10 books from TEDWomen for your summer reading list — and beyond

There’s no doubt that the speakers we invite to TEDWomen each year have amazing stories to tell. And many of them are published authors (or about to be!) whose work is worth exploring beyond their brief moments in the TED spotlight. So, if you’re looking for some inspiring, instructive and provocative books to add to your summer reading list, these recent books from 2016 TEDWomen speakers are worthy additions.

1. Beyond Respectability: The Intellectual Thought of Race Women by Brittney Cooper

Brittney Cooper wowed us at TEDWomen with her presentation on the racial politics of time. And in her new book, Beyond Respectability: The Intellectual Thought of Race Women, released in May, she doesn’t disappoint. Brittney says she got started studying black women intellectuals in graduate school. Although she learned a lot about the histories of black male intellectuals as an undergrad at Howard University, she “somehow managed not to learn anything about” the storied history of black women intellectuals in her four years there.

In her book, Brittney looks at the far-reaching intellectual achievements of female thinkers and activists like Ida B. Wells, Anna Julia Cooper, Mary Church Terrell, Fannie Barrier Williams, Pauli Murray and Toni Cade Bambara. NPR’s Genevieve Valentine writes that Brittney’s book is “a work of crucial cultural study … [that] lays out the complicated history of black woman as intellectual force, making clear how much work she has done simply to bring that category into existence.”

2. South of Forgiveness by Thordis Elva and Tom Stranger

One of the most intensely personal talks in San Francisco came from Thordis Elva and Tom Stranger. In 1996, 16-year-old Thordis shared a teenage romance with Tom, an exchange student from Australia. After a school dance, Tom raped Thordis. They didn’t speak for many years. Then, in her twenties, Thordis wrote to Tom, wanting to talk about what he did to her, and remarkably, he responded. For the first time, in front of the TEDWomen audience, Thordis and Tom talked openly about what happened and why she wanted to talk to him, and he to her.

South of Forgiveness: A True Story of Rape and Responsibility is a profoundly moving, open-chested and critical book. It is an exploration into sexual violence and self-knowledge that shines a healing light into the shrouded corners of our universal humanity. There is a disarming power in these pages that has the potential to change our language, shift our divisions, and invite us to be brave in discussing this pressing, global issue.

3. Girls & Sex by Peggy Orenstein

In a TED Talk that has already been viewed over 1.5 million times, author and journalist Peggy Orenstein, shared some of the things she learned about young girls and how they think about sex while researching her 2016 book, Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape. In it, she explores the changing landscape of modern sexual expectations and its troubling impact on adolescents and especially young women. If you’re the parent of a young girl (or boy), it’s a must-read for understanding the “hidden truths, hard lessons, and important possibilities of girls’ sex lives in the modern world.”

4. Born Bright by C. Nicole Mason

At TEDWomen, C. Nicole Mason talked about what happens when we disrupt the path that society has paved for us based on where we were born, stereotypes and stigma. In her memoir, Born Bright: A Young Girl’s Journey from Nothing to Something in America, Nicole talks about how she did it in her own life, chronicling her own path out of poverty. In a beautifully written book, she examines “the conditions that make it nearly impossible to escape” and her own struggles with feeling like an outsider in academia and professional settings because of the way she talked, dressed and wore her hair.

5. The Gutsy Girl by Caroline Paul

Caroline Paul has a pretty amazing backstory. Once a young self-described “scaredy-cat,” Caroline grew up to fly planes, raft rivers, climb mountains, and fight fires. That’s right, she was one of the first women to work for the San Francisco Fire Department — a job that inspired her first work of nonfiction, Fighting Fire. In her most recent book, The Gutsy Girl: Escapades for Your Life of Epic Adventure, she expands on some of the stories she shared in her TED Talk, writing about “her greatest escapades — as well as those of other girls and women from throughout history.”

