2018: A Reading List Review

My library card saw more use this year than ever before! Since the majority of my work was done from my home office (aka the guest bedroom /see also: the kitchen table, the couch, my bed, etc), walking to the Greenlake Library was my much needed break from sedentary computer work. I never got out of the door without 3-4 new books in my bag, and often relied on the library’s “peak picks” (the latest bestsellers) to guide my choices.

I feel like I’m constantly referring to an author or a book in conversation so I wanted to gather my favorite reads of this year for you! As you may notice, many of these books were published before 2018, but this is the year they made their way to me. Titles marked with an *asterisk were my favorites and if nothing else, I suggest putting at least one of them are your list to check out. And if you don’t have a library card, what are you waiting for? Libraries are the seriously, the coolest, and usually offer classes, events, and special exhibits in addition to a hoard of free books. Happy reading and I would love to know -

What was your favorite book you read this year? Leave your answers in the comments below.

**Note: Most of the book’s descriptions given below are straight from the Publishers website. (ex: Penguin Random House)

 The best books of 2018. A complete reading list


  • *Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover:
    Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent. When another brother got himself into college, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home. (excerpt provided by publisher)

  • Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot:
    Heart Berries is a powerful, poetic memoir of a woman's coming of age on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation in British Columbia. Having survived a profoundly dysfunctional upbringing only to find herself hospitalized and facing a dual diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Bipolar II, Terese Mailhot is given a notebook and begins to write her way out of trauma. The triumphant result is Heart Berries, a memorial for Mailhot's mother, a social worker and activist who had a thing for prisoners; a story of reconciliation with her father--an abusive drunk and a brilliant artist--who was murdered under mysterious circumstances; and an elegy on how difficult it is to love someone while dragging the long shadows of shame.

 Best books of 2018: Educated by Tara Westover
 Best books of 2018: Heart Berries by Terese Marie

Historical Fiction:

  • There There by Tommy Orange:
    Tommy Orange’s groundbreaking novel is the story of twelve unforgettable characters, Urban Indians living in Oakland, California, who converge and collide on one fateful day. As we learn the reasons that each person is attending the Big Oakland Powwow—some generous, some fearful, some joyful, some violent—momentum builds toward a shocking yet inevitable conclusion that changes everything. There will be glorious communion, and a spectacle of sacred tradition and pageantry. And there will be sacrifice, and heroism, and loss.

  • *Beneath a Scarlett Sky by Mark T. Sullivan:
    Pino Lella wants nothing to do with the war or the Nazis, but when his family home in Milan is destroyed by Allied bombs, Pino joins an underground railroad helping Jews escape over the Alps, and falls for Anna, a beautiful widow six years his senior. In an attempt to protect him, Pino’s parents force him to enlist as a German soldier—a move they think will keep him out of combat. But after Pino is injured, he is recruited at the tender age of eighteen to become the personal driver for Adolf Hitler’s left hand in Italy, one of the Third Reich’s most mysterious and powerful commanders. Now, with the opportunity to spy for the Allies inside the German High Command, Pino endures the horrors of the war and the Nazi occupation by fighting in secret.

  • *Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
    Ghana, eighteenth century: two half sisters are born into different villages, each unaware of the other. One will marry an Englishman and lead a life of comfort in the palatial rooms of the Cape Coast Castle. The other will be captured in a raid on her village, imprisoned in the very same castle, and sold into slavery. Homegoing follows the parallel paths of these sisters and their descendants through eight generations: from the Gold Coast to the plantations of Mississippi, from the American Civil War to Jazz Age Harlem. Yaa Gyasi’s extraordinary novel illuminates slavery’s troubled legacy both for those who were taken and those who stayed—and shows how the memory of captivity has been inscribed on the soul of our nation.

