Monthly Archives: December 2015

The Books of 2015 that changed us

Part of sifting back through the last year is looking at the books you read, the music you loved and the movies that made their mark over the previous 12 months.  They all had a part to play in shaping your year.

Looking back, you can identify the different years of your life by what you were reading at the time.  Here are some standouts:

1996 – Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

2000 – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

2006 – It was a bumper year of Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne

2011 – Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

2014 – The Martian by Andy Weir

In the spirit of reflection, here is a snapshot of what the Booko team loved reading this year and why.

Karen ’s pick is How to be a Heroine: or, What I’ve Learned from Reading Too Much by Samantha Ellis

I stumbled upon this book at my local library and I am so glad I did.  Samantha Ellis is a British playwright from an Iraqi-Jewish family.  After a heated debate with her best friend about Cathy Earnshaw (Wuthering Heights) vs Jane Eyre as the perfect heroine, Samantha decides to revisit all of the literary heroines who have influenced her approach to life and love.  Her critical re-readings of these favourite books – including Anne of Green Gables, Gone with the Wind, The Bell Jar, even Shirley Conran’s Lace – results in mixed feelings including delight, awe, even anger and sadness.  How to be a Heroine is an original and unusual book that is part memoir, part bibliography and part literary analysis.  For me this is life instruction, reading list as well as a friend – what she has done seems exactly like what I should be doing, and I am looking forward to developing my own views about these books (as well as revisiting my own literary heroines).  Her attempts at finding her place within and beyond her tight-knit community really resonates with me as well.


Renae’s pick is A Brief History of 7 Killings by Marlon James


The Brief History of Seven Killings is, to be perfectly honest, the only book that I have read this year. This is a slightly disappointing effort reading-wise but to be honest, by the time I get to bed, I am only able to read 2-3 pages before I’m asleep. Anyway, I digress –

I selected this book based solely on the fact that it won the Man Booker prize. I assumed that it must be good. And it is. Based on the attempted assassination of Bob Marley in the late 1970s, this book is a fictional account of that time. While the seven assumed assassins were never apprehended, this book is about James imagining their stories. Part of what makes this book great is that there are a range of different voices, namely witnesses and bystanders. The Brief History of Seven Killings is like taking a step back in time to this period, in all its raw and at times, very violent history.


Riina’s pick is Lost & Found by Brooke Davis

It was the very start of the year and I was heading on my first overseas trip by myself since having children. I had been so busy making sure everything was planned, organised and prepared for the family while I would be away, that I had neglected to pack myself a book (out of the big pile of unread or half-read books on my bedside table). So I browsed the airport bookshop for something light to enjoy on the 23-hour flight. I picked Lost & Found by Brooke Davis, seeing as it was a book I had seen popping up on the most clicked list on Booko.

To be honest I thought it would be a light read that I might or might not finish. Instead I found it to be un-put-downable and surprisingly thought-provoking. Being half a world away from my family, I found the distance paired with the themes introduced by Lost & Found allowed me to evaluate my life, love and future in a way I had never before. I came home with visions and goals for myself, our family and relationships in general.

It is debatable whether it was the trip itself or the book that changed me, but Lost & Found was definitely an integral part of changing me in 2015.



Marie’s Pick is The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo.


I am a minimalist at heart and nothing excites me more than clean spaces with room to breathe. However, with two small children in my house there regularly seems to be a mounting collection of ‘treasures’ that I am almost positive we don’t need to keep. I found this book just as it was becoming a social media sensation and a regular ‘most clicked’ on booko.

I was hooked from page one, and when I gave it a go at home, I felt lighter, happier and the house was brighter…and we didn’t really even have much clutter to begin with! Nevertheless I ended up with 3 car loads of goodies for the charity store, copious bags filled for recycling and a few for the bin man.

This #1 New York Times best-selling guide to tidying your home is not only a game changer, it’s life changing! Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo offers readers a step-by-step guide through the KonMari Method enabling an easy way to simplify, organise, and store. In a nutshell, if an item doesn’t spark joy in your home, it shouldn’t be there and that goes for clothes, trinkets, photos, make up and old copies of bills (but who would want them anyway).

Be warned – it’s not for the faint hearted, and once you start you will not want to stop. I still use Kondo’s tips daily. Oh and I recommend buying the e book – you’ll know why when you have finished it.


