Welcome to Mindful Return’s 2022 Summer Reading List! This is my 7th (woah!) annual book roundup for working parents. This past year, I’ve also had a blast hosting monthly author talks, so I’ve had a chance to speak with many of these writers personally. You can find links to these conversations below. Not only are they all fascinating people, but their books are worth your precious working parent time.
This year my list is a bit eclectic. The first three books are applicable to you as a working parent, no matter who you are, or the ages of your kiddos. And the last three on the list are about more specific populations – parents of (pre-adolescent and adolescent) boys, immigrant parents, and new mom entrepreneurs.
I’m still a big fan of all the books I’ve recommended in my first six summer reading lists, which you can find here:
- Mindful Return’s 2021 Summer Reading List: 8 Awesome Books
- Working Parent Summer Reading List for COVID: 5 Must-Reads in 2020
- 2019 Working Mama Summer Reading List: 5 Fabulous Books
- 2018 Working Mama Summer Book List: My 6 Faves from the Past Year
- A Working Mama’s 2017 Summer Reading List: 6 Inspiring Reads
- A Working Mama’s Summer Reading List: 6 Picks to Fill You Up (2016)
And now, onto the list! As always, if you’re a new or newish working mama, I hope you’ll check out my own book, Back to Work After Baby: How to Plan and Navigate a Mindful Return from Maternity Leave.
2022 Summer Reading List for Working Parents
Find Your Unicorn Space: Reclaim Your Creative Life in a Too-Busy World, by Eve Rodsky
Note: You can access the Mindful Return Book Talk with Eve Rodsky about Find Your Unicorn Space using this link.
- Why read it? In a time when the long years of the pandemic have taken their toll, and the world seems so very dark, Eve Rodsky will convince you that creativity is in fact a place we can seek refuge from the storms of the world. She reminds us that some of the benefits of creativity including finding joy and meaning, sharing with others, and deepening our connections to other generations and to the universe. And gosh could we all use some joy and meaning right now. Rodsky takes each of your objections (“I don’t have time…”; “Even if I had time, I wouldn’t know what to do with it…”) and shows you a path forward.
- Favorite quote? “We get to be more than our roles. We get to be more than one thing. We get to define ourselves in any number of ways. An entrepreneur and an artist. A parent and a performer. An accountant and an athlete. Marci Alboher, vice president at Encore.org…found that individuals with fulfilling lives are those that include ‘slashes.’” Also: “We love our kids, but…as artist and culture critic Oubria Tronshaw says, ‘Your kids will never give you permission to have a moment to be sane. You have to learn to be an advocate for yourself.”
Relationships to Infinity: The Art and Science of Keeping in Touch, by Jason Levin
Note: You can access the Mindful Return Book Talk with Jason Levin about Relationships to Infinity using this link.
- Why read it? Okay, full disclosure here. The author is my husband. I am admittedly biased in his favor. And yet. Don’t take my word for it when I say this is a strikingly helpful book, particularly coming out of an isolating pandemic. Take Dan Pink’s word for it, instead: “Jason Levin compiles wide-ranging research with his own broad experience to demonstrate how we can reconnect with those we’ve known – and then nurture those opportunities to advance our professional and personal lives.” Or Dana Bash’s: “Relationships to Infinity is brilliant in its straightforward explanation for why we need real social connections in our lives and our work, and offers up concrete instructions on how to set and achieve goals for being better about it.” If you’ve ever wondered how to be better at keeping in touch with the people you care about, here’s your manual.
- Favorite quote? “I am not a therapist. However, in my ten years of coaching executives, I have observed a great deal of worry, fear, and guilt when my clients are asked to connect or reconnect with members of their network. They tell me endless stories of all the reasons why someone would NOT want to talk with them. NOT want to help them. They share the guilt they feel about not having done a good job of keeping in touch and not being worthy of a favor. They are crushed by the fear that it might NOT work or they could look weak or silly. When this fear, worry, and guilt combine, I believe my clients enter their personal ‘Bermuda keep-in-touch triangle.’”
