I, like many other people, enjoy setting a New Years resolution on January 1st. I, also like many other people, take part in the self loathing on January 2nd when you’ve broken your New Years resolution and you just accept that “this isn’t your year” and that there is always next year. But enter January 1st 2018…
I really wanted to read more in 2018. I had been gifted a book as a leaving present from my old boss for my journey across the world. On January 1st, it had been sitting and gathering dust for 6 months. To be honest I didn’t even know what the title of the book was because it seemed like a much better way to spend my time was to sit in my pants and watch TV for 6 hours straight. Let’s face it, we’ve all been there and probably go there more often than we care to admit.
So I decided that my 2018 was going to be full of books and it was to be my New Years resolution to read more. What a nerd! I didn’t know what, I didn’t know how and I certainly didn’t know when (I was certain I could not give up TV though, whatever would I talk to my friends about if I hadn’t watched Game of Thrones or Love Island?)
So I was pootling along, reading The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down at the beginning of the year, when I came across a blog post by an old friend from school. You can check it out here, but basically she had decided to do a similar thing the year before and had gone for 25 books in her 25th year. So that was that, my resolution would be 2 books a month (a total of 24 books) and I’d start with my gift. Easy.
After talking about my resolution for almost the entirety of 2018 (ask my colleagues at work and they’ll say it was exhausting I’m sure) it is clear that so many people wish they could read more, hence the birth of this blog post.
I managed 22 books (not the hungry caterpillar 22 times either). Given that I read the square root of 0 books in 2017, to say I’m pleased is an understatement. I will give you my top 5 recommendations and list the others below.
What was interesting was the more I read, the more my outlook on a whole array of things changed. Life direction, friendships, work. I used my phone less, my bedtimes got more reasonable, my sleep quality SKYROCKETED and I was better able to deal with obstacles and challenges in my life. The world was no longer against me, although that could be something to do with the content of the books I was reading. I’ll let you decide.
I also watched a lot less TV. It makes me feel sick to think about how much of my life revolved around a screen before this resolution. As for missing TV? It hasn’t been missed. When somebody says “Have you watched Birdbox?” and you say “No”, that’s the end of the conversation. No shame. I’ve also enjoyed reading far more than any TV programme or film (okay maybe not, there is still Bridesmaids and it is still amazing. Perhaps somebody could write a Bridesmaids book?)
So if you want to read a little more and make your screen time a little less, here are my must reads for 2019. If it inspires just one person to read just one page, I’ll be happy.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen R Covey.
First published in 1989 this book talks about mind set and how to manage it. In it, we hear about how life just happens and as humans we are terrible at dealing with it and forming poor habits. Then, one day we get hit with loss or trauma and suddenly our mind set changes, often when it is too late.
It covers topics such as how to be proactive and organising time so as to plan and think about future outcomes. How often do you feel like you are simple ticking off a to-do list of unimportant stuff? Stuff that life just throws at you? Never making time for yourself or your wellbeing, whether it be at work or at home?
Finish it and I promise you a day at work will never be the same, ever. It covers negotiation (something I admit I have done terribly up until the day I read the section on it) and adopting a win-win mentality. It is true that in virtually all situations, everybody can have their slice of the cake. Obviously nobody can change over night, but it really makes you think twice about decisions and, more often than not, I have chosen a different path after reading this book than I would have before.
If you do anything with your spare time, please please please give this book a go. It turned my life and my mind set completely on it’s head.
2. Sully – Chelsey B. Sullenberger
If you like the film, this is even better.
I started this book on a Monday afternoon and finished on the Tuesday night. I couldn’t put it down. An autobiographical account of the crash of US Airways flight 1549 on The Hudson River, it covers in great depth Captain Sullenberger’s life, how he knew he would always fly, and the challenges the aviation industry faces. It is a book about a real life miracle and true heroism.
Why so good? I think often we wonder if giving our all is truly worth it. We think, “what’s in it for me?” and, let’s face it, 100% effort 100% of the time seems exhausting. This book demonstrates that, if you choose to give a lot, you’ll be ready should your time of reckoning come. Just like Sully.
Why me, why do bad things happen to good people? We’ve all heard it. I used it, often. Now I use it a lot less.
This book is a bit of a kick in the backside to tell us that we do have a choice. We can choose to succumb to bad situations and believe the universe hates us, or we can channel our mind-set to overcome any obstacle. It’s full of stoicism and examples of people who have been in really, really s**t situations and have gotten through, successfully. Examples include Theodore Roosevelt, Amelia Earhart and Steve Jobs.
It puts a lot of problems in to perspective and you soon realise that there is a way around them, it just requires some effort, will power and a lowering of your defences. Something we naturally struggle with.
If you feel like you’re stuck or lacking some oomph, pick it up and bury your nose in it. It might just be the best thing you do.
(Ryan also has a great monthly blog with fantastic book recommendations – link is provided if you want to check it out)
4. When to Jump – Mike Lewis
This one requires a little lateral thinking. It’s a collection of 40 short (but true) stories about people who have said ‘F**k it, I’ve wanted to try this my whole life, I’m going to do it’. It contains people from all walks of life and all back grounds. Some work out, some don’t. Some fail, epically. But the underlying tone for the book is that we all have a little burning desire in the back of our minds. Learn a language, own a horse, fly a plane (mine).
The difference being these people one day decide to go and do it and, even those that fail, all come away learning some kind of lesson and are proud of the fact they gave it a go.
It’s written beautifully and in a very light hearted and simple way. If you feel like you are at a crossroads, give it a read. You might be quite surprised to find what desires and dreams you have tucked away in the back of your brain that should be brought to life.
Incidentally, an ex-colleague of mine, Becs, has started a road trip around New Zealand. Her and her husband took the decision to leave their jobs and explore, like they’d always wanted to do and her blog is a great read, check it out here.
5. The Choice – Edith Eva Eger
Another page turner, The Choice starts with a family of Jews during The War. As Edith and her family are sent to Auschwitz, she covers, loss and the despairing conditions she faced, day in, day out. She was one of the very few lucky ones that made it out alive.
In it she talks about the importance of hope and forgiveness. It goes on to follow her story, her defiance and will to not let her past defeat her. She has gone on to give thousands of talks all across the world on the subjects covered in the book. At times, it makes for very difficult reading and you will find yourself overcome with immense sadness.
If you do find yourself suffering hardship, the book is like a big hug that tells you everything can be okay. Just keep going.
If you would like to read a little more or simply get started, but have no idea where to start, I hope these suggestions can provide you with that start point and help you to just pick up a book and start reading. You will soon discover that within a book are other books that recommend others that recommend others. Rather like Netflix recommending new box sets, only this is better.
Any questions, please ask away. I’d also really like to hear any reading suggestions you may have in the comments too, so I can give them a read!
“So please oh please, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, and in its place you can install a lovely bookshelf on the wall” – Roald Dahl.
Other books read:
- The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down – Haemin Sumin
- Find My Virginity – Richard Branson
- Ego Is The Enemy – Ryan Holiday
- Meditations – Marcus Aurelius
- Yes Please! – Amy Poehler
- Bossypants – Tina Fey (very funny)
- Conspiracy – Ryan Holiday
- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k – Mark Manson
- Dear Fatty – Dawn French
- Darkest Hour – Anthony McCarten
- The Tipping Point – Malcolm Gladwell
- Thrive – Arianna Huffington
- The Terrible Hours – Peter Maas
- The Expats – Chris Pavone
- Darkness Descending – Ken Jones
- Air Babylon – (also very funny) – Anonymous
- Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff… at work – Richard Carlson