I’m going to be honest, until I got to redpepper, I didn’t really read a whole lot of non-fiction. I had a few go-to’s, but the escapism component of fiction always pulled me in and seemed to be the books I couldn’t put down the most. Once I got here, our colleagues and clients had so many recommendations for biographies, self-improvement books, industry related books, you name it. I quickly realized that captivating storytelling didn’t have to come just from fiction. And I also realized that being an adult is hard and the world is mad and that there are lots of valuable lessons and nuggets of knowledge to help navigate those things through literature. These books, whether they are a new or an old favorite, are a few that have helped me along the way as a young woman crafting my career, constantly seeking growth, and really just trying to be the best human I can be.
The Power of Now , Eckart Toelle
With Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle gives us all a little advice on our personal journeys to spiritual enlightenment. Among many useful lessons learned from this book, he emphasizes the importance of finding inner peace and learning to lean into the present instead of constantly worrying about the past and the future. I initially read this book during college, at a time where so many of us feel overwhelmed with stress and thought the sky was falling multiple times per week. And also at a time where life after school is looming and full of unknowns. Looking back on that now, it seems so silly to have been that stressed about the future because where I’m at now is beyond where I could have ever imagined. I’ve come to realize that regardless of where we’re at in life, we all can improve our ability to be fully and totally invested in whatever is in front of us at that very moment. Learning to work with the present and not against it can completely transform your perspective and bring a whole new level of peace to your life.
“Be at least as interested in what goes on inside you as what happens outside. If you get the inside right, the outside will fall into place.”
I’m Still: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness Here, Austin Channing Brown
This book is so, so powerful — and so, so important for everyone to read, especially white people. Austin Channing Brown tells her story about her upbringing and her journey to discovering her self worth as a Black woman growing up in a predominantly white America. This book has some real, hard, uncomfortable truths for white people, and is an essential read for those growing their education around racism and the realities of white privilege. It isn’t enough to just think you are a good person and aren’t racist, because that thinking supports inaction and dismisses reality. We need to take intentional steps to be actively anti-racist in order to make any real strides towards change. I’m the first to admit that I’m still learning (and always will be) every day, but this book was an incredibly eye opening read to provide even a little bit of insight into what it’s like to be a Black person today, and see the role I can play in supporting the fight for equality.
“When you believe niceness disproves the presence of racism, it’s easy to start believing bigotry is rare, and that the label racist should be applied only to mean-spirited, intentional acts of discrimination.”
Shoe Dog, Phil Knight
Shoe Dog is a memoir by Phil Knight, the creator of Nike. We all are familiar with Nike’s products, but most of us don’t know about the history and journey of Nike and its founders. With this book, Knight goes in depth about the early days of the company and its evolution as it grew to become one of the largest brands on the planet. I chose this book because I have always loved Nike — from the products, to the simplicity of the marketing, all the way down to the way the brand has adapted and adjusted with the times without ever straying from its core identity. What I liked most about this book is that it isn’t an egotistical celebration of Knight’s successes or a glamorization of the hardships of entrepreneurship. It’s a surprisingly raw and honest account of Knight’s personal and professional journey through the ups and downs of pursuing a dream and creating something from the ground up. Aspiring entrepreneur or not, this book is a fascinating story and has a lot of great wisdom to take away for anyone.
“Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.”
Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng
This book has soared in popularity over the last year or so — partially due to its recent adaptation to the small screen, but mostly due to it being such a well written and captivating story. Celeste Ng uses her childhood experiences growing up in Shaker Heights, Ohio to inform the events of this novel set in the 90s — one that navigates things like racial tensions, wealth and social disparity, parenting and family dynamics. And although the details are fictional, those topics are illuminated so authentically because, well, those issues are so prevalent even still today. Normally, a novel is something you love because you get lost in the story and create your own world. There aren’t typically as many real world revelations and applications that come with fiction. But this book is an exception. As a producer and a creative storyteller, there is a lot to appreciate here about the way Ng crafts her characters and writes so vividly from each perspective. But as a human being, there is a lot to appreciate about the valuable lessons you also get to learn about other people along the way.
“Sometimes you need to scorch everything to the ground, and start over. After the burning the soil is richer, and new things can grow. People are like that, too.”
Let My People Go Surfing, Yvon Chouinard
This memoir by Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia, talks in depth about his upbringing and his vision / inspiration for creating a company like Patagonia, while also making sure it aligned with his own personal values and principles. I already really liked Patagonia for the quality and the adventurous persona of the brand, but reading this book made me love it and want to support it even more. It also opened my eyes to a lot of the realities of entrepreneurship, fast fashion, and environmental sustainability in business. As a born and raised coastal Floridian, the environment has always been something I cared a lot about…so reading about Chouinards’ untraditional approach to business with Patagonia was super inspiring and showed that you don’t need to sacrifice what’s important to you in order to achieve success. If you read this and don’t come away reflecting on consumerism or wanting to do a little more for our planet, I’d be shocked.
“If you want to understand the entrepreneur, study the juvenile delinquent. The delinquent is saying with his actions, “This sucks. I’m going to do my own thing.”