2015 best books

Hola lovelies!

It’s the mossssst magggggicalllll timmmmme of the yearrrrrrrrrrrrrrr…

when we…

(drum roll)

talk about books. BOOKS! WOO!

Each year (2012, 2013 + 2014 here) I share my roundup of the best books I’ve read that year.

And as always, the usual disclaimers apply:

  • many of these books have been around for a good while. This isn’t a list of 2015 best new releases. This is an autobiographical look at my own personal reading list.
  • if you are looking for common sense reviews that concisely detail the thematic undercurrents of the book… you’re in the wrong place. Leonie-reviews are a blend upon themselves.



These really are my favourite posts to write each year.


But first – a brief report on my reading habits, starting with how I consumed book media this year.

girl with books small


This year, my reading habits took another turn.

Over the years they have gone from:

  • paper books only to
  • Kindle obsessed
  • a turn back to paper books (keeping Kindle for reading trashy romance novels and to read samples of books to see if I want to buy the hardcopy.

This year, they took another unexpected turn…

I started getting into…



I never thought this would be a thing for me. I like using my eyes. I didn’t think I was a good auditory learner.

But this year, we created an Audible account with a shittonne of credits to buy business books for our whole team to listen to. And then I discovered the Audible app on my phone, which could be synched to my car audio.

And all of a sudden, I was using those boring drives to pick up Starry from school or head across town for a meeting to… listen to books instead.

headphones icon

Audible has become my favourite way to consume non-fiction… you know those books you know you SHOULD read but end up just sitting on your bedside table for months on end? Yeah… those. I can eat through them on Audible, and feel like I’ve been lucky enough to sit in the author’s company at lunch for a few hours.

It’s working for me!

So now my reading happens on a blend of Audible (how-to and self-help and boring business stuff), Kindle (trashy romance) and paperback (everything else but most especially graphic novels).

book bw


I’ve definitely gone through stages in my reads over the past few years.

There was the year where I discovered trashy romance novels and proceeded to chew through 250 of them in one year, discovering along the way that while contemporary erotica + Wild West romance is fun, my favourite style of trashy romance novels is sweet Victorian era ones.

Then there was the year where I became obsessed with business biographies, and read anything that looked remotely like one.

In years past, I’ve also been a spiritual development junkie, a binge-reader of Doreen Virtue and bought anything with the word “Goddess” or “Crystal” or “Sooooo Fucking Woo Woo” in the title.


This year, I discovered a new (to me) genre.

I fell upon the great, delicious joys of graphic novels. Especially autobiographical ones written by young women, as you’ll discover. I (of course) became quickly obsessed and bought every one possible that fit that genre.

This year is a combination of all these things – a lot of thick, meaty business books, a splash of biographies, some self-help  and my favourites of the many, many dozens of graphic novels I inhaled whole.

On with the show!


Great by Choice – Jim Collins

This was one of the delicious books I adored listening to on Audible – not least because I saw Jim Collins live earlier this year, and his vibrant, passionate, intense way of speaking really stuck with me and it was like getting to hear him live again. He gave me a full blown #businessboner then and now. I am convinced that he is an earth angel disguised in a business suit who is truly teaching people how to be their best selves + serve others in the very best way. (You can download my illustrated notes from his conference here.)

Great by Choice is a continuation of his brilliant, precise work into what makes companies great even in the midst of great uncertainty. He inspires me to do better, be determined, disciplined and resilient.



The One Minute Manager – Kenneth Blanchard

What I mostly remember about this book is that I would read it in 5-10 minute batches while watching the kids play in the bath in Tasmania. I would sit on the floor with a cider, my phone, a highlighter and pen.

Grant had just started working for us, and we were spending a lot of time instant messaging to share business philosophies and get on the same page as each other. He was teaching me a lot about team management from his experiences, and there was lots of great correlations with this book.

So I’d drink my cider, try not to get thoroughly soaked by my exuberantly splashing children, highlight the great pieces of wisdom and text ’em to Grant.

That’s all I remember about this book.

Sorry. I should have taken notes but I didn’t.

I just know it made me think good things in my brain about team management stuff.

You know, I really should be a professional reviewer of stuff. I’m just THAT GOOD AT IT. YOU ARE SO WELCOME.

how the mighty fall
How The Mighty Fall – Jim Collins

When I was at the Growth Summit in March, someone asked Jimbo what his favourite book was of all the books he had written. He said it was this one, so I, of course, being a Jimvotee, bought an incredibly overpriced copy of it the very next time I saw it.

