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Discover the Joy of Giving: A Guide to Thoughtful Holiday Reading | Somehow I Manage

a book wrapped as a gift, with Somehow I Manage written over the image

By Britt Yenser


There is so much hustle and bustle around the holiday season. While work can feel overwhelming around this time of year, our personal lives can feel like a lot, too. Maybe you have some extra thoughts occupying your brain like, "What do I get my friend who has everything?" or "How will I spend my limited holiday break time?" As a former English teacher, I think the answer to both of those questions is-- books! Books are both a thoughtful gift, and a way to slow down and make the most of your down time. With that in mind, here are my top five book recommendations, based on what I've read this past year.


the book cover for Mindset by Carol Dweck


Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. 

Why I recommend this one: Dweck breaks down complex psychological experiences into easy to understand and relatable information. After reading this book, I felt like a much more empathetic manager and coworker because I felt I had more insight into other ways of thinking. I also had new language for my mindset, and was able to better express why I think and operate the way I do. 


book cover for Crucial Conversations by Joseph Grenny, et al


Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking when Stakes are High by Joseph Grenny, Kerry Patterson, Ron McMill, Al Switzler and Emily Gregory

Why I recommend this one: If I perceived something as a conflict, I was instantly uncomfortable. I knew if I wanted to be a better manager and leader, I would need to learn to sit with my discomfort and have conversations I didn't want to. This book helped me identify the components of a "crucial conversation" and how to have that conversation effectively and without fear. 


Book cover for Boundaries for Leaders by Dr. Henry Cloud


Boundaries for Leaders: Results, Relationships, and being Ridiculously in Charge by Dr. Henry Cloud

Why I recommend this one: I struggle with boundaries. I found myself in a cycle of giving, getting tired and continuing to give, and then burning out. I knew I needed to break that cycle, and this book offers both information and prompts to help do just that. I honestly recommend pairing this book with a nice journal, because you could easily fill a journal with your own thoughts and discoveries based on the prompts in this book!


Book cover for It Didn't Start with You by Mark Wolynn


It Didn't Start With You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle by Mark Wolynn

Why I recommend this one: This book is not for the faint of heart-- it offers powerful testimony about the damage of family trauma and offers prompts to discover and heal your pain points. This book also pairs well with a nice journal, because it's purposefully interactive. I'll be honest, I've picked up and put down this book for years. It's incredibly helpful, but healing can feel messy. If you or someone you know is ready for a healing journey, I highly recommend this book-- just don't be afraid to take breaks while reading. 



Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don't by Simon Sinek

Why I recommend this one: Sinek offers great insights into how humans typically think and behave, and also offers a lot of anecdotes and stories to make the content understandable and relatable. Each chapter is packed with valuable insights, but they are also pretty short. If you or someone you know has a "read a chapter a day" goal, this is a great book for that! 


If you're in the market for a thoughtful gift or just looking for something to do over your holiday break, look no further than your local book store or library! Books can transport you to another world, or catapult you to a better version of yourself. If you give a book as a gift, consider adding a note about why you picked that book for that person. I hope this list was helpful or inspiring, because I think the best gift you can give anyone (including yourself) is the motivation to be a life long learner.