Books that illuminate life’s journey

Our lives are long journeys full of tough questions and unexpected trials and tribulations.  Don’t you wish there’s a manual for it?  For Booklovers, the solution is simple: books can be our wise counsel, chronicler and companion.  Here are titles that can delight, entertain, enlighten and accompany you through many stages of life:


The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

The Little Prince is a poignant story that can be read on many levels.  Younger children will delight in the charming, fantastic story of a little prince who lives on an asteroid the size of a house, and his curious adventures whilst exploring the universe; older children may start to recognise certain caricatures in the story; while adults might appreciate it as a fable about love, loss and loneliness, with philosophical musings about human nature and relationships.  This 70th Anniversary Edition is a deluxe gift set containing a hardcover book with the original illustrations in full colour, two CDs of an unabridged reading by Viggo Mortensen (aka Aragorn of Lord of the Rings), as well as a code for audio download.

The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho

It has sold over 65 million copies across 80 languages; many people credit it with changing their lives.  What makes The Alchemist so special?  The Alchemist is a timeless and dreamy story about Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd who tries to fulfil a prophecy by travelling to Egypt, but finds his Personal Legend (destiny) instead.  Through Santiago’s quest, Paolo Coelho invites us to look inside ourselves to discover our own Personal Legends. His poetic, spiritual language, crafted into beloved messages such as ‘When you want something, the whole universe conspires to help you’, is uplifting and sure to inspire.

A Good Life: Philosophy from Cradle to Grave by Mark Rowlands

In the near future, Nicolai finds a manuscript written by his late father Myshkin.  The manuscript is Myshkin’s record of how he lived his life, the issues he faced, and the decisions he made.  In A Good Life, philosopher Mark Rowlands uses this fictional narrative to explore moral and ethical questions including abortion, compassion, animal rights and euthanasia.  This clever hybrid of philosophy and literature is funny, unsettling and challenges us to also question ourselves on these knotty issues.

Feast: Food that Celebrates Life by Nigella Lawson

Across cultures and eras, food has been an important element in how we mark life’s milestones.  Nigella Lawson, ever a champion of food-as-celebration, has gathered this collection of enticing recipes to suit any sort of feasting – not just Christmas, Thanksgiving or Easter, but also Eid, Passover, weddings and kids’ parties.  It’s worth seeking out the original UK edition of Feast (just click on this cover image for stockists), which contains a chapter on funeral feasts – which powerfully and poignantly highlights the power of food to comfort and bring people together, in sorrow as in joy.

Stiff: the Curious Life of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

Booko featured Mary Roach’s work earlier this year as one of the most popular TED talks ever.  However, her brand of quirky investigative journalism was already perfected in her first book, Stiff: the Curious Life of Human Cadavers.  Mary Roach’s take on Life After Death looks at what happens to our bodies after we die.  In fact, she sees cadavers as having a rich and meaningful second life, contributing to scientific advances in medical research, safety testing, body farms, and even composting.  With its unusual subject and skilful balance of information, gore and laugh-aloud humour, Stiff is an endlessly fascinating, unforgettable book.

The Greatest Books On Decision Making

Decision making…oh yes…for some it appears straight forward, easy and over in a flash. For others it’s a little more like running around in circles, going back and forward and not to mention the mental fatigue wondering if the right decision has been made. Luckily, there are a plethora of books on the market to arm us with tips and tricks and bring clarity to the method of decision making.

Blink by Malcom Gladwell

In his landmark bestseller The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell redefined how we understand the world around us. Now, in Blink, he revolutionises the way we understand the world within. Blink is a book about how we think without thinking, about choices that seem to be made in an instant-in the blink of an eye-that actually aren’t as simple as they seem. Why are some people brilliant decision makers, while others are consistently inept? Why do some people follow their instincts and win, while others end up stumbling into error? How do our brains really work-in the office, in the classroom, in the kitchen, and in the bedroom? And why are the best decisions often those that are impossible to explain to others?


Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Daniel Kahneman is a renowned psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, who engages us in a lively conversation about how we think, revealing where we can and cannot trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking. He offers practical and enlightening insights into how choices are made in both our business and our personal lives–and how we can use different techniques to guard against the mental glitches that often get us into trouble. Winner of the National Academy of Sciences Best Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and selected by The New York Times Book Review as one of the ten best books of 2011, Thinking, Fast and Slow is destined to be a classic.


And in order to be fair…here’s a title that fights against eradicating our less decisive mindset…


Messy by Tim Harford

The urge to tidiness and decisiveness seems to be rooted deep in the human psyche. Many of us feel threatened by anything that is vague, unplanned, scattered around or hard to describe. We find comfort in having a script to rely on, a system to follow, in being able to categorise and file away. We all benefit from tidy organisation. A large library needs a reference system. Global trade needs the shipping container. Scientific collaboration needs measurement units. But have the forces of tidiness marched too far?

In MESSY, Tim Harford reveals how qualities we value more than ever – responsiveness, resilience and creativity – simply cannot be disentangled from the messy soil that produces them. This, then, is a book about the benefits of being messy: messy in our private lives; messy in the office, with piles of paper on the desk and unread spreadsheets; messy in the recording studio, the laboratory or in preparing for an important presentation; and messy in our approach to business, politics and economics, leaving things vague, diverse and uncomfortably made-up-on-the-spot. It’s time to rediscover the benefits of a little mess.


It would have been so much easier to have just grown up knowing how to make great decisions…so for those of you that are helping to shape the next generation, here are a few titles for children.


What Pet Should I Get? by Dr Seuss

What happens when a brother and sister visit a pet store to pick a pet? Naturally, they can’t choose just one! This tale captures a classic childhood moment, choosing a pet, and uses it to illuminate a very important life lesson. It is hard to make up your mind, but sometimes you just have to do it.







Have You Filled A Bucket Today? Carol McCloud

This book is brilliant. My children’s school uses this book within all classes to encourage positive behaviour. Through simple prose and vivid illustrations, this heartwarming book encourages positive behaviour as children see how rewarding it is to express daily kindness, appreciation, and love. Bucket filling and dipping are effective metaphors for understanding the effects of our actions and words on the well being of others and ourselves. This book helps children to stop and consider feelings of those around them before they decide to act.


Happy reading.

Books that guide us through young adulthood

It’s no secret that the books we read can help to shape our lives. As we move through different stages there are often a handful of key books and characters that we relate to and help us make sense of the people and world around us.

One particularly ‘testing’ time is between the ages of 8 and 12. These young adults face a variety of hurdles and curveballs as they grow up and learn to find their place in the world. Sometimes listening to yet another tale from mum and dad is just too much to handle and so they turn (hopefully) to books.

Filled with characters working through life defining experiences such as gaining independence, forming friendship, going on adventures and growing curiosity the genre of Young Adult is fast becoming literature which is adored by readers of every generation.

The Chronicles of Narnia, the 13th Story Treehouse series, the Harry Potter books, and just about anything by Roald Dahl are just a few examples of titles that aid a 8 -12 year old through this exciting period of their life.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis

Journeying into magical realms, battles between good and evil and talking creatures await and delight every reader who settles in to enjoy these books.

The Narnia Chronicles, first published in 1950, have been and remain some of the most enduringly popular children’s books ever published. The best known, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, has been translated into 29 languages and hit the big screen in a film edition.




The 13 Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths

Andy and Terry live in a treehouse. But it’s not just any old treehouse, it’s the most amazing treehouse in the world! This treehouse has thirteen stories, a bowling alley, a see-through swimming pool, a secret underground laboratory, and a marshmallow machine that follows you around and automatically shoots marshmallows into your mouth whenever you are hungry.

This is the start of a series of treehouse stories with Terry and Andy who enjoy completely nutty adventures because ANYTHING can happen in a 13-storey treehouse.




Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K Rowling

We very much doubt any of these series need an introduction, especially Harry Potter…but here goes.

