The year 2017 was a great year for me. I took Broomstick to a new level, hired interns, moved across the country to intern myself at a company I’ve long supported, started my second year of my MBA program, took some of the hardest classes of my life, and turned down an after-graduation job offer because it wasn’t paying what I’m worth (which is harder to do than it sounds.)
To keep it real, 2017 was a year of breaking out of my comfort zone. One of the seemingly small (but incredible) habits I picked up was reading ferociously (anyone else guilty as charged at impulse buying on amazon then never finishing the book? Just me? Ok.) Well, this summer I decided to change all that. I was flying each weekend for my internship -- and instead of sticking to my magazines, I decided I would travel somewhere new and read a new book each trip. So in 12 weeks, I read 12 books, and while some books turned out better than others, this new habit changed the way I saw things. Here are the top 3 books that changed my 2017 that I recommend all brides read in 2018:
#1 -- A YEAR OF YES
A Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes was my first book to read that summer. It had been on my Amazon Wish List since getting published, but I had never pulled the trigger. I knew Shonda was a boss (if you’re living under a rock, Shonda Rhimes is arguably the most powerful Black woman in modern American television, having wrote and produced hits like How to Get Away with Murder, Scandal, and Grey’s Anatomy) but I had never really thought about her own personal story, until now.
In A Year of Yes, Shonda describes her rise to the top and the challenges she faced, but more so, goes into how her sister challenged her to stop being so uptight. For a year, as a result of that conversation, Shonda decided to say “yes” alot more -- to opportunities, invites, events, experiences -- anything she most likely would’ve opted out of.
As a result, and what I learned from the book, is that alot of us (myself definitely included) pride ourselves in sticking to what’s familiar (introvert roll call!) even though we do great work. We stay home, we don’t get uncomfortable. We stick to the familiar & safe. Shonda taught me that often, the best experiences, even if you’ve already reached success, are often on the other side of a yes, and more importantly, if things don’t work for you, you have the power to opt in or out. Playing small diminishes that power, and since reading the book, I’ve said yes alot more often.
#2 -- THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD
Ok, don’t freak out. Yes, this book is about slavery, BUT it’s not depressing. I’m recommending it to everyone in 2018 because it’s incredibly empowering. I’ll be honest, I am the first one to shy away from media that has alot of violence or makes me sad (no war movies, slavery series, gangster melodramas like Scarface or Good Fellas….) However, I’m always drawn to stories that come from sadness, which is why I am obsessed with shows like Law & Order -- anything that shows people who take a sad event and decide to do something about it.
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead is an Oprah’s Book Club pick, a winner of the National Book Award & the Pulitzer Prize, and a fascinating story of a slave girl, Cora, who decides early on to escape the life she was born into. Through multiple states and environments of “freedom,” she still finds herself alert to danger and keeps moving forward, experiencing heartbreak, loss, and love along the way. I think everyone should read this book, especially brides, because it opened my eyes (again) to how fortunate we are, particularly in 2017 America. Don’t get me wrong -- we have a long way to go on some civil rights fronts, but it serves us all well to have gratitude for the struggles and experiences of those who came before us. Life & Wedding Planning today have its difficulties, but there was a time when slaves jumped over brooms because using what they had available to mark their new unions, when their marriages would most likely be violated or ripped apart due to their oppression, tells us all that we are blessed. Broomstick was named after this tradition, providing a space where all love stories can be recognized for their beauty in a wedding industry that often ignores other cultures entirely.
Read the Book // Buy The Underground Railroad
#3 -- YOU ARE A BADASS
Ahhhhhhhhh, the best for last. Seriously. THIS BOOK CHANGED MY LIFE. BUY THIS BOOK IMMEDIATELY. You are a Badass by Jen Sincero has been popping up in people’s laps on my Instagram Explore page for years, but I finally took the leap to buy it and give it a go, and boy, I am so glad I did.
In a hilarious tone of voice that I think everyone can relate to, Jen breaks down the main reasons why people are held back from living their best life and guides us in how to turn them around, like mindset, gratitude, manifestation, visualization, limiting self-beliefs, the power of our thoughts, etc. There is literally no way anyone can read this book and not mark it up from underlining every other sentence. It will get. your. life!
This book was so good, I bought a copy for my sister and my mom for Christmas, and I’m currently reading the sequel, You are a Badass at Making Money, which has already inspired me to make changes in how I conduct my personal business matters and Broomstick as a whole.
Read the Book // Buy You are a Badass // Buy You are a Badass at Making Money
In conclusion, I highly recommend every bride read these three books and add them to your schedule in 2018. You will NEVER regret it. They have single-handedly, in their own ways, altered the way I think & act and have made my year better, and I wish that for you as well. What books have you read this year that you recommend to me?
Natalie Edwards is the Founder & CEO of Broomstick Weddings. In her spare time, she is either running/attempting to run the Schuykill River Trail in Philadelphia, baking a banana bread, or watching Law & Order with her husband Austin & some wine. To write for Broomstick, click here.