 Best books of 2018:  There There
 Best books of 2018: Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan
 Best books of 2018: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi


  • *She Would Be King by Wayétu Moore:
    Wayétu Moore’s powerful debut novel reimagines the dramatic story of Liberia’s early years through three unforgettable characters who share an uncommon bond. Gbessa, exiled from the West African village of Lai, is starved, bitten by a viper, and left for dead, but still she survives. June Dey, raised on a plantation in Virginia, hides his unusual strength until a confrontation with the overseer forces him to flee. Norman Aragon, the child of a white British colonizer and a Maroon slave from Jamaica, can fade from sight at will, just as his mother could. When the three meet in the settlement of Monrovia, their gifts help them salvage the tense relationship between the African American settlers and the indigenous tribes, as a new nation forms around them.

  • The Paris Wife by Paula McLain:
    A deeply evocative story of ambition and betrayal, The Paris Wife captures the love affair between two unforgettable people: Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group. As Ernest struggles to find the voice that will earn him a place in history and pours himself into the novel that will become The Sun Also Rises, Hadley strives to hold on to her sense of self as her roles as wife, friend, and muse become more challenging. A heartbreaking portrayal of love and torn loyalty, The Paris Wife is all the more poignant because we know that, in the end, Hemingway wrote that he would rather have died than fallen in love with anyone but Hadley.

 Best books of 2018: She Would be King by Wayetu Moore

Self Help

  • You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero:
    In this refreshingly entertaining how-to guide, bestselling author and world-traveling success coach, Jen Sincero, serves up 27 bitesized chapters full of hilariously inspiring stories, sage advice, easy exercises, and the occasional swear word, helping you to: Identify and change the self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors that stop you from getting what you want. By the end of You Are a Badass, you’ll understand why you are how you are, how to love what you can’t change, how to change what you don’t love, and how to use The Force to kick some serious ass.

  • You Are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero:
    You Are a Badass at Making Money will launch you past the fears and stumbling blocks that have kept financial success beyond your reach. Drawing on her own transformation—over just a few years—from a woman living in a converted garage with tumbleweeds blowing through her bank account to a woman who travels the world in style, Jen Sincero channels the inimitable sass and practicality that made You Are a Badass an indomitable bestseller. She combines hilarious personal essays with bite-size, aha concepts that unlock earning potential and get real results.

  • Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less:
    Greg McKeown has spent the last fifteen years obsessed with one question: What is it that keeps capable, driven people from breaking through to the next level? To his surprise, he found the answer to be success. In his revealing new book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, McKeown debunks the myth that “we can do it all.” We can’t. Despite ourselves, we continue to take on more. We say yes because we feel we have to, not because we want to. As a result, we feel overworked and underutilized. McKeown argues that what is needed in order to achieve greater productivity, success and live more fulfilling lives is to remain focused on the few essentials, and getting rid of the trivial many. Do less but better. That is the definition of Essentialism.

 Best books of 2018: You are a Badass by Jen Sincero
 Best books of 2018: You are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero
 Best books of 2018: Essentialism


  • *The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya, Elizabeth Weil:
    In 1994, she and her fifteen-year-old sister, Claire, fled the Rwandan massacre and spent the next six years migrating through seven African countries. When Clemantine was twelve, she and her sister were granted refugee status in the United States; there, in Chicago, their lives diverged. Though their bond remained unbreakable, Claire, who had for so long protected and provided for Clemantine, was a single mother struggling to make ends meet, while Clemantine was taken in by a family who raised her as their own. She seemed to live the American dream: attending private school, taking up cheerleading, and, ultimately, graduating from Yale. Yet the years of being treated as less than human, of going hungry and seeing death, could not be erased. She felt at the same time six years old and one hundred years old.

  • My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem:
    My Life on the Road is the moving, funny, and profound story of Gloria’s growth and also the growth of a revolutionary movement for equality—and the story of how surprising encounters on the road shaped both. From her first experience of social activism among women in India to her work as a journalist in the 1960s; from the whirlwind of political campaigns to the founding of Ms. magazine; from the historic 1977 National Women’s Conference to her travels through Indian Country—a lifetime spent on the road allowed Gloria to listen and connect deeply with people, to understand that context is everything, and to become part of a movement that would change the world.

 Best books of 2018: The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya
 Best books of 2018: My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem

Keep Reading - Creative Resources

American Business Women's Day

Women reinvest up to 90 percent of their income in their families and communities, compared to 40 percent for men.