And he was right – it is bloody brilliant. A very helpful look at why companies fuck up, the stages of fucking up, and how not to fuck up.

The E-myth Revisited – Michael E Gerber

I’ve been meaning to read this book for YEARRRRRS, and tried and failed to read it many times.

Finally, this year, I listened to it as an audiobook narrated by the author.

I highly recommend that experience, my boos.

The Gerbs has a lovely, comforting voice and really brings the story alive.

It’s such an important business read on building systems into your business so that it can scale and grow.

It gave me some HUGE head spins – some of the mistakes I’ve made in overmanaging my team this year were something the Gerbs sees as happening in EVERY small business as they grow from small and young into a more mature company. He calls it the “adolescent phase.” I was so relieved to know it wasn’t just me that was having a hard time with letting go of control over everything and adjusting to my new role of being CEO of a larger organisation. THE GERBS SAYS EVERYONE HITS THAT PAINFUL BUMP!!!! WOO!!! IT’S NOT JUST ME!!!

And I flipped out over how much it overlapped with spiritual principles as well. By the last chapter, I was in tears, leaving sobby voice messages to Grant to READ IT THE FUCK NOW.

Scaling Up – Verne Harnish

This is a fucking mammmmoth book. It’s dense as fuck and nutrient-rich. Granto said when he’d read it before joining the company it made him have a mini-breakdown.

When I saw Verne LIVE IN CONCERT (hahahaha!) I could barely register what he was saying. It had been a long day, I’d already reached my stimulation limit, and this dude was talking about such huge, complex stuff I barely felt able to cope. It was like drinking out of a firehose.

Since then, Grant and I have gone in very slowly, very cautiously together and used this book as a way to structure how we build the business. I think we’re both glad we have each other to do it, because fuck it can be a bit intense and I don’t know if we’d stick with it, hammering away in the dark, if we didn’t have a buddy.

This is really a business bible that maps out every piece of business + the best practices for running each piece of that business. There’s assessments and profiles and complicated forms and all kinds of fancy shit.

And I’m still only a few chapters in, and we’ve been chipping away at it for six months.

But still – our goal is not to finish it in a day. Our goal is to have the book finished (and most importantly implemented) by end of next year.

Huge. Intense. Useful. Powerful.


delivering happiness
Delivering Happiness – Tony Hseih

Oh dude. This is such a fucking rad book. SO rad. I read it back in April while I was recovering in bed from being neutered.

I promptly fell in deep love with Tony.

He is a renegade, a brilliant, spirited business visionary. His deep and sacred commitment to customer service and staff happiness is incredibly inspiring.

I get goosebumps when I think of what he has created and what he will continue creating.

I’ve drunk the Tony-juice. I’m in the cult. And I want MOAHHHHHHH.

insanely great
Insanely Great – Steve Jobs – Jessie Hartland

A fantastic graphic novel biography on Steve Jobs.

So beautifully written + illustrated in a way that my brain completely digs + gets.

ill drink to that
I’ll Drink To That – Betty Halbreich

This woman is a damn QUEEN. This 86 year old icon has been a personal shopper at Bergdorf Goodman for 40+ years. Her stories are fabulous and useful. I love reading books like this, just to get a glimpse into how someone else lives their life and career + upholds boundaries + sovereignty as they do it.

Super enjoyable read!


big magic
Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert

This book absolutely lives up to the hype. I am usually incredibly resistant to jumping on popularity bandwagons, but had so many friends recommend it highly I had to try it out. Plus, I reckon that Liz is an all round lovely person.

Anyways, this book is absolutely one of the best books I’ve read on creativity (and I’ve read pleeeennnnty). I reckon it deserves to go into the pantheon of great creative books like Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way” and Twyla Tharp’s “The Creative Habit”.

It’s everything I’ve ever thought about creativity, and I’m so glad Liz wrote it coz now I don’t.


you're the best parent for your child
You’re The Best Parent For Your Child – Magda Pecsenye

Magda is one of my favourite people that exist on the planet.

She changed my life without even knowing it when I was in the pit of despair with Post Natal Depression + Anxiety with my first baby.

She has helped so many people just by turning up, writing and sharing what she knows.

I feel like I can’t write any more about Magda without crying, so there you go.