Dan’s pick is The Martian by Andy Weir

In writing this post, I’m confronted with the uncomfortable truth that I’ve only read two books this year:  Ready Player One which I enjoyed and The Martian which was excellent.   I was inspired to read The Martian by Randall Munroe’s comic.    The Martian is a great for plenty of reasons but its path from idea to publishing stands out for me.

The Martian began almost as a serial, published online for free, a chapter at a time and was altered and corrected based on audience feedback.   At the request of his readers, Andy made a Kindle version available and due to the way Amazon have set up publishing on the Kindle, he had to sell the book for the minimum price of $0.99.  Within a month, more people had bought the Kindle edition, than had downloaded the free version. This feedback loop of creation and improvement is analogous to how much of the worlds free software is written and I found it fascinating that this model could be used to help write a book.

Once the book hit the top #10 in a few categories, its rise was meteoric.  Random House approached Andy to publish the print version and in the same week as signing that deal, he’d signed the movie deal with Fox.   This interview with Adam Savage is well worth watching.



Books to help us be the person we want to be in 2016

The beauty of a new year is our ability (or at least our intention) to reinvent ourselves.  Whatever stage you are at in your life, the start of the next year brings hope for a fresh start and new possibilities.  Here are our pick of 6 books that give you a head start on being the best you that you can be in 2016. Miracle of Mindfulness: The Classic Guide by Thich Nhat Hanh

In this beautifully written book, Buddhist monk and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Thich Nhat Hanh explains how to acquire the skills of mindfulness. Once we have these skills, we can slow our lives down and discover how to live in the moment – even simple acts like washing the dishes or drinking a cup of tea may be transformed into acts of meditation. Thich Nhat Hanh’s gentle anecdotes and practical exercises help us to arrive at greater self-understanding and peacefulness, whatever the stage we are at. Sense by Michael Kemp

Mike Kemp is the financial advisor to Scott Pape, otherwise known as the Barefoot Investor.  This book offers a comprehensive  background to understanding how the stock market works.  It’s a book for serious investors but Kemp delivers stories and anecdotes that helps the reader understand what works in the stock market, what doesn’t and why.  Uncommon Sense will have you thinking, acting and succeeding on your own in your investment endeavours. It helps you learn to question conventional wisdom at every turn and develop a healthy skepticism as you plan your own investment strategies.  If you want to understand concepts such as the stock valuation process and discover the methods that have been used by successful investors from the dawn of the modern stock market (1602), this is the book for you. your finger out: 101 ways to stop wasting time & start living your best life by Craig Harper

Craig Harper is here to tell you how. He presents 101 no-nonsense, straight-talking ways to help you get the most out of yourself – from breaking habits and getting motivated to developing self-knowledge and learning when to say no.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now, this beloved author shares her wisdom and unique understanding of creativity, shattering the perceptions of mystery and suffering that surround the process – and showing us all just how easy it can be. By sharing stories from her own life, as well as those from her friends and the people that have inspired her, Elizabeth Gilbert challenges us to embrace our curiosity, tackle what we most love and face down what we most fear. Whether you long to write a book, create art, cope with challenges at work, embark on a long-held dream, or simply to make your everyday life more vivid and rewarding, Big Magic will take you on a journey of exploration filled with wonder and unexpected joys. Brain: The 12 Keys to create your High Performance Brain by Jenny Brockis

Super–charge your brain to gain a huge competitive edge in business and in life. Future Brain is the busy professional′s secret weapon for boosting mastery, efficiency, and productivity to gain that coveted competitive edge in business and in life. Designed to be implemented at the individual, team, or organisational level, this in–depth, step–by–step framework leverages neuro–scientific principles to help you develop a solid, habit–changing plan for building and maintaining brain fitness and healthy behaviours. Author Dr. Jenny Brockis will help you develop your thought processes and your regular routine to get more done with less effort and time. Future Brain turns neuroscience into actionable steps, helping you to train your brain to achieve high–performance in all areas of life. Sugar Book by Damon Gameau

When actor and filmmaker Damon Gameau met a girl he was keen to impress he decided to get healthy by dramatically reducing his sugar intake. In no time he was slimmer, calmer, fitter and happier. He was also very curious: why did the elimination of sugar have such beneficial effects on his health and wellbeing? He decided to experiment and film the results. In particular, this book will change the way you think about traditionally ‘healthy’ foods.


