As the year draws to a close, I thought I’d go back and take a look a few books I found to be good reads. No fiction in this lot unfortunately and with that comment, I will be making a pact with myself to find more time for fiction next year.
But nonetheless as Christmas is a time of reflection I thought I’d share my 5 top reads for 2014 and why. It’s quite the mix but all are truly worth a look.
My top 5 for 2014, but in no particular order.
#1 Paris Letters
I kind of stumbled upon this book by Janice Macleod. An autobiographical story of a chapter in the author, Janice Macleod’s life. You could call it a coming-of -age, or perhaps to be more accurate it’s about finding one’s true path and following it.
For Janice, what she thought was her chosen path to being a writer was nothing more than the daily grind of copywriting deadlines.
With the sameness of her life crushing any hopes of the beautiful life she had hoped for, it was time for change. But what was this change to be? Janice found a way to trust her own inner voice and intuition; which is often so hard to do and came upon the lofty idea to bravely leave her steady and well paid life behind. Her goal was to save up enough money to live unencumbered for one year. This led Janice to Paris, to a new life, a new career and a new love.
Paris Letters is an easy, but fulfilling read and if you aspire to something a little more in your life than you have now you may find Paris Letters quite the inspiration. If you have not found anything for your holiday reading yet, this could easily make the list. A delightful story it is. You’ll find more on Janice and her Paris Letters here.
#2 Life in half a second
Another happy accident. I was given this book after seeing the author Matthew Michalewicz speak at a blogging conference earlier this year. Matthew begins his book with a mathematical equations. It goes like this.
Everyone knows life is short. It’s the most over-preached truth on earth. But how short is it, exactly? Planet Earth is four-and-a-half billion years old. The species you and I belong to, Homo sapiens, did not emerge until some 200,000 years ago. The oldest known fossils of modern humans are only 160,000 years old, discovered in Herto, Ethiopia. So, out of the four-and-a-half billion years that this planet has been floating through the nothingness of space, we’ve been around some .0044% of that time. Put another way, if our planet is exactly one year old, then modern humans would have only been around for the last 23 minutes. Measure the same scale, if our planet was a year old, then your entire life would amount to half a second. In Planet-time, that’s all we have: half a second.
We can take a gloomy view of this, or we can make something of our ‘half a second’. Matthew offers the motivation to achieve our version of success before it’s too late. This is an uplifting, straight forward step-by-step and practical guide to not just wishing, not just dreaming, not just planning, but actually taking the next steps to achievement. It’s a challenge of sorts and it’s a good one. If you want 2015 to be the year you stop dreaming and start doing, then this is a book you will love.
#3 18 Minutes
Okay so if Matthew shows us how to live our life as if it were only ‘half a second’, then Peter Bregman, the author of 18 minutes shows us how to find our focus and master distraction by getting the right things done.
I picked this book up while travelling, in fact, I don’t think I can walk passed an airport bookshop without buying a book. At first, I thought this book was a mistake, but once I delved passed the first chapter or two, I was hooked and this is the PERFECT book if you want to plan out what the next year of your life is going to look like.
You could say this book is the perfect blend between business and self help and if you find yourself wondering, as I often do, how you got to the end of another frantic day left feeling unsatisfied with how much you accomplished, then this is the book for you.
18 Minutes offers up the idea that rather than trying to get it ALL done, we find the focus to get done what really matters. In the chaotic and distracting world we inhabit in the 21st Century, this is a must read, offering easy to follow solutions in finding your focus no matter how many distractions come your way.
Okay, okay I know, I’m last woman on the planet to read this book. But I’ll admit, I was a little put off by this book when it first came out and allowed my uniformed view and perhaps the subsequent movie of the same name to cloud my judgement. The more literary acclaim the author, Elizabeth Gilbert got the more curious I became.
If you know this story, you know it’s a good read. But if not, then this is an auto biographical story of a year in Elizabeth’s life where, after a failed marriage, a messy divorce, closely followed by a failed love affair and then to the eventual peace she found within herself through her travels through Italy, India and Indonesia.
I am including this book, because 1). It’s a very good book and 2). Elizabeth has a second book out now titled The Signature Of All Things which has been given rave reviews and will be on my summer reading list (See details at the end of this post).
#5 Your Hormone Doctors
I gave this book a full review recently. You can find it here. The authors Leah Hardy and Susie Rogers really know hormones, and when it comes to explaining what happens to our hormones as we age, especially after the age of 40 the authors are able to offer the scientific explanations in an easy to read way and the solutions you are seeking.
Whether it be finding more energy in your day or managing stress and anxiety or losing that stubborn 5 kilograms of weight you are finding so hard to shift. In fact there is a diet to help you drop a dress size for good at the end of the book.
Or perhaps you just want to feel happier and healthier and you sense your hormones could be at the heart of the matter.
If you are reaching 40 or beyond, this is a very important read. This is your ‘go to’ hormone bible when things begin to change and you’re tired of wondering if it’s just you or perhaps it really is your hormones?
And so to 2015
And finally as mentioned earlier, the book by Elizabeth Gilbert. The Signature of All Things. It will be on the top of my list for holiday reading.
From the moment Alma Whittaker steps into the world, everything about life intrigues her. It is not long before she becomes a gifted botanist in her own right. But as she flourishes and her research takes her deeper into the mysteries of evolution, the man she comes to love draws her in the opposite direction – into the realm of the spiritual, the divine and the magical. The Signature of All Things soars across the globe of the nineteenth century, from London and Peru, to Philadelphia, Tahiti and beyond. Peopled with extraordinary characters along the way, most of all it has an unforgettable heroine in Alma Whittaker.
And now you?
I would absolutely love to know what you’ve been reading this year. Did you find a book you just can’t stop thinking about and you’d love to share? If so, just scroll down and leave a comment.
See you next time,