line up of books and person pulling one out

What Media Causers Read in 2019

“Show me a family of readers, and I will show you the people who move the world,” once said Napoléon Bonaparte. This is a mantra that the Media Cause family holds dear to its heart. Every day we try our best to help our clients create tangible impact in their community. But, in order to come up with the best creative ideas and strategies, we need to stay informed and inspired. So, we read!

We read books that will inform our work, books that will enhance our creativity, refuel our minds, and that satisfy our curiosity. In honor of Read Across America Day, we polled our staff about their reading habits and emulated Barack Obama with a list of the best books we read in 2019.

Media Causers Reading Habits

  • How do we read? At Media Cause, the feeling of holding a book in your hands, marking its pages, and feeling its texture under your fingers remain a must. Over 80% of our staff that responded to our survey still prefers reading hardcopy or paperback books. E-books are second at 39%, and audiobooks a distant third at 17%.
  • When and where do we read? Most Media Causers prefer to either read at night, after dinner on the couch or right before going to bed, or in the afternoon. 60% of respondents particularly enjoy reading outside, in a park.
  • How often do we read? As we said earlier, reading is important to us and it is showing in the numbers. 45% of our staff aims to read one book every month, 27% reads a book every 2-3 months, and one of us was honest enough to admit “I start lots of books but I just don’t finish them all!”
  • What do we read? A bit of everything! A third of our agency strongly prefers non-fiction books, a third goes all in for fiction, and the last third enjoys both equally.

Media Cause top books of 2019

As you’ll see below, we did not lie when we said that we read a bit of everything. Out of all the respondents to our survey, no one picked the same book as their best read of 2019. Discover these books in the words of Media Causers.




  • Lean In – Sheryl Sandberg: “This book inspired me to advocate for myself as a female (on the younger side) in the workplace where I was working alongside men in roles above myself. It also reminded me of my purpose to have a greater impact in the world (hello Media Cause!!) and to fully lean in to this passion in order to make a change.”
  • Becoming – Michelle Obama: “It was both Interesting and Inspirational. So much I never knew about her.”
  • The Sixth Man – Andre Iguodala: “Got the book purely for basketball reasons and I loved every behind the scenes anecdotes. But this book has so much more to offer, in particular around race and race consciousness in the US. Must read.”
  • The Girl Who Smiled Beads: “Fascinating story about 2 sisters escaping the Rwandan genocide”



  • No Hard Feelings – Liz Fosslein & Molly West Duffy: “Culture! Doodles! Well designed!”
  • Essentialism – Greg McKeown: “Helpful in managing time, prioritization, life, etc.”






  • The Other Wes Moore – Wes Moore & Travis Smiley: “Shines a light on the opportunity gap that exists in the US and challenges faced by youth in underserved communities.”
  • Dignity: Seeking Respect in Back Row America – Chris Arnade: “The book tells the story of inequality from the perspective of every day Americans. It helped me develop empathy and see that the life that many of us strive for–Education, money, success–isn’t the life that everyone wants. The book also shows the power of stories and how problems-solving needs to start with people at the center. And it has beautiful photography.”
  • Just Mercy – Bryan Stevenson: “It was deeply engaging and revealed the sad reality of our criminal justice system through some of the most empathetic storytelling”



  • There, There – Tommy Orange: “It was moving, entertaining and well-written novel about Native Americans living in Oakland. The local setting combined with the cultural commentary make it feel both close-to-home and informative. It’s the type of fiction I love where even though the events aren’t real, it feels as though you’re getting to know the characters and learning about their lives and culture. It is written with a great deal of feeling, and provokes strong emotions.”
  • Letter To My Daugther – Maya Angelou: “Maya Angelou is a national treasure. And women, men or non-binary in this society, we are all her daughters.”
  • Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi: “I wanted to pick up this book and read it again the moment I finished. This is a compelling and emotional multi-generational story that follows two different family lines, starting at the outset of the West African slave trade and extending through present day. While the narrative and characters themselves are beautifully crafted, the storytelling powerfully paints the picture of how the slave trade impacted and continues to impact people of West African descent – across continents and generations – through a series of interwoven stories. While this is a fiction novel, it’s also full of wonderful history lessons on West African culture. If you know someone who’s on the fence about reparations for black people in America, ask them to read this book.”
  • The Color Purple – Alice Walker: “Celie’s view of God was eye-opening in a way that I’ve never realized with the movie and I found it very educational.”
  • Lila – Marilynne Robinson: “Lila” is the story of a girl becoming a woman, and ultimately is a story of growing. Lila is born into the fringes of society and overcomes the many obstacles life sends her way, learning to hold the harsh dichotomy of pain and joy that is human existence. Marilynne Robinson is one of the great storytellers of our time, and her words never fail to leap off of the page right into your heart.”
  • Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: “Aside from being a book I couldn’t put down and a story I couldn’t get enough of, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie captures the micro-aggressions and complexities of race in a seamless and remarkable way. I was totally consumed by this novel and felt like it opened my eyes to the experience of being a person of color & immigrant in the West in a deep way.”
  • Pachinko – Min Jin Lee: “The writing was rich, descriptive, and transporting. I learned a great deal of history about Korea and Japan excluded from my education. The characters were well drawn, imperfect, and relatable. I said to my husband once it ended “I miss Pachinko.”
  • Where The Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens: “Original and powerful!”



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