It’s that time of year… my yearly book review post!
This has been an annual tradition for the last 7 years… to share the books that I’ve read for the last year that have deeply affected me. It started as a fun way for me to document and give gratitude for the book friends I’d made that year. And then I started hearing from readers who would order books based on my recommendations, and would adore them too! So it’s officially a Thing now!
As always, this is not a list of the best books published for the year – just the books I read in that year. As they say in High Fidelity, the records are organised autobiographically.
This year I have read more books than ever… close to 500 (!!!!!!)
So this will be the best of those 500!
HOW I READ THAT MANY
About 100 of those were my own books, and the remaining 400-ish were books that I read to my kids (I kept tallies – about 200 of them were picture books, 200 were chapter books. They are at an age where they can sit still to listen for an hour or more, and they absolutely adore it. We read every night in bed for at least half an hour, and have spent hours curled up on the couch together during the day to pour through library books together. It’s been part of the joy of homeschooling that we’ve had this amount of time to love books up.
I used to have a pretty flimsy readaloud voice – it would hurt my throat pretty quickly. I’ve consciously practiced becoming a belly speaker instead of speaking from my throat. It’s worked really well and I’ve built up much more longevity.
To make myself devote more time to reading, I bought a phone cover to remind me to read books instead of a screen. I also kept a reading list on Goodreads to keep an exact number of how many books I was reading, and that was super helpful.
About 60% of those books were borrowed from the library, and the remaining were bought. After I read my own books, I give them to friends. With my kids’ books, we keep and add to our home library.
WHAT FORMAT I CONSUMED BOOKS IN
90% of the books I read were paperbacks
5% were Audible audiobooks
5% were Kindle books
My brief obsession with Kindle-only reading has officially died up the ass, reflecting global trends. We all go nuts for digital books, then swing back towards physical books.
I like having audiobooks to listen to while cooking dinner or doing art.
And I only read Kindle when books weren’t available in other formats, or I just wanted to read it straight away.
MY FAVOURITE BOOKSTORES
THEMES OF BOOKS I CONSUMED
My intensive study this year was on racism and white supremacy, so a lot of my books reflect that.
Otherwise, it’s a blend of business, graphic memoirs, homeschooling and kid’s books.
HERE’S MY BEST BOOKS OF 2018
I’m going to award my top book this year to THREE books. All three affected me greatly in very different ways.
The Salt Path: A Memoir by Raynor Winn
Holy moley, this is an incredible book. The true story of a woman who decides to walk the English coastline with her husband after they become homeless and he is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Raw, profound, deeply loving. My husband bought it after reading its stellar Goodreads reviews, and then I snaffled it because I liked the cover. I couldn’t heart this book more.
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
This should be required reading in schools and workplaces.
Please, please, please read this one lovelies. SO very important.
The State of Grace – Rachael Lucas
This is officially a Young Adult novel… but it ripped me open profoundly. It’s the story of an Aspie teen (Grace) navigating her life in all her Aspie-ness. I remember reading it, slack jawed on our red couch. I felt so vulnerable and seen and understood in a way I hadn’t before. Here was a character, finally, that was one hundred percent me… not just what neurotypicals are like! I messaged Rachael (the author): Maaaate. How did you do it? You wrote the inside of my head. It’s actually quite startling to see my innermost thoughts on paper. I feel less alone now.
If you’re an Asp, or have loved ones who are… this book. THIS BOOK. My gosh.
Thank you Rachael, for writing our stories. We need more characters we can see our neurodiversities in.
RACISM + WHITE SUPREMACY
I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness – Austin Channing Brown
This book is like sitting with a friend and hearing them pour out the pain of what it is truly like to live in a black body in America. I could feel my heart hurting and opening as I read it. She teaches so poignantly about her experiences and how we can do (so much) better.
Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge
The audiobook version of this is excellent especially. Reni shares the history and present day of racism in the United Kingdom, with her own personal stories interspersed.
Your Black Friend and Other Strangers – Ben Passmore
A fairly short read but it packs such a gut punch! It distills racism into a powerful, brightly coloured graphic novel.