Harry Potter is a series of fantasy novels chronicling the life of a young wizard, and his friends, all of whom are students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The main story arc concerns Harry’s struggle against Lord Voldemort, a dark wizard who intends to become immortal, overthrowing the Ministry of Magic, and gain control of all wizards and Muggles (non wizards). There are many themes within this series including fantasy, drama, prejudice, madness, coming of age and elements of mystery, thriller, adventure, horror and romance. According to Rowling,however, the main theme is death.


Come and join us on Facebook to share what your favourite books were for getting through this phase of your life.

Join the Slow Education Revolution

Not a week goes by without media attention on our education systems – whether standardised testing offer useful insights; whether exam-pressure causes excessive stress; or whether we are teaching the “right” knowledge when professions change and evolve so quickly. The Slow Movement argues that exam-based education encourages teaching-to-the-test and cookie-cutter uniformity; and instead proposes Slow Education as a better option.

Like other aspects of the Slow Movement, Slow Education is about deep connections with its subject matter – learning.  It focusses on the process of learning; it encourages educators to tailor learning experiences to their local context and to suit their students’ interests; and it encourages students to reflect on, and discuss how and what they have learnt.  This creates students who learn how to learn, who learn deeply and become self-motivated through interest in their own work.  Such ideas are not new – many alternative educational approaches, such as Montessori and Waldorf/Steiner, share these concerns; and many conventional schools already use techniques such as play-based or inquiry-based learning to stimulate and engage their students.  

Everyone can and should have an opinion on education, not just parents or educators – because education can influence the future direction of many aspects of our society.  So to get you thinking, here are some books that discuss why and how education should be changed, as well as resources on how to enrich children’s learning through fun, interactive experiences:

Finnish Lessons 2.0: What the World can Learn from Educational Change in Finland? by Pasi Sahlberg

The Finnish education system is considered a marvel by English-speaking countries – Finnish students have high proficiency in science, maths and reading despite the Finns’ “unconventional” disregard for standardised testing, late start to formal education (at age 7) and emphasis on play.  In Finnish Lessons 2.0, Pasi Sahlberg uses his experience as a teacher, teacher trainer and policy developer to explain how Finland made such impressive improvements to its education system through thoughtful reforms.

Creative Schools by Ken Robinson and Lou Aronica

Ken Robinson is an authority on arts education and has given three TED talks about the role of creativity in education – including THE most-watched TED Talk ever, with over 41 million viewings. Creative Schools picks up on this TED talk, arguing that the current education system, with its focus on exams and factory-like mass education, stifles creativity.  Instead he urges everyone – educators, policymakers and parents – to push for change, to a system that awakens creativity, as well as fostering diversity and curiosity.   

Most Likely to Succeed: Preparing our Kids for the Innovation Era by Tony Wagner and Ted Dintersmith

Tony Wagner is an education expert and Ted Dintersmith is a venture capitalist; in a convergence of idealism and materialism, their joint proposition in Most Likely to Succeed is that education should move away from content/fact delivery and towards fostering life skills such as collaboration, creativity and critical thinking.  They argue that this is a better way of future-proofing our children, of helping them become successful in the long run.  Most Likely to Succeed is derived from the critically-praised film of the same name.

Amazing (Mostly) Edible Science: a Family Guide to Fun Experiments in the Kitchen by Andrew Schloss

Even without systemic change, we can encourage curiosity and creativity in children, through hands-on deep learning.  Amazing (Mostly) Edible Science contains projects ranging from edible slime, to glow-in-the-dark jelly and “glowing, bouncy eggs”.  The edible aspect adds extra excitement (and also reduces concerns about handling harmful chemicals) to the exploration of some fundamental scientific concepts.  Projects use supermarket ingredients and come with detailed instructions and safety advice.  Amazing (Mostly) Edible Science is a recent title in a very user-friendly series that includes Kitchen Science Lab for Kids, Outdoor Science Lab for Kids, and Art Lab for Kids.

