Every night before going to bed or early in the morning when everyone else is still sleeping, my routine training session starts. I pick up a book from the bed-stand shelf and feed my brain, one chapter a day. For me is an informal way to keep updated on communication and marketing to offer always the best possible services in my consultancy. But you might be surprised to know I usually learn more from books that do not specifically focus on my fields of work: there is always an element of storytelling, self-help, motivation and lessons.Â
As my work often revolves around people who in one way or another are changing the world, I thought of sharing a list of six books that filled me in 2019, hoping they will help you as well as a changemaker.Â
This book is about the art of gentle protest and it sits so well with introverted personalities. But it is also for whoever wants to see change happening but doesnâ€™t necessarily enjoy presiding the streets, chant or march. Despite working a lot in the field of human rights and with ChangeMakers, I never felt street protests to be my thing. Yet, I could never rationalise it until I read this book. Through Sarahâ€™s compelling explanations, I understood my gentle protest manifests in what Iâ€™ve been doing in the past ten years: letting untold stories out to change the world and challenge stereotypes. I had the pleasure and honour of meeting Sarah Corbett during an event organised by the Social Founder Network in London. Listening to her speaking definitely added something else to the reading. Â
How have I not found Vanessaâ€™s book before? Itâ€™s a rich and practical manual to understand people: from their body language to their personalities. All the stories, experiments, exercises are aimed to better connect to one another, whether it is for work or for personal relationships. What I have learned from this book, is now an integral part of me and Iâ€™m grateful for my knowledge of the science of people did not limit to watching the TV show, Lie To Me.
I stumbled on this book while watching an interview with former US soccer team captain, Abby Wambach on Marie TV. I loved the way she talked about creating a supportive network while you work to reach your goals. Especially, the lesson I most appreciated from the book, is the importance of cheering from the bench. This means, being able to support your team even when you are not actively taking part in the game. I work freelance so a lot of times the team is formed by myself. But especially when facilitating workshops, I interact with amazing people. This book definitely helped me to understand how to nurture those connections and speak up.Â
2019 was the year I finally went to Africa to share my knowledge of communication for a group of changemakers. It was a dream coming true and it happened in Niger. In preparation for the trip, I sourced all the info about Nigerâ€™s music and literature because Iâ€™m goofy like that. And I love getting to know the stories behind the people Iâ€™ll meet, even if weâ€™ll only be together for three days. This book, in particular, is about a strong, persistent African queen fighting against the French invaders. Itâ€™s historical and inspiring.Â
If you are looking for inspiration to transform your story into a tool to share a bigger message, this is your book. Itâ€™s the story of Jessica, a teenage mom who went from struggling to have money in her pockets to UK PR queen. The way she shares her ups and downs in life is contagious. Probably she is one of the first people to persuade me to dig deeper into my personal story for the book Iâ€™m writing on how my identity and heritage shaped my approach to communication. I wouldnâ€™t have had the pleasure to read this book if I hadnâ€™t been to the Precious conference in London (the Precious Awards celebrates women of colour professional achievements).
Oh gosh how much I laughed with this book! And not because itâ€™s hilarious, but because the protagonist, Layla is such a witty, clever, intelligent young black Muslim woman. And that last bit of her description is what the book is about: how Layla has to face bullyism in her new school and how she manages to get herself in and out of trouble. It is a young people’s book, but for someone with my history (second generation of migrants), itâ€™s relatable and empowering. Lesson learned: be witty, be you, be bold.Â
Meet the Author
In retrospective I have noticed for me buying a book directly from the author after having heard her or him speak, is an all different experience. Plus, have you noticed anything else from this list? Many of these books are about women and by women. It was definitely not done on purpose, but I guarantee, having them whispering in my ears, helped.Â
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And let me know, what book should I read in 2020?Â