Mar 9, 2020 | Leadership

Women’s History Month is officially here. We’re sharing some of the latest works by, about and for women to celebrate. This collection of six titles includes a blend of fiction and nonfiction, featuring women with unique viewpoints, and riveting stories of resistance and perseverance.


1. How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell

What it’s about: “Nothing is harder to do these days than nothing. But in a world where our value is determined by our 24/7 data productivity . . . doing nothing may be our most important form of resistance.” So argues artist and critic Jenny Odell in this field guide to doing nothing. Odell sees our attention as the most precious—and overdrawn—resource we have. Once we can start paying a new kind of attention, she writes, we can undertake bolder forms of political action, reimagine humankind’s role in the environment, and arrive at more meaningful understandings of happiness and progress.

Why pick it up: Far from the simple anti-technology screed, or the back-to-nature meditation, How to Do Nothing is an action plan for thinking outside of the narratives of efficiency and techno-determinism. Provocative, timely, and utterly persuasive.




2. Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law by Haben Girma 

What it’s about: Haben grew up spending summers with her family in the Eritrean city of Asmara. There, she found an abiding strength as she absorbed her parents’ harrowing experiences during Eritrea’s thirty-year war with Ethiopia. Their refugee story inspired her to embark on a quest for knowledge, traveling the world in search of the secret to belonging. She explored numerous fascinating places, including Mali, where she helped build a school under the scorching Saharan sun. Her many adventures over the years range from the hair-raising to the hilarious.

Why pick it up: Haben takes readers through a thrilling game of blind hide-and-seek in Louisiana, a treacherous climb up an iceberg in Alaska, and a magical moment with President Obama at The White House. Warm, funny, thoughtful, and uplifting, this captivating memoir is a testament to one woman’s determination to find the keys to connection.



The Beautiful No: And Other Tales of Trial, Transcendence, and Transformation by Sheri Salata

What it’s about: “Thursday morning. One hundred pounds overweight, no man in sight, and rounding the bend to 57 years old—a full-blown catastrophe.” What happens when you realize you’ve had the career of your dreams, but you don’t have the life of your dreams? This was the stark reality facing Sheri Salata when she left her twenty-year stint at The Oprah Winfrey Show, Harpo Studios and the OWN network. She had dedicated decades to her dream job, and loved (almost) every minute of it, but had left the rest of her life gathering dust on the shelf.

Why pick it up: After years of telling other people’s makeover stories, Sheri decided to “produce” her own life transformation. And this meant revisiting her past, excavating its lessons, and boldly reimagining her future. In these pages, she invites readers along for the ride—detoxing in the desert, braving humiliation at Hollywood’s favorite fitness studio, grappling with losses, reinventing friendships, baring her soul in sex therapy, and more. Part cautionary tale, part mid-life rallying cry, Sheri’s stories offer profound inspiration for personal renewal.




4. The Gendered Brain: The New Neuroscience that Shatters the Myth of the Female Brain by Gina Rippon

What it’s about: We live in a world where we are bombarded with messages about sex and gender. On a daily basis we face deeply ingrained beliefs that your sex determines your skills and innate preferences, from toys and colors to career choices. But what does this constant gendering mean for our thoughts, decisions and behaviors? And what does it mean for our brains?

Why pick it up: By exploring new, cutting-edge neuroscience, Rippon urges us to see our brains as complex organs that are highly individualized, profoundly adaptable, and full of unbounded potential. Rigorous, timely and liberating, The Gendered Brain has huge repercussions for women and men, for parents and children, and for how we identify ourselves.





5. American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

What it’s about: Lydia Quixano Pérez is living a picture-perfect middle-class life in Acapulco. Largely untouched by the drug cartels that are beginning to ravage her hometown, she owns a bookstore she adores and has a loving husband and son. Until one day, when a charming new customer walks in. Events quickly unfold and Lydia finds herself fleeing for the border with her son in tow.

Why pick it up: Fiction is the art of delicately sketching the internal lives of others, of richly and believably projecting readers into lives not their own. Writers can and should write about anything that speaks urgently to them, but they should put their work into the world only if they’re able to pull off their intentions responsibly. Perhaps this book is an act of cultural imperialism. Perhaps not. Don’t let the opinions of others decide for you.





6. The Gift of Forgiveness: Inspiring Stories from Those Who Have Overcome the Unforgivable by Katherine Schwarzenegger Pratt

What it’s about: Written with grace and understanding and based on in-depth interviews and stories as well as personal reflections from Schwarzenegger Pratt herself, The Gift of Forgiveness is about one of the most difficult challenges in life—learning to forgive. Here, Katherine Schwarzenegger Pratt shows us what we can learn from those who have struggled with forgiveness, some still struggling, and others who have been able to forgive what might seem truly unforgivable. The book features experiences from those well-known and unknown, including Elizabeth Smart, who learned to forgive her captors, Sue Klebold, whose son, Dylan, was one of the Columbine shooters, learning empathy and how to forgive herself, Chris Williams, who forgave the drunken teenager who killed his wife and child, and Schwarzenegger Pratt’s own challenges and path to forgiveness in her own life.

Why pick it up: The Gift of Forgiveness shares inspiring journeys—sometimes slow and thorny, sometimes almost instantaneous—by which people learned to forgive and let go. A perfect blend of personal insights, powerful quotations, and hard-won wisdom for those seeking a way to live with greater acceptance, grace, and peace.


Question: What books would you recommend in celebration of Women’s History Month?


Driven by the premise that excellence is the result of aligning people, purpose and performance, Center for Executive Excellence facilitates training in leading self, leading teams and leading organizations. To learn more, subscribe to receive CEE News!



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