My 2018 reading list

There are two types of people:

  1. The person who starts a book and if they can't get into it, they put it down and move on to the next.
  2. The person who starts a book and forces themselves to get through until the bitter end, even if they aren't enjoying it at all.

Without a doubt I'm number two.

This means at any one point in time I've probably got 2-3 books I'm working my way through. It also means my Amazon wish list gets books added to it by the week.

Because I'm interested in what makes people tick, I've wondered what it is about me that makes me want to power through even when a book isn't serving me. I think it's probably got something to do with feeling like I owe it to myself to finish everything I begin.

I've decided to start off 2018 with a bit more focus. I've gathered a small collection of books that will provide direction for my life and career. I'm dedicated to learning from these and sharing my lessons here. Some I've started before but haven't completed, others are brand new.

communications books for nonprofits


Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown

I watch, read, and apparently frame quotes by Brené. Not only is she a fellow social worker, she is intentional with every message she delivers. If you're new to her work you must first read her TED Talk.

I'm excited for her newest book because of my own priority on collaboration in work and life. This one, I'm sure, is one that will end up with underlines and highlights on every page.


To Sell is Human by Daniel Pink

Don't be scared away by the title; this isn't a book about how to make a quick million. It's about getting comfortable with the idea of yourself as a salesperson. Pink argues that we sell things—ideas, experiences, products—every day through persuasion and it doesn't have to feel icky.

I bought this one a while ago to apply to donor cultivation. This time I'll read a bit more closely for the communication-specific takeaways Pink shares.

Presenting Data Effectively by Stephanie Evergreen

This is the second Evergreen book I've owned. While the first was focused more on choosing the right chart for your data, this one has a wider lens—helping researchers apply communication and cognition principles to their presentations and publications. She's the only one I know of who is playing big in this space and I've found myself endlessly flipping through her books for quick application tips.

Her blog and newsletter are also incredible resources that I actually look froward to receiving in my inbox.

If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? by Alan Alda

An actor teaching scientists to communicate better. Catchy, right? I've read conflicting reviews on this book, so I'm going in with the intention of grabbing as many "sound bites" of wisdom as possible.

In the Company of Women by Grace Bonney

This is a beautiful coffee table book. But it's so much more than that. This book documents interviews with over a hundred entrepreneurial women. I really appreciate Bonney's intention to make this book inclusive of all female entrepreneurs' experiences, not just those faces you'd typically see promoted in mainstream media. When I'm yearning for a little pick-me-up this one is sure to provide the encouragement and inspiration I need.

Domino magazine

This is a design magazine. What is it doing on a list of business reads? Good design ideas come from the best designers, many of whom are featured in this publication. I've found that immersing myself in visuals and information presentation in its highest form brings me inspiration that I don't often get from nonprofit materials.

Personal reads

I'm also keeping a list of others to dive into over vacations, before bed, and any other time I can steal away by myself. Some more serious than others, but all promise a little distraction from very full yet fulfilling days—hello two babies under five. What's on your reading list?

I Was Told to Come Alone

When Breath Becomes Air

Your Best Year Ever


The Gypsy Moth Summer

Little Fires Everywhere

The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying