I made a commitment to read at least ten books in 2019. Thanks to going off Instagram last month, I managed to finish two books by the end of January. If I can keep up the pace, I’m sure I’ll read more than ten and that’s thrilling!
Considering my commitment to reading, I thought I’d provide a round up of the books that I read each month, in case it could inspire you to pick up a book too.
In January, I read Becoming by Michelle Obama and The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks. Luckily, both books left an impact on me and provided food for thought. In this post, I’d like to share my thoughts on Becoming. I’ve shared a brief commentary of The Big Leap on my Goodreads account, if you’re interested. I’m sharing realtime reading lists, ratings, and all that good stuff on Goodreads, so let’s be friends there?
Becoming is not a book about politics although Michelle Obama’s story is obviously interwoven with political experiences. This is a book about a minority woman who grows up poor in South Side, Chicago and turns her life around, defying racial and cultural expectations.
“Since stepping reluctantly into public life, I’ve been held up as the most powerful woman in the world and taken down as the “angry black woman.” I’ve wanted to ask my detractors which part of that phrase matters to them the most–is it “angry” or “black” or “woman?”
All of us have met this brave woman. We may even have been one at some point in our lives–and that’s what makes Becoming accessible and inspirational to the ordinary person. I can’t imagine anybody who won’t benefit from reading it.
I’ve been lucky enough now in my life to meet all sorts of extraordinary and accomplished people. […] What I’ve learned is this: All of them have had doubters. […] The noise doesn’t go away, but the most successful people I know have figured out how to live with it, to lean on the people who believe in them, and to push forward with their goals.
Michelle Obama writes with startling honesty and openness. I’m not a crier but there were parts in her story that ripped my heart open–sometimes because of relatability and other times due to profound admiration for her strength.
“So many of us arrived at college not even aware of what our disadvantages were. You learn only slowly that your peers had been given SAT tutoring or college-caliber teaching in high school or had gone to boarding school and thus weren’t grappling with the difficulties of being away from home for the first time. […] Your world shifts, but you’re asked to adjust and overcome, to play your music the same as everyone else.”
Her prose is free of embellishments; she writes candidly about seeking marriage counseling, the void her family felt due to Barack Obama’s absence during political campaigns, the reality of the biological clock and their fertility issues, as well as the personal attacks she experienced and her coping mechanisms.
“We were all so used to sacrificing for our kids, our spouses, and our work. I had learned through my years of trying to find balance in my life that it was okay to flip priorities and care only for ourselves once in a while.”
I’ve also read Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama and Hard Choices by Hillary Clinton, but my experience of reading Becoming has been far more engaging, meaningful, and heartfelt. I’d recommend this book to anyone and everyone, particularly women born into racial, cultural, financial, or class disadvantages. You’ll love it.