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My-2020-Reading-List

Books I Read in 2020

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Written by Kelly Diels

My 2020 Reading List

I read. A LOT.

I also get asked a lot for book recommendations, so I decided to wrap up 2020 with a list of all of the books I read (or attempted to read) this year.

Some of these books have significantly influenced my thinking and ideas. Maybe they’ll add creative fuel to your fire, too.
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What I Read (or Re-read) This Year:

  1. You Belong by Sebene Selassie (This might be my fave book of the year; it’s a tie between it and Caste by Isabel Wilkerson.)
  2. Radical Belonging by Lindo Bacon (SO GOOD)
  3. Unapologetic Eating by Alissa Rumsey (I had an advance copy; it comes out in February; it’s TERRIFIC. I highly recommend pre-ordering it)
  4. We Will Not Cancel Us by adrienne maree brown
  5. Conflict is Not Abuse by Sarah Schulman (re-read it; one of my fave biz books and it’s not even a biz book. This book got me through a personal hell a few years ago. I think it’s noteworthy that adrienne maree brown cites it in her book We Will Not Cancel Us.)
  6. What You Do is Who You Are by Ben Horowitz. (I LOVED THIS BOOK. Earlier this year, I wrote that I was frustrated by Simon Sinek’s book Leaders Eat Last because I think he has a privilege bias. He writes anecdotally about the leadership and courage showed by mothers, for example, but only formalizes those specific tactics into a thesis when he can attribute them to a Marine Corp General. Horowitz’s book is the opposite of that — and the antidote. In particular, he profiles the extraordinary leadership practices of Toussaint Louverture, who led the revolt against slavery in Haiti — and shows us how to apply those lessons to our entrepreneurship and organizational stewardship.)
  7. What Can a Body Do? by Sara Hendren
  8. Ruined by Design by Mike Monteiro
  9. Zucked by Roger McNamee
  10. The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone by Brian Merchant
  11. Bad Blood by John Carreyrou
  12. Disrupt-Her by Mikki Agarawal (couldn’t finish it.In fact, I couldn’t even force myself to read past the first chapter.)
  13. Essential Essays by Adrienne Rich (h/t Dr. Kimberley B. George for putting it in my field of view)
  14. Community Organizing by Joyce McKnight and Joanna McKnight Plumber
  15. Capital by Thomas Piketty (honestly, I just skimmed it and looked at the graphs)
  16. Option B by Sheryl Sandberg
  17. Anti-Diet by Christy Harrison
  18. Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center by bell hooks (I re-read this one every couple of years. Essential.)
  19. Bowling Alone by Robert D. Putnam
  20. Newsjacking by David Meerman Scott
  21. Zora and Langston by Yuval Taylor (I read biographies and correspondences of friendships between cultural luminaries to learn how they helped each other rise — and, in some cases, tore each other down. Trashing and “cancel culture” is not new.)
  22. The Feminist Memoir Project edited by Rachel Blau DuPlessis and Ann Snitow (I read this at the same times I was reading Betty Friedan’s memoir, below. Again: trying to learn from the lived experiences of the luminaries who went before us.)
  23. It Changed My Life by Betty Friedan (I went into this one with a chip on my shoulder about Second Wave Feminism in general and Friedan in particular — and came out with a way better understanding of the explicit politicking and huge gains and sacrifices that were made. Friedan was an expert organizer and politicker. Respect. And again: trashing, horizontal violence, professional jealousy and cancel culture are NOT new; and Friedan did not exactly abstain, to say the least.)
  24. The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein
  25. Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis (I read Hollis’ books as research and a case example of The Female Lifestyle Empowerment Brand. Still, I have to admit that even though I am profoundly exasperated with her obliviousness to white privilege, fat phobia and sructural oppression, I think the structure and voice of Hollis’ first book, Girl Wash Your Face, is stellar. She also fought her publisher and threatened to sue them if they deleted chapter about love and gay rights. So, respect. But this second book? I couldn’t get through it.)
  26. Didn’t See That Coming by Rachel Hollis (I was researching, stop judging me.)
  27. Reclaiming Our Space by Feminista Jones. (If you want to know how to do social media for self-promotion, culture-making and movement-making, watch Feminista Jones. She IS a master class.)
  28. I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Wasn’t) by Brene Brown. (I hadn’t read this older book. I wish I had, way earlier. It’s way more explicitly grounded in social and structural context than her later books. In my groups, I teach people that when you “toggle out” and see the big social picture, your shame dissolves. Having a structural analysis releases you from shame that’s not yours to carry, and frees you to do what you need to do, on your terms. In this book, Brown calls that having “a critical consciousness” and stresses how important it is to getting free of shame.
  29. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. (I mean, I’d read the phone book if Brene Brown wrote it.)
  30. Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo
  31. Untamed by Glennon Doyle. (This book put food on the tables of independent and feminist-owned bookstores during a pandemic. RESPECT.)
  32. Resilience: The Life Saving Art of Story by Michelle Auerbach
  33. PHD by Published Work by Susan Smith (this is A Thing!!!!!!!)
  34. Becoming by Michelle Obama
  35. Right Wing Women by Andrea Dworkin
  36. The Audacity to Be Queen by Gina DeVee (couldn’t finish it. My time was better spend writing this blog post, “Nope, Queen is Not A Feminist Business Model”.)
  37. Patriarchy Stress Disorder by Valerie Rein
  38. Caste by Isabel Wilkerson
  39. Decolonize First by Ta7talíya Michelle Nahanee
  40. Finite and Infinite Games by James P. Carse
  41. We’re Still Right and They’re Still Wrong by James Carville
  42. Buck Up, Suck Up, . . . and Come Back When You Foul Up: 12 Winning Secrets from the War Room by James Carville
  43. Culture Warlords by Talia Levin
  44. You Were Born for This by Chani Nicholas. (Strangely, my copy has gone missing. Coincidentally, my 14 year old is explaining planetary conjunctions to me and needs to know everyone’s time of birth.)
  45. Accounting for Slavery by Caitlin Rosenthal
  46. The Art of Effective Facilitation edited by Lisa M. Landreman
  47. Inviting Transformation by Sonja K. Foss
  48. It’s About Damn Time by Arlan Hamilton
  49. The Feminist Handbook by Joanne Bagshaw
  50. Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers by Sady Doyle
  51. Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky
  52. The Prince by Machiavelli. (I still can’t figure out if it’s a handbook for how to seize power or a map of everything that’s wrong with oppressive societies.)
  53. Anti-Social by Andrew Marantz
  54. Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad
  55. Remembered Rapture by bell hooks
  56. Blueprint for Revolution by Srđa Popović (<—–If you want to figure out how to create political change, this is a MUST READ.)
  57. Thick by Tressie Cottom McMillan.
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