How to wrap books beautifully this year

Books are probably the easiest present to wrap, thanks to their wrapping friendly shape,  and to boot, they are a delightful present to receive.

Why not add a little flair to how you wrap yours this year.

We’ve scoured the magical land of Pinterest for ideas and are hoping to see a few of these beauties waiting for us under the tree this year.

Classic Black and White

wrapping 10

Add a little something from the garden

wrapping 1 wrapping 3 wrapping 14 wrapping 11

Wrapping to match the content

wrapping 6 wrapping 2

A little extra excitement for the children

wrapping 4 wrapping 5 wrapping 13

Newspaper art – if you have a little more creative flair (or time on your hands!).

wrapping 8 wrapping 9

We wish you a wonderful festive season and hope you, too, receive a book to escape with in these holidays.

From the Booko Team


Ten Books that sum up 2015

It’s been another big and eventful year in publishing, as the wide array of year-end “Best of” lists reminds us (Publishers Weekly magazine alone offers 15 different Top 10 lists!)  Here at Booko, we have enjoyed so many wonderful, varied, worthy, thought-provoking books that we can’t decide on ten “best” books.  Instead, we present to you 10 books that we feel represent the year that was 2015…

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Go Set a Watchman is probably the most highly anticipated book of 2015.  Billed as a recently-discovered companion to To Kill a Mockingbird – one of the best-loved and most respected novels in English – its mere existence seems astonishing and adds to its mystique.  As more details emerge ahead of publication, controversy grows – about the quality of the writing, the surprisingly racist attitudes within, and about whether it should have been published at all. Go Set a Watchman is now considered an earlier version of To Kill a Mockingbird rather than a sequel, offering fascinating glimpses of the development process for To Kill a Mockingbird, as well as Harper Lee’s emerging talent.


The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

Perhaps it’s the ongoing popularity of minimalist home decor; or perhaps it’s the promise of orderliness and calm in an increasingly messed-up world – whatever the reason, Marie Kondo’s guide to tidying-up and decluttering really hit a nerve with readers worldwide.  What makes her philosophy so alluring is the idea that we should only keep items that “spark joy” – and that sparking joy is a criterion applicable to other aspects of our lives.




The Official A Game of Thrones Colouring Book by George R. R. Martin

Adult colouring books are arguably THE publishing phenomenon of 2015.  Since Johanna Basford’s Secret Garden brought adult colouring into the mainstream, the genre has evolved and diversified. There are now, coming full-circle, mindful colouring for children, and even a colouring parody.  This Game of Thrones Colouring Book exemplifies new wave colouring-in that entices customers with pop cultural themes, including Harry Potter and Star Wars.


The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett

2015 was a bittersweet year for Sir Terry Pratchett’s fans – he died, too soon, in March this year; but he also left one last treat – a manuscript, now published as The Shepherd’s Crown.  This 41st and final book in the Discworld series follows young Tiffany Aching (first appearing in The Wee Free Men) when she has to step-up and take on the big responsibility of defending her homeland.  The Shepherd’s Crown is a gentle novel, with underlying themes of kindness and tolerance, and has been highly praised as a “magnificent sign-off”.




A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James

Marlon James became the first Jamaican writer to win the Man Booker Prize, when A Brief History of Seven Killings was the unexpected but apparently unanimous choice amongst the Booker’s judges.  A visceral and ambitious work, A Brief History of Seven Killings is a fictional history about the attempted murder of Bob Marley in 1976, seen through the eyes of a large cast – gangsters, journalists, politicians, the CIA.  Marlon James’ win is a perfect example of the value of perseverance and self-belief, as he almost gave up writing after his first novel was rejected 78 times before eventual publication.




Gratitude by Oliver Sacks

Another beloved author that we lost this year was Oliver Sacks, the neurologist best known for his collections of case studies including Awakenings  and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.  Gratitude is a posthumous book that brings together four essays first published in the New York Times.  In these bittersweet but ultimately uplifting essays, Oliver Sacks reflects upon old age, gratitude, his enduring sense of wonder about the natural world, and his impending death.  A fitting commemoration of a life well lived.