Leave Only Footprints: My Acadia-to-Zion Journey Through Every National Park, by Conor Knighton
- Why read it? Did you know that every 4th grader in the United States gets a pass that gives them free access to all of the country’s National Parks for themselves and their families? (The pass lasts from September 1 through August 30 of the 4th grader’s year.) This Every Kid Outdoors program inspired our family to take a cross-country trip in our minivan last summer that covered 8,153 miles and 7 National Parks. (I wrote more about that trip here.) After this adventure, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on more info about all the parks, and I stumbled across this gem. After a breakup with his fiancée, the author, Conor Knighton, decided to see every National Park in the span of a single year. His memoir / travelogue is hilarious, thoughtful, and educational. The photos are incredible, too.
- Favorite quote? “I also worried that I was just running away from something. It certainly looked like I was. But when I’d flip through the books I’d checked out from the library, marveling at photos of one natural wonder after another, the parks felt more like something I wanted to run toward. I felt drawn to these places: peaks and streams and fields and valleys that had existed for millions of years but had waited until this specific year to turn their siren song on me. Or, in the words of naturalist John Muir, whom I’d started reading voraciously, ‘The mountains are calling and I must go.”
Decoding Boys: New Science Behind the Subtle Art of Raising Sons, by Cara Natterson, M.D.
- Why read it? Because you have a son. Or sons. And you have no idea what’s about to happen to them as they get toward the later years of elementary school! Natterson covers everything from the average age of onset of puberty (yes, around 9!), to the science behind the changes our boys go through, to sexting, body image, addiction, and violence. Best of all, she offers communication strategies and practical suggestions for real-life conversations.
- Favorite quote? “The secret to the success of delay is simple: if the young brain is more susceptible to addiction, then when it comes to just about anything that can land there, don’t expose the brain until it has slowed down its learning curve…Give it time to prune neuronal pathways, reducing the likelihood of turning on reward circuits with something illicit or destructive. Time is our brain’s best friend, at least insofar as making smarter decisions. Which is precisely why delaying experimentation with ________(fill in the blank with absolutely anything has destructive potential) is a winning strategy. Delay is a prevention strategy that kids are often willing to embrace. We aren’t saying never, we’re just saying not now.”
Parenting with an Accent: How Immigrants Honor Their Heritage, Navigate Setbacks, and Chart New Paths for Their Children, by Masha Rumer
Note: You can access the Mindful Return Book Talk with Masha Rumer about Parenting with an Accent using this link.
- Why read it? If you are someone – or you know someone – who is raising kids in a multi-cultural family, Rumer’s book will both help you feel seen and teach you so much about the joys and challenges facing immigrant parents. From the science of second language learning, to family cultural tensions, to childcare dilemmas and myths about multilingualism, it’s all in here. A working mom of two, Rumer also gently weaves her own experiences into her extensive research.
- Favorite quote? “Sorting through the cultural baby-rearing wisdom and the counsel of modern experts, sometimes it feels like I’m groping my way through the dark. But aren’t we all? Maybe there’s no singular ‘right way’ to raise a child of immigrants. Perhaps there’s no authority figure to say wait, wait, you’re doing multicultural parenting all wrong. Here, let me show you how to do it right! This uncharted path is a little bit terrifying. But at the same time, it’s incredibly liberating.”
The Expecting Entrepreneur: A Guide to Parental Leave Planning for Self-Employed Business Owners, by Arianna Taboada, MSW, MSPH
Note: You can access the Mindful Return Book Talk with Arianna Taboada about The Expecting Entrepreneur using this link.
- Why read it? You or someone you know is expecting a baby and is also self-employed! Particularly with the rise of the so-called “gig economy” and the advent of the “Great Recession,” more and more individuals are striking out on their own during their child-bearing years. Without the formal structure of an employer’s parental leave policy, these small business owners benefit from thoughtful and structured planning around designing their own parental leaves. Taboada is a true expert on this topic, as both a maternal health educator, reproductive health researcher, consultant, and working mama.
- Favorite quote? “Business owners are often stressed out about how much they should work after parental leave and how to figure out a plan that will work for their family and their business. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’ll say it again: honor your transition time. As a business owner, you can opt out of the reality faced by many parents who work for employers. They often go from being 100% in parent mode, spending all day with their child, to 100% in work mode, spending 10-14 hours a day away from them…Start small and ramp up from there.”
Have YOU read anything recently that has helped you with life as a working parent? If so, please share your book recommendations in comments below! Happy summer reading!
Want more practical tips on working parenthood? Check out my book, Back to Work After Baby: How to Plan and Navigate a Mindful Return from Maternity Leave