Summer Reads for Thinking Young Women

Summer Reads for Thinking Young Women

One month left of summer means only one more month of uninhibited reading for fun. No, this is not another Cosmo magazine-esque list of  “sexy summer beach reads.” Here are three compelling non-fiction books for the girls who want to flex their learning muscles while laying out on the beach. Whether you are a fashion lover, entrepreneur, social activist- or all of the above- there is a perfect read for you!

Grace: A Memoir

As past articles might indicate, I am a documentary addict, and so of course, I discovered this memoir thanks to a documentary called The September Issue, which follows the staff of Vogue in creating the magazine’s most important issue of the year. In it, we meet Grace Coddington, Vogue’s creative director. With bright orange hair and no eyebrows, she’s a fascinating character from the start. Naturally, I left the film needing to know the story of the intriguing visionary behind Vogue’s pages.

Photo from from
Grace Coddington holding her eponymous memoir.

Her memoir is a combination of written story, self-illustrated sketches and samples of personal modeling pictures as well as fashion spreads, creating a book rich in visual content. Coddington recounts her professional journey from model to Vogue’s creative director, as well as her personal life and includes many revealing anecdotes about her experiences with fashion’s biggest designers and photographers. Most interesting is watching her navigate her, at times, contentious relationship with Anna Wintour- including penning a chapter focused on the editor-in-chief. Visit this link to view the creative director’s work in an excerpt of the documentary, The September Issue.

The Path Redefined: Getting to the Top on your Own Terms

Lauren Maillian Bias, who penned this memoir at the age of 28 as an already successful entrepreneur of three different business ventures (including creator and former C.O.O. of Sugarleaf Vineyards, rebranded in 2013 as Wisdom Oak Winery, right here in Charlottesville!), gives her advice on finding success in the business world using three driving principles:

  1. To attract opportunities and be prepared for when they arrive
  2. To invest in relationships that will bring opportunity
  3. To seize opportunities

I admit, I am not a fan of confrontation- when it comes to fight or flight, I pick flight about 95 percent of the time.  Not exactly a great career skill. Therefore, my favorite advice comes from the third section of the book on seizing opportunity- a chapter on learning to negotiate. Negotiating is integral to advancing in the business world, but something many people (aka me) are fearful to do. Bias gives her insight on the importance of knowing your audience, as well as how to prepare for, construct and control the direction of your negotiation to best benefit your goal. Finally, us confrontation-fearful can breathe a little easier (and get that promotion). Each chapter also includes tips from successful business veterans such as Kathleen Warner (former C.O.O. Startup America Partnership) and Kelly Hoey (co-founder and managing director of Women Innovative Mobile). Watch an interview with Maillian Bias about the key to her success here:

I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban

The Let Girls Learn campaign recently highlighted the fact that 62 million girls around the world are not in school. Malala Yousafzi would have been one of these girls, had it not been for her father, who believed in educating his daughter. Now, at only 17, Yousafzai is an international leader in the fight for education. Her memoir, I am Malala, recounts her experience growing up in the Swat Valley of Pakistan, an area deeply affected by Taliban violence. Despite erupting violence, her father continued to ensure her schooling. As a young pre-teen (wow), Yousafzai began to publically speak out in favor of the education for women, with such wide reaching activism that it came to the attention of the Taliban, and led to a member shooting her in the head at age 15. Yet, her miraculous survival is proof that her message will not be silenced. Last fall, this John Stewart interview with Yousafzai captured the attention of millions. If you have not seen it, let her powerful message inspire you to pick up the book immediately.