Women’s entrepreneurship has been on the rise in the US for the last two decades.

This is a great thing.

As of January 2017, there were an estimated 11.6 million Women Owned businesses in the U.S., employing nearly 9 million people and generating $1.7 trillion in revenues. In twenty years, the number of women owned business has grown 114% (for comparison, the national growth rate for all business is 44%).

But in the U.S. and across the world, many women lack access to the capital and knowledge needed to succeed in business. For instance, a February 2018 report by Biz2Credit found that the average funding for women-owned businesses was 45% lower than companies owned by men. Additional challenges include defying social expectations, balancing business and family life, and the struggle to be taken seriously in a male dominated industry or workplace.

 Photo from  Study Breaks

Photo from Study Breaks

Investing in women owned businesses isn’t just a smart move, but a necessary one. Studies show that women will reinvest up to 90% of income in their families and communities, compared to 40% of men. Put simply, supporting a WOB means supporting women’s economic empowerment, thriving communities, and the overall growth of economy.

My intention was to post this on American Business Women’s Day, which was September 22nd) so I’m a little late. Oops. But the American Business Women’s Association started this national day to honor the accomplishments and contributions of U.S women in the workforce.

To celebrate, I’m sharing a few of my favorite women owned businesses and highlighting their empowering mission and what makes them great! #AmericanBusinessWomensDay

 Wylder Goods co-founders Jainee Dial & Lindsey - photo from Outside Online

Wylder Goods co-founders Jainee Dial & Lindsey - photo from Outside Online

Wylder Goods

WYLDER is a mission-driven outdoor lifestyle company for the modern outdoorswoman.

Owners: Jainee Dial and Lindsey Elliot

What You’ll Find: High quality gear for women that help them get outside.

They Believe: Business can be a force for social and environmental good in the world.

They Work To:
CONNECT: people to wildland
EDUCATE: for human and environmental health
CULTIVATE: outdoor adventure stewards, not just consumers
CONSERVE: and protect wildland to increase ecosystem diversity and resilience


Coyuchi is a home textile company with the greater good in mind.

 Coyuchi Linens - photo from WSJ

Coyuchi Linens - photo from WSJ

CEO: Eileen Mockus

Their Mission: To be the source for organic cotton and natural home furnishings while respecting the environment and enhancing the lives of customers. Everything they create is designed to comfort and rejuvenate—body, mind and spirit—to help people turn their home into a unique and personal sanctuary.

Environmental & Social Initiatives: Coyuchi works with environmental and social standards set forth by the following organizations - USDA Organic, Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), Textile Exchange, Fair Trade USA, International Labour Organization (ILO).

Honua Hawaiian Skincare

Honua Hawaiian Skincare is a non-toxic skincare line infused with the spirit of Aloha.

 Photo provided from Honua Hawaiian Skincare

Photo provided from Honua Hawaiian Skincare

Founder: Kapua Browning

The Backstory: After a decade of experience as a licensed esthetician, extended training in herbalism and product development, and an understanding of traditional Hawaiian healing passed down from her family, Kapua began Honua.

Their Mission: Creating products that help people’s skin while making them feel beautiful both inside and out

What Makes Them Great: Inspired by the botanical magic that flourishes on the Hawaiian Islands, Honua combines traditional Hawaiian healing methodologies, with modern skincare technologies to create stunning products that are good for you and good for the earth.

Seea Swimwear

Fusing the elegance of retro design with modern cuts, fresh colors, and contemporary prints, Seea makes beautiful swimsuits, bikinis, & rashguards.

 Photo provided from Seea

Photo provided from Seea

Founder: Amanda Chinchelli.

The Backstory: Frustrated with the lack of selection for cute suits to surf in, Amanda began sewing her own designs. Compliments and inquiries started rolling in and she decided to bring her creations to the women’s surf wear market.

They Believe: in choosing sustainable and ethically sound materials whenever possible.


Traveling blankets proudly supporting traditional makers in both Mexico and California.

 Founder Liz on a trip to Mexico.

Founder Liz on a trip to Mexico.

