The power of the written word is nearly indescribable. A great book can transport you to a different time, evoke the strongest of feelings, and enable you to dream of the world through new lenses. While I am always on the hunt for my next favorite read, here are 7 books that I love and you should read.
A Thousand Splendid Suns
I mention this book first because it is one of my favorite novels of all time! A story set in a different time and thousands of miles away from my life; however, Khaled Hosseini has the unique ability to make me feel like I am there in "another world" with the characters. Witnessing the life of a people so different yet eerily like myself made me form an attachment to this book, view familiar relationships differently, and grow in my boldness.
Born a generation apart and with very different ideas about love and family, Mariam and Laila are two women brought jarringly together by war, by loss and by fate. As they endure the ever escalating dangers around them—in their home as well as in the streets of Kabul—they come to form a bond that makes them both sisters and mother-daughter to each other, and that will ultimately alter the course not just of their own lives but of the next generation.
Written by the same author as The Kite Runner, this novel is my favorite of his works. I hope that one day A Thousand Splendid Suns is also transformed into a motion picture...but only if it will do the book justice.
It Ends With Us
This new book by Colleen Hoover seems to be a big hit (at least among my network). I must say that this book is the definition of a page turner. Finishing it in a little over 24 hours, I was unable to put the book down after a few short chapters. It Ends With Us is a book that I believe every woman should read at one point or another - preferably before entering into a serious relationship. I'll warn you now that this is another novel that will pull on your heartstrings and leave you with many an introspective thought. If you do decide to read this one day, do not read the entirety of the back cover (trust me it will ruin it!) but take a look at an excerpt below.
Lily hasn't always had it easy, but that's never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She's come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up - she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily's life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.
Ryle is assertive, stubborn, and maybe even a little arrogant. He's also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily, but Ryle's complete aversion to relationships is disturbing.
The Culture Map
Living as a third culture kid - someone who is raised in a culture other than their parents' - I often found it difficult to balance the way I interacted with my British father, Nigerian mother, and the modern American culture that I was living in. It was not until recently when I read this book that I found an external source that confirmed the feelings that I though to be true regarding cultural differences as well as their impact on communication.
Whether you work in a home office or abroad, business success in our ever more globalized and virtual world requires the skills to navigate through cultural differences and decode cultures foreign to your own. Renowned expert Erin Meyer is your guide through this subtle, sometimes treacherous terrain where people from starkly different backgrounds are expected to work harmoniously together. When you have Americans who precede anything negative with three nice comments; French, Dutch, Israelis, and Germans who get straight to the point (“your presentation was simply awful”); Latin Americans and Asians who are steeped in hierarchy; Scandinavians who think the best boss is just one of the crowd—the result can be, well, sometimes interesting, even funny, but often disastrous. Even with English as a global language, it's easy to fall into cultural traps that endanger careers and sink deals when, say, a Brazilian manager tries to fathom how his Chinese suppliers really get things done, or an American team leader tries to get a handle on the intra-team dynamics between his Russian and Indian team members.
Pride & Prejudice
As a common classic, most people in my generation are well acquainted with the 2005 film Pride & Prejudice starring Keira Knightley. However, I am not particularly a fan of the movie as it does not represent the book in its totality with the nuances written by Jane Austin. If you don't have the time to read the novel - although I do think it is one to prioritize in your lifetime - check out the BBC 6 episode mini series from 1995 starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle as it is a much more accurate adaption.
In a remote Hertfordshire village, far off the good coach roads of George III's England, a country squire of no great means must marry off his five vivacious daughters. At the heart of this all-consuming enterprise are his headstrong second daughter Elizabeth Bennet and her aristocratic suitor Fitzwilliam Darcy — two lovers whose pride must be humbled and prejudices dissolved before the novel can come to its splendid conclusion.
Emotional Intelligence 2.0
I got into a bit of a self-help book kick a while ago, but found that this book was one that every person can learn from. Personally, I am not much of a believer in self-assessment tests, but learning where you are with your EQ and how you can become better is a very important skill.
By now, emotional intelligence (EQ) needs little introduction―it’s no secret that EQ is critical to your success. But knowing what emotional intelligence is and knowing how to use it to improve your life are two very different things. Emotional Intelligence 2.0 delivers a step-by-step program for increasing your emotional intelligence using the four core EQ skills―self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management―to exceed your goals and achieve your fullest potential. This book contains proven strategies from a decade-long effort to accurately measure and increase emotional intelligence. Trusted by upper-echelon leaders inside companies worldwide, these strategies will enable you to capitalize on the skills responsible for 58% of performance in all types of jobs.
The Power of the Other
Back in 2016 I went to a leadership conference where I was fortunate enough to hear Dr. Henry Cloud speak. This was my third or fourth time listening to him and he is quite the speaker as well as teacher. This book (though I'm still a few chapters from the end) has changed the way I perceive interpersonal relationships.
Popular wisdom suggests that we should not allow others to have power over us, but the reality is that they do, for better or for worse. Consider the boss who diminishes you through cutting remarks versus one who challenges you to get better. Or the colleague who always seeks the limelight versus the one who gives you the confidence to finish a difficult project. Or the spouse who is honest and supportive versus the one who resents your success. No matter how talented, intelligent, or experienced, the greatest leaders share one commonality: the power of the others in their lives. Presenting a dynamic model of the impact these different kinds of connections produce, Dr. Cloud shows readers how to get more from themselves by drawing on the strength and expertise of others. You don’t have a choice whether or not others have power in your life, but you can choose what kinds of relationships you want.
To Kill A Mockingbird
The following is another classic that I have enjoyed for the past 5+ years. I will always be thankful to my English teacher for getting me to read this book because it was not only a riveting story but also a detailed insight into the power of literature to take you to places you have never dreamed of. To Kill a Mockingbird kick-started my passion for reading and also served as a catalyst for me growing up. I wouldn't call it your average coming of age novel, but again it is a book I think everyone should read once in their lifetime.
To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior - to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.
Book cover images for this post were sourced from Google Images.