5 books to help you open your eyes up to realities beyond your own

As a black woman, I feel inspired by the important conversations the world is beginning to have about authentic representation, diversity, and race; but at the same time, I am filled with anguish at the length of time that it has taken, and the price we — black people — have paid to start this much-needed dialogue on and around anti-racism. Over the past few days, I have had many non-black people reaching out to share their support, genuine sentiments of solidarity, and annoyingly — their shock about the killing of George Floyd at the hands of the police in the US, and similar incidents that have been happening to black people around the world for years. That shock stems from privilege — in 2020 there is no room, and no excuse, for not educating yourself on realities beyond those of your own, and I too am challenging myself to know better, be better, and do better. If you are keen to get started on your journey to getting clued up, here are five books to add to your June reading list. In a bid to support, not only BIPOC authors but also enterprise, I encourage anyone interested in these books to buy them from BIPOC or independent bookstores, or your local library.


By Ony Anukem



For multiple perspectives… 

New Daughters of Africa


New Daughters of Africa is the follow up to Margaret Busby’s internationally acclaimed Daughters of Africa, originally published in 1992. Margaret struck gold again with her latest anthology. She brings together fresh and vibrant voices that have become prominent around the world in the past two decades, from Antigua to Zimbabwe and Angola to the United States. Over 200 women writers celebrate in the heritage that unites them; key figures include Margo Jefferson, Nawal El Saadawi, Edwidge Danticat, Zadie Smith, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Chinelo Okparanta. Their writing takes many forms: speeches, journalism, poetry, extracts from longer works, and short stories arranged in order of the women’s birth decades — a chronological reminder that African women have been creating art for many centuries. Each piece exhibits an uplifting sense of sisterhood, honouring the strong links that endure from generation to generation, and addresses the common obstacles women writers of colour face as they negotiate issues of race, gender, and class and address vital matters of independence, freedom, and oppression.




For children… 

Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea 


Now more than ever, it’s important to be having conversations and teaching children about diversity and race. Last week, Meena Harris, the niece of former 2020 US Democratic presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris, released an empowering picture book about two sisters who work with their community to effect change, inspired by a true story from the childhood of her aunt and mother — lawyer and policy expert, Maya Harris. One day, Kamala and Maya have an idea, a very big idea: they would turn their empty apartment courtyard into a playground. This is a story of children’s ability to make a real difference, and about the power of a community coming together to transform their neighbourhood. Wondering how to broach a conversation on diversity and race with little ones? This children book is an excellent start, particularly for children ages four to six.




For insight into the cultural genocide against Indigenous peoples in Canada and beyond… 

All Our Relations: Finding the Path Forward


It’s important to realise that in Canada, we cannot bring about meaningful anti-racism reform without addressing the historical and current treatment of Indigenous communities.   Award-winning author Tanya Talaga explores the startling rise of suicide among youth in Indigenous communities in Canada and beyond. From Northern Ontario to Nunavut, Norway, Brazil, Australia, and the United States, the Indigenous experience in colonized nations is startlingly similar and deeply disturbing. As a result of this colonial legacy, too many communities today lack access to the basic determinants of health — income, employment, education, a safe environment, health services — leading to a mental health and youth suicide crisis on a global scale. But, Talaga reminds us, First Peoples also share a history of resistance, resilience, and civil rights activism, from the Occupation of Alcatraz led by the Indians of All Tribes, to the Northern Ontario Stirland Lake Quiet Riot, to the Standing Rock protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline, which united Indigenous Nations from across Turtle Island in solidarity. This book serves as a powerful call for action, justice, and a better, more equitable world for all Indigenous Peoples.




For the untold story of Canada’s involvement in Slavery…

The Hanging of Angelique


When asked where the transatlantic slave trade took place, the first countries that most people would think would be the US, Caribbean, and Latin America. Afua Cooper’s The Hanging of Angelique completely demolishes the myth of a benign, slave-free Canada, revealing a damning 200-year-old record of legally and culturally endorsed slavery. Afua tells the astonishing story of Marie-Joseph Angélique, a slave woman convicted of starting a fire that destroyed a large part of Montréal in 1734, and condemned to die a brutal death. In a powerful retelling of Angélique’s story — now supported by archival illustrations — Afua builds on 15 years of research to shed new light on a rebellious Portuguese-born black woman who refused to accept her position as a slave. Afua takes Angélique’s hidden and marginalized story, and places it at the centre of Canadian national consciousness.




For a critique of heteronormative and patriarchal structures…



In telling this story from the perspective of an unnamed, ungendered narrator, Dionne Brand uses Theory to make a bold statement about love and personhood, and the intersectionality of race and gender. The story begins when its narrator sets out, like most graduate students, doe-eyed and naively ambitious about writing a thesis on the past, present, and future of art, culture, race, gender, class, and politics. A transformative body of work, that its author believes will integrate and thereby revolutionize the world. While trying to complete this huge undertaking of a dissertation, three lovers enter the story. Each galvanizing love affair — representing, in turn, the heart, the head, and the spirit — shakes up and changes the narrator’s life and, inescapably, requires an overhaul of the ever larger and more unwieldy dissertation, this book promises to make you laugh, cry, and reflect.