6. Marrow: A Love Story by Elizabeth Lesser

In a beautiful and surprisingly funny talk about strained family relationships and the death of a loved one, Elizabeth Lesser described the healing process of putting aside pride and defensiveness to make way for honest communication. “You don’t have to wait for a life-or-death situation to clean up the relationships that matter to you,” she says. “Be like a new kind of first responder … the one to take the first courageous step toward the other.”

In her courageous memoir, Marrow: A Love Story, the bestselling author of Broken Open shares the full story of her sister Maggie’s cancer and the difficult conversations they had during her illness as they healed their imperfect relationship and learned to love each other’s true selves.

7. I Know How She Does It by Laura Vanderkam

The theme of last year’s TEDWomen, as many of you will recall, was Time — all of us wrestle with how to be more productive, more engaged, more informed, to use our time wisely and well, to be more fully present in our lives. Writer and author Laura Vanderkam tackled the practical aspects of time management in her TED Talk. There are 168 hours in each week. How do we find time for what matters most?

In her book I Know How She Does It, Laura explains how successful women make the most of their time. With research, hard data and a lot of analysis, Laura “offers a framework for anyone who wants to thrive at work and life.”

8. Always Another Country by Sisonke Msimang

In her work, South African writer and activist Sisonke Msimang untangles the threads of race, class and gender that run through the fabric of African and global culture. In her popular TED Talk, she addressed the power of stories to promote change in our world and their “limitations, particularly for those of us who are interested in social justice.”

I am so pleased to report that after a very competitive bidding war, Sisonke will be publishing her first book, to be titled Always Another Country, in October.  The book, a memoir, will cover “her childhood in exile in Zambia and Kenya, her young adulthood and student years in North America and her return to South Africa during the euphoria of the 1990s.” I am so looking forward to reading her book and so should you.

9. When They Call You a Terrorist by Patrisse Cullors

Patrisse Cullors, one of the three co-founders of Black Lives Matter, is also working on a memoir due out in January 2018 titled When They Call You a Terrorist. Activist Eve Ensler writes that Patrisse “is a leading visionary and activist, feminist, civil rights leader who has literally changed the trajectory of politics and resistance in America.” Co-written with asha bandele, the memoir will recount the founding of the movement and serve as a reminder “that protest in the interest of the most vulnerable comes from love.”

10. On Intersectionality: Essential Writings by Kimberlé Crenshaw

Civil rights advocate Kimberlé Crenshaw had the TEDWomen audience on their feet during her passionate talk dissecting intersectionality, a term she coined 20 years ago that describes the double bind faced by victims of simultaneous racial and gender prejudice. “What do you call being impacted by multiple forces and then abandoned to fend for yourself?” she asked the audience. “Intersectionality seemed to do it for me.”

In a new collection of her writing, titled On Intersectionality: Essential Writings, due to be released next year, “readers will find the key essays and articles that have defined the concept of intersectionality and made Crenshaw a legal superstar.” Don’t miss it.

TEDWomen 2017

I also want to mention that registration for TEDWomen 2017 is open, so if you haven’t registered yet, please click this link and apply today — space is limited. This year, TEDWomen will be held November 1–3 in New Orleans. The theme is Bridges: We build them, we cross them, and sometimes we even burn them. We’ll explore the many aspects of this year’s theme through curated TED Talks, community dinners and activities.

Join us!
– Pat

Featured image: Reading a book at the beach (Simon Cocks, Flickr CC 2.0)


The TED2018 Fellows application is open. Apply now!


TED is looking for early-career, visionary thinkers from around the world to join the Fellows program at the upcoming TED2018 conference in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Do you have an original approach to your work that’s worth sharing with the world? Are you working to uplift and empower your local community through innovative science, art or entrepreneurship? Are you ready to take full advantage of the TED platform and the support of a dynamic global community of innovators? If yes, you should apply to be a TED Fellow.

TED Fellows are a multidisciplinary group of remarkable individuals who are chosen through an open and rigorous application process. For each TED conference, we select a class of 20 Fellows based on their exceptional achievement and an innovative approach to tackling the world’s toughest problems, as well as on their character, grit and collaborative spirit.