The Short and Excruciatingly Embarrassing Reign of Captain Abbott by Andrew P Street

In September, Australia gained worldwide notoriety as the “Coup capital of the democratic world”.  With five prime ministers in as many years (three ousted by their own parties), it’s a case of “with colleagues like these, who needs enemies”.  Andrew P Street has documented the litany of gaffes, goofs and questionable captain’s calls that characterised the leadership of Australia’s most recent ex-prime minister, Tony Abbott.  It is funny, irreverent, and even a tad insightful about this turbulent time in Australian politics.



Deliciously Ella by Ella Woodward

Deliciously Ella is zeitgeist-y on many fronts – it originates from a highly popular blog, it focusses on clean eating (plant-based, dairy-free, gluten-free, no refined sugars), and it has recipes featuring “superfoods” such as kale, coconut oil and quinoa.  What makes Ella Woodward’s book approachable is her enthusiastic, chatty tone, the simplicity of her recipes (she could barely cook when she started her blog three years ago), and how her philosophy arises from her experience in using dietary changes to manage a rare illness.  See for yourself why this book made history as the fastest-selling debut cookbook of all time in the UK.



After Tomorrow by Gillian Cross

After Tomorrow is from 2013, but I have included it to illustrate the difficulties faced by Syrian refugees.  In After Tomorrow, award-winning author Gillian Cross weaves alternate history with dystopic themes into a frighteningly-real scenario.  Five major banks crash on “Armageddon Monday”, destroying the British economy.  Society quickly disintegrates, with food shortages and breakdown of law and order.  As teenage Matt’s family falls apart, his mother smuggles him, his brother and stepfather into France, where they are interned as refugees.  The fiction form of After Tomorrow encourages us to empathise with the plight of refugees by seeing their challenges through our eyes.



Trans by Juliet Jacques

Transgender awareness has been a hot topic of mainstream media this year, particularly surrounding Caitlyn Jenner’s coming-out as a trans woman.  Trans is one of several recent memoirs documenting the transgender experience.  It traces Juliet Jacques’ journey from her teenage and university years, to her social, medical and surgical transitions to become female in later adulthood.  Trans also offers cultural critique as Juliet Jacques considers her experience within the context of how the media portrays transgender narratives.  An honest, thoughtful and insightful book.

There’s more to Christmas movies than Miracle on 34th Street

The best-known and most revered Christmas movies are probably Miracle on 34th Street and It’s a Wonderful Life, and these films have established an image of Christmas films as heartwarming, uplifting family-friendly fare.  But there’s much more to Christmas movies than that.  Whether your favourite genre is comedy, romance, action or even horror, there’s Christmas viewing in this list for you:

Holiday Inn [Region 1]

Film buff factoid:  The song “White Christmas” actually makes its first appearance in Holiday Inn, giving the film its unshakeable connection to Christmas.  (The film White Christmas came 12 years later, taking advantage of the song’s unprecedented popularity).  Holiday Inn has plenty of star power, showcasing Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire and Irving Berlin at what they do best.  It is light-hearted, romantic, has memorable songs and spectacular production numbers – a classic musical from Hollywood’s Golden Age.



Joyeux Noel [Region 1]

Joyeux Noel (Merry Christmas) is based on the remarkable true story of the Christmas Truce in 1914.  During that first Christmas of World War I, soldiers on the Western Front initiated an unofficial truce.  Troops from opposing sides came together in no man’s land, to talk, share food, sing Christmas carols, even to play football.  Seen from the view of Scottish, French and German soldiers, Joyeux Noel highlights a universal yearning for peace, home and human connection.  The film contrasts the humanity of ordinary soldiers with their commanding officers, whose strong disapproval of the truce is based on “toeing the line”.  Joyeux Noel is an emotional, even sentimental film, but elegantly understated as European cinema does best.


Life of Brian [Region 2]

This movie about a Very Naughty Boy was, for several years, a late-night TV treat on Christmas Eve in Australia – a practice that deserves to be reinstated.  Life of Brian – about a boy born at the same time as Jesus – is probably the most coherent and understandable of all of Monty Python’s work.  In the deeply-irreverent, typical Python style, it lampoons religion, politics, gender relations and just about everything (and everyone) else.  It also finishes on a ridiculously catchy song that will have you singing along with a grin on your face (especially if you’ve had a few drinks).  Lots of fun, even if (or especially if) you are not all that into “the whole Christmas thing”.


