Updated: Mar 30
Books have changed my life in ways few other things have. Reading is often the very first thing I say when asked what I do for fun. I am a dedicated life-long learner and reading is undoubtedly my favorite way to do this. If you have ever stayed up all night wrapped up in a mesmerizing literary storyline or decided to skip a night out with friends to dive into a new book, you get it. If you have not, you may be conventionally cooler than us. So, you got that going for you.
In the event you are wrapping up your current book and looking for something new to dive into, or, like me, are looking for a third or fourth book to add into the reading rotation, I got you.
Late edit: I intended to make a list of my top 3 women’s leadership and communication book recommendations, but in writing this I realized I have one that is so far ahead of the pack, I’d be doing everyone a disservice by watering it down with two other suggestions. I am not getting any money for promoting this. If I was, everyone in Asheville would already know about it because I would probably have taken out a billboard ad on I-240 announcing my huge accomplishment to the world.
Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges by Amy Cuddy.
This book is the shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit. I truly believe in the power of this book. The course of my entire life shifted after reading it. I had already been dabbling in the dark arts of women’s leadership and communication skills prior to picking it up at a local used bookstore for $8, but afterwards I went on to get a whole ass advanced business degree focusing on leadership strategy. I truly credit this book for being the kick in the ass I needed to go back to school. For me, that was an important goal. For you, it may be applying for that competitive job, sharing your ideas and objections more freely in meetings, or even representing your needs and wants more directly to your romantic partner. Whatever it is, I am confident this book will help.
If we lived in some sort of cruel nightmarish world that only allowed for one book per lifetime per person, this one would be it. If I only had one single book recommendation token to hand out, this would be the one. More specifically and realistically, if I could only recommend one book to help women advance their lives, careers and communication skills, Presence would be it. While this book and the corresponding research is not specifically directed towards women, at least not all the time, the societal norms and expectations we all know so well make it a pretty comfy fit. The author and lead researcher, Amy Cuddy, is a Harvard Business School professor and social psychologist, as well as an incredibly successful presenter. Her 2012 TED talk is one of the most viewed in Ted’s history. I’ve personally emailed the link to this talk to at least 20 women, and I’m certain I’ll forward it onto dozens more this year alone. This book is meticulously researched, highly accessible and full of brilliant little nuggets of wisdom that come in handy on a daily basis. Don’t let the Harvard Business School social psychologist researcher part throw you off; Cuddy brings as much - if not more - real life, actionable items into this book as she does Beaker-esque research vibes. And Beaker was fun anyway, so this is a win-win.
Feeling nervous before a big presentation? Power pose that ass (does not traditionally include much ass involvement, but you could probably work it in if you really wanted to). In need of a confidence boost during a big job interview? Check your posture with the quickness of a mean ballet teacher (but be nicer to yourself that my old dance teacher ever was to any of us, please). Think that you just “can’t”? Well, stop that shit and star fish pose STAT. Honestly not sure you should look that one up. Just read the book.
Read this book.