Six books that reclaim our narrative

Growing up my Grandmother used to recite an African proverb: ‘until the lion learns how to write, every story will glorify the hunter.’ As a young girl, I couldn’t make sense of it, but over time I began to understand the lion was a metaphor for the oppressed, and the hunter stood for those with power. This analogy fits the story of humanity — the story of the sexes. For years the system (built by the hunters), has been feeding women a narrative, limiting our history, ability, duties and sense of self. But unlike in the proverb these lions have learned to write, and they are ready to roar. From untold historical tales to uncovering scientific data bias, these six books show that women have been systematically excluded from the narrative — but we’re not tolerating that anymore.  


By Ony Anukem




Power Shift: The Longest Revolution


There has never been a better time to be a woman, a significant shift has been happening over the years, making strides towards equality for women. However, from Canada to Comoros there isn’t a country in the world that has achieved gender equality yet. In this book, award-winning author, journalist, and human rights activist Sally Armstrong presents a succinct history of what led the way for trending Twitter hashtags: from cave drawings in ancient Mesopotamia to the fight for the vote and reproductive rights to the unspeakable gendered violence in Afghanistan, female genital mutilation, and civil war in the Balkans. What ultimately comes to light after this read is that gender inequality comes at too high a cost to us all, and the time for action is now. 





Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong — and the New Research That’s Rewriting the Story


If you are of the scientific persuasion — this is the book for you. Angela Saini will take you on a journey uncovering where science has lost its way in regards to women, and the fight to rewrite what we thought we knew. For centuries, science has sold us the idea that men and women are fundamentally different, and even that women are the inferior sex. From intelligence to emotion, cognition to behaviour, new research is revealing a different story. Angela systematically tears down old assumptions drawn from flawed studies and biased scientists, offering a new vision for women, and society as a whole. 






Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men


Data is everything and everything is data — from the text messages on your phone to the stack of papers in your drawer. We depend on data for almost everything, but what happens when the data is inaccurate? Most data fails to take gender into account — treating men as the norm and women as abnormal — turning bias and discrimination into products of the system. And women pay the cost for this bias, in our time, money, and many other ways. Join Caroline as she investigates the shocking root cause of gender inequality in research, diving into women’s lives at home, the workplace, the public square, the doctor’s office, and more. 






Gender and Our Brains: How New Neuroscience Explodes the Myths of the Male and Female Minds 


From childhood, we’ve been told that science proves that men and women are made of different stuff, including two different types of brains — male and female. Gender and Our Brains says “time’s up” to pinkification. Packed with fascinating research and point of view, Gina argues that for far too long science has followed false logic to support the notion that men and women have different brains. Tapping into her experience as a professor of cognitive neuroimaging, and referencing new ideas in neuroscience, she offers a new vision of the human brain — one that is highly individualized and adaptable, rather than set in stone by our gender. 






Testosterone Rex: Myths of Sex, Science, and Society 


Cordelia Fine’s Testosterone Rex is guaranteed to edutain. She wittily explains why past and present sex roles are only serving suggestions for the future, and reveals a much more dynamic situation through an evocative and well-documented exploration of the latest research. Touching on evolutionary science, psychology, neuroscience, endocrinology, and philosophy, she uses stories from daily life, scientific research, and common sense to break down the root of cultural assumptions. This book goes beyond the ancient debate of nature versus nurture, disproving age-old myths and calling for a more equal society based on everyone’s full human potential.





Bloody Brilliant Women: The Pioneers, Revolutionaries and Geniuses Your History Teacher Forgot to Mention


For centuries, we’ve been fed the stories of great men of history, but what about the women? Cathy Newman’s look at the past includes all the brilliant women you should have learned about in school, but didn’t. Like the pioneering women who defied the odds to make careers for themselves and alter the course of modern history; women who achieved what they achieved while dismantling hostile, entrenched views about their place in society. She combines scrupulous research with information gathered from memoirs, diaries, letters, novels and other secondary sources, using the stories of some extraordinary lives to give us a new, inclusive version of history.




Six books for empowering girls

From little girls to young ladies — to not-so-young ladies — we could all use some empowerment from the books we read. While strong female protagonists are becoming more common, girl power doesn’t always have to come with a bow and arrow. Through storytelling, role models, and good advice, these six books are guaranteed to uplift the girls in your life (and you along with them).


By Hailey Eisen







Girls Can Do Anything 


An inspiring bedtime story for the modern-day girl – this creatively rhyming, colourfully-illustrated book shows girls that anything is possible and nothing is out of their reach. From climbing a mountain to driving a fire truck, to becoming Prime Minister (author Caryl Hart hails from the UK, so your little Canadian will recognize the leadership term) — a girl can do or be anything she sets her mind to. Tapping into the power of positive women role models, girls will marvel at the amazing things the characters are accomplishing on the pages of this book while moms will love the empowering messages the book imparts. Build a house, pilot a space rocket, play hockey — the sky’s the limit.






The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes


If you know a young girl who struggles with perfectionism — this is the book for her. Children will laugh along with Beatrice Bottomwell who has never, not ever, made a mistake. In fact, she’s become a bit of a celebrity in her hometown thanks to her perfectness. But on the day of the annual talent show, Beatrice’s streak of perfection is about to come crashing to a halt — and she will learn a very powerful lesson about mistakes, and the joy and freedom that come with letting go. A fantastic resource for classrooms and a bedtime story that inspires real conversation, The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes is something we can all learn from (parents and kids alike).







Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Tales of Extraordinary Women


Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls — Volume 1 and 2 — are packed with easily-understandable, perfectly age appropriate stories of extraordinary women from the past and present, illustrated by female artists from around the globe. These stories will inspire girls to learn more about game changers, inventors, leaders, artists, revolutionaries, and others who have changed — and are changing — the world. The perfect accompaniment to the books, I Am a Rebel Girl: A Journal to Start Revolutions provides activities that challenge perspective and prompt action. Following the huge success of the Rebel Girls books, a movement has sprung up, inspiring girls worldwide with a chapter book series, a podcast, art, stationery, a newsletter and more. Learn more at www.rebelgirls.co.






The Confidence Code for Girls 

Taking Risks, Messing Up, and Becoming Your Amazingly Imperfect, Totally Powerful Self 


First came The Confidence Code, written by journalists Katty Kay (BBC World News America) and Claire Shipman (Good Morning America), to inform and guide women through the process of understanding the importance of confidence and learning to achieve it. What followed was an overwhelming number of requests to translate the book into something accessible to girls. The authors saw a paradox, familiar to all parents, that while girls were achieving like never before, they were consumed with doubt, obsessed with perfection, and overwhelmed by their online presence. To empower girls from a young age, Katty and Claire wrote The Confidence Code for Girls, and filled it with engaging content — including graphic novel strips, illustrations, lists, quizzes and challenges. The perfect starting point for girls who are ready to become bold, brave, and fearless and a fabulous resource for those already well on their way.






She Rises: Uplifting Words for Anxious Girls


Toronto speaker, educator, and founder of Girl Talk Empowerment — an organization that empowers girls to overcome personal challenges and be inspired to make their mark on the world — Katie Zeppieri has created something completely different with her new book of poetry, She Rises. Beautifully inspiring and honest, her illustrated poetry book takes readers on a mental health journey from darkness to light. Written in response to her own mental health struggles, Katie’s book serves as a reminder to girls everywhere that from darkness comes light, and from our lowest points, we can rise and persevere. From anxiety and depression to eating disorders and low self-esteem, the book speaks to challenges women and girls face and inspires hope and strength even in the most difficult times.







Strong is the New Pretty

A Celebration of Girls Being Themselves


What began as a personal project for photographer and mother of two girls, Kate T. Parker, has become an internationally bestselling, widely acclaimed tome celebrating — through stunning photography and quotes — a new, more empowered definition of beauty. Real beauty is about being your authentic self and owning it — and it’s that beauty that Kate captures in these arresting and candid images.  A book for every coach, mentor, teacher, mother and father of girls — these are the images girls can look to for inspiration. And for those ready to take it a step further, Strong Is the New Pretty: A Guided Journal for Girls invites girls ages 8 to 12 to discover and celebrate their independent, wild, silly, powerful selves.  



Eight books that will help you find your voice

Your road to success starts with fierce confidence and the courage to push boundaries. Here are eight influential books that will provide you with the tools you need to find your voice, unleash your rage, and dominate your profession.  


By Kaitlyn Warias






Myth of the Nice Girl
by Fran Hauser

A long-time media executive and start-up advisor, Fran Houser dissects the stereotypical notions of what a powerful leader should look like in Myth of the Nice Girl. Her focus is on cultivating confidence and authenticity in the business world whilst breaking the outdated ultimatum of being nice versus being a bitch that most professional women are given. Hauser uses her business expertise and success strategies to stress the importance for women to reclaim their “niceness” in a way that sheds degenerating stereotypes and promotes strength and leadership. Myth of the Nice Girl shows us that we don’t have to choose between being nice and having it all.


Road Map for Revolutionaries 
by Carolyn Gerin, Elisa Camahort Page, and Jamia Wilson

A guide to empowerment in a world that perpetually limits women, Road Map for Revolutionaries provides readers with an active plan to achieve professional success. Written by three influential feminists who lead in their respective fields, this book encourages activism while providing the necessary tools for change that you want to see and feel around you. Quick and to the point, it uses personal anecdotes from its authors in addition to powerful interviews from some of the most influential women in the world, including the founder of Black Lives Matter, to ultimately encourage us to challenge our greatest frustrations.




Fed Up
Gemma Hartley

As a passionate journalist who sparked a national conversation on emotional labour, Gemma Hartley centers on the critical problem of undervaluing the work of women in this sharp read. Emotional labour is the invisible job handed down to women, with the expectation that it is our job to manage and micromanage so that the needs of those around us are always taken care of. But what about us? In Fed Up, Hartley gives personal examples from her everyday life and discusses how emotional labour has followed women from the home to the workplace, limiting our opportunities and fueling the gender divide. Raw and sincere, Hartley shares the results of her personal attempts at finding a balance between home and work, and tells us “It’s OK to want more”.

Rage Becomes Her
by Soraya Chemaly

Soraya Chemaly, a prominent author and feminist activist, calls attention to the common pressures women face in a sexist society in her powerful polemic, Rage Becomes Her. She discusses the ways in which women are socialized to become meek and quiet, suppressing any anger or frustrations they may feel. Rage Becomes Her is all about shining a spotlight on the most powerful tool women have in their arsenal; anger. Directed at the 21st-century professional woman, this read will give you all the motivation you need to harness power through rage and effect real change.

Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpowers 
by Brittney C. Cooper

Written with humour and conviction, Brittney Cooper’s Eloquent Rage, teaches us that the all too familiar stereotype of the “angry black woman” needs a second look. Copper explores the ways racism, sexism and classism intersect, creating disadvantages and hardship. She adds that feminism and accountability can begin undoing some of that damage. In this collection of personal essays, she shows that a woman’s rage is legitimate and powerful and because of this, we have a higher level of responsibility around how we build it. Eloquent Rage suggests some important ways in which women and feminism must evolve for the betterment of society as a whole. Rage is where power stems and Cooper reminds us that we should not have to settle for anything less than what we truly want.

