For inspiration in 2015, my New Year’s pledge was to read a book each month on issues I care about.  As luck would have it, some compelling thought leaders came out with exceptional books in 2014. Topics ranging from the good food movement and climate stability to creative entrepreneurs and social empowerment especially caught my eye.  Three months in, my book selections have informed and moved me beyond expectation, along with a few documentaries that came my way.  Since I love sharing a good read and film, I heartily recommend the following:


Booklist so far (January – March): 


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Things a Little Bird Told Me: Confessions of the Creative Mind by Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter. From GQ‘s “Nerd of the Year” to one of Time‘s most influential people in the world, Stone walks us through his whirlwind path less traveled. As Stephen Colbert says, “Biz gives away all his secrets to success. I advised him against it. If you’re not inspired an informed by this book, then you haven’t read it.”


The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food by Dan Barber, famed chef of Blue Hill at Stone Barns in New York, James Beard award winner and one of Time’s most influential people in the world. Similar to Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Barber’s seminal book suggests a revolutionary way to approach food. After spending more than a decade of investigation with farmers, seed breeders and chefs, he concludes that we must transform our food system to protect our food, our health and our natural resources. This is a must read for foodies interested in local, sustainable and delicious food.

This past February, I had the pleasure of touring Stone Barns in New York. On a wintery day, we were inside the vast greenhouse with farm Jack here. Of course, an amazing meal at the renowned Blue Hill followed. Highly recommended!

This past February, I had the pleasure of touring Stone Barns in New York. On a wintery day, inside the vast greenhouse farmer Jack schooled us on seed breeding. Of course, an amazing meal at the renowned Blue Hill followed. Highly recommended!


This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate by award winning journalist and social activist Naomi Klein. This NY Times Bestseller has been called “the most momentous and contentious environmental book since “Silent Spring.” Although not always easy to confront the hard truths, this fierce, compelling, jam-packed book on the most sweeping crisis of our lifetime is a must read. Although active on climate issues, I walked away with new insight and hope to tackle this epic challenge.



Booklist up next (April – June):


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A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity by NY Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and business executive Sheryl WuDunn.  This Pulitzer Prize-winning team showcases people that are making the world a better place and offers a roadmap to becoming an effective global citizen. It’s a follows up to one of the most important books I’ve ever read, their NY Times #1 bestseller Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.


The Secret History of Wonder Woman by New Yorker writer Jill Lepore.  This New York Times bestseller and winner of the 2015 American History Book Prize book first came to my attention on NPR’s Fresh Air.  I was intrigued by the peculiar backstory of the superheroine’s creator, Dr. William Marston.  He also happened to be the inventor of a lie detector, a suffragist and a secret polygamist. What most interests me is Wonder Woman’s ascent and the interwoven history of the struggle for women’s rights.


The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert. Selected as The New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Books of 2014, Kolbert writes how there have been five mass extinctions throughout history, and scientists are now monitoring the sixth extinction, considered the most devastating since the asteroid wiped out dinosaurs. Yet this time around, the cataclysm is humans. As bleak as this sounds, the Boston Globe calls this book “surprisingly breezy, entirely engrossing and frequently entertaining.”



Watch list:


ARISE  Narrated by actress and environmental activist, Daryl Hannah, this film captures the stories of extraordinary women around the world dedicated to protecting the earth and mankind. Last month, North Shore Green Women held a screening and we were lucky to to have Molly Ross, the executive producer, share her thoughts with us. As we full know, women have taken a leading role in making positive change for our environment.





The Mask You Live In This film essentially asks if we are failing our boys due to America’s narrow definition of masculinity. It follows up Miss Representation, a film that examines how sexism in the media is sending our girls the wrong message. In February, I attended the Chicago premier and joined a coffee discussion with Director/Producer/Writer Jennifer Siebel Newsom. As a leading advocate for women and girls, she founded The Representation Project to inspire individuals and communities to challenge and overcome limiting stereotypes. This non-profit is behind #askhermore to improve the dialogue with women on the red carpet and #notbuyingit to call out sexist Superbowl ads. She’s also a producer of the new acclaimed film about sexual assault on college campuses, The Hunting Ground








The Burden  It’s about time people discovered one of the biggest supporters of clean energy – the U.S. military! This film examines why America needs to break free of its dangerous fossil fuel addiction from a national security perspective, including directives from Defense leadership. This film will likely premiere in Chicago this spring, sorry no details yet. Can’t wait to see it.





Please pass along any of your favorites!