Great family board games to try

When it comes to spending time together as a family, the habit is often to jump in the car and get ‘out and about.’  Children want unhurried time with their family where you can just take pleasure in each other’s company.  Quite often, the actual activity isn’t that important.  Bearing that in mind, board games have come back into vogue and also have a secondary benefit of teaching social skills such as how to win, lose, take turns and comprehend rules together.  Some board games are particularly useful in boosting number, shape and letter recognition, as well as hand and eye coordination in children.

We may have been brought up on old favourites such as Monopoly, Cluedo and Scrabble as children, but there are a fantastic range of new board games on the market that you can play together, all available on Booko.  Here are some of our recommendations:

https-covers-booko-info300ticketTicket To Ride – Europe

The aim of this game is for players to claim train routes between European cities in turn-of-the-Century Europe.  There are different coloured routes linking cities such as Paris, Moscow and London .  Players must collect train cards that match the colour of the route to win it.  A light-hearted family game, this is best played with 4-5 players.  This game is fun and easy to understand for younger players.

https-covers-booko-info300hillCarcassonne Over Hill and Dale Board Game

Part of the larger series of Carcassonne games, ‘Carcassonne Over Hill and Dale’ allows players to be farmers who care for animals on their large farms and cultivate the fruits and vegetables in their fields. Players must take turns selecting tiles and fit them with the current landscape.  Players can claim control of roads or fields and win points when these are completed.  This game is more of a relaxing, thinking game than high energy.

https-covers-booko-info300pandemicPandemic Legacy

Pandemic Legacy has been reviewed against hundreds of board games and crowned ‘The Best Board Game Ever Made.’  Such an impressive title, but the subject matter is slightly depressing: the game is based on a fight between four disease specialists who travel the world trying to find a cure to four different diseases that threaten to bring the world to the brink of disaster. Each month will bring new surprises and your actions in each game will have repercussions on the next. The game is played co-op style and is won by curing diseases.  The thinking man or woman’s board game.


https-covers-booko-info300timelineTImeline: Music & Cinema

A card game played using 110 cards, ‘Timeline: Music and Cinema’ is based on players placing their cards in the correct chronological order of an historical event.  The winner is the person who places all of their cards in the correct date order.  Great for lovers of pop and historical culture.  Ages 8+.




Mysterium is a cooperative game involving ghosts, a psychic and a murder.  All players bar one are psychics, spending time in a haunted house after a murder has taken place.  The ghost must guide the psychics to the correct murder weapon, crime scene and culprit as quickly as possible.  The final round involves psychics deciphering a single dream to tell them who committed the murder.  This game is loads of fun and an easy to play card game.


Dixit Memories is the latest offering from the Internationally best-selling Dixit series. A card-based game for 3-6 players, there are 84 cards to the series.  Each of the cards contains surrealist images from artists Carine Hinder and Jerome Pelissier.  The cards contain images of exotic landscapes and beautiful creatures.  The active player must provide a clue to what their chosen card is.  The remaining players must then select one of their cards that best represents the clue from their pack.  The players must then vote on what they believe the active player’s card is.  We were enchanted by the beautiful artwork on the playing cards.

For more options on the board games available through Booko, visit our Pinterest page.






Books that change the way you think

Reading has always been one of the world’s favourite pastimes and books have always had the power to entertain, enlighten, entrance, inform and delight. But what about those books that change the way we think?

While the power of positive thinking has been a familiar subject in recent decades, it is by no means a recent phenomenon. Texts that emphasise the power of positive thinking — and the harm of giving in to negative thought — have been a popular part of our history. Indeed it was the 1st century Greek Stoic philosopher Epictetus who is credited with saying “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters”.

However, the most effective style of works may depend on your personality and preferences. What may work for one, may not for another. With this in mind, we’ve pulled together a divergent list of books that feature the cultivation of positive thought as their theme.

https-covers-booko-info300vincentThe Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Peale

The grandaddy of the positive thinking books, Norman Peale’s ‘The Power of Positive Thinking’ set the tone for a raft of positive thinking, self-help books throughout the years. First published in 1953, the book conveys a simple, yet powerful, message: that you can overcome negativity and obstacles in your life by changing the way you think. Peale shows that obstacles in our lives are only there because we allow them to be so.

