My summer reading list
If everything is going according to plan, I am on vacation right now.
I’ll be honest - I don’t have a stellar track record when it comes to unplugging and taking a proper break.
In fact, I set a formal goal for myself at the beginning of the year - to take two consecutive weeks off at the end of June.
But the end of June came and went, and guess what?
I don’t say this because I think it’s a badge of honour - I actually think this is a problem, and I’ve gotten quite a bit of coaching on my resistance to stepping away and taking time off.
Do you recognize yourself in this?
So, if everything IS going according to plan, and I am on vacation now, I’ll be doing one of my very favourite things…
Ever since I was a kid, my favourite thing to do with my quiet time is bury my nose in a book (hello Emma, introvert much?!)
So, I put together a themed summer reading list on an important topic: how to rest and recharge so you can return to work feeling rejuvenated!
(I don’t know, is reading about rest when you’re supposed to be resting an extension of my problem above? Please discuss.)
Let’s dive in!
Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less, by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang
This is a re-read of an old favourite for me - one of the best things about the book is how the author completely dismantles the idea that the more you work, the more productive you are (an outmoded concept we still cling to in many workplaces, including non-profits).
Pang also sees rest as a valuable skill you can develop - with a deliberate practice and understanding, you can learn to rest more profoundly and be more refreshed and restored when you return to your work.
I’m hoping I may return from this vacation a champion rester! What do you think?
Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing, and Underliving, by Celeste Headlee
This book poses some thought-provoking questions. Why are we so efficient, yet so overwhelmed? Why are we so productive with so little to show for it?
Headlee delves deep into the history of how we got here, and where America's obsession with work comes from. She also notes that Americans are particularly bad about taking time off - at the time she wrote the book, over 700 million vacation days went unused each year.
This fact made me curious, so I did a little research of my own, and discovered that things got worse instead of better during the pandemic.
In 2020, the average workday lengthened by nearly an hour, according to a working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Despite the longer hours, workers are taking less breaks - and an overwhelming majority of Americans shortened, postponed or canceled their planned time off last year.
The Power of Ritual: Turning Everyday Activities into Soulful Practices, by Casper ter Kuile
This book is the wild card on my summer reading list!
I was a skeptic at first after hearing it recommended on a podcast, but since I’ve been enjoying having a set morning ritual so much, I thought it might be interesting to explore the idea of purposefully bringing ritual into other activities.
Ter Kuile writes about how we can transform ordinary practices, like walking the dog, into intentional rituals that nurture connection and wellbeing, and reminds us that what we already do every day matters—and has the potential to become a powerful experience of reflection, sanctuary, and meaning.
What’s on your summer reading list? I’m always looking for good recommendations, so let me know what books have made a difference in your life lately. I’ll update my post with some of your recommendations when I’m back from my break!
Emma Lewzey, CFRE is an award-winning fundraising expert
with 20+ years experience raising millions of dollars across the arts, education, health and human services sectors. If you want to raise more 5, 6 and even 7-figure donations your non-profit, you can download Emma’s free Blueprint for Major Gift Success, and learn the 4 crucial steps to raising big gifts (at any size shop!)