Elf [Region 4]

A Christmas movie about Will Ferrell as a gangly, dim-but-lovable human raised as an elf could have been so very, very bad – but luckily, it turned out to be very, very good!  Will Ferrell plays Buddy, raised as an elf by Santa, who heads to New York City to find his real family when he discovers that he is actually human.  The writer and perfectly-cast actors (including James Caan and Zooey Deschanel) have delivered an original and fun film through a masterful balance of wit, slapstick, irreverence, traditional Christmas sentiment and just a hint of romance.



Doctor Who Christmas Specials [Region 4]

I named The Doctor Who Christmas Specials as one of my Top 10 DVD Box Sets for 2015, and cannot resist mentioning it again this week.  These 10 episodes from 2005-2014 star David Tennant, Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi (aka Doctors 10, 11 and 12), and are a real tribute to the enormous creativity of the Doctor Who writers.  Within the confines of a Christmas theme and the need for series continuity, the writers have repeatedly come up with fresh scenarios and great characters.   Nothing is repetitive, and there is always a good balance of fantasy, tension, jokes and terror.  See for yourself why the Christmas Special are often the most-watched Doctor Who episode of the year.


The Snowman [Region 2]

Even if you have never seen The Snowman, you might be familiar with its haunting theme song, Walking in the Air.   Based on the Raymond Briggs picture book, The Snowman is about a little boy, the snowman he made, and the adventures they have together when the snowman comes to life.  The Snowman is funny, enchanting and poignant – all achieved without any dialogue.  It also has a stirring orchestral soundtrack.  This DVD version comes with a sequel from 2012, The Snowman and the Snowdog, created to mark the 30th anniversary of the original.



Bridget Jones’ Diary [Region 1]


Love, Actually may be the more famous Christmas-themed rom-com, but Bridget Jones also deserves recognition.  Inspired by Pride and Prejudice, the movie is brilliantly cast, and has the renowned in-joke of Colin Firth playing both Mr Darcy (in Pride and Prejudice), and Mark Darcy (the Mr Darcy-like character in Bridget Jones, inspired by Firth’s performance of Mr Darcy).  With its deft mixture of comedy, romance and sentimentality, Bridget Jones covers similar emotional territory to many classic Christmas movies.  And its finale – with Bridget Jones running after Mark Darcy in the snow, in her embarrassing underwear – is the sort of warm gooey Happy Ending that Christmas deserves.


Home Alone [Region 4]

When Macaulay Culkin is accidentally left behind when his family flies to Paris for Christmas, he continues a cinematic tradition of cute precocious kids wrecking havoc upon the (adult) world.  The idea of kids besting adults is aimed squarely at engaging a child audience, but the humour and those booby traps are clever enough to entertain adults too.  That it is written by John Hughes (master of the ‘80s teen movie) and directed by Chris Columbus (now famous for directing the first three Harry Potter films) should serve as further endorsement.


Tokyo Godfathers [Region 2]

Don’t let the animated format fool you – Tokyo Godfathers is not cutesy or kid-friendly – instead it is understated, bleak but incredibly uplifting. Arguably, this makes Tokyo Godfathers closer to true “Christmas spirit” than more saccharine traditional fare.  The film’s title is a nod to John Ford’s 3 Godfathers, with both films sharing the premise of three down-and-outers rescuing a baby on Christmas Eve.  As Gin (an alcoholic), Hana (a transvestite) and Miyuki (a teenage runaway) wander a snowy Tokyo in search of the baby’s parents, their life stories are gradually revealed.  A series of coincidences lead to an ending that is surprisingly tense, poignant, and heartwarming.  Tokyo Godfathers is deep, sophisticated “real cinema”, praised by the great Roger Ebert as “a story that will never, ever be remade by Disney”.


Die Hard [Region 4]
Die Hard is not your typical Christmas film, but has featured on a surprising number of “Best Christmas movie” lists, including those for Empire magazine, Forbes magazine and Rotten Tomatoes.  Bruce Willis stars as a maverick cop trying to foil a terrorist attack on Christmas Eve.  Die Hard is a trailblazer for movies with a regular-guy action hero, and is so iconic that many subsequent action films are jokingly referenced back to it (for example, Speed (1994) has been referred to as “Die Hard on a bus”).  Let this action-packed thriller shake you out of your food coma.

