Books that carried me in 2020

Updated: Dec 30, 2020

As always, I love sharing what I’m learning and how I’m trying to pursue growth each year. Hope this list resonates with you and gives you some direction into the New Year! I've split them up by genre, you'll easily see which books I read the most of each year.


Happy Reading friends.


The links I’ve included are affiliate links on Amazon, which means if you purchase a book through one of these links, I’ll get a few cents from that purchase. Just as I love supporting small businesses, I trust you do as well.


Personal Development Books (these are my jam!)


1. Untamed by Glennon Doyle




This book was my TOP book for 2020. Seriously, I talked about it all the time on the podcast this year if you missed it. Glennon writes from a place of vulnerability, strength and courage reminding all of us women that we were not born to be quiet and selfless. It’s about letting go of our shame, our fear and living authentically as she says as “god-damn cheetahs”....seriously if you haven’t picked this one up - you need to read it!


Here’s an excerpt from one of my Instagram posts about this book:


We are all born dreamers. It's often the world and those around us that condition us women to play it safe, not be too loud and be just good enough.


But what if those "crazy ideas" we dream about or idealize in a "different world" were actually what we were meant to do, be or follow?


What if we stopped listening to the directions that others have given us to live safe and quiet lives and instead followed our hearts? Not ignoring our desires, but embracing them.


It has so many nuggets of truth that speak directly to my heart and women around the world as she encourages us to stop living tamed and selfless lives in cages as society has so conditioned us to live, and rather to start listening to our imagination, our dreams and desires.



2. Fierce, Free and Full of Fire by Jen Hatmaker





This book goes hand in hand with untamed, Jen Hatmaker’s perspective, humor and ability to connect to her readers is something I so appreciate as a reader. Here’s my IG post that I wrote about this book. Check out the full blog post I wrote as well.


The world is quick to tell us as women how much space we are allowed to take up, which tables we are allowed to sit at and when we have permission to use our voices.


Our culture still relies so much on the supporting role that women play to keep the wheels spinning but still silences our voices when we show up and live fully.


Growing up in a traditional church built on the shoulders of patriarchy, I never understood how I could dream and be ambitious if I was only allowed to reach a certain level of success deemed appropriate by the standards set by men in leadership.


People are quick to silence or make us feel small when we speak up. I’ve experienced it many times over the years, but it doesn’t mean I stop showing up.


The world needs us to keep going, taking up space and speaking up. Hopefully by cheering one another one on along the journey to acceptance, we’ll empower and encourage others.


I believe with every fiber of my being that we are stronger together, that living out our truth, passions, and unashamed of our gifts will create a more beautiful and secure community. We need each other. And need to be lifting others up along the way.


Read the rest on the blog post. And huge thanks to @jenhatmaker and countless other women who are paving the way and showing us how to take up space without feeling shame.



3. Playing Big by Tara Mohr




The tagline for this book is “Playing Big is being more loyal to your dreams than to your fears.” This book is great for all the dreamers and women wanting to jump in with two feet to make your goals a reality. It’s an echo to so many other books that I have been reading over the last 4 years...books that encourage women to take up space, use our voices and live out our passions.


Each chapter has a recap of the "Big Ideas" presented and some are such a reiteration of my own thoughts....for example "Brilliant women commonly hide from and postpone their own playing bigger by: having false assumptions about the order that things need to happen. Or Seeking ever more education, training, or certifications - convincing ourselves we need the degree to play bigger."


4. High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard


Having heard Brendon Burchard on stage two years ago at the Kajabi Online Course Conference, I was moved by his story as a struggling writer and now motivational speaker. He connects with his audience and his book “High Performance Habits” is such a great read. I know there are so many books out there about habits.


As his website says, “This book is about how people become extraordinary, and why others block themselves from that possibility. It will show clearly and unmistakably why some excel, others fail, and far too many never even try.”


As I’m chasing my goals, I want to know what it is that causes people to succeed and fail and Brendon breaks it all down to our habits.



5. Essentialism by Greg McKoewn



"While we may not always have control over our options, we always have control over how we choose among them." -Greg McKeown, Essentialism


This was my first book of the decade and there's so many nuggets of truth buried within the pages. We always have the ability to choose. It's easy to feel stuck. Yet, there's always a way to figure it out and you get to choose the next chapter of our story.


I wrote an entire blog post about this book, find it here. But essentially (no pun intended), this book is about choosing great over good. What is essential to move you towards your greater goals? And what is simply “extra or additional and unnecessary?”)


This is a book I will be reading again over the holiday break or in the New Year, because this is something I ALWAYS need to refocus my attention on.


6. Burnout by Amelia Nagoski and Emily Nagoski



This book was recommended to me by one of my besties. She and I both try to do too much as we manage our full-time jobs while also pursuing our passions and dreams on the side. I described this book and its particular meaning to me in podcast episode 32.


“Burn out” is written by two sisters Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski. It seems to be extremely timely right now as the definition of “BurnOut” is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained and unable to meet constant demands.”


I feel like that definition right there pretty much sums up eLearning, working from home, global pandemic, covid stress and the US election is the icing on the cake this year.


It’s no wonder we are all feeling a lot of things right now. It's no wonder that we may be hitting walls from time to time, month to month, week to week or every other hour some days.


One of the things that the book talks about is how stress is actually often worse than the stressor. In order to deal with the stresser, you have to first deal with the stress it’s causing. I’m feeling that first hand this week with a lot of things. And I’m realizing that I may need to step back, simplify, take things off my plate, take care of my mental health before I can actually deal with what’s causing me stress.


