Category Archives: Blog

Top Books for Back To School

It’s the start of a new school year for our readers in the UK and US. This can be an exciting but often uncertain time for children (not to the mention parents who are sending children off to school for the first time). We thought we’d share our top picks for back to school reading. These stories are perfect to read cuddled up with your child as they aim to warm your heart, put aside any anxieties and make you laugh as you prepare to start a year of packing school lunchboxes. 

The Pigeon Has To Go To School by Mo Willems

Mo Willems’ Pigeon is back in a hilarious story perfect for those about to start school or nursery. The Pigeon is about to get schooled. Do you think he should go? Why does the Pigeon have to go to school? He already knows everything! Well … almost everything. And what if he doesn’t like it? What if the teacher doesn’t like him? I mean, what if he learns too much!?!

School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex and Christian Robinson

A New York Times bestselling author (The True Meaning of Smekday) and illustrator (Last Stop on Market Street) team bring you a fresh look at the first day of school, this time from the school’s perspective. It’s the first day of school at Frederick Douglass Elementary and everyone’s just a little bit nervous, especially the school itself. What will the children do once they come? Will they like the school? Will they be nice to him? The school has a rough start, but as the day goes on, he soon recovers when he sees that he’s not the only one going through first-day jitters.

Pirates Don’t Go to Kindergarten by Lisa Robinson

Yo, ho, ho! It’s a mutiny against kindergarten!

Pirate Emma is about to start kindergarten! But Emma’s not so sure she’s ready for a new captain and crew. Especially since Cap’n Chu, the roughest, toughest, awesomest preschool cap’n ever, is right down the hall. So Emma decides to head back to the preschool ship to see if she can stir up a mutiny against kindergarten! Is that what she really wants? Or does she just miss her beloved Cap’n Chu? Batten down the hatches, mateys, because the first day of school is going to be stormy!

We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins

It’s the first day of school for Penelope Rex, and she can’t wait to meet her classmates. But it’s hard to make human friends when they’re so darn delicious! That is, until Penelope gets a taste of her own medicine and finds she may not be at the top of the food chain after all. Readers will gobble up this hilarious new story from award-winning author-illustrator Ryan T. Higgins.

1 2 3 With The Notorious B.I.G by Jessica Chiha

Biggie, Biggie, Biggie One, Two, Three – Sometimes These Numbers Just Hypnotize Me!

1 2 3 with the Notorious B.I.G. is packed full of our most loved Hip Hop, Rap and RnB artists from then and now, with plenty of tongue in cheek references that even the bigs are sure to get a giggle from. This hip-hop inspired book is designed to pump up your child’s number game. Let Biggie Smalls, Jay-Z, Kanye, Nicki Minaj, Kelis and more, teach your little homie their 123s. Relive some of the greatest Rap, Hip Hop, and R&B musicians of our time, while teaching your children where it’s at. 1 2 3 with the Notorious B.I.G. is here to make learning dope, because education isn’t meant to be boring!

Inside My Heart by Jo Witek

This is a charming book where a young girl explores what different emotions feel like, such as happiness which makes her want to twirl, or sadness which feels as heavy as an elephant.

In My Heart explores emotions; happiness, sadness, bravery, anger, shyness and more. Unlike other feelings books that tend to oversimplify, In My Heart lyrically explains what an emotion feels like, physically, inside. For example: “When I get really angry, my heart feels like it’s going to explode! Don’t come near me! My heart is yelling, hot and loud. This is when my heart is mad.” Children will be empowered by this new vocabulary and able to practice articulating and identifying their own emotions.

Enjoy!

Five Things Librarian School Taught Me About Raising Young Readers

I have been a bookworm since childhood, and when I started my own family, I really wanted my kids to develop the same love of reading as I did.  But I knew there’s no guarantee it would happen (kids really do have their own minds!), and I wasn’t always sure how to achieve this goal.  One unexpected source of inspiration came from my librarianship studies, which I undertook when my children were still quite young.  What I was learning about literacy, and library trends, really opened my mind about why and how we read. So here are some of the most important things that Librarian School taught me about how to encourage and support children to become happy, confident readers:

  • There are different types of literacies.  


Picture books, chapter books, graphic novels, non-fiction… they all challenge our comprehension in different ways.  Literacy is not just about being able to read big words and long books. Don’t despair if your child prefers pictures to words – they are still gaining useful interpretation skills.  Try reading a wordless picture book (such as Shaun Tan’s The Arrival), and you’ll see what I mean!

  • Every person their book.


In the library world, this is about offering a variety of materials to suit the diverse needs of library users.  I also like to think of it as an encouragement to the parents of reluctant readers – that one day, the Right Book will come along, grab their child’s interest and kickstart that lifelong love of reading.

  • Make reading fun.  


It’s all about fostering a lifelong love of reading – which supports all types of learning, helps to develop intellectual curiosity, as well as entertain and offer comfort throughout life.  It doesn’t have to be about reading stories from a page – chat about your favourite characters, make up alternative endings for stories, do quizzes and puzzles, or make yummy treats by following a recipe.

