A Cook’s Tour by Anthony Bourdain
Six-word synopsis: The perfect meal depends on context.
Why I picked it up: I miss traveling, and a travel memoir could take me places (figuratively).
Favorite line/s: "They certainly don’t understand what it takes to be the best in that world. It is not only how well you can cook that makes a great chef, but your ability to cook brilliantly, day in and day out – in an environment where a thousand things can go wrong, with a crew that oftentimes would just as happily be sticking up convenience stores, in a fickle, cost-conscious, capricious world where everybody is hoping that you fail."
The takeaway that’s stuck with me: The “perfect meal” is not about having the most expensive ingredients — it carries a special memory and a story of chemistry, art, history, and culture.
How I’d recommend it: Take a trip around the world through Anthony Bourdain’s reflections, tastes, and carefully crafted prose.
The Ride of A Lifetime by Robert Iger
Six-word synopsis: Optimism, creativity, and courage make magic.
Why I picked it up: If I just judged based on the cover, I wouldn’t have picked this up. I expected the CEO of Disney to have a more creative book cover, not a Chat Peypoch-ish portrait with a slightly off-cam gaze. But I’m a major Disney baby, and I recently read Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull of Pixar, where he wrote a lot about Bob Iger and how he revived Disney.
“'Great' is often a collection of very small things.”
“[The relentless pursuit of perfection] is about creating an environment in which people refuse to accept mediocrity.”
The takeaway that’s stuck with me: Being a good leader means trusting your team and your instinct. It’s also about knowing when to be humble, and when to push for what you deserve. (Aminin — minsan nakakaconfuse ‘yan.)
How I’d recommend it: Read this if you’re (a) a Disney baby like me; (b) curious how and why Disney acquired Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel, and Fox; and (c) if you’re looking for leadership inspiration.
Such A Fun Age by Keily Ried
Six-word synopsis: Good intentions are never really enough.
Why I picked it up: Book #1 for my first book club! I had been wanting to read it because of Reese Witherspoon's Book Club and other rave reviews.
Favorite line: “[S]he’d also leave the job of having somewhere to be, the satisfaction of understanding the rules, the comfort of knowing what’s coming next, and the privilege of finding a home within yourself."
The takeaway that’s stuck with me: Race and class are complicated, and when you try too hard to be politically correct or supportive or understanding, you can make situations worse.
How I’d recommend it: It’s an easy read that can take your mind off real life. This is probably the first book I’ve read where I didn’t like any of the lead characters but wanted to finish reading it anyway. It's like scrolling through the social media account of someone you love to hate. You're irritated but you want more.
The Education of an Idealist by Samantha Power
Six-word synopsis: Activist and/or diplomat? Struggle's real.
Why I picked it up: I was intrigued by the title. I bought it from an independent bookstore in Australia back in January not knowing anything about the author. I stopped reading it after 10 chapters because it was too heavy after reading She Said. A few weeks ago, one of my best friends, Jam, told me he listened to the audiobook and loved it, so I started reading it again. I’m SO glad I did. What a brilliant book. I cried several times throughout this memoir.
“If one lesson in my experience stands out above others, it is that the people we love are the foundation of all else."
“People who care, act, and refuse to give up may not change the world, but they can change many individual worlds.”
The takeaway that’s stuck with me: Power started out as a journalist, then she became an author, educator, foreign policy advisor, human rights advisor, and then the US Ambassador to the UN under Obama’s last term. She explores how right or wrong is never truly black or white, and shares how sometimes, she did her best and still failed. It really is difficult, if not impossible, to “make a difference” and win at all roles you need to play in your life. (HUGOT MUCH?)
How I’d recommend it: Be ready to wade through 500+ pages of governance, politics, genocide, war, foreign policy, healthcare, and work-life balance (or work-life integration).
The Story of More: How We Got to Climate Change and Where to Go from Here by Hope Jahren
Six-word synopsis: A climate change roadmap for individuals.
Why I picked it up: I loved Jahren’s first book, Lab Girl. When I found out she wrote a book on climate change, I bought it on Kindle right away because I felt she would offer a different perspective. (When I was reading it, I realized that it was the first climate change book I've ever read.)
“Starvation is caused by our failure to share what we produced, not by the earth’s ability to provide.”
“Having hope requires courage."
The takeaway that’s stuck with me: Her style of communicating science is what stuck with me. Jahren dedicates a chapter to different topics, from food to fish to biofuels to sugar to rising waters. I learned so much from each one because she weaves every Big Topic into her life and into mine. She invites us to examine our consumption patterns without being preachy, and offers actionable points we can do at the end.
How I’d recommend it: For anyone who’s interested in climate change. People who are new to climate change or are already immersed in the topic can learn a lot from this short book packed with information and storytelling.
Three Women by Lisa Tadeo
Six-word synopsis: What's normal in sex and desire?
Why I picked it up: So much hype around this book, and reviewers either loved it or hated it. See Roxanne Gay’s scathing review on GoodReads vs. praises by Elizabeth Gilbert, Esther Perel and features on Goop, O Magazine, and bunch of podcasts.
Favorite line/s: “Women shouldn’t judge each others' lives, if we haven’t been through one another’s fires."
The takeaway that’s stuck with me: I can see why this book would be annoying. Sometimes the prose tried too hard to be poetic and it made me cringe. For example: “The wine tastes like cool sneezes.” ANO DAW? Another line describes someone as “a gleaming, avuncular oyster.” Anong pinapatunayan mo, Lisa? Having said that (yes, kambyo ng kaunti), I do appreciate the concept of the book, which was to follow three women’s sex lives and desires for a decade. It raises important questions on double standards and sexuality, monogamy, fetishes, and breaking the "rules."
How I’d recommend it: Somewhere between chic lit and investigative journalism. Not a favorite, but it’s an entertaining read because you’ll want to keep flipping the pages to find out how each story ends.