Summer reading list: Recommendations from UMB’s women leaders
To help pass the hours this summer, a few of UMB’s female leaders have compiled a recommended reading list to inspire, motivate and transform you.
For those who want an escape
The Alice Network‡ by Kate Quinn
Recommended by Christine Graham, chief fiduciary officer
With the upheaval of the pandemic, my reading list has veered more toward storylines and fictions that allow me to escape the day-to-day. My role at UMB is complex—helping to manage a skilled team who work to deliver service and support for our clients with sophisticated needs. So when I do have time to read, I crave topics that are as unlike my day job as possible to help refresh my perspective. The book that resonated with me for this summer reading list follows the story of two women, one working as a spy during World War I, and the other searching for her cousin in the aftermath of World War II. The story captured my attention because much of it occurs in the time and place where my grandmother grew up in France, and many aspects of the book reminded me of stories she told about her childhood. I found myself getting lost in this story and I think others would enjoy it, too.
With a riveting plot that spans decades in the aftermath of two world wars, brought to life by characters you evolve with and root for, The Alice Network can take you on a thrilling journey of drama, intrigue and courageous women.
For those looking for balance
Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness‡ by Chade-Meng Tan
Recommended by Jennifer Boxberger, senior investment product analyst
My team mates and I at UMB have a regular book club, and we rotate between investment-related and non-investment related topics to help improve our emotional intelligence and work/life balance. We meet every couple of months to talk about the different books and what we learned and what we can improve on. For my summer recommendation, the author’s job was to teach employees at Google how to apply mindfulness techniques at work and beyond. The book helped me to think about how I respond to others, how to take a minute to breathe, and how to react to your surroundings, actions and thoughts. Tan suggests different exercises on how to improve your mindfulness, including using meditation. After reading, I practice meditation almost daily now, and it has really helped me be a more insightful mother, wife, friend and employee—especially during the current crisis we are facing.
This practical guide explores emotional intelligence as a way to find motivation and balance as we all search for meaning in our work, family and self.
For those looking for transformation
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead‡ by Brené Brown
Bonus podcast selection: Unlocking Us
Recommended by Abby Wendel, president of UMB consumer banking
In light of recent events, I’ve felt compelled to learn and grow as an individual. One way I can improve is through my ability to be courageous and be vulnerable at work and with family and friends. It takes a great deal of strength to stand up for what is right in our world, but I am committed to doing the work. I’ve read a few other Brené Brown books and find her insights on shame and vulnerability particularly compelling as I do my own self-reflection. As Brené shares, we need to be able to step in the arena and show up for ourselves and for others in our communities. If you’re new to Brené’s work, this is a great place to start.
Daring Greatly builds on Brown’s research on vulnerability and shame and encourages readers to drop their armor and truly be themselves to reach their full potential.
For those looking for happiness
The Happiness Project‡ by Gretchen Rubin
Bonus podcast selection: Jen Gotch is OK…Sometimes
Recommended by Jenny Rucker, senior private banker
This book is one of my favorites—I’ve read it twice and finding time to sit, relax and actually read is a rarity for me. It’s all about finding the happiness in everyday activities with being true to who you are and what you need. Her approach is very relatable, so you find yourself laughing with her and appreciating her candor as she recounts her happiness journey. I am married to a former social worker who worked in mental health for 17 years, and mental health has always been a constant conversation in our family. Since the middle of March and the COVID-19 shutdown, mental health has been talked about more and people are learning how to find what they need for their happiness, which is huge. I am very much an optimist and I found myself leaning on Gretchen’s every word, and at the end of the book I couldn’t wait to read it again.
Join Gretchen for a foray into finding self-improvement, motivation and joy in the everyday moments—and figuring out what happiness means for you.
For those looking for levity
Bossypants‡ By Tina Fey
Recommended by Heather Miller, chief marketing officer
Like several of the others have mentioned, I love to read for pleasure, so I don’t really like reading serious books for or about my work. But, in the spirit of selecting an inspiring book about or by a successful woman, Tina Fey’s Bossypants fits the bill. I love a good sense of humor, and I was interested to learn more about her background, career, challenges and successes. (Also, because my mom is always telling me I am so bossy.) This book helps you see behind the screen and better understand Tina’s drive for achieving her goals —in a sharp and hilarious narrative.
A laugh-out-loud memoir of Tina Fey’s childhood, early career and eventual success—all told with the icon’s signature wit and savvy perspective.
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