'Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested.'
Wise words from English philosopher, Francis Bacon, on reading.
The simple system James Clear uses to read more is by far the most practical set of tips I've come across. He delves into how to read more books and describes in detail, a pattern he's been able to stick to consistently. He also has an easily adaptable 'read more' checklist you can use.
Here are a few recommendations of books I've read, reviewed or plan to read this year, and highly recommend if you're looking for your next good read.
Am I there yet?
This is still my book of the year! Mari is vulnerable, witty and her illustrations are full of so much wisdom about navigating life. I am inspired by her weirdness, ability to be uncomfortable and derive meaning from awkward situations. I’ve followed her on Instagram for more than 2 years now but even with over 180 pages of drawings, there’s many in the book that I’d never seen. This is a great book for women in their 20s but it also reads great for us older folks who’ve been through those times and are reminded of all we’ve learned and are still learning. You can find the book here
I'm still reading this book which has so far provoked so many questions. So many thoughts. Michelle provided so many interesting insights and her unapologetic-ness through it all is probably what's made reading this book a magical experience. Instead of romanticising both her and America’s past, she analyses candidly. She has a beautiful bond with her brother Craig. Her experience of motherhood, pregnancy complications, miscarriage and IVF speaks volumes. Knowing what it meant to navigate all of those things on as public a stage as you can get – were especially illuminating. #IAmBecoming
I'm judging you
Luvvie covers social media, bad manners, and other somewhat trivial topics with insight and wit. Where she really shines, however, is in the section of the book discussing impossible standards of beauty, racism, homophobia, sexism, and other social issues. I'm Judging You is the handbook the world needs. She does a fantastic job at giving an overview of the issues. She's irreverent and funny and ultimately challenging readers to be more thoughtful better people.
Conversations with God
I’m in the process of reading Conversations with God which so far is an uncommon dialogue that speaks of great truths, in different forms.
It speaks of a God that is not just wise, but also funny. One that doesn’t judge or condemn, but one that is always near, and always willing to help. The kind of God I have always believed in.
I can’t wait to delve into volumes 2 & 3
488 rules for life
488 Rules for Life is Kitty's tongue in cheek guide to modern etiquette, a list of rules that guarantees the world would be a better place if only everyone would follow them. A lot of them resonate:
Rule #19 - Flush. Pause. Check
Rule #26 - Cushions are not spiritual advisers
Rule #164 - Don’t serve food on planks, tiles, slabs of granite or any other building materials
Interestingly, there are only 447 rules (she thoughtfully leaves room for you to list your own)
101 essays that will change the way you think
Wow! Just wow! I liked this book because It's not patronising or contrived in its advice. It doesn't promise magical and otherworldly solutions. It just speaks words of wisdom. It is a simple and easy read. Raw and true and commonsensical. It is comforting and challenging and filled with nuggets of gold. I found a strangely calm comfort through the spoken words of these essays.
Mistakes I made at work
This was an interesting read for me. It’s refreshing to hear stories about bouncing back from low points, but not all mistakes are created equal. A lot of the women featured equated “mistakes” with “risking potential failure” and they aren’t the same thing. I respect that people have different experiences though, which is what made me keep reading the book. I also noticed that it was especially low on examples of women in STEM fields. My main takeaway from it was that nobody has it all figured it out. Even people at the very top have had failures.
Gladwell argues that success is tightly married to opportunity and time on task. He states that it takes approximately 10,000 hours to master something and that gives me comfort. It helps me feel better about my many failures at initial attempts to master things (like professional dancing, getting over my awkward fear to network with people I don't know, sewing... to name a few). I kept thinking, "I've just got to put in more hours if I want to do better." It would be remiss of me to mention that my enjoyment of the book was marred by the glaring absence of any well-known female "outliers."
Another genius book where universal concepts are simplified. Anyone who wants to create the unthinkable can understand and improve their own unique craft with this brilliant masterpiece. As a 'new' writer, sometimes it’s hard to stay original. There's so much mature, smart stuff here: especially in a hyperconnected world you cannot stop 'stealing' from others, it's impossible to remember whether an idea you had is novel or whether you saw it on Twitter late at night 1 year ago. That's not a bad thing, but you have to develop from there, you have to curate your inner space. You have to let some things in and purposely leave some things out.
Girl, woman, other
Currently reading: After hearing so much about this book, I was incredibly keen to read it, so I got a copy. From the reviews I’ve read so far, Bernardine writes vibrantly of a contemporary Britain that is rarely seen, challenging, giving us a glimpse of its past, present and future, with a seamless feminist narrative that goes back and forth in time, an unconventional structure, poetic prose, and a disregard of the normal conventions of punctuation. She presents us with a broad and diverse spectrum of black women's voices, all distinct, from differing backgrounds, ages, roots, class, occupations, families, from many parts of the country and sexuality in all its forms.
The little book of big lies
This book is a must-read!
We all think of being healthy physically but inwardly we could actually stand to be a little healthier. My personal take away from Tina's book is to remember that being comfortable is good but stepping out of our comfort zones and pursuing our deepest desires is way better.