  • Use your child’s interests as the starting point.  


This ties in with the previous points – get your child’s attention by offering materials that match their interests.  This could be the novels of their favourite movies, comic books, car magazines, newspapers or even recipe books.  Just keep them reading! And if they won’t take on your book suggestions, or if they just want to read the same thing over and over – have a variety of reading materials on hand, and one day they might just discover it all by themselves.     

  • Embrace social media.  


Besides talking to your friendly librarians and booksellers, you can find many reading-related resources on social media.  Facebook, Goodreads, blogs and websites (including Booko’s own blog and Facebook feed!) offer everything from book suggestions and literacy activities, to moral support from like-minded parents, to opportunities to interact with your favourite authors.

Here’s a handy little booklist to help you foster the love of reading in your home.


Raising Readers: How to Nurture a Child’s Love of Books by Megan Daley

Some kids refuse to read, others won’t stop, not even at the dinner table! Either way, many parents question the best way to support their child’s literacy journey. When can you start reading to your child? How do you find that special book to inspire a reluctant reader? How can you tell if a book is age appropriate? What can you do to keep your tween reading into their adolescent years? Award-winning teacher librarian Megan Daley has the answers to all these questions and more. She unpacks her fifteen years of experience into this personable and accessible guide, enhanced with up-to-date research and first-hand accounts from well-known Australian children’s authors. It also contains practical tips, such as suggested reading lists and instructions on how to run book-themed activities. Raising Readers is a must have guide for parents and educators to help the children in their lives fall in love with books.

The Read-Aloud Family by Sarah Mackenzie

Connecting deeply with our kids can be difficult in our busy, technology-driven lives. Reading aloud offers us a chance to be fully present with our children. It also increases our kids’ academic success, inspires compassion, and fortifies them with the inner strength they need to face life’s challenges. As Sarah Mackenzie has found with her own six children, reading aloud long after kids are able to read to themselves can deepen relationships in a powerful way. Founder of the immensely popular Read-Aloud Revival podcast, Sarah knows first-hand how reading can change a child’s life. In The Read-Aloud Family, she offers the inspiration and age-appropriate book lists you need to start a read-aloud movement in your own home. From a toddler’s wonder to a teenager’s resistance, Sarah details practical strategies to make reading aloud a meaningful family ritual. Reading aloud not only has the power to change a family, it has the power to change the world.

Bookworm: a Memoir of Childhood Reading by Lucy Mangan

The Cat in the Hat? Barbar? The Very Hungry Caterpillar? Whoever it was for you, it’s very hard to forget the intensity of your first encounter with a book. As a bespectacled child, Lucy Mangan devoured stories: from early picture books to Swallows and Amazons, Enid Blyton to Little Women, trashy teen romances to those first ‘grown-up’ novels. In Bookworm, she revisits this early enthusiasm; celebrating the enduring classics, and disinterring some forgotten treasures. A love letter to the joys of childhood reading, full of enthusiasm and wit, Bookworm tells the stories of our best-loved books, their extraordinary creators, and the thousand subtle ways they shape our lives. It also comes packed with brilliant recommendations to inspire the next generation of bookworms and set them on their way. This impassioned book will bring the unforgettable characters of our collective childhoods back to life – prompting endless re-readings, rediscoveries, and, inevitably, fierce debate. It will also act as an invaluable guide to anyone looking to build a children’s library and wondering where to start, or where to go next.

Just Jaime by Terri Libenson

Another spot-on story of middle school drama and friendship from Terri Libenson, national bestselling author of Invisible Emmie and Positively Izzy.

Friends. Frenemies. Middle school…

The last day of seventh grade has Jaime and Maya wondering who their real friends are. Jaime knows something is off with her friend group. They’ve started to exclude her and make fun of the way she dresses and the things she likes. At least she can count on her BFF, Maya, to have her back . . . right? Maya feels more and more annoyed with Jaime, who seems babyish compared to the other girls in their popular group. It’s like she has nothing in common with Jai anymore. Are their days as BFFs numbered . . . ?

The Arrival by Shaun Tan

Haunting, original and told entirely through exquisitely imagined black, white and sepia pictures, The Arrival is the story of one man’s encounter with life in a strange new world. It’s a timeless, universal story that will resonate with anyone, anywhere who has struggled to start again in a place that is different to the one they have always known. Much loved around the world. The Arrival has also won numerous awards including the CBCA Book of the Year and ‘Best Album’ at the Augouleme Festival in France.

Science You Can Eat: Putting What We Eat Under the Microscope by Stefan Gates

Discover the seriously impressive science that goes on every time you cook or eat. This children’s book explores the science of food by asking questions you’re hungry to know the answers to, and putting them to the test through fun experiments. Science You Can Eat will transform your kitchen into a lab through fun food experiments. Cooking is chemistry, and the fun science experiments – such as tricking your taste buds, making slime taste delicious, and investigating some of the strangest flavours around will prove it. This exciting kid’s book tackles all the tasty science questions you have about food, plus plenty more that you hadn’t thought of! Once you understand science, you understand food, so find out why popcorn go “pop” as you test it out for yourself, explore how taste is affected by smell, then discover whether eating insects is the future of food. Examining interesting ingredients and exciting eating, as well as peeking into the future of food, Science You Can Eat helps you understand what’s happening with our food and why. Each page is guaranteed to leave you hungry for more.

