AnnieCannons 2021 Holiday Reading List

Have a little time off over the holidays to read a book or two? Here’s a list of books AC staff, graduates, and trainees are reading with links to Goodreads. We’ve got something for everyone! From self-help transformational reads, historical studies on racism, and an intro to eastern spiritualism, to a powerful, tragic and beautiful memoir of a Korean woman surviving tragedy and forging her own identify and a beautiful children’s book, we hope you find something of interest.

What are you reading? Post it and tag us on social media and we’ll check it out! 


Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour For fans of Sorry to Bother You and The Wolf of Wall Street—a crackling, satirical debut novel about a young man given a shot at stardom as the lone Black salesman at a mysterious, cult-like, and wildly successful startup where nothing is as it seems.

There’s nothing like a Black salesman on a mission.

An unambitious twenty-two-year-old, Darren lives in a Bed-Stuy brownstone with his mother, who wants nothing more than to see him live up to his potential as the valedictorian of Bronx Science. But Darren is content working at Starbucks in the lobby of a Midtown office building, hanging out with his girlfriend, Soraya, and eating his mother’s home-cooked meals. All that changes when a chance encounter with Rhett Daniels, the silver-tongued CEO of Sumwun, NYC’s hottest tech startup, results in an exclusive invitation for Darren to join an elite sales team on the thirty-sixth floor.

After enduring a “hell week” of training, Darren, the only Black person in the company, reimagines himself as “Buck,” a ruthless salesman unrecognizable to his friends and family. But when things turn tragic at home and Buck feels he’s hit rock bottom, he begins to hatch a plan to help young people of color infiltrate America’s sales force, setting off a chain of events that forever changes the game.

Black Buck is a hilarious, razor-sharp skewering of America’s workforce; it is a propulsive, crackling debut that explores ambition and race, and makes way for a necessary new vision of the American dream.


It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be By Paul Arden

It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be is a handbook of how to succeed in the world: a pocket bible for the talented and timid alike to help make the unthinkable thinkable and the impossible possible.

The world’s top advertising guru, Paul Arden, offers up his wisdom on issues as diverse as problem solving, responding to a brief, communicating, playing your cards right, making mistakes, and creativity – all endeavors that can be applied to aspects of modern life.

This uplifting and humorous little book provides a unique insight into the world of advertising and is a quirky compilation of quotes, facts, pictures, wit and wisdom – all packed into easy-to-digest, bite-sized spreads. If you want to succeed in life or business, this book is a must. 


How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America by Clint Smith Poet and contributor to The Atlantic Clint Smith’s revealing, contemporary portrait of America as a slave owning nation 

Beginning in his own hometown of New Orleans, Clint Smith leads the reader through an unforgettable tour of monuments and landmarks-those that are honest about the past and those that are not-that offer an intergenerational story of how slavery has been central in shaping our nation’s collective history, and ourselves.

It is the story of the Monticello Plantation in Virginia, the estate where Thomas Jefferson wrote letters espousing the urgent need for liberty while enslaving over 400 people on the premises. It is the story of the Whitney Plantation, one of the only former plantations devoted to preserving the experience of the enslaved people whose lives and work sustained it. It is the story of Angola Prison in Louisiana, a former plantation named for the country from which most of its enslaved people arrived and which has since become one of the most gruesome maximum-security prisons in the world. And it is the story of Blandford Cemetery, the final resting place of tens of thousands of Confederate soldiers.

In a deeply researched and transporting exploration of the legacy of slavery and its imprint on centuries of American history, How the Word Is Passed illustrates how some of our country’s most essential stories are hidden in plain view-whether in places we might drive by on our way to work, holidays such as Juneteenth, or entire neighborhoods—like downtown Manhattan—on which the brutal history of the trade in enslaved men, women and children has been deeply imprinted.

Informed by scholarship and brought alive by the story of people living today, Clint Smith’s debut work of nonfiction is a landmark work of reflection and insight that offers a new understanding of the hopeful role that memory and history can play in understanding our country.


Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner
An unflinching, powerful memoir about growing up Korean American, losing her mother, and forging her own identity.

In this exquisite story of family, food, grief, and endurance, Michelle Zauner proves herself far more than a dazzling singer, songwriter, and guitarist. With humor and heart, she tells of growing up one of the few Asian American kids at her school in Eugene, Oregon; of struggling with her mother’s particular, high expectations of her; of a painful adolescence; of treasured months spent in her grandmother’s tiny apartment in Seoul, where she and her mother would bond, late at night, over heaping plates of food.

As she grew up, moving to the East Coast for college, finding work in the restaurant industry, and performing gigs with her fledgling band–and meeting the man who would become her husband–her Koreanness began to feel ever more distant, even as she found the life she wanted to live. It was her mother’s diagnosis of terminal cancer, when Michelle was twenty-five, that forced a reckoning with her identity and brought her to reclaim the gifts of taste, language, and history her mother had given her.

Vivacious and plainspoken, lyrical and honest, Zauner’s voice is as radiantly alive on the page as it is onstage. Rich with intimate anecdotes that will resonate widely, and complete with family photos, Crying in H Mart is a book to cherish, share, and reread.


Reinventing yourself: overcome your anxiety and fear when faced with life’s problems and challenges
by Mario Alonso Puig


We all face obstacles and problems in life which often brings us to a standstill. Many people do not know what to do when their relationships go wrong, for example. Others would like to be more daring, more decisive or more successful. Yet, something gets in the way and they finally give up. When faced with adverse or unfamiliar circumstances, our natural reaction is to become anxious and negative.
A No.1 bestseller in Spain already (over 30,000 copies sold since May 2010), this book is designed to transform your outlook to life. By examining how the human brain works and seeing what is hidden in the depths of our minds, the author demonstrates how we can transcend the limits that our mind sets us. And consequently, we can control and overcome those automatic reactions (of fear and anxiousness) when faced with obstacles and problems in our daily lives.
Reinventing yourself does not mean becoming someone different, but instead, it means bringing our real self to the surface. It is in this new area of possibilities where creativity flows, along with the confidence and energy to transform our outlook to life. 


The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende

In one of the most important and beloved Latin American works of the twentieth century, Isabel Allende weaves a luminous tapestry of three generations of the Trueba family, revealing both triumphs and tragedies. Here is patriarch Esteban, whose wild desires and political machinations are tempered only by his love for his ethereal wife, Clara, a woman touched by an otherworldly hand. Their daughter, Blanca, whose forbidden love for a man Esteban has deemed unworthy infuriates her father, yet will produce his greatest joy: his granddaughter Alba, a beautiful, ambitious girl who will lead the family and their country into a revolutionary future.

The House of the Spirits is an enthralling saga that spans decades and lives, twining the personal and the political into an epic novel of love, magic, and fate.


The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff

The Wisdom of Pooh.

Is there such thing as a Western Taoist? Benjamin Hoff says there is, and this Taoist’s favorite food is honey. Through brilliant and witty dialogue with the beloved Pooh-bear and his companions, the author of this smash bestseller explains with ease and aplomb that rather than being a distant and mysterious concept, Taoism is as near and practical to us as our morning breakfast bowl.

Romp through the enchanting world of Winnie-the-Pooh while soaking up invaluable lessons on simplicity and natural living.


For younger readers:

You Matter by Christian Robinson


They All Saw a Cat meets The Important Book in this sensitive and impactful picture book about seeing the world from different points of view by Caldecott and Coretta Scott King Honoree Christian Robinson.

In this full, bright, and beautiful picture book, many different perspectives around the world are deftly and empathetically explored—from a pair of bird-watchers to the pigeons they’re feeding. Young readers will be drawn into the luminous illustrations inviting them to engage with the world in a new way and see how everyone is connected, and that everyone matters. 

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