In therapy, I have recognized that I often have the tendency to fill my time with things as a way to avoid other things. Maybe we all do this, but I’m working on it. Working on myself.


7. How Women Rise by Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith



This book is all about women in leadership roles.The authors are two leadership coaches and they narrate their audiobook using specific anecdotes from women in leadership and the lessons they’ve learned over the years. There are very gender specific expectations and behaviors associated with women in leadership. As a woman constantly pursuing growth, this book was instrumental for me to realize what I am doing without even realizing it when it comes to my own tendencies in the workplace.


Their website nicely sums it up: "Sally and Marshall identify the 12 habits that hold women back as they seek to advance, showing them why what worked for them in the past might actually be sabotaging their future success. Building on Marshall’s classic best seller What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, their new book How Women Rise is essential reading for any woman who is ready to advance to the next level."


8. You are the Guru by Gabrielle Bernstein




This is the last book of 2020 that I’ve read. I’ve listened to it over the last week as it’s an Audible Original and Exclusive book read by the author. Gabby’s spiritual meditations and teachings touch a part of me that other books do not. It’s as if she sees what we are all collectively struggling with whether it’s lack of self-confidence, envy, fear or shame and she teaches us how to harness the hard parts of our life and grow through whatever we are dealing with. 2020 was a shared experience in so many ways and we all have felt many of the same emotions this year.


As I shared on Instagram this week, a couple quotes that stick out to me from this book:

"Get naked with your truth, offering the world your greatest gift: your authentic self." You aren't doing anyone a favor hiding behind someone else, a fear that's holding you back or letting the years go by without embracing who you are and sharing your voice and gifts with the world.


✨Each day is an opportunity to show up, be it in little ways or big, to love others, share your story, and give others the gift of your authentic self and a heart of compassion.✨


At times, the negative voices or silent treatment from those we love drown out the passion within and as we're closing up this crazy year, I'm reading one more book "You are the Guru" by Gabrielle Bernstein.


The messages within this @audibleoriginal are so fitting for what has been a tumultuous year for the world and within my own heart, not understanding the actions of others and watching "friends or family" disappear as I started speaking up about human rights, such as immigration, black lives matter, and women empowerment.


Thank you @gabbyberstein for helping me anchor my thoughts as we get ready to turn the page on our calendars.


✨Each day is an opportunity to show up, speak up and love.✨


Click on this link (picture below) to get a free trial of Audible!



Memoir


9. A Promised Land by Barack Obama




This is what is currently in my earbuds as I’m running over holiday break or washing dishes or pushing the stroller. I love it so much. Just as “Becoming” by Michelle Obama was one of my favorites last year, this one is just as enjoyable and insightful this year. I find Barack’s story super inspiring as he overcame so many challenges and is such a personable human. Do yourself a favor and get yourself the audiobook, he reads it himself!


Anti-Racism Books


One of my biggest “wake-ups” this year, in 2020, was realizing how my privilege was blinding me when it comes to racism.

I joined a book club to be intentional about reading books that talk about anti-racism and the work we should all be doing. I wrote all about it on the blog. https://www.dominiquedynes.com/post/choosing-to-see-color-with-our-children


10. How to Be Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi



Ibram X. Kendi is someone who should definitely be following. His books, social media posts, articles and more are challenging and inspiring to all of us. This is a great book to start with if you are also working on your anti-racism journey. In this book, Dr. Kendi teaches us that being “neutral” about racism is the same as being racist. To truly fight systemic racism, you must be ANTI-racism and it’s a continuous journey that we must pursue for the rest of our lives.


I also bought his newest book for children, "AntiRacist Baby" with 9 tangible steps to start your anti-racism journey and how to talk to your kids about racism.




11. White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo




My brain was so in need of this book. It opened my eyes to countless ways that I have been racist and privileged in how I talk, how I think and how I act towards others. It opened up conversations with my husband about ways he’s experienced racism when we travel to the states. It helped open up conversations in our family about talking about skin color and seeing the ways that racism plays out in the workplace, families and travel.


Here’s an excerpt from my blog post, "Choosing to See Color with Our Children"


As a teacher, a mother, simply as a human being, I cannot continue listening to people say "all lives matter" without actually doing any of the work to understand this movement that "Black Lives Matter." And this moment in history, you will choose which side you stand on. You say you aren't racist, but you don't actually care enough to learn about it.


People continue to say "I don't see color." Well then apparently you don't see that your color has always been in your favor.


People say "I've worked hard for what I have." Yes, I'm sure you have. But you started out with an advantage by simply being white.


I'm learning. I'm learning that in so many ways, I have been racist. I have benefited from a system built for me from the beginning. Yes, as a woman I've had to fight my battles to gain some ground in a world run by white men. But my skin color helps me so much.


I'm not going to be silent. I'm not going to raise children who are unaware of social injustice around the world that so often comes back to the color of one's skin. My children are lucky. They have their American passports which means they can go anywhere essentially. They didn't choose that, just like I didn't choose it.


Yet we all have a choice today. In how we respond. In how we choose to speak up. In how we use our platforms.

Fiction


I did read a few fiction books over the year, one from my HS journalism teacher and one of my heroes Sue Meissner. She wrote about the Pandemic in 1918 and it’s a fascinating historical fiction novel called “As Bright As Heaven”.




Every year I also lose myself in several Christmas or holiday novels that my aunt Sue gives me every single year, so I now have a collection of a dozen or more Richard Paul Evans novels....it’s basically like reading a feel-good, heart wrenching romantic movie in a book and I usually read one a day during the Christmas break.









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