Vanisha Weatherspoon in Texas
RE | Issue 19 | 2021


Vanisha Weatherspoon in Austin on the twelve books that track if not her life then the past twelve months of her life




Michelle Obama

Becoming is a first-hand account of Barack Obama’s rise to the U.S. presidency through the eyes of his wife, Michelle. It is a little slow to begin with, but after Chapter 5 you will not want to put the book down. Michelle does a wonderful job weaving in talk of her husband without making it seem like a biography. The reader is able to see the world through her lens, from her role as an associate at a top law firm, to meeting the intern who would change her life forever, to motherhood, to becoming FLOTUS (the First Lady).




Judi Holler

Judi Holler has—almost overnight—become one of the most important people in my life. Her book was absolutely life changing. She works to shift your mindset from fearing fear to making it ‘your homeboy’. She introduces the idea of not being fearless but instead working to fear less. When you make fear your friend, you invite real opportunity to change your life. The hot pink cover is equally inviting!




Jane Austen

I know this may seem clichéd as my major in college was British literature, but Pride and Prejudice will forever be one of my all-time favorites! I love the way Austen presents Mr. Darcy as a prideful snob, but we later learn his perspective and discover that he is a true gentleman. Mr. Darcy is one of the more complex characters Austen has written (though none are as complex as Emma). I have Mr. Darcy quotes scattered around my house: his speech confessing his love to Eliza Bennet is one of the greatest I have ever read.




Delia Owens

This is a wonderful, fictional coming-of-age story. It has love, heartbreak, murder, and mystery. A young girl who is abandoned first by her mother and then slowly by her entire family, leaving her to fend for herself in the marshland of North Carolina. This book has spent over 100 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and is recommended by Reese Witherspoon’s book club. I could not put it down! Kya’s story is currently on track to become a movie.




Shonda Rhimes

Rhimes gives an in-depth account of how drastically her life changed in one year just by changing her outlook from no to yes. This is a great read and offers a glimpse of a very private powerhouse’s life. She talks of love, weight, friendships, using your voice, and even saying no. But really, this is a testament to the power of saying yes.




Don Miguel Ruiz

This is a book that I continue to read every year as the information based on the ancient Toltec wisdom of Mexico is what I strive to live by. Don Miguel Ruiz offers a code of conduct to follow in order to be free from self-limiting beliefs that may cause suffering. The Four Agreements of life are: 1) be impeccable with your word, 2) don’t take anything personally, 3) don’t make assumptions, and 4) always do your best. It is a quick read and there is even a deck of cards now to help remind you of the code daily.





I am a yoga teacher in my spare time, and this is the foundational text for every yogi. It sets out the theory and practice of yoga. The sutras are where we learn that yoga is not merely poses and movement; there are a total of eight limbs which make up the practice of yoga as a lifestyle. This book contains four books that every yoga teacher must read. Traditionally, whatever sutra you see first when you open up the book each day is the one you practice that day.




Richard Rothstein

The sub-title of Rothstein’s book is ‘A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America’. I came across The Color of Law during a class in law school, which prompted me to buy the book and read the whole account. Rothstein’s account of how the federal government used its power to continue apartheid-like separation of black and white families across the country is very good, firstly for people who want to understand the history of race relations in the U.S. but also for anyone with an interest in the impact that housing has on whole communities.




Glennon Doyle

Another great personal development book! Glennon refers to living her life caged and tame, as this is how girls and women are brought up. She then discusses the benefit and the need for women to step into their power by untaming themselves. She analogizes women to a cheetah in a cage and how the cheetah is best when untamed and in the wild. Glennon uses this book to talk about living in the confines of what society expects women to be; once she claimed her power back, she was able to discover her true self.




Madeline Miller

Were you to ask me a year ago what my top favorite books of all time were, I promise you Homer’s Iliad would have been in the top three. I am a true lover of ancient Greek mythology (my minor in college) and Homer’s Iliad is one of the best. However, I came across this version written through the lens of Patroclus, the lover of Achilles. This version brings warmth to the story of the ill-fated great warrior. You will be sobbing by the end.




Madeline Miller

As you may have expected, if the Iliad is one of my favorite books, then Homer’s Odyssey is a close second. Miller does it again when she finds a lesser character in the original and tells the story from that person’s perspective. Here, we are given a twist on the Odyssey from the lens of Circe, the witch, daughter of Helios, the sun god. We learn how she gains her power, transforms a man into a god, and gives birth to the monster Scylla. Circe eventually meets Odysseus on his journey back to Ithaca.




Gabriel Garcia Marquez

One of the most famous literary love stories of all time. I love this tale of star-crossed lovers who fall in love as teenagers, get pulled apart by fate, and reunite more than fifty years later.



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