The teachings set out clearly by Peale in this remarkable book give readers the tools to overcome negative thinking and regain control over their lives. A committed and practising Christian pastor during his life, Peale’s ideas reflect that meditation, positive thought and acceptance of God pave the way to a satisfying and joyful life.


https-covers-booko-info300bobThe Power of Sustainable Thinking by Bob Doppelt

But why stop at just positive thinking? Why not channel this way of thinking into sustainability, both in individuals and organisations? Bob Doppelt’s remarkable book achieves just that, equating a need for positive minds to help transform the way we think about our environment and therefore change the way we act to develop sustainable solutions to protect our planet.

Divided into two parts, the first outlines the need and reasons for change. The second presents a description of how human minds work, how change can be made and how individuals can change others’ thinking. The author’s compelling argument is that a radical shift in thinking is key to building sustainable energy policies and protecting the environment. He promotes a “Borrow-Use-Replenish” mode of thought, which reflects the fundamental truth that we are just stewards of this precious planet and the need to recycle is paramount for the benefit of future generations.


https-covers-booko-info300danielEmotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ by Daniel Goleman

What is emotional intelligence and how does it relate to positive thinking? The book introduces the term “emotional intelligence”, a term designed to show the power of harnessing our emotions and conversely, the damage that can be done by not doing so.

The third in his widely-popular series on Emotional Intelligence, the author sums up the question of using our brains to manage our emotions in a more effective way by quoting Aristotle: “Anyone can become angry — that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose and in the right way — this is not easy.”

The author’s view on self-discipline, character and control show those who have mastered these qualities tend to excel in life. His point that early intervention to teach emotional literacy is a key point of the book.


Change Your Thinking by Sarah Edelman

Sydney-based university lecturer and psychologist Dr Sarah Edelman sets out to provide readers with “positive and practical ways” to overcome damaging emotions such as anger, anxiety, frustration and depression.

Integrating mindfulness and CBT in an original and helpful way, the book shows how we can move away from these thoughts and types of behaviour that are, in essence, self-defeating.

The author uses the positive approach of cognitive behaviour therapy to demonstrate how we can develop the right thought patterns to better manage negative emotions, boost self-esteem and help find happiness.

The Antidote
 by Oliver Burkeman

A sideways and offbeat look at the pursuit of happiness, this original and quirky text is full of wisdom, gentle laughs and bright ideas. Burkeman uses a very British, self-deprecating style of humour to cloak a radical view of the “right” way to go about positive thinking. The sub title “Happiness for people who can’t stand positive thinking,” sums up the book’s tongue-in-cheek approach.

Burkeman writes in an arch, clever and absorbing way that has you smiling one minute, then nodding your head in agreement the next. In essence, he takes on the frantic pursuit of positive thinking and shows there’s another easier way to a more content mind, body and soul.

Horses for courses?

These books also show that it’s not a case of “one size fits all” in the approach to positive thought. Different methods will suit different personality types. However, whether you want to change your life, beat the daily stress and grind or just to learn a little more about how positive thinking can help improve your life, maybe it’s time to challenge the way you think. Slow down, relax and learn with one (or more) of these books!

Happy reading!





The best mindful eating cookbooks

As we are packing more and more into each day, the act of eating is simply another task that is completed while we are online or engaged in another activity.  As a result, we’re not fully aware of what food is being consumed.

The practice of mindful eating is about focusing and minimising distractions so you are paying full attention to the foods you are eating: by taking this more slowly you can really savour the food and pay attention to how much of it you are consuming.  Reports indicate that many consumers base their food choices on taste first, followed by the price and finally the health benefits of the food.  There are many resources that can support the practice of mindful eating, including cookbooks and guides that help us slow down and engage with our food.  Here are some of our recommended reads for this genre:

https-covers-booko-info300biteEvery bite affects the world by Catherine Verrall

Every Bite Affects the World is a guide that helps connect our bodies to the external world around us.