Finland – the true winter wonderland

Window ferns

“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas….” This time of year is strongly associated with idyllic images of snowy landscapes, frosty breath, icy window ferns, winter woollies and steaming hot drinks. For those of us in the Southern Hemisphere these are the stuff of fairytales, but in places like Finland in Northern Europe, it is the norm.

I grew up in Finland and only recall one childhood Christmas without snow. Now I live in Melbourne (Australia) and have to make do with paper snowflakes such as these:

paper snowflakes

Visiting Finland

Winter is a great time of year to visit Finland as it really is the true winter wonderland. Here are just some ideas for what to see and do in Finland in winter:

Kemi Snow Castle

Kemi Snow Castle

For a true “Frozen” experience, you cannot go past the gigantic Snow Castle in Kemi. You can even stay there overnight in the Snow Hotel!

(Photo credit)

For more snow inspiration, check out these destinations and ideas.


Santa’s hut

cropped santa

For those who believe in the magic of Santa Claus (a.k.a. Father Christmas, or Joulupukki in Finnish); he welcomes you to visit his home near the Arctic Circle in Finland. He may be a little busy bringing cheer and happiness to children everywhere around Christmas time, but is more than happy to hear your Christmas wishes all year round.



Aurora Borealis – The Northern Lights

Aurora Borealis

The Northern Lights: Celestial Performances of the Aurora Borealis

If it is magic you are after, not much compares to the Northern Lights, Aurora Borealis. They are visible on roughly 200 nights a year in Finnish Lapland and the further North you go, the better your chances of seeing them. You can learn more about it here or if you cannot quite justify the cost of flying to Lapland, this coffee table book has some stunning images:



Now before you book your tickets, here are some useful resources to help you scratch that travel bug bite and prepare for the trip!

Lonely Planet Finland

Finnish for your trip










Finnish DesignLiving in Finland

Donating books this season to those less fortunate

At Booko, we’re hugely supportive of groups that inspire and promote reading. Big Fat Smile is a community group that has supported refugee families, women and children fleeing from domestic violence and families who have been affected by drug abuse. All of the children in these families didn’t have any, or enough, appropriate clothing and nothing of their own to play with or read. 

We asked Kelly from Big Fat Smile to share with our community how we could all help with donating books this festive season.


While you’re ordering books for the people in your life this holiday season, spare a thought for the children who won’t be getting a new book in their Christmas stocking.

At Big Fat Smile, we work to provide essential kits of age appropriate clothing for children in need. In each kit we also aim to include a toy and a book. We know that reading is so important for a child’s development and learning and too often disadvantaged children don’t get regular access to books as the family budget sometimes just doesn’t stretch that far.


We’d love your help to put a book in our donation packs for children in need. The children receiving the Big Fat Smile kits are aged between 0 – 6 years, here’s a few suggestions as to what would suit:













We also love donations of second hand books that have remained in a great condition to be passed onto another family.

So, how about popping another children’s book onto your Booko shopping list and sending it our way this giving season.

You can post books to us @ Big Fat Smile, PO Box 190, Olinda VIC 3788

We hope that you get time to kick back and knock a few reads off your list over the holidays!

Author spotlight: Jamie Oliver’s take on Super Foods

Jamie Oliver turned 40 this year –  a Big Birthday that encouraged him to reassess his life and improve his health.  The result is a 12kg weight-reduction, better sleep and more energy.  So how did he do it?  His new lifestyle approach forms the basis for his new show – Jamie’s Super Food Revolution, and accompanying book, Everyday Super Food.

A major part of his strategy relates to diet.  In Jamie’s Super Food Revolution, Jamie and his team travel the world to find places famous for longevity – such as Japan, Costa Rica and Greece.  Jamie then investigated their food secrets for staying healthy and productive well into old age.  The result is Jamie’s version of super foods –  14 “hero ingredients” that are nutrient-packed, health-giving yet commonly-found. These include:

  • Eggs
  •  Fish
  • Goat’s milk
  • Wild greens and herbs
  • Tofu
  • Walnuts
  • Wild rice
  • Sweet potato
  • Black beans
  • Fresh fruit
  • Seaweed
  • Garlic
  • Prawns
  • Chillies

Jamie and his team of nutritionists then created a range of recipes based on these ingredients, from breakfasts, lunches and dinners to snacks and drinks.  These form the basis of the book Everyday Super Food.

