Read to Lead: a book club for women and non-binary folx

Francesca and her toddler son reading on a train
Me and my son reading on a train, many, many years ago.

I have been an avid reader my whole life. Books entertain, comfort, motivate, and educate me.

When I got a new job in October 2020, I felt I needed to get more organised in my learning, hence in my reading.
I enjoy team work, so naturally I thought creating a book club would be the next step. “Read to Lead” 1 is here for women and non-binary folx that want to learn together.

Books are my favorite means of learning. They are portable, whether they are in analog or digital form. Every commute, waiting room, cafè, beach, school break, or work break, can become your library.

Reading and taking notes allow me to explore new concepts. Discussing those with other people allows me to uncover different meanings and points of view. Finally, practicing what is in the books helps me understand if what I read can work for me.

Why a book club

Over the last year, but especially over the last quarter of 2020, I had multiple conversations with women and non-binary folx that are on a quest: become better leaders and help others in their community.

I took a long break during the summer, over a month of time off.
I really, really needed to recharge. What I now realise was burn-out crept up on me and eroded my energies, mental and physical, day after day. I read mostly novels, I went to the beach, I cooked for and with my family. I took naps. I got a cat. Mostly, I stood still.

When I went back to work, inputs and stimuli came rushing at me. Never in my life I heard words like leadership, organisation, coaching, mentorship, diversity, equity, inclusion so many times, on the same day, in different conversations with completely different people.

So I started asking: what books do you recommend to become?…

  • A better team lead
  • A better leader
  • A more effective communicator
  • More assertive
  • A good mentor

It is for my own learning, but more than anything, I want to help others. I am most comfortable when I am working behind the scenes to lift others. To do so, I have to become better at all of the above.

And because doing things together is more motivating, challenging, and honestly, fun, than doing things on your own, I thought a book club would be a good thing to start on this new year.

How will it work

I have never run a book club in my life so it’s going to be trial and error for sure! A few things are clear for now.

  1. We read a book every month.
  2. We discuss it in public, on LinkedIn.
    1. I created a group. I am not familiar at all with LinkedIn groups, so expect some hiccups.
    2. On Mondays, I will post the pages/chapters for the week.
    3. On Fridays, we discuss them together
  3. The book club is for women and non-binary folx. This means that if you are a cis-male, you can be an ally and share the work we do. Please refrain from commenting. Being part of the WordPress 5.6 release proved once and for all for me that if you step aside and make space, a more diverse pool of people will fill it.
  4. It’s affordable. I am picking only books that have a digital edition. If you need help with buying the book, please email me. No questions asked, other than your PayPal email account. I set aside a 50€ budget for this. Once I finish the monthly allowance, I will do my best to look for other sponsors (hey! There’s an idea for all my cis-male friends!).
  5. I will try to pick as many female and non-binary authors as possible.
  6. At the end of the month I will write a recap of the group’s findings on this blog.
  7. Initiative is welcome! Do you want to propose a book? Host the book club discussion? Moderate (hope is not needed, but you never know!). Let me know!

The list so far

So far I have these books in my must-read list.

  1. Dare to lead, Brené Brown
  2. Resilient management, Lara Hogan
  3. Women & Power, Mary Beard
  4. The culture map, Erin Meyer
  5. A life lived remotely, Siobhan McKeown
  6. Demystifying public speaking, Lara Hogan
  7. Changing the conversation, Dana Caspersen
  8. Dear Ijeawele, or a feminist manifesto in fifteen suggestions + We should all be feminists, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The first book, Dare to Lead

We are starting tomorrow, Monday, January 4th 2021 with Dare to Lead, by Brené Brown. For a simple reason. It has a read-along workbook and a suggested schedule, so I am not completely lost!

  1. Thanks Marcela for the awesome name![]

By Francesca Marano

WordPress Core team lead at Yoast. Previously, WordPress Community and Partnership manager at SiteGround. I contribute to WordPress.org full-time. I have an insane passion for luxury skincare and soft wool. Beyoncé is always the answer.

4 comments

  1. Awesome!! Great idea and I’m glad as I already have read Brené’s book (actually listened to as I’m quite an avid listener on audible)

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