Founders: Mother and daughter team Elizabeth and Liz Clark

The Backstory: Born on the border of California and Mexico, founder Liz grew up at a cultural cross-section. She studied product design and worked for an outdoor gear brand before deciding to start her own business.

Their Mission: Create unique products while preserving a slice of history, art, and craft.

What Makes Them Great: They work directly with artisans throughout Mexico. Each blanket purchase helps local communities by providing an income for craftspeople while helping them practice and preserve their traditional craft.

Outdoor Voices

Outdoor Voices makes activewear for “Doing Things” daily — dog walks, runs, and yoga included.

 Photo courtesy of Outdoor Voices

Photo courtesy of Outdoor Voices

Founder: Tyler Hanley

The Backstory: Outdoor Voices began in 2012, when Tyler, a former high school athlete, was attending New York City's Parsons School of Design. She was disappointed to find her aesthetic didn't line up with the slogans of brands like Nike. She found a niche in athleisure striking a balance between feminine and athletic designs.

They Believe: The future of athletics is not about being there first, but about showing up most often.

What Makes Them Great: They source textiles with sustainability top of mind, including their sustainably sourced merino wool and recycled polyester made from water bottles.

Ritual Coffee Roasters

Ritual Coffee Roasters is a coffee roaster based in San Francisco, California, with six cafes in San Francisco and Napa.


Founder: Eileen Hassi Rinaldi

The Backstory: Founded in 2005, Rinaldi was on a mission to bring specialty coffee to the Bay Area. The opening of Ritual’s first cafe marked the beginning of a third-wave coffee movement in SF.

They Believe: Coffee can changes your life. (Amen)

What makes them great: They emphasize cup-to-farm transparency and provide extensive education to their baristas and customers. They’ve created awesome brew-guides and so you can expertly brew your coffee at home!

How To Turn Around An Unproductive Day

We've all had those days where we gaze despairingly at the clock, waiting for work to be over so we can start fresh tomorrow.

I've definitely been there. As someone who relies heavily on routine to stay productive and engaged, if I get off course, I have a hard time course-correcting. I can usually pinpoint my ineffectiveness to distraction, trying to juggle too many things at once, or just good ol' creative burnout.

What unfolds from there is a self-destructive cycle— I feel bad about myself for being unfocused, which just further distracts me from what I need to be working on. Until recently, I've been of the mindset that I might as well call it a day and use tomorrow to REALLY kick ass.  

— Alexandra Franzen

A few weeks ago I listened to a "Being Boss" podcast titled  "Keeping Perspective with Alexandra Franzen (a writer based out of Portland, OR). Alexandra talked about about how to stay motivated as a creative, experimenting with online platforms, and learning from criticism and disappointment. My main takeaway from the episode was her simple motto: 

"Today is not over yet". 

Whatever the situation is - boredom, burnout, distraction or exhaustion - there are a few strategies to reclaim the day and end it on a worthwhile note. 

1. Prioritize the Important Tasks:

I LOVE lists. They keep me organized and on track. If you don't use a list (either written or digital) I highly suggest starting! Once you've made a list of what you need to accomplish, give each task a number 1-3. 1 represents high priority and 3 represents low priority. Separate your tasks and give your focus to the most important items at hand for the rest of the day. 

AVOID: Multi-tasking. Why? Research shows that switching from one task to the next takes a serious toll on productivity AND that by trying to complete many things at once, each individual task can take up to 40% longer. 

2. Remove Distractions:

My distractions come in the form of cleaning (which is really just my way to procrastinate), email, and social media. They are all huge time sucks and make me feel like I'm doing something, but it's not something productive. Maybe your distractions come in the form of slack, co-workers, or cute animal tube videos. Whatever it is that seeks to detour your focus, get rid of it. Here are a few ideas!