A wonderful book on parenting and everything else.

carry on warrior
Carry on Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life – Glennon Doyle Melton

I drank the Glennon Kool-Aid this year and I wish I’d found her YEARS ago.

This is a book about parenting… but I think everyone on the planet should read it.

Glennon shares her story so beautifully, so honestly, so vulnerably… the hard bits, the painful bits, the shameful bits. And by doing so, she releases us into unconditional love and acceptance.

I can’t thank her enough. This was hands-down my favourite book of the year.

I should share here: Glennon is a devout Christian, and I’m a devout Leonie who potlucks from every spiritual tradition + has a glorious time doing it. I adore my own personal spiritual tradition that is custom-made for me, and I felt worried that I would feel pressure to convert, or that I wouldn’t understand some of the languaging. I’m really glad I stuck it out though – it was very healing for me, and such a beautiful way of finding common ground!

The Gifts Of Imperfection
The Gifts of Imperfection – Brené Brown

This was my first Brené book after years of resisting because you know, popular + such. And yeah, lady lives up to her hype.

This was still a relatively recent read for me and honestly, it hit me so hard, I’m still finding it hard to talk about.

I will say however that I had to have an emergency therapy session afterwards because Brené’s breakdown is totally contagious.

I’m laughing and sobbing at the same time over this book.

Read with caution, when you have enough space in your life to have a mini-breakdown.


The Zim Zum of Love – Rob Bell

Granto is a massive Rob Bell-end and recommended this book after going to go man-cuddle him live in person.

I did. It’s a bloody great book on marriage and relationships.

Highly recommend!


Can't we talk about something more pleasant
Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? – Roz Chast

This is the book that first turned me on to graphic novels, the book that had me ordering dozens more before I even finished it.

Touching. Beautiful. Sentimental.


kiss before you go
A Kiss Before You Go – Danny Gregory


What is WITH me being rendered incapable of talk about books on this list because they make me too emotional and sobby?


Utterly perfect.

Also: tissues.

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen – Lucy Knisley

Light-hearted and scrumptious. I ended up reading all of Lucy’s graphic novels and they were all magnificent.

This is my kind of cooking book.

Marbles – Ellen Forney

My second favourite book of the year. I read this glorious graphic novel memoir on Mother’s Day when I told my husband I was going to a gorgeous hotel by myself for the night to read and eat in peace. It was a dream.

So I think this book is somewhat infused with that energy.

And also, Ellen is just incredible.

Truth + beauty.


And of course, how could I talk about 2015 books without talking about the ones I spent my whole year birthing into the world? Over the last year I completely rewrote, reillustrated + redesigned my yearly goals workbooks, created the companion 2016 weekly diary-planner + the rest of our companion products. It was a mammoth production, and I could not be more proud of what we’ve created.

2016 Shining Life
2016 Create Your Shining Year In Life workbook

Plan out your life goals for 2016 including:

  • finances
  • career
  • education
  • relationships
  • family
  • fun
  • adventures
  • creativity!

Proven, popular + powerful, these workbooks have been used by hundreds of thousands of women with incredible results.

Order yours here.

2016 Shining Biz
2016 Create Your Shining Year In Biz Workbook

The Biz goals workbook is the planning system I have used for the last 7 years to build a multi-million dollar company while working part-time.

It will guide you gently through planning out your business in 2016 including:

  • finances
  • marketing
  • systems
  • team
  • customers
  • philanthropy

+ much more.

It’s business planning made gloriously sane, joyful, creative + doable. It guides you through every step of the process so you don’t feel overwhelmed + you can just get to making those big, beautiful dreams of yours come true.

An essential for every entrepreneur + business owner!

Order yours here!

2016 Create Your Shining Year Weekly Planner-Diary

We created the companion diary-planner to help you make sure your goals get done each day, week + month.

It will help you map out monthly:

  • your goals for the month
  • your income goals
  • your action plan for making it happen
  • what you will do when you achieve your goals.

Each week you’ll also be guided to:

  • write your top priorities for life + business
  • decide on your to do list
  • write your intentions (financial, feelings + self care)
  • share gratitude (a surefire happy-maker + way to manifest more!)

Order the diary-planner that changes lives here.

Spiral Line

It’s been a big, glorious year in books!

I can’t wait to see what books burst forth into my world next year!

So hope you’ve found these useful…

Please do share them along + share the love of books… we all need more booklovers in the world!

Big big love,


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