Keri Russell
Photo: Jeff Vespa/

MeasureThe Measure of Our Success
By Marian Wright Edelman

The background: Edelman is an incredibly accomplished person: She was the first black woman admitted to the Mississippi bar; she worked with Martin Luther King Jr.; and now she leads the Children's Defense Fund. This is a love letter to her three sons in the form of 25 lessons.

Why she chose it: In the introduction, Edelman discusses her worries that her children were brought up in a too-privileged era. "Giving up and 'burnout' were not part of the language of my did what you had to do and you got up every time you fell down and tried as many times as you had to to get it done right," she writes. That really hit me—I have such a huge fear of failing. I read the book ten years ago, as a young adult, and I found the lessons inspiring. Now, as a parent, I see them in a whole new way.