One appealing aspect of Jamie’s approach is that he has not relied on the exotic ingredients that are currently considered “super foods” – such as chia, quinoa, and goji berries (although they do make an occasional appearance).  Instead, most of Jamie’s “hero ingredients” are commonly available, cheap and similar to ingredients we already use. The recipes are pure Jamie – simple, family-friendly recipes showcasing bold natural flavours – that look vibrant and appetising in the gorgeous photos.  His “everything in moderation” mantra means that he has not sworn off foods such as carbs or sugar – but instead has created healthier, tastier versions of favourites such as French toast and pasta carbonara.  This makes Jamie’s Super Food approach very accessible to everyone, including people on tight budgets, even those who are cynical about food fads and unusual ingredients.

Another appealing aspect of Jamie’s approach is that it is holistic.  He emphasises a number of other lifestyle changes that has improved his health – such as sleeping longer, drinking more water and less alcohol, and valuing incidental as well as scheduled exercise.  In effect, Jamie has used his own experience to show how a healthier living philosophy can improve anyone’s health.

Jamie is not the first champion of these teachings, but his hugely influential voice offers welcome support to the fight against rising obesity rates.  (Do you know that Jamie is the second best-selling author of all time in Britain, only after J.K. Rowling? Or that his campaign towards improving school dinners resulted in a pledge of GBP280 million from the British Government?)  Jamie’s Super Food Revolution is his personal, approachable (and tasty!) health improvement strategy, a worthy successor to his earlier efforts to improve public health through improving school dinners,  and teaching people to cook.

6 Books Every Aspiring Entrepreneur Should Read

You are what you read, and if your goal is to build a successful company where you call the shots, you might want to start with the following books.

The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau$100startup

As it turns out, you don’t have to be a trust-fund baby, on the hook for a business loan, or just plain old lucky to start your very own enterprise. Guillebeau gives rousing examples of somewhat-accidental entrepreneurs making success out of strife, opportunity, and circumstances mostly by turning a passion or hobby into something that can be profitable. He doesn’t necessarily encourage every knitter to open a craft store, but he does promote creative thinking about how you can leverage a natural talent or long-loved activity into a business model.



The Startup Playbook: Secrets of the Fastest-Growing Startups From Their Founding Entrepreneurs by David Kidder

The title says it all. If you’re looking for a wide array of lessons learned and entrepreneurial experiences, this book is for you. Sharing insights from 41 different founders, The Startup Playbook covers everything from leadership lessons to finding one’s niche.





Conscious Capitalism by John Mackey and Raj Sisodia

Conscious Capitalism is finding the win-win is what’s most profitable, and that no one has to lose. Business schools have discovered and studied it, and found that companies that practice it are more successful. This book is a great primer.






The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

With more than two million copies sold around the world, The Alchemist has established itself as a modern classic, universally admired. Paulo Coelho’s masterpiece tells the magical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure as extravagant as any ever found. The story of the treasures Santiago finds along the way teaches us, about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, and above all, following our dreams.




The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

Most startups fail. But many of those failures are preventable.  The Lean Startup is a new approach being adopted across the globe, changing the way companies are built and new products are launched.  Ries defines a startup as an organization dedicated to creating something new under conditions of extreme uncertainty. This is just as true for one person in a garage or a group of seasoned professionals in a Fortune 500 boardroom. What they have in common is a mission to penetrate that fog of uncertainty to discover a successful path to a sustainable business.

The Lean Startup offers entrepreneurs in companies of all sizes a way to test their vision continuously, to adapt and adjust before it’s too late. Ries provides a scientific approach to creating and managing successful startups in a age when companies need to innovate more than ever.


Daring and Disruptive by Lisa Messenger

It’s an insightful and soulful account of Messenger’s roller-coaster ride for those who want to succeed almost as much as they want to breathe, who want to make the impossible possible and the ordinary extraordinary. Messenger blends her personal stories with the important business lessons she has learned along the way, from why money is not the only currency to how to fail well.

This book will help you dig deep, stay on purpose, back yourself, be true to your ideas, and ensure that if you’re thrown to the wolves, you’ll have the strength to come out leading the pack.