I kicked off the new year with several good reads…

Leading When You Don’t Know Where You’re Going by Susan Beaumont

This book made it on my Christmas gift list due to my brother, Rev. Dr. Philip Oehler, Senior’s, recommendation. This book focuses on “leading in a liminal season”—a time of ambiguity that occurs during a transition from something that has ended before the “new” has been defined and is in place. As Susan wrote, “The liminal period can be an incredibly freeing season in which old structures are released, new identities and possibilities are explored, and power is reassigned.” This book is a must read for leaders who seek a way to “be with” and “work through” the disruption of COVID or need a framework to think through “what next” for an organization. To one change management expert I work with, I described the book as “faith-based change management” as it centers on the process of discernment and uses church-based case studies. It’s been a long time since I marked up a book so much.

Unprotected by Billy Porter

I think the best way to embrace diversity is through people’s personal stories. Understanding how someone experienced the world – or overcame it – helps me see our commonalities and realize how I can do better to support those with backgrounds that are different from mine. I enjoyed this as an audible book as Billy narrated his own story. His voice made his experiences feel more personal. Billy openly speaks on poverty, racism, molestation, bankruptcy, AIDS epidemic, trauma, homophobia, and Broadway throughout his award-winning career earning a Tony, Grammy, and Emmy.

Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski, PhD and Amelia Nagoski, DMA

I found this book so helpful that I selected it for the Women’s Leadership Book Club at Grant Thornton for our first quarter read. I picked it up through a strong endorsement by Lee Kelly – former coworker, Army retiree, and military community advocate. I found all her book recommendations over the years to be on point. The twin sisters alternate reading chapters in the Audible version which adds a more personal tone as they share realizations based on scientific data and personal experience. While there are many helpful nuggets, I found their explanation of the “stress cycle” extremely helpful – especially sustained stress, what I does to our body, and doable actions to end it. I appreciated having simple solutions that didn’t add more stress to my life to complete.

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

In my experience, graduates of women’s colleges support each other. We have a universal immediate bond. In a chat with Diana Ludwick, a Bryn Mawr grad and coworker, we discussed our current reading list in which she pointed out this book by Bryn Mawr grad Michelle Zauner. The author and singer in Japanese Breakfast, shares her personal story about her relationships with her mother, her Korean identity through food, and being a caregiver during her mother’s battle against cancer. I found several touchpoints in this book due to how central my mother’s southern cooking is to our relationship and family heritage—not to mention my time as a caregiver with my mother following her heart surgery. A poignant read about the complexity of identity, mother/daughter bonds, following dreams, and death.

What do you recommend I add to my reading list?

January 2022 Book Reviews

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