Me + White Supremacy Workbook – Layla Saad
This is a non-traditional book (it is a free ebook) but I felt it was important to include here. This workbook is a deeply transformative educational experience to help you unravel and identify where you have internalised white supremacy beliefs. Spoiler alert: if you’ve grown up in a predominantly white culture (and even non white), you will have them. Especially if you don’t believe you do. It’s like breathing air… we didn’t consciously choose to take them in, but it is there nonetheless. And we have to consciously choose to unravel and unwind it out of us so we don’t cause further harm.
White Spaces Missing Faces: Why Women Of Colour Don’t Trust White Women – Catrice Jackson
This one can only be ordered direct from Catrice at the moment. This book is straight-talking and pulls no punches. It had me flinching and taking deep breaths. Painful, but necessary.
Dear White People – Justin Simien
Another graphic-ish book… stunningly designed and perfectly distilled.
Note: I know these books are US-centric books (with one UK book thrown in). Racism is not just in the US – it’s a worldwide issue. I definitely need to learn more about Australian-centric racism as well, so my Christmas present this year is a big stack of them for next year’s reading.
BUSINESS + SELF-HELP
Winging It – Emma Isaacs
Loved this one – Emma is a firecracker. The basic message: just fucking doooo it!
Risk & Resilience – Lisa Messenger
Oh maaaaaaate. I read this one in one sitting in the bath. It’s Lisa’s story of struggling with and eventually shutting down her magazine business to pivot in a new direction. Having made lots of changes in the past in my businesses where things weren’t working or driving me crazy, it was SUCH A RELIEF to read another entrepreneur going through the same thing. We need to talk about failures and fuckups and disappointments more… they are such a normal part of life and business!
Get Rich Lucky Bitch – Denise Duffield-Thomas
This got re-released through Hay House this year, and I’ve recommended it to so many peeps over the years. It’s an exceptional book, and DDT is a top quality chick. We’ve been mates for years, and she truly walks her talk.
The Joy of Leaving Your Shit All Over The Place – Jennifer McCartney
It’s funny – when I posted about reading this book on Instagram, it became one of my most popular posts of the year. Basically, it’s a book about being a messy motherfucker and being the antithesis of Marie Kondo. It favours humanity and creativity and rest instead of having a tidy house. I am fully behind this as a fellow mess-lover. I love my clutter! And yes, I WILL read this book and make art instead of cleaning shit up!
There’s a big freaking difference between living in a unhygienic hovel and just having a messy, normal house. I honestly reckon we’ve all gotten waaaay over the top house/cleanliness expectations thanks to renovating shows and perfect Instagram styling. I MUCH prefer when I walk into a friend’s house and they have to clear a little space on the table for us to have a cup of tea because the rest is covered with life detritus. It’s intensely homely. GO MAKE ART! GO REST! JUST FUCK ALL THIS CLEAN NONSENSE!
Obviously, I feel strongly about this. Ha!
Rising Strong as a Spiritual Practice – Brene Brown
Will read every book of hers, always. And will likely love it.
We’ve been homeschooling still this last year, so I continued to eat up education books as fast as I could.
Teach Like Finland: 33 Simple Strategies for Joyful Classrooms – Timothy D Walker
Useful and fascinating. Tim, a teacher dude from the US, goes to teach in Finland to understand why it has the best educational results in the world. The reasons are often surprising, but common sense: less is more. Less homework, more holidays. More outside time, more individual projects. It correlates quite well with homeschooling possibilities too.
Love Learn Live – Csilla
Part memoir, part advice from a homeschooling mama who lives here on the Sunshine Coast.
Teacher: One woman’s struggle to keep the heart in teaching – Gabbie Stroud
Gosh, this one I just ATE UP. It was stunningly good and beautifully written and heart breaking and ALL THE THINGS.
I like to use graphic memoirs to understand other humans better. There’s something about that visual storytelling that leaves a big impression on my heart. I think graphic novels have helped me become more compassionate and with a better understanding of what life can be like for other people experiencing physical and mental illnesses, racism and homophobia. Plus all the other human condition stuff: families, childhoods, travel, natural disasters, grief. I actively buy graphic memoirs on all the topics I can to educate me and open me.
El Deafo – Cece Bell
This is so beautiful and tender. The story of a young girl who is deaf, and her experiences at school and making friends. I’ve since seen it is in a lot of recommended reads for kids around 10+, so a good one for them too!
Psychiatric Tales – Darryl Cunningham
These are 11 stories of Darryl’s time working as a psychiatric nurse. Chapters cover dementia, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, suicide, antisocial disorder and more. Holy moley, it was eye-opening and just BRILLIANT.