If I'm being honest, I also wanted to hear some of Aunt Vi's (from the show Queen Sugar) golden nuggets ;-)
Why we sleep
On my list to read: Based on all the revving reviews I’ve read so far. A number of people have given this book five stars in the sense of "everybody should read this book."
It contains stunning information. Basically, the less you sleep the shorter your life span will be. Do I have your attention yet?
The conscious parent
I like this book because the focus is not so much on our children's behavior, but how our behavior as parents effects our children and their behaviour. The overall message is to be present with your child and understand that they are their own person, separate from you—to parent consciously, with purpose and recognizing that it's the here and now that make the biggest difference. I learned heaps about myself from reading this, and I also learned valuable information about how my behavior affects my children. It was very insightful, sometimes confrontational but helped me see ways that I am doing well and ways that I could improve as a parent.
Tuesdays with Morrie
When I first read this body of work a few years ago - it broke me.
It was raw, thought-provoking, heartbreaking and real.
Such a simple concept of a young man caught up in his busyness and business, competing to be the best in his job until he finds out his old college professor is sick. And so begins a tale of regular meetings between Mitch and his old professor - Morrie.
As a memoir, you don't have to agree with everything they discuss, it's just beautiful to hear thoughts from someone facing the end and to be reminded of our own humanity and fleeting lives.
More than enough
Wow! Just Wow!
So many kernels of wisdom. So many seeds of love and empowerment. I'm a sucker for any brown-skinned woman who can articulate herself this well.
This book was easily one of the best I’ve read and Elaine passes on so many little gems and life lessons. I loved how she made sure to talk about the many challenges she faced while trying to achieve her goals. Watching someone’s life play out on social media can make things appear more perfect than they really are. Looks can be deceiving.
One of the most popular TED talks of all time? You know I had to give this book a try. It showed me a very different outlook to vulnerability and a new understanding of what it means to engage with our vulnerability, understand how shame and shaming others affects us, how to combat shame, and being vulnerable for the sake of making real connections with people. Not only has it helped me understand my vulnerability but understand other people’s vulnerability and understand scarcity and how wholeheartedness can affect us.
The subtle art of not giving a f**k
This is truly one of the most ground-shaping nonfiction books I’ve read so far. It will and can change a perspective, a life. It made me rethink all the times I ever cared too much about some of the most irrelevant things in hindsight. It made me realize that it’s sometimes necessary to take a step back and re-evaluate why I think so-and-so on a daily basis. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck was both personally relevant and entertaining. Although I enjoyed it, I couldn't help but think it was definitely written by and for straight, white, entitled males.
The she book
The prose and poetry in this book were a collection about Love, Hurting, and Being there for yourself. I greatly enjoyed reading this collection and you could really feel the emotions that the author put into the work. There were a lot of original pieces that did not sound redundant when compared to other poetry collections. It is very empowering to every woman out there who is looking for something to get themselves back up. A lot of pieces definitely touched me and made me want more.
“People are the way they are because of them. People love the way they love because of them. People do things they do because of them. Not because of you."
The financial diet
As an avid follower of the TFD videos on YouTube - reading this felt like the natural thing to do. One of the gems that stood out for me was 'Don’t slide into a “CEO lifestyle” where you tell yourself how much you deserve all the money-wasting things you buy.'
There is one feature of this book that is especially commendable: Chelsea doesn’t just rely on her OWN ideas—she consults experts whom she respects for their business wisdom. So instead of just getting the perspective from the author, the reader gets advice from lots of different folks. I don’t think I’ve seen that particular format in any other personal finance book.
Managing the motherload
I appreciated the author’s honesty and transparency when it comes to managing the motherload.
Her tone and experiences were relatable. Her words will undoubtedly be helpful to mothers of all kinds. I’d definitely recommend this book for the mother struggling to find space for herself; the mindfulness stuff was basic but might be immensely helpful for some stressed-out new mums.
Like many, I struggle with the disciplined pursuit of less.
Real talk: you cannot have it all. Decide what your agenda or goal is, and pursue opportunities that lead you to that goal.
If you don't have your own agenda, someone else will make it for you. (Aint that the truth though?) If you find yourself with a lack of time for things like sleep, food, family and reading… this book is a game-changer. An excellent addition to my little library for sure.
James is a genius. The book does a great job of laying down the framework of how habits are formed and shares insightful strategies for building good habits and breaking bad ones. Even though I was already familiar with the research behind habit formation which you can find on his blog, reading through this book helped me approach habits I’m trying to adopt or break in my own life from different angles. He also provided a lot of additional / bonus information available when one purchases the book; which I thought was great.
The third space
Considering micro transitions and the interaction of third space and leadership was my takeaway from this book.
It contains simple ideas that can be earth-shattering; intent and context as well as taking a timeout in a world that lives on back to back meetings is a precious time that allows you to get set and ready for the next space.
Reflect, Rest and Reset
On my list to read: but from what I can tell -- here’s a quick summary of the book:
Catch yourself when you need to be needed by your child
Mentor, don’t direct
Ask the right question
Teach principle of consensus (enter the decision grid)
Ask why then ask why again
Use expose, explore, and pursue to decide how to spend family time (not all activities are created equal)
Encourage plan B thinking