Verrall’s book helps us to be mindful of the connections between what we eat and the health of our bodies, as well as the health of the soil, water, climate, communities and farmers both here and far away.

Featuring many vegetarian recipes, ‘Every Bite’ also contains the imperative for meat eaters to obtain their food locally and from humanely raised sources.



Mindful Eating by Jan Chozen Bays

Ever feel that you really taste the first few bites of a meal and then, seemingly on auto pilot, find that your meal has been eaten and you have not even tasted the rest?  This book is for you.

Drawing on recent research and integrating her experiences as a physician and meditation teacher, Dr. Jan Bays offers a clear presentation of what mindfulness is and how it can help with food issues.  Particularly interesting are the 7 different types of hunger and how they impact your food choices: eyes, nose, mouth, stomach, mind, heart, and cell hunger.


https-covers-booko-info300mindlessMindless Eating by Brian Wansink

This book is based around common sense thinking with respect to our eating but backs it up with research, which makes it a comprehensive read.

Every day, we each make around 200 decisions about eating. But studies have shown that 90% of these decisions are made without any conscious choice. Why?  Wansink explains the hidden ‘persuaders’ that are used by restaurants and supermarkets to encourage you to eat more.  Even music choice and the colour of a room can influence how much and how quickly you eat.  ‘Mindless Eating’ will change the way you think about your next meal.


The Alkaline Cure: The remarkable 14-day diet and anti-ageing plan by Dr Stephan Domenig

Want to lose weight, improve your health and look younger, all in 14 days?  Who doesn’t??

Our bodies function best with a pH balance of between 7.3 and 7.5.  According to Dr Domenig, our modern lifestyles upset this balance by making our bodies too acidic.  His book aims to rectify the balance.

‘The Alkaline Cure’ is a clinically tested fourteen-day plan designed to help establish acid-alkaline balance in the body.  It includes daily menus and more than 40 recipes to give your body a kick start.

The Conscious Cook: Delicious Meatless Recipes That Will Change the Way You Eat by Tal Ronnen

A former steak-lover himself, Chef Tal struggled for years on a vegan diet that left him filled with cravings for meat and dairy. Frustrated by the limited options available and unwilling to sacrifice the delicious flavours he associated with eating meat, he created vegan meals that could hold their own at the centre of the plate. Chef Tal found that by applying traditional French culinary techniques to meatless cuisine, he was able to create delicious meals full of rich flavour.

https-covers-booko-info300ohsheglowsThe Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Liddon

‘Oh She Glows’ was written after Liddon struggled for over a decade with an eating disorder and ate predominantly low-calorie processed foods.  Seeing the benefits of changing her diet to whole foods, she spent time perfecting cooking and eating the right foods in the right way.

‘Oh She Glows’ contains over 100 vegan recipes that are easy to perfect.  Whether you are a vegan or you simply want to incorporate a few vegan meals into your week, Angela’s recipes are a must-have for anyone who longs to eat well, feel great, and simply glow!


What we can learn from the Slow Books movement


Are you a booklover who struggles to find time to read?  If, like me, your answer is yes, then the Slow Books movement is for you.

Slow Books is the extension of a philosophy first appearing as Slow Food. It encourages people to rediscover “old-fashioned reading” – sit down and read a book, uninterrupted, for at least 30 minutes each day. Such reading should be deliberate and reflective, not simply trying to finish as many pages as possible.  Slow Books devotees suggest that slow reading reduces stress, as well as improve people’s ability to think, concentrate and empathise.

Slow Books ties in with digital detox; an opportunity to reduce mental clutter and to re-develop our attention spans and comprehension – known negative effects of our increasing reliance upon online reading.   The Internet’s effect upon changes to our cognition is explored in Nicholas Carr’s provocative book The Shallows: how the internet is changing the way we read, think and remember.

Besides Slow Food and Slow Books, the Slow philosophy can also be applied to activities including travel, education and relationships.  Carl Honoré’s In Praise of Slowness offers a compelling overview of the Slow ideal, including how it can be applied to daily life.  This subversive book also spawned a popular TED talk.   The guiding principle of the Slow Movement is the rejection of the “faster is better” mentality ; instead it advocates a mindful approach where we slow down to do something properly – savouring the process along the way.   

