What Are You Reading? The Optical Community Has a Stack of Recommendations to Consider


NEW YORK—Many of us set out with ambitious summer reading lists, but then reality sets in and we end August with the same stack of books on the nightstand that piled up there on Memorial Day weekend. Well, this summer may turn out to be—unfortunately—the summer when a new reality sets in and that stack of books we want to read isn’t quite high enough. Or only half high enough.

Well, it’s still early in July and there’s always hope that things take a turn for the better, finally, in 2020. But, in the meantime, there are certainly plenty of good books out there to help wile away the time.

We started out the summer with high expectations, as usual, but have only gotten about a quarter of the way into that book pile. Trying to juggle the daily updates on the return of Major League Baseball with other news has only left short intervals for reading pleasure. As a result, we’re not quite finished with the recently popular “Sapiens, A Brief History of Humankind,” or the student literary staple that we’re trying to re-read, J.D. Salinger’s classic, “The Catcher in the Rye.”

Getting through these two this month will leave the whole month of August to tackle some of the recommendations we received in a recent informal poll of the optical community. Here’s what our colleagues are reading this summer, and it’s certainly a list that has a little bit of everything for everyone.

Rachel Maas
AVP, Special Marketing

Here’s what I have just read and recommend: “Where the Crawdads Sing,” by Delia Owens. I really enjoyed this book and it has a 4.8 out of 5 on Good Reads, too, which was a plus. It was an easy read but also had enough suspense that kept it interesting. It’s a mystery/romance coming of age story with a surprising tale of a possible murder.

I am currently reading “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption,” by Bryan Stevenson. This book has excellent reviews on Good Reads (4.6 out of 5). It is based on a true story about a lawyer who shares some of his cases on those he has defended and his experience with our current justice system and a call to fix it.

Dave Gibson
AVP, Consumer Eye Care and Customer Development

With all of the heightened awareness about systemic racial inequality and injustice, I decided to spend some time learning more about the subject so that I can be better educated on the issues and a more vocal advocate.  Of the various books on the subject, I chose “Understanding and Dismantling Racism: The Twenty-First Century Challenge to White America” as one of my summer reads. 

The author outlines the history of racism and how the white community is blind to the many institutionalized forms of racism. There’s a great history lesson on government’s role in allowing and creating policies to segregate people of color geographically, educationally, professionally and culturally. Despite civil rights legislation in the 1960’s, ingrained behaviors and beliefs have persistent through the subsequent decades. The author offers specific ways everyone can work to bring racism to an end.

For my “fun” read, I’m looking forward to diving into Daniel Silva’s newest book, “The Order,” which comes out July 14! 

Jane Lehman
Head of Corporate Communications

I typically read a new book every few weeks. Historical nonfiction is my way of making up for never paying attention in Social Studies class. This past year, I’ve read everything from “Mary” (the incredible life story of Abraham Lincoln’s wife) to “Caleb’s Crossing,” the story of the first Native American to graduate from Harvard.

One favorite I’d recommend is “Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China.” It is the epic story of three generations of strong, beautiful women struggling to survive social norms, politics and hardships in 20th century China. I found it in the laundry room of my building actually. The book has been around for a while, but it is totally timeless.

Jim Edwards
President and Chief Executive Officer

I’d recommend “Free to Focus” by Michael Hyatt. This book highlights a systemized approach to productivity and time management. It’s full of really practical takeaways and “real world” applications for managing your day and focusing on the most important tasks related to your goals. 

Lexi Reeve
Marketing Manager

Although this came out a few years ago, I recently read “Mrs. Sherlock Holmes,” a true-crime novel centered around Mary Grace Quackenbos Humiston. She was the first female Special Assistant United States Attorney, dubbed “Mrs. Sherlock Holmes” after her work in solving the case of a missing teenage girl (which a majority of the book focuses on) led her to use her own detective skills to solve the crime. She accused the NYPD of negligence during the investigation and was later named a Special Investigator of the New York City Police Department. The book follows Grace Humiston through the entirety of her impressive career. It’s a great read!

Cristina Llorens Pasquino
Communications Manager
ABB Optical

Lately I’ve been digging the “Widow’s Island” mystery novella series by Kendra Elliot and Melinda Leigh. The series features FBI Special Agent Cate Wilde, who returns to her hometown on Widow’s Island, located in the Pacific Northwest, to solve a string of murders that have taken place on the small island. There are four books so far. The series is a perfect read for when you’re poolside with a fruity cocktail.

Erin Meyer
Director of Marketing 

I’m in the middle of “Radical Candor” by Kim Scott who has worked at Apple, Google, Dropbox, and various other tech organizations. It centers around a philosophy of building an environment in which teams can provide very candid feedback to one another and have tough conversations while maintaining a personal, respectful, and inspiring culture.

Alan Frank, OD
EyeSpy Consultants

Here are three good suggestions for any summer reading list: “Lincoln,” by Carl Sandburg; “The World,” by Richard Haass, and
“Billy Budd,” by Herman Melville.

Colleen Mulder
Vice President of Marketing
Blue Sky Vision
At Blue Sky Vision, we have a library of over 350 copies of 150 leadership and business books and encourage our team members to check them out. The book that new managers routinely provide positive feedback on is “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey.

“Who Moved My Cheese” by Spencer Johnson is another simple and quick read that the team values since change is inevitable, and especially apropos at this time. My marketing team is currently reading “Talk Triggers” by Jay Baer and Daniel Lemon. We actually heard him speak in 2019 and I look forward to hearing the team’s word-of-mouth ideas following the completion of the book.

Also, my book club meets monthly throughout the year and reads all genres to keep everyone interested. We’re currently reading “The Feather Thief” by Kirk Wallace Johnson, a nonfiction and classic thriller at the same time. We just finished reading “When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithi. It’s an excellent nonfiction book about a neurosurgeon who was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer and is a book I would recommend that everyone read as it provides an insightful and educated view into life and mortality. It was riveting, tragic, and inspiring at the same time.

Evan Kestenbaum  
Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer  
GPN Technologies

Throughout the year, I switch between Audible and the Kindle. These past few months have been filled with home improvement projects so Audible was my method of choice. Recently, I finished the book "Theodore Roosevelt for the Defense" by Dan Abrams and David Fisher. Its fascinating to learn the personal side of the stories of history. In addition to understanding more about the trial and that time in history, this book brought to life Theodore Roosevelt's personality, convictions, and way of thinking. I believe understanding where we came from, and the leaders who got us here, helps in both business and other endeavors in one's life. On the business side, Dr. Scott Jens, Founder and Chief "Why" Officer at Sandbox, recommended "Team of Teams" by Gen. Stanley McChrystal. It discussed how to transform your organization by increasing effective communication, and building habits. With Dr. Jens' help, we've implemented many of the recommendations and see the rewards.