time I Dance by Tama Kieves
This book is perfect for any woman who is considering – or has just taken – a leap of faith and is wondering, “what was I thinking?” Written as a memoir, this book is one of my top recommendations for women because it invites us all to not settle for work that doesn’t feed our soul. The author breaks down the inevitable process of leap-taking in delicious language, from “undoing” to “tender greens” and “the year of sleeping dangerously”.
Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood by Karen Maezen Miller
Just the title of this book reminds me to recalibrate my expectations and “shoulds” around being a mother. This memoir follows the timeline from early motherhood from pregnancy through toddlerhood, framing the ups and downs in the context of a transformative spiritual journey.
The Mommy Brain: How Motherhood Makes Us Smarter by Katherine Ellison
This book offers scientific research that totally debunks and demolishes the condescending myths about women’s brains after they become mothers. In fact, the author concludes, it actually boosts our brain power! Huzzah!
The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How It Has Undermined All Women by Susan J. Douglas
For anyone interested in how the media has shaped the image of mothers and motherhood, this one is for you. What I love most is how the author calls out “mommy wars” as a completely fabricated dynamic manufactured by the media and invites us all to drop our quests for maternal perfection.
The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life by Renee Peterson Trudeau
Framed within the context of a “powerful mothers’ movement”, this book invites readers to redefine how to be a mother in today’s 24/7 over-scheduled world by beginning with ourselves – reconnecting with who we are, learning how to “self love” and connecting to others for support.
Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety by Judith Warner
I love how provocative this book is. The author (called the “Gloria Steinham of her generation”) – in her quest to better understand the culture of parenting – “blows the lid off American mothers’ dirty little secret” and, in the process offers insight, validation and a wake up call to today’s mothers.
Opting Out: Why Women Really Quit Careers and Head Home by Pamela Stone
This book is based on a provocative study that was the first to tackle the “opting out” issue of women in the workplace from the perspective of the women themselves, and concludes – contrary to popular media perceptions – that women are not opting out but are instead being pushed out of the workplace.
The Working Mother’s Guide to Life: Strategies, Secrets and Solutions by Linda Mason
With topics ranging from pregnancy, maternity leave, child care and transitioning back to work, this was an indispensable resource for me as I navigated three maternity leaves in the corporate world and I continue to recommend it to my clients.
Circle of Stones: A Woman’s Journey to Herself by Judith Duerk
Described as a “personal journey to the Feminine”, this book had such an impact on me I named my blog after it and eventually modeled my Homecoming women’s retreat on the books premise of women coming home to themselves. It’s a short book, but it’s immensely powerful and timeless.
Grandmothers Counsel the World: Women Elders Offer Their Vision for Our Planet by Carol Schaefer This is the story of the thirteen indigenous grandmothers that formed an international council designed to heal the world by sharing the teachings of their ancestors as a means to “light our way through an uncertain future.” It features the individual stories of the women as well as their collective prophecy. Fascinating, moving and powerful.
She by Kobi Yamada
Hands-down my favorite book to give to the women in my life. It’s message is simple: “She must be something special. She is. Celebrate her.” It’s short and beautifully formatted, capturing all the qualities in “her” (whomever that is to you) that are worthy of celebration. Never fails to make me weep with gratitude that I was born a woman.
Urgent Message from Mother: Gather the Women, Save the World by Jean Shinoda Bolen
What I love most about this book is it is a real potent call to the women of the world to step up and do what needs to be done. Even the men, she points out, are asking for our help. She says, “it’s time” in so many ways in this book and I adore her for every one of them.
The Venus Week: Discover the Powerful Secret of Your Cycle…at Any Age by Rebecca Booth
This offers some great insight – and specific scientific framework – to better understand the cycles of change that work within our bodies so that we might work in concert with them and take advantage of what each distinct change offers us as women.
Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom by Christiane Northrup
I have often joked that I wish every Western girl would receive this upon birth. It’s as close as it gets to an operating manual for the female body, brain, emotions and psyche. It’s got it all – cultural history and context, nutrition, developmental elaboration and validation…lots and lots of validation.