And if you need any more encouragement, just remember that a recent study from Yale has found that regular book-readers live almost two years longer than non-readers.


How to get started: Ingredients for enjoying books, slowly 
  • Create a comfortable reading spot – beanbag, armchair or in bed?  An internet search on “reading nooks” will reveal gorgeous examples, from cosy to quirky to elegant.  
  • Make time for reading – before it becomes a natural habit, use reminders to help you set aside a regular timeslot.  You can even join a Slow Reading Club if you prefer to read in a social environment.
  • Find a great book – a gripping story that will draw you in and help you forget the passage of time.  Start with a genre you enjoy, or try some current bestsellers such as The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman, The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, and Truly, Madly, Guilty by Liane Moriarty.

Books to help our children slow down

I had a chat with an older lady in the supermarket today and she was telling me about her childhood.  One of eight children, they foraged or trapped their dinners most nights.  Whether it was mushrooms, blackberries or catching rabbits, they went out with dad to find their ‘tea’.  After lunch, which was a weetbix with butter, they were told to go and play, just be home by dinnertime.

If you have a think about your childhood and compare it to the children of today: what are the main differences?  My childhood was definitely slower, we just did….less.  While we didn’t trap rabbits for dinner, there was a simple mundanity: dinners were meat and 3 veg and we spent most of our days outdoors playing on our bikes.  When I was growing up, there were less activities, opportunities and sources of information.  There were far less choices when I was a child, but there was a beautiful simplicity that went with it. Many behavioural issues that children are experiencing are said to come from our modern frenetic lifestyles.  As a result, authors have penned books to help us help our children to slow down.  Here are some of our favourite titles:

https-covers-booko-info300bearA Boy and a Bear by Lori Lite

‘A Boy and a Bear’ is a very simple story that can be read to children who might find it hard getting to sleep.  Through the story, a very simple technique called ‘circular breathing is taught.  This aims to bring calmness and well-being to both the child and the parent.  It’s a nice calm read to promote an easier bed-time routine.  Lite has written a suite of stories focused on bringing calm, visualisations and affirmations to children.  There have been positive reviews from some of the children, too: ‘I liked the story because it makes you feel relaxed and sleepy.  Every muscle in my body felt still.  I felt as relaxed as I could be’.  (Mandy, aged 8).


https-covers-booko-info300rabbitThe Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep by Carl-Johan Foreseen Ehrlin

The groundbreaking #1 bestseller is sure to turn nightly bedtime battles into a loving and special end-of-day ritual. This child-tested, parent-approved story uses an innovative technique that brings a calm end to any child’s day. Do you struggle with getting your child to fall asleep? Join parents all over the world who have embraced ‘The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep’ as their new nightly routine.


https-covers-booko-info300turtleA Boy and a Turtle by Lori Lite

Children love to visualize or imagine filling their bodies with the colors of the rainbow. This effective stress-management technique also known as guided imagery is widely accepted and used by both traditional and holistic communities. These gentle but powerful visualization techniques stimulate the imagination. Visualization can have a positive impact on the health of children, improving creativity and performance. It can also lower stress and anxiety levels and is used to control anger.

https-covers-booko-info300childrenRelax Kids – How to be Happy: 52 positive activities for children by Marneta Viegas

‘Relax Kids: How to be Happy’ is packed with ideas focused on children spending quality time with their families.  At the same time, it helps children manage their worries and emotions and encourages them to grow up happy and contented.

