October Bookshelf Tour: 5 Books I’m Reading This Month

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Over the past few years, I have grown into this habit of dabbling from one book to another (I’ve been reading a lot of non-fiction lately), often reading specific sections or chapters of books instead of reading cover to cover (with some exceptions, of course). Whether it’s a warm sunny day or a damp, cool one, October always feels like the perfect time to dive into a good book. Although I mostly read from the comfort of my own apartment, I’m trying to spend as much time outside as I can while the weather is still enjoyable. As some of you may know, I am really driven by the idea of living my best life and figuring out what that looks and feels like for me. I’ve always been a bookworm, and this month I am enjoying a mix of 5 personal development and food & health reads, and I’m excited to share the list with you! 

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gtd_davidallen1. Getting Things Done by David Allen

Are any of you in need of some personal and organizational productivity hacks? I am! While I am unemployed, it can be so challenging to feel like I’m spending my time effectively. GTD is one of the most renound books on productivity and time management. I actually picked it up in a $1 fill-your-bag sale from my local library (#winning). I’ll admit that I’ve only skimmed and read the Preface of the book, but I am most excited to read Part 1, The Art of Getting Things Done, filled with chapters on Getting Control of Your LIfe and Getting Projects Creatively Under Way. There’s also this interesting flow-chart graphic in the book about getting stuff done that I’m really excited to learn more about. As a side note, the chapters are sprinkled with quotes relating to the content, and as I was skimming the book, this one that really stuck out to me:
 
The best place to succeed is where you are with what you have. Charles Schwab
 
Insert “Started from the bottom now we’re here” beats.

htwfip_dalecarnegie2. How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie 

I swiped this book right off my boyfriend’s office bookshelf. I’ve always had this innate need to get to know people and learn from them. I believe that every person you meet has a unique story and is an expert at something you’re not, so I try to open my ears, ask questions, and make connections with new people that I encounter. I feel pretty comfortable in the relationship building arena, but one area that I need advice growing in is being a leader and how I can help change people (side note- my professional background is in teaching and supporting teachers with program training and implementation). During the four years when I was teaching middle school, I got a lot of experience facilitating difficult conversations between students, but I still struggle to handle difficult conversations when I need to have one. I’ve gotten better at this over time and with experience, but I’d still like to become better versed. 
 
Part 4 of HTWF&IP dives into being a leader and learning how to change people. After reading this section, I was surprised to learn that Carnegie was the creator of the “criticism sandwich,” which I like to call the compliment sandwich, which I  have been using as a teacher, instructional coach, and training specialist for over 5 years now. In any situation where you’re providing feedback, you start with a genuine compliment first. Carnegie points out how it’s much easier to listen to critical feedback after you’ve heard good things about your work, which is especially true in the field I work in, too. Next, provide the critical feedback and keep it short and specific. Finally, end the conversation on a positive note with an appreciation or another form of praise. Praise – critical feedback – praise. It’s as simple as that.
 
Another teeny, tiny but HIGHLY effective tip I learned was:
 
Start swapping “but” for “and” when you deliver critical feedback, to help you frame it in a positive and uplifting way, instead of inferring failure and disapproval.Dale Carnegie
 
I’ve been running previous scenarios in my head and can’t believe how easy and impactful this action can be. For example, if I observed a classroom teacher delivering an engaging experiment that went over on time, during our debrief, I can say something like, “The students were so engaged throughout the entire lab today. I know how hard it can be to keep track of time during these kinds of lessons, and if you use a timer during the next lab it will help remind you to stop with enough time left for cleanup.” 
 
This tip not only applies to giving feedback to your work mates but also to all the people in your life – your friends, significant other, teachers, everyone you give feedback to. 
 
I have no doubt that the tips in HTWF&IP will help you feel more confident and poised when having both personal and professional difficult conversations.

ie_alimuffaci3. Inspiralize Everything by Ali Maffuci 

Can we talk about girl crushes for a minute? I’ve been following food entrepreneur, Ali Maffuci since I moved to NYC over 2 years ago. Not only is she ridiculously innovative with her food recipes (check out her food blog, Inspiralized, here), but she’s also so down-to-earth and genuine. I love watching her Snap stories of her working on projects, prioritizing her fitness, and just doing her thing with friends and husband. She’s seriously a breath of fresh air in the blogging world and I am a huge fan.
 
