Hola panda bears!
Heyoooo! It’s that time of year! That special, special time of year where I share my year’s favourite reads. (You can find last year’s here.)
Be warned: this ain’t your typical list. Who KNOWS where this will go! Who knows what ramblings I might end up with? I promise it will be at least mildly amusing, potentially interesting, and if you’re a bookaphile like me, who the fuck cares because we are talking BOOKS people!
These books aren’t always new releases. They just happen to have been read this year by me. I wallop through a fair amount of books each year, and faithfully gather my list of favourites to share with you at the end of the year. I honestly probably spend far too long thinking about this list over the year, but that’s not going to change anytime soon. Baby, I was born this way.
This year’s best books cover business, biographies, creativity, money, self help, non fiction + motherhood.
(Also: I’m sharing my usual bonus: my favourite romance novel for the year. HEYOOO!)
Let’s snuggle in, babooshkas! BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS!
INSPIRING BIZ + LIFE BIOGRAPHIES
By Invitation Only: How We Built Gilt and Changed the Way Millions Shop – Alexis Maybank and Alexandra Wilkis Wilson
This was the first book of my 2013 reading list. Gosh, it was damn good.
Something I’ve worked out about me: I learn way more about business from reading business biographies than reading just a plain business book.
Don’t get me wrong, business books have their place. But farrrrk, business biographies really light up my brain cells. They end up becoming stories, archetypes, experiences in my head and I feel changed by them. Smarter for hearing their stories. It’s just bloody wonderful hearing about other people’s business challenges and how they rise to meet them.
I wish there were more books like this one. It was savvy and intriguing.
And whilst they work at a pace that isn’t appealing to me (i.e. crazy amounts of hours, long trips away from their family), I was utterly inspired by how BIG they thought. They scaled their business from zero to a billion in four years. Competely thrilling and totally blew my head off with possibilities.
Recommended for: Entrepreneurs + also chicks who dig the fashion world. Also, if your name starts with Alex…
Normal Gets You Nowhere – Kelly Cutrone
Another chick in the fashion world. Another ballsy entrepreneur. Another crazy inspiration. I share both her books because I read both of them back to back in the space of days and regard them as a series of sorts.
Be warned: Kelly is a quintessential Scorpio. Sex, money, swearing, death, spiritual transformation are total normal pieces of conversation for her as she talks about business.
I dig it. I get it. (I’m a Scorp too). Sometimes I was laughing out loud at how hysterically burn-bridges-and-don’t-forgive she is – as Scorps can sometimes be.
I found these books completely compelling, useful and hilarious. I can’t wait for her to write another one!
Recommended for: Ballsy chicks, biz laydeez, Scorpios and those who love Scorpios.
Me – Ricky Martin
Okay, so this is probably the least likely book to end up on my list.
At least, I thought it would be. See, here’s the story: I was a prime target for Ricky fandom. At the height of Ricky Martin Craze, I was a susceptible teenager who could have been indoctrinated into the Ricky cult. But I was too busy listening to folk music and world music. I still am. And whilst I can totally see he’s a good looking piece of man-meat, I preferred more bear-ish kinda dudes. I still do.
I share this because I was totally unprepared for what happened to me this year.
See, I’m a massive fan of The Voice Australia. Like, I get WAY too emotionally invested in it, and then religiously internet stalk my favourites who never end up winning.
And last year, Keith Urban was my favourite judge. Dude was just so beautifully hearted and spiritual and grounded that he totally gave me a heart-boner.
So when he announced he was leaving, I was all distraught and considered for 0.3 nanoseconds boycotting The Voice. But then I came to my senses. It’s THE VOICE, man. I can’t give that shiz up.
I was totally underwhelmed at the idea of Ricky replacing him. I totally had a misconception that he’s be all shallow and OMG LIVIN DA VIDA LOCA.
I was so very wrong. (I’m totes okay with admitting that!)
Dude was so very very beautiful. Loving. Compassionate. Intuitive. Heart-centred. Spiritual. Special. He just shined.
