4 Books I’ve Been Reading (or More Like Devouring) in Self-Isolation

Ah, COVID-19. You nasty bastard.

As I’m sure many of you are too, I’ve been in quarantine for a few weeks now. In my isolation, I’ve found solace in my favorite pastime: reading. Here are my favorite books I’ve read recently that have provided me with wisdom and delight:

1. “Becoming” — Michelle Obama

This book is eye-opening, emotional and informative. Now that the Obamas have moved on from the White House (please excuse me while I go sob now), it’s intriguing to hear their perspectives on issues and events from the past decade+.

The best part — and the biggest takeaway for me — was watching Michelle Obama’s personal and mental evolution. She discusses how she abided by an achiever-mentality when she was younger. She had to get the top grades, get into the best college, the best law school. But after the loss of one of her close friends and her father, her perceptions began to adapt.

She admits that she is a lot less judgmental of other people’s actions and their ways of life now. She says that maybe just choosing fun over achievement, for some people, is their prerogative and maybe the best thing for them.

I also loved reading about her childhood family heroes and how they transformed her into becoming one of America’s most-loved first ladies.

2. “Ask for it: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get what They Really Want” — Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever

This book was recommended to me by a co-worker who led a female-focused negotiation training at work. The training was empowering — and I was hungry to learn more.

In my experience, as a woman interacting with other women, confidence is often linked with arrogance. This book demolishes that idea. Instead, it provides helpful strategies for women to ask for literally anything. It gives tips and advice on how to advocate and negotiate in your personal and professional life.  

I finished the book inspired, empowered and ready to tackle the world. In short, I will be reading and re-reading this book in months, years, decades to come.

3. “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” — Sheryl Sandberg

This book is maybe the most important book for today’s working woman. 

I resonated with this book on a deeply personal level because I see a bit of myself in Sheryl. Many of her anecdotes, from feeling guilty about not having the “right” optics at work to initially not being aware she could negotiate her Facebook salary, I have done and experienced too. 

Her discussion of women’s perceived judgments of one another is such an important topic that we all need to understand be reminded of. In sum, she says one of the ultimate conundrums women face is: to work or to stay at home. Working women feel guilty for not being home with their husbands or children. And stay-at-home moms feel guilty about not working. This leads to judgments on both accounts. 

Just being aware of the problem is the first step to abandoning this lose-lose situation. Men don’t face this problem so why should we? Women can — and should be — anything that they want and not feel guilty or feel judgment from any lifestyle they may choose.

4. “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” — Mark Manson

This book truly puts life into perspective and begs us to answer: What do you actually care about? What are your core values?

We’re all busy. We don’t have time to “give a f*ck” about any and all issues. We have to use our time wisely and pick and choose what matters most. And that’s really what the book teaches.

What I liked most about this book is the humanity of the author. He doesn’t claim to be perfect — in fact, he uses his past mistakes as lessons and opportunities to improve and inspire. He’s hilarious, truthful and relatable.

And those are my book recommendations for self-quarantine! Comment below if you have any other book ideas for me or if you have read any of the above-mentioned titles.

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