Good and Mad 
by Rebecca Traister

A columnist for New York magazine, Rebecca Traister highlights the cultural significance of “female fury” in her successful polemic Good and Mad. Women have concealed their anger for far too long because an angry woman has never been justified. If a woman is angry she is viewed as irrational and out of control, but, Traister shows us that this is changing (and that’s a good thing). From the suffragette movement to #MeToo, there is incredible power in letting our anger and frustrations show. This book ultimately demonstrates how important the collective force of female anger can be when it is recognized and harnessed in a thoughtful way. Filled with interviews with activists and politicians, Good and Mad is exactly what you need to feel empowered and conquer your role in the workplace.

Make Trouble
by Cecile Richards

Witnessing her mother transform from housewife to captivating governor and as the former president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Cecile Richards knows a thing or two about what it takes to be a woman in power. Facing constant sexism, misogyny and threats of violence, Richards shares her experiences of what it feels like to challenge authority and find your voice in a world that just wants to shut you up. She offers stellar advice for the modern business woman with chapters dedicated to pushing your boundaries, gaining more confidence, and saying yes to every opportunity. This book encourages us to take risks and Make Trouble because the payoff is totally worthwhile.

Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman 
by Anne Helen Petersen

Our culture claims to celebrate women and advocate for equality but too often, socially and politically, it does the opposite. Women are judged and policed under the cultural assumption of how one should go about being a woman. In Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud, Anne Helen Petersen, a writer who specializes in culture, celebrity and feminism, commends women who are boldly unruly. Highly successful women such as Serena Williams and Madonna point to the importance of pursuing what you want to do even when society fights back. The women discussed in Too Fat, Too Slutty, represent a set of regressive cultural expectations that are rightfully being ignored. This book teaches us that the most powerful, successful woman today is the one who is unruly; the one who refuses to shut up.


6 Hilarious Books That Will Get You Talking About Feminism

Challenging the patriarchy has never been an easy task and sometimes we need a good laugh to build a little resilience. Here are 6 books that will keep you entertained while providing the inspiration you need to tackle gender inequality.




Feminasty: The Complicated Woman’s Guide to Surviving the Patriarchy Without Drinking Herself to Death  
by Erin Gibson

In her book, Feminasty, comedian and podcast host Erin Gibson delivers sensational wit while pointing to the ways in which people try to control women. She goes to incredible lengths to highlight the hypocrisy and absurdity of our current social and political climate with enough jokes to make you truly laugh-out-loud. Discussing a number of feminist issues from sexual violence on campuses to the problems that exist within the beauty industry, Gibson does an excellent job at encouraging feminist activism. Feminasty is educational, enraging and hysterically funny. This book will make you proud to be a woman.  

Men Explain Things to Me  
by Rebecca Solnit

Essayist and author of nearly 20 books on feminism, Rebecca Solnit isn’t shy when it comes to conversations about misogyny and the dreadful “mansplaining”. Using sharp and clever humour, Solnit confronts big issues of gender and power in Men Explain Things to Me. She incorporates a number of hilarious personal experiences that are more than relatable. Her influential ideas centered on the violence experienced by women are guaranteed to ignite a feminist rage from within. Men Explain Things to Me will keep you laughing as it empowers you to claim your voice and put an end to the silencing of women.

Feminist Fight Club: An Office Survival for a Sexist Workplace
by Jessica Bennett

A humorous guide to female liberation, Feminist Fight Club points to the very real issues of sexism and misogyny that continue to exist in the workplace. Jessica Bennett, an American journalist who writes on gender and culture, shares her expertise on how to deal with the subtler forms of sexism that could be holding you back from achieving your career goals. Contributing her personal stories with support from powerful research and statistics, she provides knowledgeable and witty advice on how to challenge the gender gap using purposeful strategies and female camaraderie. Feminist Fight Club is the ultimate manual-meets-manifesto that every professional woman should have handy.

Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman  
by Lindy West 

Brave, wild and distinct. Writer and performer Lindy West provides a clever, thought-provoking commentary on the role of women in society and the injustices that accompany this in her book, Shrill. Touching on childhood memories, her difficult journey from fat-shaming to fat-acceptance, and her ongoing battles with her toughest (and often male) critics, West narrates her life with raw humour and total emotion. Advancing feminist discourse through comedy, West is all about speaking for those who have been silenced and shutting up people who think discussing gender and politics is a tedious task. She gets to the heart of some of the toughest subjects, teaching women how to succeed in a world where we are not always treated equally. Shrill should be required reading for any feminist.

How to Be Successful without Hurting Men’s Feelings: Non-threatening Leadership Strategies for Women
by Sarah Cooper

Blogger and comedian Sarah Cooper brings charm and truth in this must-read. Known for dissecting corporate culture and the tech industry in true comedic fashion, Cooper addresses the very real (and depressing) issues that plague the workplace for women today. Relatable and relevant, the book challenges the unrealistic expectations professional women are often subject to while confronting sexist stereotypes of the ideal female leader. An accurate portrayal of what it’s like to be a woman in a male-dominated industry, How to Be Successful Without Hurting Men’s Feelings is the ultimate guide on how to achieve your goals and become the most successful version of yourself (without harming the male ego, of course).