The aim of the book is for families to spend time together completing activities and creating memories.   There is a different activity each week and each of the activities is explained with diagrams, which make it easy to follow.  Children experience confidence and increased self esteem from their ability to complete the activities.


https-covers-booko-info300imaginationsImaginations by Carolyn Clarke

Winner of the San Diego Book Award for Children’s Non Fiction, ‘Imaginations’ teaches children to relax and meditate as a means of slowing down their minds.  The ability to relax is an essential skill in our hectic world today.  Kids are shuttled from home to school to after school activities and home again, often without transition time or down time. ‘Imaginations’ contains stories to help children learn to calm their bodies and relax their minds.


https-covers-booko-info300quietA Handful of Quiet by Thich Nhat Hanh

A Handful of Quiet presents one of the best known and most innovative meditation practices developed by Thich Nhat Hanh as part of the Plum Village community’s practice with children. Pebble meditation is a playful and fun activity that parents and educators can do with their children to introduce them to meditation. It is designed to involve children in a hands-on and creative way that touches on their interconnection with nature.

The most popular audiobooks on the market

According to the Wall Street Journal, audiobooks are the fastest growing format in publishing.  We are all now conditioned to seek out entertainment when completing tasks that would normally be seen as downtime: waiting for an appointment or stuck in traffic are now opportunities to engage in the act of being read to, and and to be entertained along the way.  With each of us carrying round a pocket-sized piece of technology on which to store multiple books, this genre has really increased in popularity over the last few years.  Here are some of the most popular audiobooks on the market: The Inside Story of our Body’s Most Underrated Organ by Giulia Enders

One of the most important organs we have, our stomach, are still largely understood by much of society.  A perfect book for audio purposes, ‘Gut’ is written with the average person in mind, it’s both informative and funny.  Viewed as a ‘health handbook’, Enders covers concepts such as nutrient absorption to recent ground-breaking research linking bowel bacteria to depression.  A scientist, Enders states that if we treat our gut well, it will treat us well in return.  She shows us how to do this in a way that’s easy to incorporate into our everyday lives. Life We Bury by Allen Eskens

Considered by some to be a literary thriller, this is the story of a student who begins the modest task of completing an English assignment.  His job is to interview a person and complete a brief biography.  Heading to the local nursing home, he meets Carl Iverson, a dying Vietnam veteran and convicted murderer.  Unable to reconcile the acts of heroism with his crimes, he decides to uncover the truth.  Delving into the fragments of the crime, will he discover the truth before it’s too late?   Similar in some parts to ‘Making a Murderer’, this book is rich in its portrayals of the characters and the events leading up to the crime. Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Ove is possibly the grumpiest man you might ever meet. Surrounded by ‘idiots’ as he calls them, he is the neighbour from hell who keeps a tight rein on the street, its inhabitants and their comings and goings.  When new ‘foreign’ neighbours move into the street and accidentally flatten his letterbox, this sets off an chain of events that result in unexpected friendships being made.  Quirky, full of comedy and incredibly heartwarming, ‘Ove’ has been a runaway hit and life-affirming modern fable. Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer

An uproarious collection of no-holds-barred personal essays by the Emmy Award-winning comedian reflects on her raucous childhood antics, her hard-won rise in the entertainment industry and her struggles to maintain the courage to approach the world in the refreshingly honest way that she does.  The beauty about listening to the book in audiobook format is having Schumer deliver her personal stories in her trademark funny and fantastically rude manner like no one else does.

https-covers-booko-info300teethBorn with Teeth: A Memoir by Kate Mulgrew

Known  for her mesmerising work in film, TV and the theatre, Kate Mulgrew turns her hand to writing in this unflinching memoir.  From her childhood, raised by unconventional Irish Catholics who knew “how to drink, how to dance, how to talk, and how to stir up the devil,” to studying with the legendary Stella Adler and the pain of giving up her daughter, ‘Born with Teeth’ is an exceptionally well-written autobiography from a master storyteller. (Unabridged) by Sandra Brown

Sandra Brown is a Number 1 bestselling New York Times and USA Today best-selling author.  Narrated by the Author, Brown jolts the listener from the start in this story of treachery, deception, secrets and lies.

Brown is a master of writing gripping, page-turning suspense novels and ‘Sting’ contains plot twists that will keep listeners on the edge of their seats.  Tantalisingly great listening.


For more of our audiobook picks, head to our Pinterest board!