2019 Books in Review

I’m keeping last year’s book tracking experiment going this year, and trying to keep myself accountable by tracking progress quarter by quarter, instead of waiting until the very end of the year.


Overall, here’s what this year of reading looked like:

  • I read 17 books this year, which is 6 less than last year, when I first started tracking my reading
  • There were 2 months (August and December) where I finished zero books. I read a little, but nothing cover to cover. Good to note that there are some natural rhythms to when reading happens in my life — and its not in the summer or holiday season!
  • All but two of the books I read this year were by women
  • 30% of the books I read were by POC — that’s lower than I would have expected and am using that learning to curate what I read in 2020
  • I truly loved 5 of the 17 and would read them over and over again. I’ve noted which ones below.
  • There were 3 books I tried to read but could get into – I decided it’s not worth the time if I don’t enjoy the first chapter. I list these at the very end.


Quarter One (January-March 2019) – read 5 books


The Fifth Trimester, by Lauren Smith Brody

The first three trimesters (and the fourth—those blurry newborn days) are for the baby, but the Fifth Trimester is when the working mom is born. A funny, tells-it-like-it-is guide for new mothers coping with the demands of returning to the real world after giving birth, The Fifth Trimester is packed with honest, funny, and comforting advice summarized from 800 moms the author interviewed.



Digital Tools for Qualitative Research, by Trena Paulus

The nerd in me loved how this book shows how the research process in its entirety can be supported by technology tools in ways that can save time and add robustness and depth to qualitative work. It addresses the use of a variety of tools (many of which may already be familiar to you if you are a researcher or use tech in your work) to support every phase of the research process, providing practical case studies taken from real world projects.



The Income Replacement Formula, by Christine McAllister

The author shares her the simple 7-step formula that helped her overcome her own personal tragedy of a stillborn daughter, and then realize her dreams of discovering and building a business around her unique gifts.  If you’re a woman who has been thinking about quitting your job or starting a business since… what feels like forever… or you already have a business that’s just not working the way you wish it would… this is your book.


Automating Inequality, by Virginia Eubanks (LOVED)

The author systematically investigates the impacts of data mining, policy algorithms, and predictive risk models on poor and working-class people in America. The book is full of heart-wrenching and eye-opening stories, from a woman in Indiana whose benefits are literally cut off as she lays dying to a family in Pennsylvania in daily fear of losing their daughter because they fit a certain statistical profile.


Like A Mother, by Angela Garbes

The author offers a rigorously researched and compelling look at the physiology, biology, and psychology of pregnancy and motherhood, informed by in-depth reportage and personal experience. With the curiosity of a journalist, the perspective of a feminist, and the intimacy and urgency of a mother, she explores the emerging science behind the pressing questions women have about everything from miscarriage to complicated labors to postpartum changes. The result is a visceral, full-frontal look at what’s really happening during those nine life-altering months, and why women deserve access to better care, support, and information.


Quarter Two (April-June 2019) – read 5 books…same as last quarter!


The Art of Gathering, by Priya Parker

The author argues that the gatherings in our lives are lackluster and unproductive–which they don’t have to be. We rely too much on routine and the conventions of gatherings when we should focus on distinctiveness and the people involved. At a time when coming together is more important than ever, Parker sets forth a human-centered approach to gathering that will help everyone create meaningful, memorable experiences, large and small, for work and for play.


I’m Just Happy To Be Here, by Janelle Hanchett

Drawing us into the wild, heartbreaking mind of the addict, Hanchett carries us from motherhood at 21 with a man she’d known three months to cubicles and whiskey-laden domesticity, from judging meth addicts in rehab to therapists who “seem to pull diagnoses out of large, expensive hats.” With warmth, wit, and searing B.S. detectors turned mostly toward herself, Hanchett invites us to laugh when we probably shouldn’t and to rejoice at the unconventional redemption she finds in desperation and in a misfit mentor who forces her to see the truth of herself.



Worth It, by Amanda Steinberg

From the founder and superstar CEO of DailyWorth.com—the go-to financial site for women with more than one million subscribers—comes a fresh book that redefines the relationship between women, self-worth, and money. Worth It shows women how to view money as a source of personal power and freedom—and live life on their terms.



