If you have read my articles for a while, you will know I love a good book. Ok, let's get real - I am completely obsessed with books. I have thousands of them in my house, piled up on every available surface. I buy them even when I know I won't get to read them for months. I even have more than a few that have been on my shelf for a year or longer, unread (but waiting for me patiently, as books do). It's a love affair really.
Being a strategist, writer, and a PhD researcher, I have a licence to buy as many books as I need. Or want. Or just have to have. As far as addictions go, it's the healthiest one I've ever had. I get asked constantly what I'm reading, what I've just read, and what's next on my list. So here is some holiday reading inspiration for you. I hope one of the books on this list may feed your soul and fill your cup over a relaxing break (or give you some respite from your crazy relatives!).
13 favourites of 2015
The Woman I Wanted To Be, Dianne Von Furstenberg. Dianne has long been an inspiration to me. As a fashion designer, an entrepreneur, and a woman who is firmly living in her feminine power, I admire her greatly. This book is a first hand look into her life from growing up as a small girl with her mother who was a surviver of the concentration camps, to starting her empire, and her life now as an icon of the fashion world. I have a picture of Dianne on my vision board, sitting in her office in New York, and it fills me with creative inspiration. If you're looking for a book about a woman who created the life she always wanted, even in the midst of hardship, this is your book.
The Heroine's Journey, Maureen Murdock. Many of you know my PhD research is looking at next generation feminism and feminine power. In fact my work is all about feminine power; what it is, how we step into it, how we live it. Many of us have been taught about Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey, which he felt was a journey women didn't need to make, as women 'are already there'. Maureen argued with him back in 1981 that women have their own journey and that 'the focus of female spiritual development was to heal the internal split between woman and her feminine nature'. This is book is somewhat of a revelation. It is the essence of the female journey, and a great roadmap for navigating our path.
Essentialism, Greg McKeown. Ok, so I have not finished this book yet (I will in a few days) but it had to be on this list as it's kind of blown my mind. I am constantly banging on about boundaries and saying things like 'just because you can doesn't mean you should' (I am constant tape in my best friends head with that one). And even still, I constantly struggle with wanting to do everything all of the time, having more creative inspiration than time to create, and more business ideas than time to execute. So to pick up a book about the 'disciplined pursuit of less' is a 'holly sh*t' moment. The disciplined pursuit of less. Just sit what that thought. What would your life be like if you lived and worked like that? This concept is so core to my work but has never been articulated quite like this before. This will be required reading for my team and my clients next year. Get it. It could change your life.
The Sound Of Paper, Julia Cameron. What can we say about Julia Cameron? She wrote The Artists Way that has changed the lives of millions of creatives, artists, writers and people blocked from their inspiration. If you haven't read that, gentle prod, do yourself a favour. This book, The Sound of Paper, Julia dives deep in to her own personal struggles with her creative practice. From her home in New York to her home is Taos New Mexico, she draws on her own journey to help us all uncover the soul work we must do as artists to find inspiration. 'What goodness is hidden there, just below the surface? We must ask'. It's a book of personal essays accompanied by exercises that you will actually want to do, and it's as much about your spiritual path as it is about your creative process. So much love for this book.
Light Is The New Black, Rebecca Campbell. Disclaimer up front on this one - Rebecca is my new soul-sister-girl-crush-gal-pal. As a new Hay House author in the UK (Aussie gal though), we connected on social which quickly turned into a omg-we-must-like-talk! So we did when I interviewed her for my podcast and it was love at first word (I've had so many emails from women about this podcast episode, it was kinda epic). And this book. If you are looking for spiritual inspiration from someone who lives in the real world, this is your book. Filled with light, love and feminine wisdom, it's a must on your book list.
Steal Like An Artist, Austin Kleon. I adore this book (and his other book, Show Your Work). It's about unlocking your creativity. It's about taking inspiration where you find it and turning it into your art whatever art looks like for you (writing, building a business strategy, giving a presentation, painting something). It's filled with wisdoms like 'practice productive procrastination; it's the side projects that really take off' (um yeah it's how I started my business); good theft versus bad theft as an artist; being inspired, honoring and crediting others work - versus you know, plagiarising and stealing (don't do that, not ever). It's a small book, you can skim it or savor it, it's filled with quirky hand drawn graphics, and it's just basically cool. Buy it. And get inspired.
Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert. I know, so predictable right? I think this book is on everyone's fav list or must read list. As a creative and a writer, I devoured this book. I read it on my iPad the day it came out while waiting for my paperback version to arrive. And then I bought it on Audible and frequently listen to it while walking or driving (I'm on my third go-round now). As I'm on deadline for my next book (to be released in May 2016), it keeps me inspired, and when not inspired, gets my butt in my chair to get the words down. Love, Love, Love.
The Icarus Deception, Seth Godin. Seth is my total and complete brain crush. I could listen to him, watch him, read him, until the purple cows literally come home (yes that means forever). He makes me stop and think. Like, really think until my frontal lobe is actually sore from pondering and reviewing and questioning. And I love that. This book is on it's third play on Audible and the book also sits on my shelf. It's challenges you to choose yourself. To not wait to be picked. To think differently about work and creativity and who you are in the world. It challenges you to question how you show up, and why. And it makes you want to create better art - whatever that art look like for you. If I could only take a handful of books to a desert island, this would be one of them. Big call I know. Read it.
The Path Of Practice, A Woman's Guide Of Ayurvedic Healing, Bri. Maya Tiwari. Oh this book. It has sat on my bedside table all year, and is such a blessing. As someone who has had her fair share of health challenges in the past, reading this book has been a breath of fresh air in my life and healing journey. As Dr Christine Northrup says on the cover, it is an extraordinary book. Tracing the path of Maya's own healing journey through cancer, which took her from the height of her career as a fashion designer in New York, to a small cabin where she allowed herself to heal, it is a book on healing and living. Adapting the ancient philosophy of the Vedas to women's contemporary lives, it is filled with practices based on sage advice for the modern woman. I truly love this book. I hope you do too.
Awakening Shakti, Sally Kempton. I discovered this book years ago but only really delved into this year. As often happens to me, the thought of 'why did I wait so long' came instantly to mind. But I know we read books when are ready to receive them, even if that means they sit on our shelves for years. This book is about the transformative power of the Goddesses of yoga. As one reviewer said, it is 'a mythic manual for a new kind of feminism - a feminism of the soul'. It is a treasure for anyone who is interested in myth, meditation, embodying the divine feminine, learning about the goddesses like Kali and Saraswati, or Lakshmi who I wear on a pendant everyday to remind me of abundance. Many say that rekindling the knowledge of the divine feminine is the most important thing we need in the world right now for the healing of the planet and all people in it. I couldn't agree more. This book is a glorious start.
The Accidental Creative, Todd Henry. I stumbled upon Todd a few months ago and then proceeded to read and listen to everything I could get my hands on. He is a strategist and works with organizations to help people be more brilliant, creative and productive. This book helps you do just that. He helps readers realize that everyone is creative (another of my hobby horses) and how that shows up in your work everyday. This book is about finally realizing that it's not enough to just show up at work everyday, work hard, and thrive. You have to do things differently. From focussing on your most critical work, to reclaiming your energy and attention, it provides real strategies to unleash your creativity and do better. Todd talks about many of the same concepts that I do with my clients, and I love the way he pulls it all together. Definitely worth a place on your reading list.
Yoga For Life, Colleen Saidmen Yee & Yoga Girl, Rachel Brathen. I pop these books together here not because they are the same, but because they inspired me for the same reason. Both are about the journey's of a fabulous woman, through life and through yoga. They are both filled with glorious wisdom about health and happiness, inspirational stories of challenge and success and delightful in their revelations and teachings. If you want some health, happiness and yoga inspo, check these out.
Honorable Mentions (because I just can't help myself, I feel like I left out some of my children!):
Books that informed my work this year:
Playing Big by Tara Mohr (listen to the podcast here)
Stand Out and Reinventing You by Dorie Clark
Your Strengths Blueprint by my girlfriend Michelle McQuaid (listen to the podcast here)
Platform by Michael Hyatt
The Confidence Code by Claire Shipman and Katty Kay
The Athena Doctrine by John Gerzema and Michael D'Antonio
Unfinished Business by Anne Marie Slaughter
Women I love and am inspired by:
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Annie Leibovitz At Work by Annie Leibovitz
Daring & Disruptive and the entire series by my girl Lisa Messenger (listen to those podcasts here)
Yes Please by Amy Poehler. Listen to it on Audible, crazy funny.
Miracles Now by Gabby Bernstein
A Lotus Grows in the Mud by Goldie Hawn
So there you have it. I could have included so many more and it could have been a list of 100, but these are the top ones that really hooked me this year.