You Don’t Have to Like Me: Essays on Growing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding Feminism
by Alida Nugent

A freelance writer and author, Alida Nugent is painfully funny and sincere in her collection of essays entitled, You Don’t Have to Like Me. Discussing the struggles she faced in growing up as a biracial woman with an eating disorder, Nugent shares many personal anecdotes that highlight the insecurities and vulnerabilities young women feel when growing up. She encourages us to talk about the tough situations that we are often too afraid to bring up and stresses the importance of coming to terms with and embracing our imperfections. A quick and captivating read, this collection of essays tells it like it is. It’s smart, unapologetic and dangerously funny.


Four books with big ideas for your organization

Whether you’re a leader in a corporation, the owner of a company, or the head of a team, these four business books will help guide you through change, growth, innovation, and the creation of a new culture. And they’re all based on the proven tactics of successful leaders in the business world. 




The Greenhouse Approach: Cultivating Intrapreneurship in Companies and Organizations 
by Chitra Anand

Chitra Anand has been on our radar for years — she shared her unique story as a Women of Influence Speaker in 2014 — and now she’s bringing her over 20 years of experience in the tech industry, working with giants like Microsoft, Telus, and Open Text, to her new book, The Greenhouse Approach. Her focus is on innovation — a necessity in today’s rapidly changing economy — which she believes many organizations lack because their culture is tuned to inertia, focusing disproportionately on established structures and processes. Her solution is intrapreneurship: empowering and harnessing employees’ entrepreneurial drive to foster new ideas, creative thinking, and a problem-solving edge. The Greenhouse Approach is a guide for reimagining current norms and structures, developing a culture of intrapreneurship, and equipping employees with the tools to anticipate and adapt to change.



Imagine It Forward: Courage, Creativity, and the Power of Change 
by Beth Comstock

The former Vice Chair and head of marketing and innovation at GE, Beth Comstock uses a candid personal narrative to share the lessons she learned over thirty years of guiding change at the global organization, challenging it to not wait for perfection but to spot trends, take smart risks, and test new ideas more often. With a call to action for everyone to let go of our attachment to “what we know” and become a change maker, the book is full of practical takeaways for problem-solving, collaboration, and forward-thinking leadership.




Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility 
by Patty McCord

As the former chief talent officer at Netflix, Patty McCord made a name for herself by rewriting the corporate HR playbook — literally. She penned the now infamous document which outlined “behaviours and skills” for employees and created an HR philosophy that did away with annual performance reviews, retention plans, and employee empowerment and engagement programs. In her book, Patty outlines the insights and lessons from her days at Netflix, and provides readers with a different path for creating a culture of high performance and profitability.




Growth IQ: Get Smarter About the Choices that Will Make or Break Your Business 
by Tiffani Bova

Tiffani Bova has spent decades traveling around the world helping companies — from Fortune 500 corporations to startups — solve their most vexing problem: how to keep growing in the face of stiff competition and a fast-changing business environment. It’s led her define ten simple growth paths, and in her new book, she explains how every successful growth strategy can be boiled down to picking the right combination and sequence of these paths. Her insights are demonstrated through over thirty in-depth business stories, including big players like Starbucks, Red Bull, and Marvel, which can help you find the right path to apply to your own organization. 




Change is Coming: Books you need to read when change is inevitable

At a time when the average professional stays at a job a mere four years, the idea that ‘change is inevitable’ has never been more true — especially when it comes to our careers. With the right reading material, authored by women who have mastered the art of transition, we invite you to own your next chapter, pivot, or pause — and make it one that counts.



Design Your Next Chapter by Debbie Travis



A household name in the world of interior design, Debbie Travis has transformed her television fame into a full-fledged empire. Today, she’s a wildly successful hotelier, entrepreneur, and author, splitting her time between England, Toronto, and Italy’s Tuscan countryside. In her new book, Travis shares the key ‘commandments’ she follows, the road-map that lead to her personal transformation, and stories of women who’ve attended her Tuscan retreats and left knowing how to confidently answer the question, “What’s next?”

 Hear the story straight from Debbie at our December 11th Evening event! Tickets are on sale now.


Pivot: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One by Jenny Blake



Does it feel like the time has come to make a change in your career? Not sure which direction to choose? When it comes to professional transformation, Jenny Blake — a former training and career development specialist at Google who now runs her own company as a career and business consultant and speaker — believes in taking small steps, not leaps. In Pivot, she explains how valuable your current job is in determining what your next one should be. By leveraging your existing networks and skills, Blake celebrates the power of the pivot, and reveals how this tried and true Silicon Valley strategy could land you on the path to your next breakthrough.



Imperfect Courage by Jessica Honegger



With Imperfect Courage: Live a Life of Purpose by Leaving Comfort and Going Scared, Jessica Honegger, founder of fair-trade jewelry line Noonday, invites you to leave behind your life of comfort and ease to tread into the unknown, and design a life of impact and purpose. Inspired by her personal journey in starting Noonday, Imperfect Courage dares readers to get serious about their deepest desires to do good, and kickstart a personal and/or professional transformation that might just change the world.



Reset by Ellen Pao



You might recognize Ellen Pao’s name due to her former role as CEO of reddit, where she made revolutionary changes to the platform, making it a safer space for women. Today, she is a diversity and inclusion activist, venture capitalist, and co-founder of the award-winning diversity and inclusion nonprofit Project Include. Reset tells the story of when Pao confronted Silicon Valley’s discrimination against women and minorities with a lawsuit that dubbed her “the face of change.” While her suit was ultimately unsuccessful, Pao revolutionized the conversation at tech offices, in the media, and around the world.



