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!
“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.”
“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!