Apply by September 10 at go.ted.com/tedfellowsapply.

TED2018 — themed “The Age of Amazement” — will take a deep-dive into the key developments driving our future, from jaw-dropping AI to glorious new forms of creativity to courageous advocates of radical social change. If selected, you will attend the TED2018 conference and participate in a Fellows-only pre-conference designed especially to inspire, empower and support your work. Fellows also deliver a TED Talk at the conference, filmed and considered for publication on TED.com.  

The TED Fellows program is designed to catapult your career through transformational support like coaching and mentorship, public relations guidance for sharing your latest projects, hands on speaker training — and, most importantly, access to the vibrant global network of more than 400 Fellows from over 90 countries.

The online application includes general biographical questions, short essays on your work and three references. Only those aged 18 and older can apply. If selected, Fellows must reserve April 10 – April 15, 2018 on their calendars for the TED2018 conference in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Think you have what it takes to be a TED Fellow? Apply now.

More information
Questions?: ted.com/participate/ted-fellows-program
Visit: ted.com/fellows
Follow: @TEDFellow
Like: facebook.com/TEDFellow
Read: fellowsblog.ted.com


An updated design for TED Talks

TED Talks design

It’s been a few years since the TED Talks video page was last updated, but a new design begins rolling out this week. The update aims to provide a simple, straightforward viewing experience for you while surfacing other ideas worth spreading that you might also like.

A few changes to highlight …

More talks to watch

Today there are about 2,500 TED Talks in the catalog, and each is unique. However, most of them are connected to other talks in some way — on similar topics, or given by the same speaker. Think of it as part of a conversation. That’s why, in our new design, it’s easier to see other talks you might be interested in. Those smart recommendations are shown along the right side of the screen.

As our library of talks grows, the updated design will help you discover the most relevant talks.

Beyond the video: More brain candy

Most ideas are rich in nuanced information far beyond what an 18 minute talk can contain. That’s why we collected deeper content around the idea for you to explore— like books by the speaker, articles relating to the talk, and ways to take action and get involved — in the Details section.

Many speakers provide annotations for viewers (now with clickable time codes that take you right to the relevant moment in the video) as well as their own resources and personal recommendations. You can find all of that extra content in the Footnotes and Reading list sections.

Transcripts, translations, and subtitling

Reaching a global community has always been a foundation of TED’s mission, so working to improve the experience for our non-English speaking viewers is an ongoing effort. This update gives you one-click access to our most requested subtitles (when available), displayed in their native endonyms. We’ve also improved the subtitles themselves, making the text easier for you to read across languages.

What’s next?

While there are strong visual differences, this update is but one mark in a series of improvements we plan on making for how you view TED Talks on TED.com. We’d appreciate your feedback to measure our progress and influence our future changes!


A noninvasive method for deep brain stimulation, a new class of Emerging Explorers, and much more

As usual, the TED community has lots of news to share this week. Below, some highlights.

Surface-level brain stimulation. The delivery of an electric current to the part of the brain involved in movement control, known as deep brain stimulation, is sometimes used to treat people with Parkinson’s disease, depression, epilepsy and obsessive compulsive disorder. However, the process isn’t risk-free — and there are few people who possess the skill set to open a skull and implant electrodes in the brain. A new study, of which MIT’s Ed Boyden was the senior author, has found a noninvasive method: placing electrodes on the scalp rather than in the skull. This may make deep brain stimulation available to more patients and allow the technique to be more easily adapted to treat other disorders. (Watch Boyden’s TED Talk)

Rooms for refugees. Airbnb unveiled a new platform, Welcome, which provides housing to refugees and evacuees free of charge. Using its extensive network, Airbnb is partnering with global and local organizations that will have access to Welcome in order to pair refugees with available lodging. The company aims to provide temporary housing for 100,000 displaced persons over the next five years. Airbnb co-founder, Joe Gebbia, urges anybody with a spare room to “play a small role in tackling this global challenge”; so far, 6,000 people have answered his call. (Watch Gebbia’s TED Talk)

