WORD Survival Guide: 10 Books That May Change Your Life

Maya Angelou  reading in her dressing room at The Village Vanguard in NYC              Photo by G. Marshall Wilson

Maya Angelou reading in her dressing room at The Village Vanguard in NYC          

Photo by G. Marshall Wilson

I remember when I was around 10 years old and I discovered "Little Women" by Louisa May Alcott. My parents had recently divorced, I was sprouting boobs and wanted nothing more than to disappear from my typical 6th grade life of math homework and waiting for my period to arrive. Every time I would pick up that massive novel I was no longer the little girl living in Spanish Harlem. I was Jo, an outspoken feminist who loved hard and took no prisoners. That was really the first time a book allowed me to bottle my life and put it to the side for a moment. For three hours every night, I was someone else and it was great.

I don't read nearly as much as 10 year-old me - something I'm embarrassed to admit. However when I do read, those stolen moments of quiet discovery are incredibly impactful and the books that I choose tend to stick around well beyond the turning of each page. I may not be racing through 4 books a month anymore but I do know to suggest Zadie Smith's "On Beauty" to every single woman that asks for a recommendation. And if they've read that one, I gift them "Year of Yes" by Shonda Rhimes because that book really helped me manage my terrible New Yorker cynicism and well, I would pitch a tent and live in Shondaland if I could!

When Angela & myself started WORD, it was out of angst and a necessity to create a professional space where we made the rules and our clients would echo our values. This is not an easy feat. Starting your own business is tough as is - starting a business that is morally sound yet still pays the bills? That's Mt. Kilimanjaro right there! So to maintain our sanity (which is a task we must handle everyday, sometimes a few times a day!) we must develop tools for survival. One of these is tapping into our community for advice and support. And let me tell you, our community is bomb.com - there is no better group of people!

So today, we've gathered a very solid list of books that have helped women we admire dominate moments of their lives. Check out these 10 books below and if you have a book that has saved your life, we obviously need to have it, so let us know in the comments below!

Smiles Davis, DJ + Musician:

"The Obstacle is The Way," by Ryan Holiday

It is a book on his philosophy of stoicism. When I was going through a terrible heartbreak and my then boss wasn't rewarding my hard effort by taking me for advantage, a friend gave me this book. I was on the verge of returning to my unhealthy relationship and continue letting my boss get the better end of the stick until I read this book. Nothing gave me more courage and strength to propel past those blocks quicker than this book! 

Ariana Rodriguez "Diosa Femme," Co-Founder of Locatora Radio

“Salt “ by Nayyirah Waheed's

"Apologize to your body. maybe that's where the healing begins." 

This is one my favorite poems, from Nayyirah Waheed's, Salt. Each line is packed with ferocity & served as the catalyst to my healing. I read this book while living in Perú, recovering from bad relationships, trauma, and violence against my body. I come back to it when I need reminder of how far I've come.

Jasmine Solano, DJ + Women Enthusiast

Saul Williams "Said the Shotgun to the Head"

Was the best poetry I had read as an 18 year old, I related to it so much that I cried after reading.

Sophia Loren in her home, January 1963, Photographer Unknown

Sophia Loren in her home, January 1963, Photographer Unknown

VIAA, Singer, Songwriter + Performer

"When Things Fall Apart" by Pena Chodron

This book reminds you to self reflect. Also, that we are all on this Earth together as equals - No one is here to inconvenience you, so you should respect the struggles they're going through that you might not know about, same as you'd want them to do for you.

Jenny Pulido; A Polished Life, Health & Wellness Marketer

"You Can Heal Your Life" by Louise L. Hay

"Heal Your Life" helped me understand that illnesses are brought on by your emotional state.  Many lives, many masters confirmed for me that some of our traits or triggers are things we have experienced before, and that's why some of our actions/reactions don't surprise us.   

Madame Gandhi, Musician, Artist + Activist

"Flow" by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

“Flow” taught me about how happiness is in doing work you love, setting small attainable benchmarks, and achieving them. It taught me about how to productively be advancing myself and my craft.


Josephine Baker photographed by her manager in her club Chez Josephine, 1928 

Josephine Baker photographed by her manager in her club Chez Josephine, 1928 


Devi Brown; TV, radio & podcast host. Founder of Karma Bliss

"Broken Open" by Elizabeth Lesser

"Broken Open" teaches you the beauty of pain and discomfort and the ways you can level up spiritually, mentally and emotionally if you surrender to the pain instead of trying to avoid it or speed through it

"The Unteathered Soul" by Michael Stringer

This gem taught me how to release my thoughts and silence my mind. A great read for those looking for a more in depth and rational understanding of how to tap into the world of stillness and silence.

Marty Preciado, Editor in Chief of Nylon Español

"This is How You Lose Her" by Junot Díaz

UGGGGGH, after reading it I promised never another bad relationship, a couple of days later I met Ricardo, crazy!

Lainney Dizon, Co-Founder of Dizon Dreams

"The Happiness Advantage" by Shawn Achor

It's very interesting and highlights how happiness causes success and achievement. I feel like we've been conditioned to think that happiness is at the end of our goal, but this book is super eye-opening and shows the science of how we literally can train our brain to be prepared for success through our attitude and mentality. This book is helping me understand the importance of possibility and shifting change through my perspective and daily habits. Definitely a must-read.