  • Turn your phone on airplane mode
  • Change your screen to grayscale (former design ethicist at Google Tristan Harris suggest enabling grayscale to combat phone addiction. It might not cure addiction completely but social apps are way less appealing in black and white). 
  • Wear headphones (even if you're not listening to music) while at work as a signal that you're not available 
  • Turn off notifications or set your status to "busy" on work chats like slack or G-chat
  • Don't have more than one or two tabs open at a time 
  • Use Toggl to track your time on tasks

3. Take a Break: 

At my previous job at a digital marketing agency, my energy levels always slumped around 2pm. To combat lethargy, a friend and I would schedule a walk to grab coffee around that time. We would take 30 minutes to catch up and talk about things outside of work, and the walk and caffeine helped wake my body up for a few more hours of work. A mid-day break from my computer is now a necessary component to break up the workday and give my brain a rest. 

4. Batch Tasks: 

If you're not working under a deadline and need to prioritize certain items for the day, try batch tasking. Batch tasking is the process of combining similar tasks into batches and then performing all the tasks in a batch in one sitting. Sounds easy right? You can batch task emails, phone calls, writing articles, or promotion. Let's take writing for example. The hardest part about writing is often just getting started, typing out those first few sentences, getting the s$it@y first draft out of the way, etc. For me, once I get going (sans distraction), I can find a flow state where momentum builds and words come easier. My quality of work improves as I keep going and I can usually bust out multiple articles in a day.

5. Be Kind To Yourself:

Sometimes our energy is off and we really can't seem to regain focus or clarity. That's ok.  If these strategies don't work and you just keep banging your head against the wall than stop and give yourself a break. If nothing is pressing (as in, absolutely HAVE TO get it done today) shut your computer down and listen to what your body and mind need. Take a mental health day to care for yourself and recharge.

Do you have different strategies to help you hit the reset button on an unproductive day? Let me know if the comments below. 

4 Podcasts for Creatives & Aspiring Entrepreneurs

There was a time I had NO idea what to do with the podcast app on my iPhone. Fast forward five years, and my phone ran out of space at one point because I hit subscribe to too many. (I've since learned how to manage my downloads better and only subscribe to the few that I listen to faithfully.)  

I like to tune in when I'm getting ready for work, cooking, and sometimes even when I'm out running. It's easier to go further when you're enthralled in a story. The content I listen to varies but as a freelance creative, I'm attracted to shows that tackle self-development, creativity, and business. Podcasts have become a huge part of my free education, so today I'm passing along four that are always in my lineup. 

What's one podcast you always tune into?  Tell me which and why you love it in the comments below!


1. The Marie Forleo Podcast:

Synopsis: Marie is my go-to gal. I LOVE her spunky personality, refreshing honesty and genuine desire to help others in their business. She interviews the best authors, entrepreneurs, creatives, and change-makers that tackle everything from business and marketing to philanthropy, failure, and fear. Each interview ends with actionable strategies for greater happiness, motivation, confidence creativity, and fulfillment. In short, she's a badass and I promise you'll love her witty and inspiring content. 


Favorite Episodes:


2. How I Built This with Guy Raz

Synopsis:  Guy Raz dives into the stories behind some of the world's most successful companies and the idealists who built them. Each innovator has a completely different journey on their road to building their company, but one thing they all share is setbacks. Every story is an inspiring tale of trials and tribulations, and what can happen if you hang on and keep going. 


Favorite Episodes:



3. Pursuit with Purpose with Melyssa Griffith 

Synopsis: Melyssa Griffin teaches online entrepreneurs and bloggers how to turn their passions intro profitable businesses.  Through online courses, free webinars, a Facebook community, and more, she's helped over 100,000 creative hustlers stand out online.This podcast is about her journey to finding happiness through work and creating a positive impact on the world. 


Favorite Episodes:

  • Being Boss: How to Create a Life & Business On Your Own Terms with Emily Thompson
  • Everything is Figureoutable with Marie Forleo 
  • Body Image, Slef Love, Marriage and Business with Jenna Kutcher

4. The Goal Digger Podcast with Jenna Kutcher 

Synopsis: Jenna Kutcher is a marketing entrepreneur, photographer, and one of the most refreshingly honest voices in social media. Her live-workshop style business podcast is meant to help people redefine success, chase dreams, and teach how to make a living, doing what you love.  Her podcast episodes focus on marketing, social media, creative entrepreneurship, small business strategy and branding.

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