Friday Favorites: Inspiration, Entertainment, and Everyday Life

 In Change Culture

Today’s Friday Favorites blog post is about all of our favorite books, or what we’re reading right now. Read on for our favorite book recommendations!



Ryan, Director of Change

I am reading a book called Raising the Floor, about how technology and innovative are affecting job growth and wages.  It proposes a universe basic income in place of all current social safety net programs. It is an interesting and startling read.



Carly, Visual Composer

I’ve been reading books related to my IP project (senior thesis) including Speak, Memory, which is a memoir by Nabokov as well as some of Joan Didion‘s books including Blue Nights and A Year of Magical Thinking.  Informed by interdisciplinary research as well as narratives from others, in my thesis I am exploring how memory, grief, and honoring the dead are expressed in the creative process. I am interested in the distinction between mourning, the outward expression of sadness and grief, more of an inward manifestation. I hope my project will be a source of empowerment for others undergoing the universal experience of loss.



Amy, Crafter of Strategic Communication

Favorite books is always a really hard question for me, because I love so many books. So I made notes about what to talk about. When I was in high school, I had to read some Oscar Wilde, and I really loved him because I thought he was so funny. So every once in a while, I’ll crack open The Picture of Dorian Gray and be like, “Wow, this is funnier than I remember!” So that’s an old favorite.

More recently, I’ve gotten into Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – she’s Nigerian and she writes about Nigerian history and the experience of being an immigrant, so when I read her books I feel like I’m learning so much that my Western education didn’t teach me. And then I just finished a book called Who Asked You? by Terry McMillan – I got it from a Buzzfeed list I think, but it was really good. She writes from multiple perspectives and does a really good job humanizing things that a lot of people tend to stereotype – the book revolves around a family that sort of lives in poverty in LA, and she does a fantastic job of making you really identify with her characters.



Morgan, Video Production Associate

I don’t really have a whole lot of time to read, with classes, but I like to when I can. But I have been reading one of Mindy Kaling‘s books, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?I really like her, and I really like her show The Mindy Project. And it’s really cool for me to read, because I’m a video person hearing about all the behind the scenes stuff in the TV industry, and I think she’s really funny. So I’ve really enjoyed reading that book, and that’s what I’m reading right now.



Haley, Organizer of Words and People

For favorites, I’m a sucker for dystopian novels … so, 1984 by George Orwell, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. And I also have the book with me that I’m reading now. It was recommended to me by my dad’s cousin, who is a Canadian author and email marketer. It’s called Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. It follows generations of this Greek immigrant family up into the present day through the voice of the main character, Cal, on a moving journey of self discovery and unearthed family history. It’s Holden Caulfield-esque, from The Catcher in the Rye — great humor and it all takes place in Detroit, too. I highly recommend it so far.



Jaclyn, Data and Analytics Associate

One of the best books I’ve ever read is Ishmael by Daniel QuinnIt’s not like a fun read, it’s more of something to make you think. It makes you think about who we are as humans and our interactions with the rest of the world, and how we can make that better. And then, as far as a fun book that I like, Watchers by Dean KoontzIf you guys like Stranger Things on Netflix, it’s pretty much like that but in book form. And it came before Stranger Things, so it’s cool.



 Maya, Special Projects Associate

The book I’m reading right now is called Can’t Buy My Love, and it’s a book about a woman who works in advertising and she first doesn’t even know that she even likes advertising, and she kind of tells her story as she’s also just discussing things about it. Her mother passes when she’s younger and she grows up and she doesn’t realize that a lot of her consumerism habits have to do with things that she sees in advertising – like things that advertising sells you and tells you, how you can solve problems and you can buy products that to fix things. And she gets really granular with how she looks at it as a concept, which is just really interesting. And she explains how it’s intertwined in a lot of things we do and see and we don’t really recognize those things because that’s what advertising’s supposed to do.

And a fun book … so, yeah, I read Hunger Games, because I love the female protagonist and the story, and I’m always intrigued and need to go to the next page. And I’ve watched all the movies too.



Sara, Director of Digital Evangelism 

So, I have not been doing a lot of reading lately, but, you know, that’s just the state of the world right now with the election. But, I did start working on the new Jonathan Franzen novel, Purity. I’m a big fan of really character-rich, character-driven novels, and Franzen’s a master of them. I really loved Freedom and The Corrections – couldn’t put them down, stopped everything else in my life to finish those books. The other book I finished most recently was The Circle by Dave Eggers and it was really, really fun. It was kind of a look at start-up and technology culture gone bad in a lot of ways. So I found that highly amusing but also incredibly depressing, because some of the themes in the novels I’ve read – for example, tech start-ups that don’t really tell you you have to work really long hours, but install bars and gyms and sleeping rooms and basically encourages people to work until midnight every day. So, it’s just kind of funny in how that’s becoming way more realistic these days.



Kalli, Creative Director

While I don’t read a ton of physical books, I do listen to a lot of audiobooks on my commute. My most favorite book that I’ve maybe ever read – listened to – is The Nightingale by Kristin HannahI think everyone should read it, it’s honestly the best. It’s World War II historical fiction, written from the perspective of a family in France. It’s potentially the best book I’ve ever read, I highly recommend it. I also recently finished The Art of Fielding, and I thought that was a great read, too. The character development – top notch. And an author that I love is Rainbow Rowell. She wrote the book Eleanor & Park, which is technically a Young Adult novel, I know, but it’s actually amazing. The main characters are in high school, but I think people of any age would enjoy it.



Lauren, Director of Details 

I’m a big fan of sad books, so in terms of books that I always end up going back to, Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton, The Virgin Suicides which is also by Jeffrey Eugenides, I love Lolita. And Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, I took like three weeks out of my life once to just sit down and read the whole book. Highly recommend it. And then what I’m reading right now, every year there’s this award called The Man Booker Prize, and they’re announcing it on October 25th – it’s the best English language novel that came out in the past year. So they have the short list out right now, and I’m only one and a half books in, but I’m reading The Sellout which is a satire of race and socioeconomic conditions in America. So far it’s pretty good. So, we’ll see if I get through all six by October 25th.



Erin, Communications Associate

Picking favorite books for me is so hard. So I pretty much pick a favorite book every year, and last year my favorite book was Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff. It’s kind of a less messed up version of Gone Girl – it’s still kind of messed up – but the first half is from the husband’s perspective and the second half is the wife’s perspective. And, you know, the second half is plot twist after plot twist, so it’s really interesting. And then I also found out recently that it was President Obama’s favorite book of 2015, so I love that! And then right now I’m currently reading The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison for one of my classes.



Amanda, Chief Results Officer

So, I am not much of a reader these days. As a general principle I have been, but not these days because everything’s so crazy. But I did remember that I listened to Amy Schumer’s The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo recently on a trip. I loved that – it was deeper than I thought it would be, but also funny. Enjoyed it. It’s really great being married to Ryan Irvin because when I put a book in our cart on Amazon, he always buys them for me. So I put Designing Your Life in our cart, and had read a really interesting New York Times article about these two Silicon Valley gurus who are teaching a class at Stanford about “Designing Your Life” and helping people think about what’s possible in their lives and being more strategic and thoughtful about it.



Amelia Jane, Office Baby

Amelia may not have a lot of books under her belt yet, but she’s really looking forward to reading I Am Amelia Earhart and I Am Jane Goodall by our friend Brad Meltzer!







Join the conversation! We would love to hear from you about your favorite books. Leave a comment below and tell us what we should read next!

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