Pause: Harnessing the Life-Changing Power of Giving Yourself a Break by Rachael O’Meara



In an era of ever-increasing speed and efficiency, Rachael O’Meara’s Pause is the permission you need to pump the breaks on the trajectory of your life. Backed by psychological and neurological research, O’Meara says the quickest road to happiness is to take the scenic route — to explore what you love, rediscover what lights you up, and re-enter the ‘grind’ with a clearer sense of self and energized momentum. Including actionable steps and personal stories of success, O’Meara prepares you for and guides you through your own ‘pause’ — whether it’s for a year, a week, or just a moment.




Four books that changed the Women of Influence team’s careers


Our team at Women of Influence all share a passion for inspiring and empowering women to succeed. These are the books that made a profound impact on our own careers, and helped us thrive on the path to success.



Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance


“Elon Musk is one of Silicon Valley’s most intriguing entrepreneurs, and is constantly pushing boundaries. Since buying Women of Influence, a company that has been around for over two decades, his innovative thinking has inspired me to identify the new directions our company can go and succeed, and the boundaries we can push within the organization and the industry at large.” – Alicia Skalin, co-CEO



The Inner Game of Work by Timothy Gallwey


“Ironically, Timothy Gallwey started his career as a tennis coach but through some special circumstances, he was invited in to work with high powered executives to help them learn to coach for performance improvement. I might be biased given that executive coaching is a critical part of the work I do, but I found this book to hit on so many important points around supporting people in their effort to improve their own performance.” – Christine Laperriere, Executive Director, Women of Influence Advancement Centre 



Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain 



“I like to call myself an introvert in disguise. I’m fully capable of — and often enjoy — large social gatherings and presenting in front of groups. That said, I’m never the loudest person in a room and often balk at networking opportunities and meetings where I’m expected to speak up. This book gave me permission to just be quiet sometimes, and not worry that it’s damaging my career — it might actually be improving it.” – Teresa Harris, Social Media and Content Manager



She Laughed All Way to the Bank – Financial Empowerment for Canadian Women by Cindy Skrukwa


“It’s a crazy thing but when I was 26 I bought a media company and I made my first million by 28. At the time, I felt guilty for being financially successful in my own right. I didn’t have one single reference point for owning my money and being emotionally okay with it. There was NO literature on women and wealth until I found Cindy’s book. CHANGED MY LIFE. She gave me permission to own it and run with it and ENJOY IT!!” – Jan Frolic, Vice President




Discovering your purpose – 4 books to help you find your career path

When it comes to deciding the next step in our career paths, many of us feel overwhelmed, confused, and a little bit intimidated by what lies ahead. So the next time you’re contemplating the direction you want to take, reference any of these good reads for guidance and inspiration.


by Anna Jozwiak



Reinvention Roadmap: Break the Rules to Get the Job You Want and Career You DeserveFearless as Possible (Under the Circumstances) by Liz Ryan



As the title suggests, Reinvention Roadmap applies out of the box thinking to career-building strategies. Rebelling against the old ways of landing a job, Liz encourages her readers to approach career-planning like running a business, and to add creativity to their search. Her expertise comes from a long career in human resources — she’s a former Fortune 500 HR SVP — which is evident in the practical tips and how-to strategies that she shares to help you put her fresh perspectives into practice.


Mindshift: Break through Obstacles to Learning and Discover your Hidden Potential by Barbara Oakley



In a time of new technologies, industry disruption, and ever-evolving job descriptions, our professional success and longevity is reliant on our ability to embrace change. Dr. Oakley, a Professor of Engineering at Oakland University, teaches you how to awaken your hidden potential and welcome change, from a neuroscientist’s perspective. Using inspiring profiles as examples, Mindshift outlines how perceived weaknesses can be strengths, and explains how to recognize transferable skills to effectively modify your skill set. It proves changing paths is possible — regardless of age, background, or career stage.



Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert



After the wildly successful Eat Pray Love and Committed, Big Magic is another of Elizabeth Gilbert’s well-received celebrations of self. She writes how openness and creativity can lead us to a higher understanding of ourself, teaches how to embrace curiosity in life, and how to replace fear with a more creative approach. It’s a comprehensive guide to awareness and creativity in both career and life, using Gilbert’s own path to professional success (and everything that comes along with it) as empowering inspiration.



How to be Everything: A Guide for Those Who (Still) Don’t Know What They Want to Be When They Grow Up by Emilie Wapnick



After her TED Talk on the subject went viral, Emilie Wapnick expanded on her multipotentialite concept to create a guide for those of us with endless curiosity and no desire to pick one thing to be about. Emilie explores the traits of people who change their career paths frequently throughout their lives (multipotentialites) and dubs them the new Renaissance People rather than aimless wanderers. Wapnick then navigates the reader through four possible work models, which can lead “someone with many interests and creative pursuits” to a fruitful career, where all skills and passions are equally utilized.


Stories of their Own – Our Pick for the Best Biographies All Women Need to Read

Since the theme of International Women’s Day this year is Be Bold for Change, we’ve made a list of 5 Canadian women who are boldly stepping into their power to improve the lives of women and girls in Canada, and around the world.



Fearless as Possible (Under the Circumstances) by Denise Donlon



Denise Donlon is a celebrated Canadian business woman, feminist, broadcaster, and social activist. From Much Music to Sony Music Canada, where as the company’s first female president she endured the music industry’s biggest blow — the rise of digital pirated downloads — her story is one of innovation, endurance, and resilience. Fearless as Possible is a compelling, humorous, and unflinchingly honest nod to both Donlon’s impressive career accomplishments and admirable integrity, heart, and humility.