Do Less, by Kate Northrup

This is a book for working women and mothers who are ready to release the culturally inherited belief that their worth is equal to their productivity, and instead create a personal and professional life that’s based on presence, meaning, and joy. As opposed to focusing on “fitting it all in,” time management, and leaning in, as so many books geared at ambitious women do, this book embraces the notion that through doing less women can have–and be–more.


Palaces For The People, by Eric Klinenberg (LOVED)

In Palaces for the People, Eric Klinenberg suggests  that the future of democratic societies rests not simply on shared values but on shared spaces: the libraries, childcare centers, churches, and parks where crucial connections are formed. Interweaving his own research with examples from around the globe, Klinenberg shows how “social infrastructure” is helping to solve some of our most pressing societal challenges. Richly reported and ultimately uplifting, Palaces for the People offers a blueprint for bridging our seemingly unbridgeable divides.


Quarter Three (July-September 2019) – read 3 books


The Chicana Motherwork Anthology, by Cecilia Caballero, Yvette Martínez-Vu, Judith Pérez-Torres, and Michelle Téllez

The Chicana M(other)work Anthology weaves together emerging scholarship and testimonios by and about self-identified Chicanx and Women of Color mother-scholars, activists, and allies who center mothering as transformative labor through an intersectional lens. Contributors provide narratives that make feminized labor visible and that prioritize collective action and holistic healing for mother-scholars of color, their children, and their communities within and outside academia.


Radical Candor, by Kim Scott

Radical Candor offers a guide to those bewildered or exhausted by management, written for bosses and those who manage bosses. Taken from years of the author’s experience, and distilled clearly giving actionable lessons to the reader; it shows managers how to be successful while retaining their humanity, finding meaning in their job, and creating an environment where people both love their work and their colleagues.



Zero. Zilch. Absolutely nothing. Don’t get me wrong, I read, but not a cover to cover book.



This Will Be My Undoing, Morgan Jerkins

In This Will Be My Undoing, Jerkins becomes both narrator and subject to expose the social, cultural, and historical story of black female oppression that influences the black community as well as the white, male-dominated world at large.


Quarter Four (October-December 2019) – read 4 books


First Stop in the New World, by David Lida (LOVED)

First Stop in the New World is a street-level panorama of Mexico City, the largest metropolis in the western hemisphere and the cultural capital of the Spanish-speaking world. Journalist David Lida expertly captures the kaleidoscopic nature of life in a city defined by pleasure and danger, ecstatic joy and appalling tragedy-hanging in limbo between the developed and underdeveloped worlds. With this literary-journalist account, he establishes himself as the ultimate chronicler of this bustling megalopolis at a key moment in its-and our-history.



Unapologetic: A Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements, by Charlene Carruthers (LOVED)

A manifesto from one of America’s most influential activists which disrupts political, economic, and social norms by reimagining the Black Radical Tradition. Drawing on Black intellectual and grassroots organizing traditions, including the Haitian Revolution, the US civil rights movement, and LGBTQ rights and feminist movements, Unapologetic challenges all of us engaged in the social justice struggle to make the movement for Black liberation more radical, more queer, and more feminist.


The Female Brain, by Louann Brizendine

Neuropsychiatrist Louann Brizendine, M.D., brings together the latest findings to show how the unique structure of the female brain determines how women think, what they value, how they communicate, and who they love. In The Female Brain, Dr. Brizendine distills all her findings and the latest information from the scientific community in a highly accessible book that educates women about their unique brain/body/behavior.


Understanding Your Baby: Birth to 12 Months, by Ayelet Marinovich

There’s no such thing as a “how-to-parent” guide – but this book comes close… a rare gem that helps parents feel informed. Learn how to “think outside the box” when it comes to play – the information and activities in “Understanding Your Baby” break down developmental concepts and offer simple, quick play activities to help parents and caregivers feel that they’re “winning” at parenthood!





Started (but didn’t finish)

Forget having it all

What no one tells you

The Gardener and the Carpenter


I have an ever-growing list that I want to read in 2020, with an emphasis on authors of color, the gender pay gap, and business strategy (feel free to email me if you want to see what’s on it!)



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