It’s that time of year… my annual tradition of sharing my favourite reads for the year. You can read previous ones years here: 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016.
To be honest, I wasn’t planning on writing one of these this year – I felt like all I read was homeschooling books. But then one of my Academy members told me she was couldn’t wait to read this year’s booklist (thanks Jill!) and I got to thinking of all the good reads I HAVE had. And that it might not be as big of a list as in year’s previous, but there were still books that should be shared.
Plus, I thought, while I’m at it, I thought I’d share my favourite tv shows, podcasts + shit I bought.
First up: state of the read. What were my reading habits like this year?
I changed (again) my reading habits.
This year has felt like an intensive study into two new themes: homeschooling + network marketing.
I bought them in the truckloads, and consumed them as rapidly as I could.
I definitely didn’t have as much free time this year with starting homeschooling + a third company, and that impacted on the amount of books I read outside of those two topics.
I kept reading printed books 95% of the time, Kindle for uber trash romance/erotica that I didn’t need a paperback of.
I’d definitely like to get back into more of a pattern of reading more, and across more themes in 2018. This year has felt like a mad scramble to consume content!
Best book of the year:
Walking to Listen: 4,000 Miles Across America, One Story at a Time – Andrew Forsthoefel
By far, this is the best book of the year. I would even go so far as it entering my top ten favourite books ever (!!!!)
It was one of those serendipitous finds: a last-minute rush buy in an airport bookstore before a flight. That trip ended up being a disaster of comical proportions, but this book was its saving grace.
It’s the true story of a young bloke walking across America in order to get his shit together. Sounds a bit trite, but seriously: this book had me switching between laughing, madly scribbling vast swathes of it down in my journal, and sobbing convulsively.
Honestly, it was better than Wild for me (and I love Cheryl Strayed!) or any other “walking to fix your inner shit up” books I’ve read (I love that that’s a category of books now! ha!)
So much heart, and wisdom, and kindness, and hope.
First, We Make the Beast Beautiful: A New Journey Through Anxiety – Sarah Wilson
The best book I’ve read about anxiety bar none. Poetic, beautiful, insightful, useful, haunting.
I am so grateful for Sarah’s honesty, vulnerability + courage in sharing this story.
Really, really good. Definitely top #2 book of the year.
The Barefoot Investor: The Only Money Guide You’ll Ever Need – Scott Pape
I’m a longterm fan of Scott… in fact, I bought this book about 10 years ago. It was the first finance book we ever read, and it really helped us get our shit together. Scott’s the reason we cut up our credit cards and started understanding money and how to make it work for us. He’s still the one I rely on most of all to increase my financial literacy.
He re-wrote and re-released the book this year, and it is beyond brilliant.He’s the real deal, the shit, the bomb dot com. I know I sound like a raving fan, which I am. I think EVERYBODY should get this book and do the steps in it. It will change your life.
The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People’s Lives Better, Too) – Gretchen Rubin
When I read Gretchen’s last (also fantastic) book Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits I was enthralled by a chapter of it on her four habit tendencies (or personality types). It was that brilliant, I wished the whole book fleshed it out more. Obviously, I wasn’t the only one to think this, because she did it! This book is the result of that. I couldn’t be gladder.
I reckon this book is excellent in helping to increase your productivity by knowing your tendencies’ weaknesses and strengths. Here’s a brief overview of the four tendencies, and you can also take the quiz here to determine which tendency you are.
For example, I’m an Obliger. I am great at meeting other people’s expectations, not as great at meeting my own at times. The way I get around it: I use public accountability and tell other people my goals in order to create outer expectations. It’s probably why I blog about my goals too! It’s all about seeing clearly how you work best, and setting up the structures to make it happen.
You’re Going to Survive: True stories about adversity, rejection, defeat, terrible bosses, online trolls, 1-star Yelp reviews, and other soul-crushing experiences—and how to get through it – Alexandra Franzen
This one is a brand new book-baby, but I’ve gobbled it up.
Honestly, learning about this shit has been a life theme for me for a while now. And I’m bloody DELIGHTED that somebody has written about it. It’s made me feel so much less alone in dealing with challenges.
Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone – Brene Brown
Will read anything she writes, ever.
Pro tip: I prefer Brene books on Audible. It’s like a companionable chat with a down-to-earth mate who researches the shit out of the human condition.
Home Grown: Adventures in Parenting off the Beaten Path, Unschooling, and Reconnecting with the Natural World – Ben Hewitt
I kind of resisted categorising this as a homeschooling book because it’s not really. It’s more of a reflection on parenting, simplistic living and making choices off the beaten path.
So beautifully written I had to stop at times just to breathe it all in.
Highly recommend whether you are homeschooling or not!
How To Homeschool: A Purse-Sized Guide to Getting Started – Sarah Janisse Brown
This was little but powerful. Really useful!
Plus: similar aesthetic to my style I reckon. I love whimsical illustrations!
Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners – Lori Pickert
I don’t follow this religiously (I try not to follow anything religiously, to be honest), but I found parts of this so good I found it hard to breathe, and I had to put it down to think it through.
What Your First Grader Needs to Know: Fundamentals of a Good First-Grade Education – ED Hirsch Jr
I found it really useful as a base textbook to consider things to be teaching for the year. Good, clear, fluff-free. There’s one for every grade. I’ll definitely be getting the Second Grader one for next year.
So as you know, I just completed a 12 month experiment in network marketing + managed to become the fastest doTERRA business builder in history. It’s been a fun adventure learning a new business model, and I consumed a ginormous stack of books about the industry. Here’s some of the best:
Go Pro: 7 Steps to Becoming a Network Marketing Professional – Eric Worre
If you were going to read any network marketing books, you should get this one. I also got this one as an audio book and it was excellent.
The New Era of Network Marketing: How to escape the rat race and live your dreams in the new economy – Dave Nelson
Solid read from a young Aussie network marketer.
The Four Year Career®; How to Make Your Dreams of Fun and Financial Freedom Come True Or Not… – Richard Bliss Brooke
Good primer on network marketing, plus it’s got some good concepts and graphics in there that I like to share with my network marketing team.
Being the STARfish: 7 Steps to Sharing so People Want to Buy – Neal Anderson
If you’re in doTERRA specially, this is a good one.
Righto! Let’s talk about my kids’ favourite books this year.
As we’ve homeschooled we’ve knocked through quite a few, and I’ve adored going through them with my girls.
Magic Tree House Boxed Set, Books 1-28 – Mary Pope Osborne
A lot of homeschoolers recommend this series – it’s a fictional series that covers a whole bunch of topics including history, geography and science.
You can buy the books individually, or in small sets, or the complete set (which is what we did).
It goes onto another series as well for slightly older readers – Magic Tree House Merlin Missions. And… EXCITING! They are being made into a movie as well. I can’t wait!
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls
Oh gosh, how can I even say how wonderful this book is?
100 beautifully illustrated profiles of brilliant women throughout history.
We read this over dinner, with a globe out to find the country for each profile, and an iPad and Google Home to do further research (i.e. interviews or songs or poems) from the women my girls are most excited by. We’ve had such a lovely time together going through it.
Ostara is OBSESSIVE about this book (she is 7)… so much so, when we finished it, she said:
“WAAAAA! HOW AM I GOING TO LIIIIIIIIIVE NOW THIS BOOK IS FINISHED?”
Luckily, Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls 2 has just been released… and it’s all wrapped up, under the tree.
It’s been one of the biggest parenting honours + joys of mine to introduce my daughters to my most favourite childhood author. They do however have to intermittently wait as I sob through parts of it though. #sorrynotsorry
I don’t love most magazines, to be honest. I always feel a bit disappointed by them, but I keep trying them again and again in the hope of hitting gold. This one is gold – decent, well-written, thoughtful articles written by people who haven’t had a lobotomy. Gorgeous illustrations, and delicious pull-outs. Hooray!
I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention the magazine that has been my #1 honey for nearly 20 years (!!!!): Weekend Australian Magazine. Comes free with every edition of the Weekend Australian. Current favourite columnists: Trent Dalton + Nikki Gemmell.
I mostly deep-dived into homeschooling blogs. Some of my favourites:
Art/biz blogs I enjoyed: both of whom took long breaks from blogging before returning to doing almost daily blogging. I like the immediacy and looseness of it.
And I always enjoy trying to be smarter by reading:
Two journalists sharing what they are cooking, reading and watching. They make me feel smarter for being in their realm, plus their relationship enters the territory of… what’s the chick version of bromance? Let’s call it fromance. I don’t know. But they are adorable.
Oh MATE. MAAAAAAATE. Hands down one of the best tv shows of recent years. Starts off slow and takes a bit to find its pace… but holy cracker, it grows into something brilliant, funny, philosophical + stunningly smart.
ZOMG THE GREATEST. THE. GREATEST.
I stopped watching it in Season 4 when Danny + Mindy split up. SPOILER ALERT INCOMING! As soon as I read they were getting back together in the finale, I binge-watched the SHIT out of it. Still as hilarious as ever, with a brilliant ensemble cast. Can’t wait to see what Mindy creates next!
British comedian gameshow at its finest. Also: Greg Davies.
Ill-advised obsession. I usually refuse to watch reality TV dating shows (except for my beloved Farmer Wants a Wife #dontyoujudgemeIgrewuponafarmIcanthelpititmustbegenetic). But I got sucked into this one out of curiosity, then quickly fell down a rabbit hole of obsessively reading the live Twitter stream while it was being broadcast, and then reading all the hilarious blog recaps, and mostly becoming far too emotionally invested in working out who would win. Ask my poor friends, who were subjected to copious amounts of texting while I emotionally processed the situation, and also sent photographs as evidence of body language that indicated the winner. For the record: I was right in my obsessive Rain Man-ing calculations. But upon reflection, it was NOT a great way to spend a month of my life. Just to be clear. Ha!