Settle for More by Megyn Kelly



Highly respected news anchor Megyn Kelly has become a household name in recent years as one of Donald Trump’s many targets throughout his presidential campaign. In Settle for More, Kelly addresses the feud and the perseverance that was required of her to make it through. She takes us back to where that perseverance was born, an upbringing characterized by high expectations and bruised by the loss of her father, shedding light on how these events shaped the trajectory of her successful career in journalism, her courageous attitude, and helped form the motto she now lives by: “Settle for more.”



My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg



Ruth Bader Ginsberg became an American Supreme Court Justice in 1993, and over two decades later, we finally get a glimpse at her fascinating life, in her own words. My Own Words is a collection of Justice Ginsberg’s writing that demonstrates the impact she has had on American law, women’s rights, and popular culture through her trademark humour, wit, and intellect. Each piece is forwarded by her biographical team, providing context and memorable quotes, insight sure to give credibility to the aspirations of women looking to make an impact on any country’s judicial system.



100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women by Dr. Jean Augustine, Dauna Jones-Simmonds, Denise O’Neil Green



100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women illuminates many of Canada’s untold stories, celebrating the careers and social, educational, political, and professional achievements of our country’s black women, each of whom is a leader in supporting the efforts of black women and girls. The co-authors themselves — the Honourable Dr. Jean Augustine, Dauna Jones-Simmonds, and Dr. Denise O’Neil Green — lead diversity-driven careers, impacting the way Canadian politics, businesses, and educational institutions address the topic of intersectional diversity. Most importantly though, the book serves as a blueprint of success for young women from all walks of life, inspiring them to fulfill their own untapped potential.



In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs by Grace Bonney



This collection features the stories of over 100 diverse women, outlining what it means to step into the creative and entrepreneurial pursuit you’re meant for. It is a manual for the modern career-woman, setting examples, illuminating pathways, and providing the tactical advice to making it, wherever you want to go. With original photography of the featured women in their own work spaces, In the Company of Women truly paints a picture of what success can look like, while still providing room for your own inspired interpretation.  



Relentless Spirit: The Unconventional Raising of a Champion by Missy Franklin



Persistence, strength, and bravery in the face of adversity define this six-time Olympic medalist’s journey to gold. At just 21, Missy Franklin’s reflections on her success are relatable to fellow young women. Contributions from her parents, D.A. and Dick Franklin, shed light on what it was like raising a future champion, and how they as a family rallied around the young athlete to encourage and support her way to the top. Through Relentless Spirit Franklin encourages young dreamers to channel just that: their own relentless spirit.


2016 Gift Guide for Empowered Women & Girls

When the holidays come around, knowing what to buy for the empowered woman or girl in your life isn’t always intuitive. These ladies are opinionated, strong, and want to be inspired. Luckily, we’ve done the work of curating a list of thoughtful gifts for you, so you’re guaranteed to hit the mark.




‘A Woman’s Place’ Sweater

Even when she’s off-duty, she still wants to make a statement in support of women’s professional advancement. This comfy sweater speaks for itself, and we think she’ll agree with what it has to say. $35 USD, wickedclothes.com


Girl Power notebook

An excellent stocking stuffer, this notebook will remind any powerful woman or girl just how strong she is every time she takes notes, or has her next amazing idea that she just has to write down. $15, redbubble.com


Marie Curie doll

Despite years of Barbie telling us what “female” is supposed to mean, it turns out dolls can be empowering too. Take this Marie Curie one from the Miss Possible collection. Currie, a world renowned chemist and physicist, comes complete with her very own Marie Curie lab coat. We can’t think of a better playtime companion for the tiny future scientist in your life. $45, bemisspossible.com


Feminist Fight Club: An Office Survival Manual

Part manual, part manifesto, Feminist Fight Club blends the personal story of a group of women who formed a secret group in New York City with cutting edge social science research to provide practical advice for how to combat today’s sexism in the workplace. The author provides practical hacks for pushing back against instances of “Manterrupting” and “Bropropriation.” The book has won the praises of Sheryl Sandberg and Broad City’s Ilana Glazer, and will surely make the professional woman in your life a) laugh and b) better equipped to succeed. $15, amazon. $21.99, chapters.indigo.ca


G(irls)20 stock

G(irls)20, our charity of choice, is a Canadian-based, globally active social enterprise that cultivates a new generation of female leaders through education, entrepreneurial training, leadership, and global experiences — with one ultimate goal: Increasing female labor force participation around the world. Make a donation in her name and give her the satisfaction of knowing it went towards effecting real world positive change. Any amount, canadahelps.org


Evaline: A Feminist’s Tale

This novel by M. Sheelagh Whittaker chronicles the impact of the sixties women’s liberation movement through the life of a woman called Evaline Sadlier. The story follows her from childhood to maturity, illustrating how she made her mark as a person and as a businesswoman, and giving the reader a glimpse at how she got to where she is. Ms. Whittaker herself was once hailed by the Toronto Globe and Mail as being a pioneer for women’s professional success, and was even featured on the front of the New York Times’ business section for having broken the glass ceiling. When so much of a girl’s success lies in knowing what she wants is possible, giving her a role model to look up to is invaluable. From $9.99, amazon.ca