And he intrigued me SO much that I ended up reading his biography to find out more about this man. It was exactly what he shows himself to be. I was so completely touched by his story and who he is. I even wrote a blog post sharing some of his wisdom (and just realised I had ALREADY rambled about my love story about Ricky there! Ha!)
I’m going to end this now because I’m starting to sound like a rabid fan girl.
Recommended for: Ricky fans + people who’ve yet to be converted to Ricky-ism. If you like spirituality or are interested in a man who has followed his integrity and spirit in following his career.
CREATIVITY + MAMAHOOD
I was honoured to be asked to write the foreword for this book written by powerfully by one of my Academy women. I think it’s bloody important for mothers to talk about creativity and fitting it in with parenting, so of course I said yes. I’ve written before quite a bit about the struggles I had with resolving the fact that I needed creativity to thrive as a mother. That for me, just parenting wasn’t enough for me. That I still deeply needed my creative outlets.
I honestly felt like I had very few role models as a new mum who had found a peace and rhythm with getting their own creative needs met as they parented a small being. I judged myself for still wanting to create. I felt like I wasn’t a perfect mother because I felt like I was crumbling when I didn’t have time to myself each day. I turned into an empty shell of myself when I gave up who I was entirely because I thought that’s what it was to mother.
Golly gosh, it was some really hard soul lessons to learn. I’m getting teary writing about it now.
I felt really alone in that struggle. Close to four years on, I am much more at peace with my role as a mother and who I am. I really understand now what it is I need to survive and thrive. I get now that a happy mama equates to a happy family. I get that I don’t have to sacrifice myself and give myself over wholly in this act of rearing children.
There is a middle way. There is a balanced way. There is a way that feels right and good to me.
I’m so fucking glad Lucy wrote this book. I know that she wrote it because she was told to. I know it was dictated from the heavens. I know it because I can feel it when I read her words.
When I got it, I consumed it whole within two days. I just couldn’t stop reading it. It felt like such a balm to my soul. I wish I’d had it at the beginning. I’m so glad it’s here now.
Recommended for: Mothers. Every single one of them. Seriously. I mean it.
Oh Katie. How I do love you.
This woman is the real deal. A living Buddha. I regard her spirit as beautiful as my homeboy the Dalai Lama. They both emanate joy and right thought.
All of her books are bloody wonderful. It’s why I included one of them in my Top 10 Spiritual Books Of All Time list.
If you are in pain, if you are suffering, if your thoughts drive you absolutely bonkers, read her book. Any of them.
All of them are deeply profound and powerful.
Recommended for: Look, if you’re at all into spirituality, self help and personal development, and you haven’t read a Byron Katie book, you need one of her books. This one is damn good. As are the rest.
Also, if you are a fan of BK, but haven’t read this one yet, I lovingly recommend it. It’s worth it and has some more wonderful insights in it.
The Golden Motorcycle Club: A Story of Transformation – Jack Canfield and William Gladstone
Seriously, it’s not often that I get goosebumps and have to stay up until the wee hours reading a non-fiction book. Fiction? Sure, totes, I can get sucked into that FOR LIFE. But non fiction? Doesn’t always happen like that for me.
This one was one of those rare moments for me.
Honestly, the book isn’t brilliantly written. But something about it totally light up my cells. This (true) story of spiritual teachers coming forward in a wave, connecting together to help as many people as possible. It just lit me up. It reminded me of my deep faith in earth angels being here to help (healers, teachers, energy workers, lightworkers in all different fields.) And it totally reconnected me with my soul purpose of supporting as many earth angels as I possibly can.
I dunno. It got me. And it got me in the good bits.
Recommended for: Earth angels and those with a mission
I’m sharing this not for a #humblebrag. I’m sharing it in this list because it’s the one I read the most this year. My 2013 book is so fucking well thumbed, well loved, well used. I refer to it so.freaking.much. to keep my business going in the right direction. I use it to keep me on track when I’m feeling listless or directionless or looking for motivation and inspiration in my life. It never fails to bring me back to centre, and put me on the right course again.