I should also state: my husband sat with me and watched the whole thing with me. Because: also long-suffering but understanding. He never spoke or judged, just sat and watched sweetly. And at the finale’s end, turned to me and said:
“What the fuck have I just spent the last month watching? What are we DOING with our lives?”
And then we both laughed and laughed and laughed.
I hereby promise myself (and my long-suffering husband and mates) to never commit my life to another Bachelor or Bachelorette season again.
If you haven’t checked this out, run and binge to your heart’s content. Absolutely delightful.
It’s bloody brilliant seeing elders as leads. Plus, Frankie is my style guru fo sho.
The Office (US) binge rewatch
This was a rather large undertaking. We’ve already watched it before, but felt it was time to binge all the seasons back to back.
We emerged back into the world two months later.
Annual Rewatching: Pride and Prejudice. You’ve Got Mail.
Because… OF COURSE.
Shows we watch as a family: Oddly, my kids LOVE cooking shows. It’s not really our jam (ha!), but we’ve taken to watching them once a week or so together, and it’s adorable. Our family favourites: River Cottage Australia, The Great British Bakeoff and Donna Hays Basics to Brilliance Kids.
Kids TV shows
My kids love watching Magic School Bus + Wild Kratts. I love that they love them because SCIENCE!
Best Shit I Bought:
I fell down a planner rabbithole in research with my own planner that I created last year. And when I knew I wasn’t going to continue creating them, I decided to find what I wanted to use for myself going forward.
I landed at Happy Planners because I love being able to easily add pages and cards with a special hole punch. Plus, because it’s a fairly simple design, it means you can pimp the fuck out of it rainbow style with washi tape, photos, collage etc. It’s basically scrapbooking your calendar. There’s accessories galore which can become quite addictive.
I’ve found it useful to lay it out visually each week – it helps me see where I might be overscheduling myself, plus my brain memorises it once I’ve made art about it. Plus, I’ve enjoyed trying out different colour schemes that I wouldn’t try ordinarily… I’ve even done (GASP!) some black and white themed weeks (!!!!!)
Last year I wrote about discovering Youfoodz which delivers fresh readymade meals. That worked really well for us for ages, until we got bored with the meal choices, and fell back into our regular meal habits: my husband cooking very basic meals on some nights, and ordering takeaway other nights. We decided it was time to make a change again, and start cooking and eating healthier at home. Maybe it was from watching cooking shows as our family TV selection! Ha!
Anyways, I decided to try a Marley Spoon box which is recipe cards with the ingredients you need to make it. We’re pretty massive fans… I’ve learned new cooking skills, and we’ve so enjoyed trying new meals. Plus, it’s helping our kids try new foods as well.
I dig that I don’t have to do that painful (to me) task of having to hunt for recipes, making a list of ingredients, then searching for them at the grocery store, and having leftover ingredients afterwards. No food waste and pain-free WOOP!
(Also: I should say, I know I sound like a sponsored ad. As always, it’s not. I’m just a raving fan!)
Recycled boatwood furniture
I think this is more of an inner realisation thing. I finally realised that I should just accept my taste in home furnishings, and not buy anything outside of that taste wherever possible.
What brings me joy is: recycled boatwood furniture. Kind of chunky, weathered furniture made out of old boats (or recycled wood). And that it can be bloody hard to find in furniture stores, but it’s worth the hunt.
When this bookcase arrived and we put it in place, my love noted:
Hey! It matches our artwork collection!
And it totally did. Old wood + turquoise + colours = my style statement.
(Paintings by Janet Lloyd. She builds her frames out of old houses, funnily enough!)
Pro-tip: I found good pieces on VidaXL. Ishka also has them in store as well.
And where would I be without talking about my own favourite ritual to close out a year + set goals for the next.
These have been the rudder + sails of my life for the last 9 years, and I don’t know where I’d be without them. They’ve made a massive difference to me, my life + my business. I’m looking forward to drinking white wine in the sun in the backyard, watching my kids play in the sprinkler, and scribing out my deepest dreams for the year ahead.
- 2018 My Shining Year Life Workbook: The best-selling yearly goals planner
- 2018 My Shining Year Biz Workbook: The best-selling annual goals planner for businesses!
Okay! That’s me done!
That ended up being WAY longer than I expected! Ha!
Turns out… there WERE good things to share about!
I so hope this has been useful for you, and that you find some good treasures in there.
Thank you for sharing this year with me. It’s been a big one. So big I can’t even find the words to speak about it, to be honest.
Over the next year, I’d like to be here more. Sharing. Creating. Turning up. Helping in whatever way I can, sustainably and joyfully.
Thank you for blessing me with your presence.
I’m wishing you a gentle, restorative holiday season, one of ordinary Christmasses and everyday blessings.
To 2018: Let’s create miracles together. I think that’s what we all need.
And some Leonie art from the archives… because why not?