A TEDster joins The Shed. Kevin Slavin has been named Chief Science and Technology Officer of The Shed. Set to open in 2019, The Shed is a uniquely-designed space in New York City that will bring together leading thinkers in the arts, the humanities and the sciences to create innovative art. Slavin’s multidisciplinary—or, as he puts it, anti-disciplinary—mindset seems a perfect fit for The Shed’s mission of “experimentation, innovation, and collaboration.” Slavin, who was behind the popular game Drop 7, has run a research lab at MIT’s Media Lab, and has showcased his work in MoMA, among other museums. The Shed was designed by TEDsters Liz Diller and David Rockwell. (Watch Slavin’s TED Talk, Diller’s TED Talk and Rockwell’s TED Talk)

Playing with politics. Designing a video to feel as close to real life as possible often means intricate graphics and astutely crafted scripts. For game development studio Klang, it also means replicating politics. That’s why Klang has brought on Lawrence Lessig to build the political framework for their new game, Seed. Described as “a boundless journey for human survival, fuelled by discovery, collaboration and genuine emotion,” Seed is a vast multiplayer game whose simulation continues even after a player has logged off. Players are promised “endless exploration of a living, breathing exoplanet” and can traverse this new planet forming colonies, developing relationships, and collaborating with other players. Thanks to Lessig, they can also choose their form of government and appointed officials. While the game will not center on politics, Lessig’s contributions will help the game evolve to more realistically resemble real life. (Watch Lessig’s TED Talk)

A new class of explorers. National Geographic has announced this year’s Emerging Explorers. TED Speaker Anand Varma and TED Fellows Keolu Fox and Danielle N, Lee are among them. Varma is a photographer who uses the medium to turn science into stories, as he did in his TED talk about threats faced by bees. Fox’s work connects the human genome to disease; he advocates for more diversity in the field of genetics. He believes that indigenous peoples should be included in genome sequencing not only for the sake of social justice, but for science. Studying Inuit genetics, for example, may provide insight into how they keep a traditionally fat-rich diet but have low rates of heart disease. Danielle N. Lee studies practical applications for rodents—like the African giant pouched rats trained to locate landmines. The rats are highly trainable and low-maintenance, and Lee’s research aims to tap into this unlikely resource. (Watch Varma’s TED Talk, Fox’s TED Talk and Lee’s TED Talk)

Collaborative fellowship awarded to former head of DARPA. Joining the ranks of past fellows Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Deborah Tannen and Amos Tversky is Arati Prabhakar, who has been selected for the 2017-18 fellowship at Stanford’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS). While Prabhakar’s field of expertise is in electrical engineering and applied physics, she is one of 37 fellows of various backgrounds ranging from architecture to law, and religion to statistics, to join the program. CASBS seeks to solve societal problems through interdisciplinary collaborative projects and research. At the heart of this mission is their fellowship program, says associate director Sally Schroeder. “Fellows represent all that is great about this place. It’s imperative that we continue to attract the highest quality, innovative thinkers, and we’re confident we’ve reached that standard of excellence once again with the 2017-18 class.” (Watch Prabhakar’s TED Talk)

Have a news item to share? Write us at contact@ted.com and you may see it included in this biweekly round-up.


5 TED Radio Hour episodes that explore what it’s like to be human

TED Radio Hour started in 2013, and while I’ve only been working on the show for about a year, it’s one of my favorite parts of my job. We work with an incredibly creative team over at NPR, and helping them weave different ideas into a narrative each week adds a whole new dimension to the talks.

On Friday, the podcast published its 100th episode. The theme is A Better You, and in the hour we explore the many ways we as humans try to improve ourselves. We look at the role of our own minds when it comes to self-improvement, and the tension in play between the internal and the external in this struggle.

New to the show, or looking to dip back into the archive? Below are five of my favorite episodes so far that explore what it means to be human.