Future Smart Girl onesie

No matter her age, it’s never too early to start empowering your favourite young women to strive for success. When she can’t quite speak yet, let this onesie, sold by Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls organization, speak for her. $20, shop.amysmartgirls.com


Lucky Iron Fish

Lucky Iron Fish, a Canadian innovation, is a sustainable and effective way to combat iron deficiency, which affects nearly every woman around the world. With every fish sold, one is given to a recipient need, helping to empower women around the world to improve the health of themselves and their families and reach their full potential. So far, over 80,000 Lucky Iron Fish have made it to the pots of families from Canada to Cambodia. $29.99, luckyironfish.com



Top 5 reads to empower change

Are you ready to change the world? If figuring out how is your only stumbling block, you might find the inspiration, insight, and practical guidance you need in one of these five books. The list has been carefully curated by Sara L. Austin, the founder and president of Children First Canada, a non-profit organization that is mobilizing Canadians to care for, protect and empower children. 





Playing Big by Tara Mohr

An expert on women’s leadership and well-being, Tara Mohr has worked with countless women through her professional coaching, training programs, and writing. Her book blends inner work and practical skills training using her own breakthrough model for making the journey from playing small—as she describes it, that means being held back by fear and self-doubtto playing big, taking bold action to pursue what you see as your callings. It’s a great read for anyone looking to take a leap forward in their career and life.












Rookie Smarts by Liz Wiseman

What exactly are rookie smarts? According to Liz, a two-time bestselling author, they are how we tend to think and act when we’re doing something for the first time. The obvious next question is why are they valuable, and the answer that Liz offers is simple: in our current market, we are constantly faced with rapid change. We can overcome the issues this may cause by cultivating a curious, flexible, youthful mindset that is unencumbered by past baggage, established resources, and a previous track record.











Start with Why by Simon Sinek

What do Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Jobs, and the Wright Brothers have in common? They all started with why. It’s a method of leadership—thinking, acting, and communicating—that asks why an organization operates, rather than how it operates, or what it does. And by focusing on why, Simon explains, leaders are able to inspire others to follow them. Using real-life stories as examples, it’s a great book for those who want be inspiring, or find some inspiration in others.













Tribes by Seth Godin

Bestselling author Seth Godin discusses tribes in the modern age. Thanks to the internet, we’re no longer limited by geography, cost, and time. That means anyone (including you) is capable of becoming head of a tribe, as long as they have a desire to change things, the ability to connect people, and the willingness to lead. Those who want to make a difference now have the tools at their fingertips.











The Power of Unreasonable People, by John Elkington and and Pamela Hartigan

Focusing on social entrepreneurs who are solving some of the world’s most pressing economic, social, and environmental problems, John and Pamela show how these pioneers are disrupting existing industries, value chains, and business models—and in the process creating fast-growing markets around the world. Using first-hand stories to illustrate their point, they clarify the world of social entrepreneurship for those interested in knowing more.








Top 4 Books for Effective Leadership

Effective leadership can improve your team’s productivity and morale, propel your business to success, and even create the next generation of leaders. These reads will teach you how to embrace effective leadership—and what tactics are designed to fail.



Angela Duckworth, GRIT: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

Culminating from Angela’s extensive career in psychology, GRIT focuses on what Angela defines as the secret to outstanding achievement—not talent, but grit. Grit, defined as perseverance and passion for long-term goals, offers a unique and motivating way to reach your full potential, beyond what natural talents would predict. While not an explicit handbook for leaders, leaders can still recognize the power of grit and see how it is cultivated in the highest-performing sports teams, businesses, and schools.










LeadersEatLast_400x400Simon Sinek, Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t

Imagine if your employees were inspired to go to work, felt valued and trusted, and went home feeling fulfilled. Simon has traveled the world to explore why some leaders create environments where teams naturally work together to achieve incredible results, and some are doomed to fail, regardless of incentives. His findings were summarized during a conversation with a Marine Corps general who stated, “Officers eat last.” That notion, an idea stemmed in biology rather than management theory, has held true across a variety of sectors, from military to manufacturing, investment banking to government. Simon has articulated his theory perfectly, showing us that leaders willing to eat last will be rewarded with incredibly loyal employees determined to reach their leader’s vision, whatever it takes.








Superbosses3_400x400Sydney Finkelstein, Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent

Would you rather hit your goals and lead your team, or build an army of leaders? Sydney draws from ten years of research and more than two hundred interviews to conclude that superbosses (while differing in their own personal leadership styles) all focus on just that: transforming entire industries through finding, nurturing, leading, and even letting go of great people. Superbosses, the term coined by Sydney, work on three main practises: creating master-apprentice relationships, relying on the Cohort effect, and saying goodbye to good teams. It’s an ideal guide on how to create an incredible flow of talent in your organization.











Rich Karlgaard and Michael S. Malone, Team Genius: The New Science of High-Performing Organizations

Our society is based on teams, both personally and professionally. So why are many teams created by luck or circumstance? Rich and Michael offer insights and scientific research to explain that planning, designing, and managing teams is no longer a black art—it’s one rooted in science. They answer the questions we’ve all been wondering: how can we reorganize subpar teams and turn them into top performers? How can we identify when top-performing teams are no longer working well together? Both Rich and Michael have been journalists, analysts, investors, and global entrepreneurs, and are well poised to share their knowledge in Team Genius.







A version of this appears in print in our Spring 2016 Women of Influence Magazine, Page 13. 

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The Top Four Books for Using Psychology to Succeed in Business

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