Queer: A Graphic History – Meg-John Barker and Julia Scheele
This one was another one in the running for my best book of the year because of how much it affected me. It’s not my usual favourite style of graphic memoir – instead it’s more like a university read on queer history and theory that just happens to be illustrated. I had to work harder to understand everything, but mate, it blew my head off. It totally transformed how I look at gender and the binary, and how I see myself. Highly recommend!
Going Into Town: A Love Letter to New York – Roz Chast
Roz’s Can’t We Talk About Something Pleasant? was the book that got me hooked on graphic memoirs two years ago. It was pretty much perfection on a stick, and she opened a whole delicious book genre up to me, so I will always feel a glorious weeping soft spot for her. This is her notes on what it’s like to live/visit New York, and I just thought it was the bomb diggity.
A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge – Josh Neufeld
I found this in a fantastic second hand book store in Eumundi. It tells the stories of five different people who lived in New Orleans for the hurricane. The stories are catastrophic and gave me a whole new understanding and compassion. Well worth a read.
In-Between Days: A Memoir About Living with Cancer – Teva Harrison
Need to be honest with you: I read this back in Jan. I marked it as five stars, so it must have been good. I just can’t remember shit about it, apart from it being beautiful and about cancer. So… there you go.
I continued to whore my way through as many Victorian/Regency romance novels as I could. They really are the best brain candy ever… I try to read one each weekend. I read stacks this year, but the one author who is just unfailingly brilliant is Tessa Dare. If you want to start somewhere, start with her.
So many recommendations on this front that I’ll highlight a few + just link the rest!
Olga – Elise Gravel
Elise is the bomb diggity. This is the second Olga book – my kids adored the first one so much. It’s the story of a (probably Aspie) girl who prefers science experiments and animals to people.
Elise’s The Cranky Ballerina was also fantastic – a great picture book that advocates for gender-free hobbies.
Truly Tan series – Jen Storer
My eldest daughter eats up vast quantities of audiobooks on top of the reading we do each day. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that her ABSOLUTE FAVOURITE audiobook series is by Jen Storer… who, by a delicious twist of fate, is a fan of my workbooks! Not just that: but she uses the workbooks to plan out the Truly Tan series! HA!
Here’s her workbook page planning one out:
But anyways: back to Truly Tan! Starry tells me they are funny and adventurous and smart and always make her want to keep going!
SO silly. SO great. So ridiculous I really enjoy reading them out loud too!
Other Glorious Kids Books:
- The Scraps Book – Lois Ehlert
- The Bad Mood and the Stick – Lemony Snicket
- Do Not Lick this Book – Idan Ben-Barak
- Bush and Beyond: Stories From Country
- The Day The Crayons Quit series – Oliver Jeffers
AND OF COURSE!
HOW COULD I FORGET!
MY 2019 GOALS WORKBOOKS!
Waaaaay back in 2019, pregnant with my first baby, I decided to give myself the gift of making a wee book for myself to help me plan out my goals for the coming year. And I didn’t want it to be all grey and masculine and black and white and BLERGH… I wanted RAINBOWS! UNICORNS! COLOUR! GLORIOUS GLORIOUS LIFE! As an afterthought, I offered the PDF online, thinking maybe 10 other peeps might like to make goal setting fun and magical too.
Since then… over 350,000 incredible souls worldwide have used the goals workbooks with HUGE results. It brings me to grateful tears that they work so well for so many. This year, they hit #1 and #3 simultaneously on Amazon AU for ALL FREAKING BOOKS WTF!
For me personally, my workbooks have helped me birth so many miracles in the world: we’ve been able to live our dreams of quitting our jobs to raise our children and travel around Australia for the last 8 years. I’ve been more creative and productive than ever, won business awards, broken a world record, built serial 7 figure companies, deepened my marriage and continued growing into the biggest, brightest version of myself. That’s the power of goals. Know what you want and you too can create miracles.
If you haven’t ordered yours yet, here’s all the places you can get them from (printed and digital versions available!)
Hope this wee list has been useful for you and inspired you with future reading.
Books are such magical creations… capable of transformation and awakening, adventure and education.
Whoever invented books needs to be visited by the oral sex fairy, stat.