The Hero’s Journey

What makes a hero? Why are we so drawn to stories of lone figures, battling against the odds? We talk about space and galaxies far, far away a lot at TED, but in this episode we went one step further and explored the concept of the Hero’s Journey relates to the Star Wars universe – and the ideas of TED speakers. Dame Ellen MacArthur shares the transformative impact of her solo sailing trip around the world. Jarrett J. Krosoczka pays homage to the surprising figures that formed his path in life. George Takei tells his powerful story of being held in a Japanese-American internment camp during WWII, and how he managed to forgive, and even love, the country that treated him this way. We finish up the hour with Ismael Nazario’s story of spending 300 days in solitary confinement before he was even convicted of a crime, and how this ultimately set him on a journey to help others.


In this episode, four speakers make the case that we are now living in a new geological age called the Anthropocene, where the main force impacting the earth – is us. Kenneth Lacovara opens the show by taking us on a tour of the earth’s ages so far. Next Emma Marris calls us to connect with nature in a new way so we’ll actually want to protect it. Then, Peter Ward looks at what past extinctions can tell us about the earth – and ourselves. Finally Cary Fowler takes us deep within a vault in Svalbard, where a group of scientists are storing seeds in an attempt to ultimately preserve our species. While the subject could easily be a ‘doom and gloom’ look at the state of our planet, ultimately it left me hopeful and optimistic for our ability to solve some of these monumental problems. If you haven’t yet heard of the Anthropocene, I promise that after this episode you’ll start coming across it everywhere.

The Power of Design

Doing an episode on design seemed like an obvious choice, and we were excited about the challenge of creating an episode about such a visual discipline for radio. We looked at the ways good or bad design affects us, and the ways we can make things more elegant and beautiful. Tony Fadell starts out the episode by bringing us back to basics, calling out the importance of noticing design flaws in the world around us in order to solve problems. Marc Kushner predicts how architectural design is going to be increasingly shaped by public perception and social media. Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia takes us inside the design process that helped people establish enough trust to open up their homes to complete strangers. Next we take an insightful design history lesson with Alice Rawsthorn to pay homage to bold and innovative design thinkers of the past, and their impact on the present. We often think of humans as having a monopoly on design, but our final speaker in this episode, Janine Benyus, examines the incredible design lessons we can take from the natural world.

Beyond Tolerance

We throw around the word ‘tolerance’ a lot – especially in the last year as politics has grown even more polarized. But how can we push past mere tolerance to true understanding and empathy? I remember when we first started talking about this episode Guy said he wanted it to be a deep dive into things you wouldn’t talk about at the dinner table, and we did just that: from race, to politics, to abortion, all the way to Israeli-Palestinian relations. Arthur Brooks tackles the question of how liberals and conservatives can work together – and why it’s so crucial. Diversity advocate Vernā Myers gives some powerful advice on how to conquer our unconscious biases. In the fraught and often painful debate around abortion, Aspen Baker emphasizes the need to listen: to be pro-voice, rather than pro-life or pro-choice. Finally Aziz Abu Sarah describes the tours he leads which bring Jews, Muslims and Christians across borders to break bread and forge new cultural ties.


What I really love about this episode is that it takes a dense and difficult subject – mental health – and approaches it with this very human optimism, ultimately celebrating the resilience and power of our minds. The show opens up with Andrew Solomon, one of my favorite TED speakers, who shares what he has learned from his battle with depression, including how he forged meaning and identity from his experience with the illness. He has some fascinating and beautiful ideas around mental health and personality, which still resonate so strongly with me. Next, Alix Generous explains some of the misconceptions around Asperger’s Syndrome; she beautifully articulates the gap between her “complex inner life” and how she communicates with the world. David Anderson looks at the biology of emotion and how our brains function, painting a picture of how new research could revolutionize the way we understand and care for our mental health. Our fourth speaker, psychologist Guy Winch, gives some strong takeaways on how we can incorporate caring for our ‘emotional health’ in our daily lives.

Happy listening! To find out more about the show, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.