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18 Recommended Reads from the Bellmont Partners Team

Curios­i­ty is a trait all of us here at Bell­mont Part­ners share, which bodes well as we often take deep dives into many dif­fer­ent indus­tries and orga­ni­za­tions for our work. Beyond our dai­ly learn­ings at the (home) office, we also enjoy immers­ing our­selves in read­ing to learn some­thing new, find an escape, and work to be bet­ter peo­ple and pro­fes­sion­als. In cel­e­bra­tion of “I love to read month,” and to help sup­port our clients and col­leagues who’ve set goals to do more read­ing this year, here, we’ve com­piled some of our top rec­om­men­da­tions. These books span gen­res and top­ics, each pro­vid­ing a unique oppor­tu­ni­ty for curi­ous minds to explore. While we know this isn’t a com­pre­hen­sive list of all the great lit­er­a­ture out there, we hope you enjoy perus­ing this list we’ve curat­ed, and that you give some of them a try!

NONFICTION

“How to Be an Anti-Racist” by Ibram X. Ken­di – Nonfiction

This title comes rec­om­mend­ed by our whole team, as we ded­i­cat­ed time to read this impor­tant mate­r­i­al and reflect on it in small groups – and dis­cuss how to put the learn­ings into action – as part of our efforts to grow and become bet­ter peo­ple and professionals.

“The Choice: Embrace the Pos­si­ble” by Dr. Edith Eva Eger – Memoir/Personal Growth

The author of this book shares her har­row­ing account of sur­vival at Auschwitz, and then details how she’s found the joy of choice in life and helped oth­ers work through their own chal­lenges as a world-renowned psy­chol­o­gist. This is one that’s real­ly stuck with me.

“Start With Why” by Simon Sinek – Business/Leadership

Bri­an describes this as a “small by mighty book” he often revis­its for reminders about the impor­tance of stay­ing true to what dri­ves us to do what we do.

“Emp­ty Man­sions: The Mys­te­ri­ous Life of Huguette Clark and the Spend­ing of an Amer­i­can For­tune” by Bill Ded­man and Paul Clark Newell Jr. – Non­fic­tion

Although Bre­an­na typ­i­cal­ly reach­es for a mys­tery (she rec­om­mends any­thing by Erik Lar­son!), one of her favorites is this non-fic­tion piece she dis­cov­ered after read­ing a New York Times sto­ry about an upstate New York man­sion that was for sale. The mys­tery here: it hadn’t been lived in for more than 60 years, yet was ful­ly fur­nished and staffed with house­keep­ers and gar­den­ers who had nev­er met the own­er. The reporter kept dig­ging and uncov­ered the sto­ry of Huguette Clark, who inher­it­ed a for­tune from her father (who was once thought to be as rich as Rock­e­feller) and then spent most of her life in seclu­sion and was for­got­ten by the world. There are lots of twist and turns and dra­ma, and the best part, it is all true!

“An Indige­nous Peo­ples’ His­to­ry of the Unit­ed States” by Rox­anne Dun­bar-Ortiz – Nonfiction/History

In Johan­na’s words, “This book should be manda­to­ry read­ing for all Amer­i­cans. I would sug­gest buy­ing a phys­i­cal copy so you can read it slow­ly and reflect on it, since it is a com­pre­hen­sive his­to­ry book.”

“What If?: Seri­ous Sci­en­tif­ic Answers to Absurd Hypo­thet­i­cal Ques­tions” by Ran­dall Munroe – Nonfiction/Humor/Physics

Syd­ney rec­om­mend­ed this one and said, “I got this book for my dad as a Christ­mas present since he’s a noto­ri­ous over­thinker, and he fin­ished it in a day. Ran­dall Munroe is a for­mer NASA roboti­cist and answers impor­tant ques­tions you prob­a­bly nev­er thought to ask. Some favorites of mine include: ‘What would hap­pen if every­one on Earth stood as close to each oth­er as they could and jumped, every­one land­ing on the ground at the same instant?’ and ‘What if a rain­storm dropped all of its water in a sin­gle drop?’ It’s sil­ly, infor­ma­tive and the per­fect book for a curi­ous mind.”

“The Read-Aloud Fam­i­ly” by Sarah Macken­zie – Parenting

Megan D. sug­gests this book for par­ents of kids 0–18. She said, “This one has inspired some big fam­i­ly changes – we’ve always been a book-lov­ing fam­i­ly, but are hav­ing more fun than ever read­ing to our kids and choos­ing high-qual­i­ty books from the library for them. The sci­ence behind read­ing aloud to kids of any age is fascinating.”

“Fifty Acres and a Poo­dle” by Jeanne Marie Laskas – Biography/Humor

A tale of city dweller who moves to the coun­try­side, this book is a gem filled with love and learn­ing while the read­er expe­ri­ences the author’s first year on the farm. This all-time favorite of mine has a bit of every­thing – and made me laugh more than any oth­er book I’ve read! There’s also a sequel that’s great.

“Dis­cov­er Your True North” by Bill George – Business/Leadership

For those who are look­ing for excel­lent, prac­ti­cal wis­dom, Bri­an rec­om­mends this book that’s full of pep talks about authen­tic, inspi­ra­tional and empow­er­ing leadership.