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Anyway, she recently released her second cookbook, Inspiralize Everything, and it’s amazing. The book is “an apples-to-zucchini encyclopedia of spiralizing,” which allows people to look up recipes based off of what’s in season and what they found at the grocery store/farmers market. My always supportive older sister, Meg sent me this book in the mail as a sweet surprise a few weeks ago, and I’ve been totally smitten with it ever since. Recently, I made her apple-walnut muffins, which were perfectly seasoned and soo tasty! If you’re new to the idea of spiralizing your fruits and veggies, I highly recommend checking out Ali’s website to learn more.  

iswf_thehartwigs4. It Starts with Food by Dallas & Melissa Hartwig

The creators of the Whole30 program, Dallas and Melissa Hartwig have outlined a clear, straightforward, and sustainable plan to change how you eat forever in their book, It Starts With Food. Not only do they provide the “how” of eating only foods that make you healthier, but they also tell “why” it’s so important to mostly eat wholesome, unprocessed foods. I greatly appreciate how this book is broken down into easy to understand layman’s terms. From page 1, I was glued to this book (side note – my sister also got me this book!). One of my favorite, “no-duh” yet lightbulb moments was when I read the Hartwig’s theory on food:
 
The food you eat either makes you more healthy or less healthy. Those are your options. Dallas & Melissa Hartwig
 
The Whole30 is designed to help people change their lives by eating more healthy foods and eating less crap. One of the big goals of the program is to be able to know which foods are adding to your quality of life and which ones are taking away from it.
 
Although I don’t need to lose any weight, I have been fighting a crazy sugar addiction (more on this in my Whole30 blog post that will be posted next month) since my grandpa started giving me chocolate candy bars when I was 2 years old. I’m currently completing my first round of the Whole30 program, and this book is the perfect resource for helping me understand the detox and healing process my body is currently going through and guiding me through the tough experiences of overcoming a sugar addiction. 
 
PS: There’s always a great, supportive Whole30 online community for participants/alum of the program. I find myself getting to know others within the Facebook discussions and relating to their questions, struggles, and wins constantly. It’s really an amazing support group, and I’m the kind of person that needs this kind of structure and support from others to get me through this kind of lifestyle change.

bb_cathieblack5. Basic Black by Cathie Black

As Hearst Magazine’s President, Cathie Black has done and achieved so much in her professional career and personal life. In her book, Basic Black: The Essential Guide for Getting Ahead at Work (and in Life), Cathie shares her idea of the 360 life – achieving balance and creating a fully rounded existence, one that encompasses deep satisfaction with your personal, work, and family life. Whether you’re just starting in your career, trying to move up, or wanting to improve your leadership skills, this book has a lot in it for you!
 
The chapters are broken down by elements of life at work (think drive, passion, attitude, etc.). I enjoyed reading the “people” chapter (being the people-centric person that I am), which had a set of rules for managing people. To me, the most impactful rules were:

Trust the voice of experience

Figuring out your career and how to navigate your work life and next steps to take isn’t easy for anyone. You can learn so much from asking for advice from someone who you admire professionally or a trusted mentor. Hearing other people’s experiences and perspectives can be incredibly helpful and thought-provoking in making career decisions.

Don’t personalize things that aren’t personal

Because of the nature of working in an office, it often becomes your second home (heck, you probably spend more time at work than at home, right?), which can come with an inherited work family. As in all families, work families also have their own conflicts and dysfunctions. Didn’t get invited to discuss the new project with your colleagues over the lunch hour? Did a colleague send you an email with a sharp critique and cc-ed others in your department? For most people (including myself), this can feel like a huge slap in the face. Personally, I have felt undermined so many times at work, and that shit can start to tear you down real quick. However, Cathie asserts that taking a step back and choosing to view conflicts at work solely as professional and not personal (as hard as it may sound to do) will help you not overreact and will also help you rid personality conflicts that might actually exist in your workplace. 
 
Cathie also describes how someone who is trying to provoke you at work is really just trying to establish dominance or control over you. Therefore, by choosing not to engage with a colleague in this fashion, you deny them what they want – control over you. This reminds me of one of my words that I live by phrases – Only YOU have control over you. 

Be generous with praise, and careful with criticism 

At the most basic level, business isn’t about numbers, markets, or products. It’s about people. The better you understand the people you work with and your customers, the more successful you will be. Of course, we know that being praised makes us feel good and capable while being criticized makes us feel bad and uncertain (sounds a lot like HTWF&IP!). With that in mind, we should praise our colleagues often and save real criticisms for when they’re most important. 
 
Words carry a huge amount of weight, so choose and use them carefully. Cathie Black
 
 
Those are the 5 books I’m working my way through this month. What are you currently reading? And do you dabble from one book to another or are you strictly a one-book-until-it’s-done person? I’m excited to hear from you!
 

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