The Wisdom of Menopause: Creating Physical and Emotional Health During the Change by Christiane Northrup
I almost skipped over this book because I thought I didn’t apply me, being in my late 30s at the time. Whoa was I wrong! In classic fashion, the author (an MD with a penchant for alternative medicine), talks about Menopause within the context of the cycle of a woman’s entire life. While it offered great insight and suggestions for nutrition, exercise and supplements, it also gave valuable perspective on the overall physical and emotion journey women take in their lives as we age.
Mindfulness & Spirituality
Life is a Verb: 37 Days to Wake Up, Be Mindful, and Live Intentionally by Patti Digh
This book invites the reader to examine your life from the perspective of having 37 days to live. Born from Patti’s own Experience in watching her father die thirty-seven days after his diagnosis with cancer, her book is based on her award winning blog 37 Days that offers witty, literary and deeply personal and inspiring stories that illustrate her own lesson on how she would choose to live her life if faced with the same prognosis.
Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach
I continually come back to this book for inspiration, validation and a renewed perspective on life and living. I’ve never been a big fan of “daybooks” per se, but this is perhaps one is pure gold – rich, substantial and relevant. Her distinct thoughts all seem to weave together over time – no matter what order you read them in, making it a great read for busy women.
Simply Pray: A Modern Spiritual Practice to Deepen Your Life by Erik Walker Wikstrom
This book, quite literally was the answer to my prayers. For sometime I had been seeking a way to slow down my mind (call it meditation or prayer), but wasn’t having any luck trying it on my own. Then I met Erik (what an amazing person!) who suggested I try using prayer beads, an ancient form of providing a structure and process to help guide me. Bingo! I love everything about this process, from stringing my own beads to framing my intentions according to the four phrases of prayer, and have recommended this book countless times as a result.
Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn
I credit this book with the being the one that finally allowed me to “get” the power of a meditation practice, or as the author calls it, the art of “paying attention.” It was this book that helped me to reframe my expectations of what would happen for me in meditation – my mind would STOP thinking – and made the whole practice feel more appealing because it helped me to see meditation as a much more dynamic and fluid process.
The Daily Om subscribe on-line
This daily meditation is hands-down one of my favorite tools for bringing some mindfulness to my life – especially on the days I’m the busiest. It arrives in my in-box and offers a few words for reflection on a particular topic each day. I don’t read it ever day, but on the days I am moved to open it up, it inevitably speaks volumes to me about what I’m experiencing in that moment – serendipity!
Change & Transition
Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change by William Bridges
Quite simply my favorite book on the change and transition. The model used to describe what people experience in transition is wonderful simply and immediately engaging and I’ve used it as a reference point to validate and orient all sorts of change – from the deeply personal in coaching to the highly complex in consulting with organizations in transition due to mergers.
Presence: Human Purpose and the Field of the Future by Peter Senge et al
This book represents a really cool fusion between leading-edge thinking and ancient wisdom. Framed as a conversation between colleagues, readers gain insight into a relatively new theory about change and learning that hinges on the concept of emergence, a profound practice of making way for “what is seeking to emerge” within the context of a collective.
The Dance of Change: The Challenges to Sustaining Momentum in Learning Organizations by Peter Senge et al
This book was written for organizational leaders as a means to both appreciate the complexity of change and to ensure it is sustained over time. Using a very practical and accessible format, the authors offer insight as to some of the “universal challenges” that typically confront leaders during the process of a change, and offer solid models and frameworks for better understanding and navigating them.
The Millionth Circle: How to Change Ourselves and The World by Jean Shinoda Bolen
Centered on the ancient practice of forming women’s circles, this book illustrates the power and modern-day relevance of the “Hundredth Monkey” concept: when a critical number of people change how they think and behave, the culture will also, and a new era will begin. In this context, the author’s premise is that women’s circles are essentially a “revolutionary-evolutionary movement that is hidden in plain sight.”
Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears by Pema Chodron
For those interested in a more spiritual approach to transforming ourselves and the world around us, this book instructs the reader on ways to stay present, even in the face of the “hooks” that we are tempted to bite that keep us stuck in states of anger, blame and self-hatred.