“Meal Mag­a­zine” – Magazine

In her free time, Hye­di vol­un­teers with Meal Mag­a­zine, a nation­al, inde­pen­dent print pub­li­ca­tion about food and peo­ple. The most recent issue just dropped and includes 13 sto­ries that dive deeply into the ways 2020 exposed the chal­lenges, inequities, oppor­tu­ni­ties and hope in the world – through the lens of food. She said, “For me, it’s just as much about the words and sto­ries as it is about the visu­al jour­ney the issue takes you on. It’s a stun­ning work of art, and each sto­ry is more incred­i­ble than the last!”

“Fair Play” by Eve Rod­sky – Non­fic­tion/­Self-Help

Although she first read it pre-pan­dem­ic, Megan D. said she’s been ref­er­enc­ing this book a lot while nav­i­gat­ing the world of par­ent­ing young kids while also work­ing dur­ing this chal­leng­ing time.

“Cap­i­tal­ism & Dis­abil­i­ty” by Mar­ta Rus­sell – Nonfiction/Essays

This book is a com­pi­la­tion of essays on the nature of dis­abil­i­ty and oppres­sion under cap­i­tal­ism. Bri­ana rec­om­mends it as an excel­lent resource for those inter­est­ed in bet­ter under­stand­ing the ways in which the mod­ern phe­nom­e­non of dis­abil­i­ty is shaped by cap­i­tal­ist eco­nom­ic and social relations.

“Strengths Based Lead­er­ship” by Tom Rath and Bar­ry Conchie – Business/Leadership

Brid­get rec­om­mends this one and said, “The Strengths­Find­er con­cept is pop­u­lar for a rea­son: it’s inter­est­ing and insight­ful to under­stand your own strengths, those of indi­vid­u­als that you work with, and how to cel­e­brate and build upon those strengths. While there’s been a few Strengths­Find­er books over the years, this one in par­tic­u­lar focus­es on lead­er­ship. We read the book as a team in ear­ly 2020, and dove deep into our lead­er­ship strengths in a ses­sion facil­i­tat­ed by our friends at Lead­er­ship Delta. And while we couldn’t have known it at the time, I think the tim­ing of learn­ing more about one anoth­er and how we can ele­vate our col­lec­tive strengths – right before the world around us changed in March 2020 – tru­ly helped us nav­i­gate the big shifts and chal­lenges of the past year with an atti­tude of lead­er­ship and compassion.”

FICTION

“The Van­ish­ing Half” by Brit Ben­nett – His­tor­i­cal Fiction

Megan A. describes this book as a time­ly sto­ry of fam­i­ly, race, class and iden­ti­ty, with some mys­tery and romance woven in. She said it’s “beau­ti­ful­ly writ­ten, well-paced and def­i­nite­ly a page turn­er – I fin­ished it in just a few days.”

“Boy Meets Boy” by David Levithan – Young Adult/LGBTQIA+

Johan­na sug­gest­ed this book, call­ing it “a light­heart­ed and hap­py queer love sto­ry that’s very cute and enjoy­able to read!”

“There There” by Tom­my Orange – Fiction

Rec­om­mend­ed by Bri­ana, this debut nov­el from author Tom­my Orange (who was at the 2019 Word­play Book Fes­ti­val) shares sto­ries from a large cast of Native Amer­i­cans whose lives all con­verge at the Big Oak­land Pow­wow in Cal­i­for­nia. The book show­cas­es some of the pain – and also the beau­ty – that our nation’s Native pop­u­la­tion faces.

“The Book of Lost Friends” by Lisa Wingate – His­tor­i­cal Fiction

This book is fic­tion but based on the Lost Friends data­base of for­mer slaves try­ing to find their fam­i­ly mem­bers after being sep­a­rat­ed due to slav­ery. Peo­ple placed Lost Friends ads in the South­west­ern-Chris­t­ian Advo­cate, a Methodist news­pa­per, that was dis­trib­uted to a net­work of preach­ers, post offices and sub­scribers. Pas­tors would read the col­umn of peo­ple try­ing to find their fam­i­ly mem­bers to their con­gre­ga­tions, in the hopes of reunit­ing them. Shel­li said, “The book is heart­break­ing, learn­ing more about the long-term impacts of slav­ery, well after eman­ci­pa­tion. Their fam­i­lies had been ripped apart, and try­ing to recon­nect was extreme­ly dif­fi­cult when many had no mon­ey, lit­tle sup­port and racism was rampant.”

“A Hun­dred Sum­mers” by Beat­riz Williams His­tor­i­cal Romance

Megan D. said, “I love all of the Beat­riz Williams books I’ve read, espe­cial­ly this one and The Secret Life of Vio­let Grant. They flip between two dif­fer­ent main char­ac­ters and points in time, with the sto­ries inter­wo­ven, and are all super cap­ti­vat­ing. These are fair­ly quick reads, but she has a ton of titles to choose from – and most have been easy to get as Kin­dle books from my library app!”

 

Do you have oth­ers you’d rec­om­mend we read? Please drop us a note or leave a com­ment – the more the mer­ri­er as we com­pile our must-reads of 2021!

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