I can't believe there are only five weeks until the unofficial end of summer. If you're lucky enough to be planning a few beach days or weekend getaway and need a break from emails and news headlines, consider these reads that blend the personal with the political. From an inspiring teenager's tome, to Hillary Clinton's heavyweight hardcover, to an upcoming release, here are the five books that will be on my coffee table for the last five weeks of the season -- some old, some new, and a "bonus book" that everyone is talking about.
Hard Choices by Hillary Rodham Clinton
This 600-page memoir by former secretary of state and potential presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, is at the top of my must-finish list. The book chronicles Hillary's four years traveling the world -- 112 countries, to be exact -- as our nation's chief diplomat and the lessons she learned along the way. The book doesn't tell us if we'll see Hillary for president in 2016, but what it does tell us? She's the most qualified, dynamic, and experienced person to be president. Voting for Hillary is not a hard choice (I'm one of millions of people encouraging her to run. Have you checked out Ready for Hillary?).
I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb
I have wanted to read this book ever since I saw Pakistani-schoolgirl-turned-international-symbol Malala Yousafzai accept a Woman of the Year Award from Glamour Magazine last year. In her speech, she said, "The pen is the most powerful tool for change in the world." I couldn't agree more. Malala's story touched women around the world when she was shot by the Taliban for speaking out for girls' education. But that didn't stop her, and she's using her pen to literally change the world.
A Fighting Chance by Elizabeth Warren
At this time of disillusionment and dysfunction in government, Senator Elizabeth Warren is proving she is the real deal. That fervor was what made her so compelling when she was campaigning, and what makes her so compelling as a senator. Reading her memoir, released this spring, is like listening to her passionate speeches on the Senate floor -- it is candid, compelling, and relatable.
Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou
In her last book, published in 2013, Maya Angelou explores her relationship with her mother -- shedding light on how it shaped the woman who would become a literary legend. One of my favorite quotes from the late, great writer perfectly captures why her books will always be relevant to women: "My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style." Mission accomplished.
The Beach Book by Gloria Steinem
This book is a piece of happy nostalgia I revisit every summer. Written in 1963, it is one of feminist icon Gloria Steinem's earliest books, and a glimpse into her love for travel. Its appeal has endured for more than 50 years, proving that wanderlust is timeless. The inside flap covered in foil for sunbathing shows how far we've come!
Bonus book: Soldier Girls: The Battles of Three Women at Home and at War by Helen Thorpe
In Soldier Girls, to be released August 5, Journalist Helen Thorpe paints a moving picture of the realities of war. She tells the stories of three women soldiers, their deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, and their friendships over 12 years. She brings women's perspectives into a narrative that is so often viewed through the male lens -- and makes the political truly personal.
These page-turners are all reminders of why women's voices are so valuable. They are stories that inspire, encourage, and to which we can relate. Happy reading!
P.S. - Looking to fill your bag with back-to-school-style reads? Check out Higher Heights for America's recently released report on the status of black women in American politics. And if you haven't already, read Keys to Elected Office: The Essential Guide for Women from the Barbara Lee Family Foundation.