Personal Journeys & Retreats
A Woman’s Path: Women’s Best Spiritual Travel Writing
A collection of really inspiring short stories by great women writers like Anne Lamott, Linda Ellerbee, Maya Angelou, and Diane Ackerman. All of the tales told by these women and their own adventures share common themes: opening up, letting go, and finding inner peace. It invites the reader to be both mindful and daring as she walks along her path.
20-Minute Retreats: Revive Your Spirit in Just Minutes a Day with Simple, Self-Led Exercises by Rachel Harris
For those interested in crafting their own self-led retreat, this is another resource rich with ideas and concepts for consideration. It also offers alternatives to longer retreats and gives lots of examples of how to incorporate the retreat “feel” into everyday life.
A Woman’s Retreat Book: A Guide to Restoring, Rediscovering, and Reawakening Your True Self in a Moment, and Hour, or a Weekend by Jennifer Louden
There are a lot of very specific suggestions offered in this book that is organized around themes. Very accessible and great resource to if you’re interested in getting ideas for rituals, practices or experiences to support yourself in finding a bit more balance and ease in your everyday life.
Women & Money
The Trance of Scarcity: Stop Holding Your Breath and Start Living Your Life by Victoria Castle This is one of those great books that wakes you up to what’s possible by turning everything you believe on its ear. Time and time again, the author shows how our thoughts govern our perceptions – especially as it relates to a society and world that believes there will “never be enough” and is “lacking”.
Real Prosperity: Using the Power of Intuition to Create Financial and Spiritual Abundance by Lynn Robinson
Chocked full of stories, exercises and illustrations, this book literally shakes you free from the “inner dialogue that babbles to us” about money and offers a fresh perspective on how to envision – and move toward – a more prosperous life.
Women & Money: Owning the Power to Control Your Destiny by Suze Orman
With her trademark direct fashion, Suze Orman challenges women to get over our own resistance and be competent with money as we are with all other areas of our lives. This book offers a wake up call to readers, inviting us to create a healthy and honest relationship with money.
Prosperity Pie: How to Relax About Money and Everything Else by SARK
This is a great book to just to sift through when you’re feeling stuck or troubled by your relationship to money. There are lots of exercises and drawings, along with the author’s own personal stories and reflections, that offer ways to keep money in perspective.
Integration & Balance
Breaking Point: Why Women Fall About and How They Can Re-Create Their Lives by Martha Beck
This book is hands-down one of the best books I’ve ever read. It feels like an owner’s manual for women on how to live life on their own terms. It was illuminating, validating and inspiring.
Find a Quiet Corner: Inner Peace Anytime, Anywere by Nancy O’Hara
The first part of the book takes the reader through a detailed look at what a “quiet corner” is and what it offers us. The second part was written in response to a demand to integrate that notion into our busy, chaotic lives and offers concrete examples of how it might look.
Finding the Deep River Within: A Woman’s Guide to Recovering Balance and Meaning in Everyday Life by Abby Seixas
A beautifully written and rich book that paints a picture of why it’s so hard for us to slow down, what happens when we do, and what’s waiting for us when we get “there.” It is at once validating, inspiring and a compelling invitation to assume responsibility for our own care and feeding.
Flux: Women on Sex, Work, Love, Kids & Life in a Half-Changed World by Peggy Orenstein
I love this book because it honors the double-edged sword of choice and possibilities for women today. Noting that traditional expectations are still very much in place, the author overlays the added context of the “unprecedented sense of possibilities” to illustrate the complexities of women’s decision-making in our quest for fulfilling lives.
In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed by Carl Honore
This book offers a gentle and compelling wake-up call to step off the express train that is our society and to shift the cycle of more, faster, better we’re in. It offers multiple insights into the “slow movement”, giving the reader a deeper appreciation of how to recapture.
Midlife Crisis at 30: How the Stakes Have Changed for A New Generation – And What To Do About It by Lia Macko and Kerry Rubin
I remember reading this book for the first time and feeling completely validated as a result. The authors examine the “you can be anything” empowerment message of their youth and reveal how that has played out for Gen-X/Y women as a result. They shine a light on how major life events for women (education, marriage, motherhood, decisions about career) are converging at the same time – right around the age of 30 – and often result in a mid-life crisis.
