June 13, 2019

There are few things in this world that beat a lazy, summer day and a good book – am I right? At Aria, by trade we are avid readers and proficient writers, and so naturally we gravitate towards the written word as our preferred form of escapism. With the summer months ahead of us and forthcoming vacations, office conversation has been especially skewed towards literary recommendations and the books that have made our personal reading lists. From beachy reads, to memoirs, to self-improvement, literary fiction, and more – we have rounded up a variety of selections based on Aria staff-picks. 


If you’ve read any of our recommendation, leave your take in the comments below. If you’re adding any of these selections to your reading roster, we’d love to know as well!


Becoming by Michelle Obama

“If you want to feel inspired, read Michelle Obama’s Becoming. Now an American icon, Michelle’s memoir provides a deeply personal, compelling, and powerful account of the experiences that shaped her. Michelle’s life is surprising in many ways, and it is refreshing to hear her in her own words beyond the confines of the White House. Another aspect that is really interesting about this book is that it gives a window into what Barack Obama is like outside of politics: as a husband and father + the unique drive, or even call, that made him make the tough decision to run for president – and how that decision might’ve impacted his family.” – Jessica Cohen, Executive Vice President.


Dare to Lead by Brene Brown

“Ever since discovering Brené Brown, I’ve been hooked on her studies on vulnerability, shame, courage, and bravery. When she released her newest book Dare to Lead, I couldn’t wait to find out how she would bring these theories on the necessity of vulnerability and risk-taking for innovation and creativity to a leadership context. Dare to Lead exceeded my expectations! It balances the author’s experiences trying to live a courageous life (not always successful!) with testimonials from her work teaching these findings to leaders at myriad companies (Google and Disney, for example), and each section shares actionable strategies and key takeaways to benefit anyone in a leadership role. This quote from Dare to Lead perfectly encapsulates the book: “If we want people to fully show up, to bring their whole selves including their unarmored, whole hearts—so that we can innovate, solve problems, and serve people—we have to be vigilant about creating a culture in which people feel safe, seen, heard, and respected.” No matter where you start – Brené’s TED Talk which launched her into international recognition, one of her many books, her interviews on podcasts like Armchair Expert and Super Soul Sunday, or her NEW Netflix special – and regardless of whether you are a leader or just striving to live your best life, I cannot recommend this incredible researcher-storyteller more strongly.” – Ashley Owen, Senior Account Executive


Educated by Tara Westover

“I am a huge fan of memoirs – there is something I find fascinating about the mundanities of other people’s lives – so I was eager to give Educated a read. I loved this book, but not for the usual reasons I love memoirs. Educated is anything but mundane. I found myself in disbelief at times reading about the author’s experiences growing up. Tara creates an incredibly colorful world for her readers so that we can smell every scent and feel all her fears. Conversely, Tara is also quick to admit when her memory fails her, and even shares the perspectives of her siblings for various incidents. This made me trust her all the more as a narrator. This book is well written, inspiring, and very worth the read.” – Cate Hannum, Senior Account Executive


“I was hesitant to start Educated because I don’t normally read memoirs. However, the story was so interesting and full of turns that I would have thought that it was fiction. Reading about the author, Tara Westover’, unconventional upbringing and her rise through the education system was both shocking and inspiring.” – Kahler Buckley, Account Executive


Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

“If you are a fan of WWII literature like I am, then Lilac Girls is the perfect book for you. The story – inspired by a real World War II heroine – follows three young women from very different worlds, whose paths cross and lives are forever changed as a result of Hitler and Nazi Germany. I could not put the book down.” – Jessica Cohen, Executive Vice President.


The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand

“Elin Hilderbrand’s novels are the perfect page-turners for a beach vacation, and The Identicals is no exception. Hilderbrand crafts a gripping story about estranged twin sisters – one living on Nantucket, and the other on Martha’s Vineyard – and how their lives intertwine one summer. It makes for a very entertaining New England summer read.” – Antonia Rutter, Senior Account Executive


Veronica Speedwell series by Deanna Raybourn

“I highly recommend checking out the Veronica Speedwell series by Deanna Raybourn! I stumbled across these books a while back and devoured all four in a week. You get an unconventional spin on the Victorian detective fiction genre (lady detective for the win!), quirky yet incredibly talented and strong characters and an engaging plot in each book. I’m anxiously awaiting the final book out in early 2020!”- Danielle Johns, Account Director


Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Where the Crawdads Sing is one of those books that is so good it is almost addicting! I could not put it down and I loved how interesting the main character was. Definitely a must read!” – Kahler Buckley, Account Executive


“This book definitely lives up to the hype. (I’m biased though, because I grew up in the coastal region of North Carolina where the novel takes place.) The story is a coming of age novel combined with a thriller, murder-mystery plot that makes it nearly impossible to put down. If you’re into naturalist writing – and even if you’re not – you’ll love how Owens, a career zoologist, talks about the beauty of the marsh and its many critters. When I finished this book, I immediately put it on my ‘to read again’ shelf.” – Madeleine Smith, Account Coordinator

Blog post written by:
Catherine Hannum
Author: Catherine Hannum