Laura Vanderkam's I Know How She Does It. Ostensibly it's a book about time management for mothers working in senior roles, but it is also a manifesto about making choices to live a rich and full life.
Vanderkam references and sets out to challenge the popular narrative that it is not possible to 'have it all' - that women can't have fulfilling and exhilarating careers while raising a family (frustratingly a narrative that is rarely applied to men who equally struggle with this challenge). With painstaking detail, she sets out the data - in the form of time logs - that disproves that narrative and confirms that not only possible to have it all, but that plenty of women already are.
This subject particularly resonates with me as I'm just about to return to work after maternity leave. My job and career mean a huge amount to me. I love the mental challenge that comes with working at a senior level; strategising, problem solving and making a positive difference to my colleagues and organisation. I take pride in doing a good job and it's crossed my mind more than once to wonder how I will balance this with being a mum. I've yearned for examples of women who combine motherhood with full-time, demanding roles, and here, in this book, they are.
Vanderkam unpicks the secret: she feels it's in looking at your time as a whole and consciously choosing how you spend it. She says there are 168 hours in a week after all, and there will be hard days when everything seems to go wrong, but over the course of a week or month, they can be balanced with moments of fun and pleasure if you make choices that work for you. Doing as little housework as possible (I'm all in favour of that) is one way to win back time, as well as having an equal partnership in the home, developing a great support network and out-sourcing tasks.
If Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In provides women with the 'why?' they should energetically pursue their careers, Vanderkam answers the 'how?'. It's refreshing to see the oft-played negative image of the harried executive missing nativity plays turned on its head with data and evidence. I'd recommend this book to anyone who is thinking about how they can create a more fulfilling and balanced life.
Vanderkam also blogs at: http://lauravanderkam.com/ and you can follow her on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/lvanderkam