Stopping: How to be Still When You Have to Keep Going by David Kundtz
A great book to reframe the various ways of slowing down and stopping, covering everything from individual moments of pause and reflection to “grinding halts” created by circumstances. The author offers a compelling case for the need to take time for ourselves without resorting to fear-tactics or being overly dramatic or unrealistic.
Attracting Perfect Customers: The Power of Strategic Synchronicity by Stacey Hall & Jan Brogniez
This is a great book for anyone business owner who is interested in naturally drawing in more customers – and not just any, but ones that are a perfect match for your business. Far from the traditional “carving out market share” approaches that focus on “beating” your competition, this offers strategies that are refreshing, sustainable and highly effective.
Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant by W.Chan Kim & Renee Mauborgne
What I love about this book is how it turns all traditional methods of formulating a strategy on its ear. Rather than relying on the traditional “head to head” (red ocean) strategic models which contributes to an already over-crowed market and is not sustainable, the authors instruct readers to create “blue oceans” of uncontested market space.
Calling the Circle:The First and Future Culture by Christina Baldwin
As a process consultant who often works with groups, I have found this book to be a great resource to illustrate what working in community can look like. The author offers specific instructions and guidelines to use the ancient practice of gathering in a circle as a means to make group-decisions, listen with compassion and accomplish any number of tasks.
This is been a long-time favorite magazine of mine to get a pulse of what’s new in the world of business, technology and the marketplace. It’s edgy, substantial and slightly irreverent. Its bold claims of “setting the agenda”, uncovering “next practices” and “helping a new breed of leader work smarter” don’t fall short.
Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work & in Life, One Conversation at a Time by Susan Scott
Hands-down my most trusted resource to share with organizational leaders. In addition to the compelling language (“understanding your emotional wake”, “come out from behind yourself and into the conversation”), the author insists that the reader take responsibility to have the conversation – especially the hard ones! – and offers loads of specific examples of how that might look.
The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook: Strategies and Tools for Building a Learning Organization by Peter Senge et al
This is my constant go-to resource as an consultant working with organizations. Building off of the success of the Fifth Discipline, this fieldbook takes the theoretical underpinnings of creating a learning organization and translates them down to a very practical level. Lots of case studies, examples and models.
ReWork by Jason Fried & David Heinemeirer Hansson
Finally a book that turns all traditional notions of starting and running a business on its ear! This book is provocative, crisp and straight to the point – no fluff, no fillers, no disclaimers. It’s entirely refreshing and timely. I found myself yelling, “YES!” while reading it, as it offers perspective and permission to keep it real and let it be easy. While this book will most likely appeal to business owners, it is also completely relevant to larger organizations. Seth Godin wasn’t lying in his quote on the book jacket, “Ignore this book at your own peril.”
Keeping It Real
The Art of Extreme Self-Care by Cheryl Richardson
I resisted reading this book for the longest time because it resonated with me deeply – and I knew there would be no turning back once I did. I was right. With her trademark honesty and directness, the author shines a laser sharp light on the key topics that many busy women grapple with – disappointing others, saying no, taking time for our selves and ultimately, “ending the legacy of deprivation.”
Excuses Be Gone: How to Change Lifelong Self-Defeating Thinking Habits by Wayne Dyer
Framing our self-defeating thoughts as “conscious and sub-conscious crutches”, the author keeps it real and gets the reader to see them as just that: thoughts that WE have chosen to believe. More importantly, he points us to the fact that we actually created them and, ultimately, can create new ones that would serve us better. I highly recommend his PBS special by the same name.
Loving What Is: Four Questions that Can Change Your Life by Byron Katie
Simple. Powerful. Potent. I heard the author speak at an Omega conference a while back and had two distinct thoughts: “it can’t be that simple” and “wait a minute…it’s all about ME!!??” This book is grounded in four simple questions (called “The Work”) that have you see what is troubling you in a different light, revealing to us that “it’s not the problem that causes our suffering; it’s our thinking about it the problem”
Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living by Pema Chodron
I adore anything and everything written by this woman (an American Buddhist nun). She keeps it real – referencing her own humanness as she illustrates a way of being in the world that has us “make friends with ourselves” and develop more compassion for others. She’s all about embracing versus denying what’s hard to be with in our lives in a way that is down-to-earth an accessible.