I am eternally grateful that five years ago, the book landed in my lap as a fully-formed idea. And that I listened to it and let it spill out through me over the following four days. It has been such a blessing to me and made so many miracles happen. I’m just as much of a fangirl of it as anyone else is.
Recommended for: Leonie. If you love it too, that’s rad.
INSPIRATIONAL + INTERESTING NON FICTION
Born To Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen – Christopher McDougall
I kept seeing a few friends post about this book and how good it was.
And I was all
BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA YEAH LIKE I’D EVER BE INTO A GODDAMN RUNNING BOOK
(I’m incredibly open minded like that. Ho ho ho!)
Anyways, curiosity definitely nabbed this cat. I downloaded a sample and was all
HOLY SHIT THIS IS SO GOOOOD!
And bought it and downed it without swallowing, just like an anaconda.
It’s not really about running. I mean, it is. But dude, it’s about the tribe that Carlos Freaking Casteneda was talking about. They are a seriously mystical, magical tribe of peeps.
It’s kind of about anthropology and extreme runners and an adventure story and history and biology.
And god, I don’t know. It was bloody marvellous.
Recommended for: People who like running and also people who are completely oblivious to running. Like “Why would I run when there is no dinosaur chasing me?” oblivious. I’m not saying that’s me. But I am.
Also: if you like shamans and shit, this book is rad.
The Man Who Quit Money – Mark Sundeen
This is kind of in alignment with the running book. A fascinating real life adventure story about a dude who goes without money.
I ain’t be quitting money anytime soon because I actually find it a useful energy exchange tool.
I just found this a great adventure story, and I love reading about simple living, alternate possibilities and frugality.
Recommended for: Peeps who dig real life stories or uber-frugalism.
Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar – Cheryl Strayed
Oh this is a good one for you! I’ve got THREE advice column-ish kind of books in the list for the first time ever. I never thought I’d be into those kinds of books, but guess what? I AM.
This is so lovingly tender and compassionate and heart-opening and earth shattering.
I don’t know how you can get through it without tearing up or gasping.
It’s like reading the most intimate love notes between souls – one in pain, the other to say: I know darling. I’m sorry. I understand. Me too.
It’s ballet of the spirit and heart.
Recommended for: Peeps in possession of a heart
Ask Graham: He’s Been Everywhere, He’s Seen Everything. Now Graham Norton’s Here to Solve Your Problems – Graham Norton
Okly dokly, I have loved Graham Norton since the beginning of time when he used to wear these ridiculous leprechaun suits of purple and green. Dude is hilarimo squared!
Having said that, I thought his book/s would be kind of uninteresting/shallow/attempting to be funny but not really (sorry Sarah Silverman, I love you, but your book definitely fits in that latter category. I still love you though. Please don’t hold it against me.)
Anywaysies, I’m happy to admit (TWICE! IN ONE POST!) that I was wrong. His book is tender and superb. I felt like I learned about humanity and relationships and love from it! I know! WTF!
Plus, funny. Holy shitter funny. Dude has it going on. The End.
Recommended for: Peeps who love a good giggle and a heart squish
Honestly: Notes on Life – Nikki Gemmel
This is my favourite of Nikki’s books. Sure, she’s written Bride Stripped Bare and all those other best-selling novels.
But it’s her as a columnist (for The Weekend Australian) where I really fall in love.
Her musings on mothering, loving, families and life is honest and true, kind and beautiful.
Recommended for: Vagina owners
NOVELS + TRUE STORIES
Penelope (A Madcap Regency Romance) – Anya Wylde
HEYOOO! My annual romance novel recommendation!
Again: this one is NOT brilliantly written. It’s not a saga for the ages.
But it is funny and light and whimsical and lush.
I like that.
Recommended for: Peeps who like brain candy
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail – Cheryl Strayed
Cheryl wrote that bloody glorious advice book I mentioned called “Dear Sugar.”
This is her story of trolloping across the mountains from Mexico to Canada.
It’s about healing and humanity and all the ways we fuck up and all the ways nature and solace and time can bring us back to ourselves.
Recommended for: Hikers and people who like the idea of hiking but not actually doing it