The best books to read when you need to switch off.

Switching off, digital detox, unplugging, taking time out…hiding. Whatever you call it, it’s okay. 

When life gets a little too much or we just need to take some time for ourselves we tend to reach for a book (or an e-reader…whatever works right?). But not just any book will do. While here at Team Booko we love reading business books, self help titles, autobiographies and all the Marie Kondo books, sometimes we just want to put our business brains away and be entertained. 

And because we know you love a recommendation, we have found the top six books that are sure to help you switch off and enjoy sitting on the beach (looking at you London) or curling up in front the fire (yep, that’s you Melbourne). 

So pop on your SPF or your woolly jumper and have a read. 

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

She’s back!!! the author of Eat Pray Love has given us another gem of a book. 

It is the summer of 1940. Nineteen-year-old Vivian Morris arrives in New York with her suitcase and sewing machine, exiled by her despairing parents. Although her quicksilver talents with a needle and commitment to mastering the perfect hair roll have been deemed insufficient for her to pass into her sophomore year of Vassar, she soon finds gainful employment as the self-appointed seamstress at the Lily Playhouse, her unconventional Aunt Peg’s charmingly disreputable Manhattan revue theatre. There, Vivian quickly becomes the toast of the showgirls, transforming the trash and tinsel only fit for the cheap seats into creations for goddesses. Exile in New York is no exile at all – here in this strange wartime city of girls, Vivian and her girlfriends mean to drink the heady highball of life itself to the last drop. And when the legendary English actress Edna Watson comes to the Lily to star in the company’s most ambitious show ever, Vivian is entranced by the magic that follows in her wake. But there are hard lessons to be learned, and bitterly regrettable mistakes to be made. Vivian learns that to live the life she wants, she must live many lives, ceaselessly and ingeniously making them new. ‘At some point in a woman’s life, she just gets tired of being ashamed all the time. After that, she is free to become whoever she truly is,’ she confides. And so Vivian sets forth her story, and that of the women around her women who have lived as they truly are, out of step with a century that could never quite keep up with them.

I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella

Sophie Kinsella has a knack of making us snort with laugher, cry with a character and slunk with recognition of our own behaviour mirrored in her books. And she’s got another goodie for us to read. 

This is a story of love, empowerment and an IOU that changes everything . . .Fixie Farr can’t help herself. Straightening a crooked object, removing a barely-there stain, helping out a friend . . . she just has to put things right. It’s how she got her nickname, after all. So when a handsome stranger in a coffee shop asks her to watch his laptop for a moment, Fixie not only agrees, she ends up saving it from certain disaster. To thank her, the computer’s owner, Sebastian, scribbles her an IOU – but of course Fixie never intends to call in the favour. That is, until her teenage crush, Ryan, comes back into her life and needs her help – and Fixie turns to Seb. But things don’t go according to plan, and now Fixie owes Seb: big time. Soon the pair are caught up in a series of IOUs – from small favours to life-changing debts – and Fixie is torn between the past she’s used to and the future she deserves. Does she have the courage to fix things for herself and fight for the life, and love, she really wants? 

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

Ever wonder what your therapist is really thinking? Now you can find out …

Meet Lori Gottlieb, an insightful and compassionate therapist whose clients present with all kinds of problems. There’s the struggling new parents; the older woman who feels she has nothing to live for; the self-destructive young alcoholic; and the terminally ill 35-year-old newlywed. And there’s John, a narcissistic television producer, who frankly just seems to be a bit of a jerk. Over the course of a year, they all make progress.

But Gottlieb is not just a therapist – she’s also a patient who’s on a journey of her own. Interspersed with the stories of her clients are her own therapy sessions, as Gottlieb goes in search of the hidden roots of a devastating and life-changing event.

Personal, revealing, funny, and wise, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone opens a rare window onto a world that is most often bound by secrecy, offering an illuminating tour of a profoundly private process.

Rest by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

Technically this isn’t a light fiction book that makes our world disappear for a moment…but we couldn’t resist popping this one in. We all need to learn how to rest anyway. 

In our 24/7 global economy, rest feels like a luxury at best and a weakness at worst. We see work and rest as competitors – but what if they’re actually partners in a productive, balanced life? Blending rigorous scientific research with examples of writers, painters and thinkers – from Darwin to Stephen King – Silicon Valley futurist and business consultant Alex Soojung-Kim Pang exposes how we’ve underestimated the power of rest for our success. Though it’s as natural as breathing, it’s also a skill we can all learn to boost our creativity and productivity. Full of tips for upping our downtime, from sleep to hobbies to vacation, Rest is a new roadmap for finding renewed energy and inspiration, and getting more done.

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Connell and Marianne grow up in the same small town in rural Ireland. The similarities end there; they are from very different worlds. When they both earn places at Trinity College in Dublin, a connection that has grown between them lasts long into the following years. This is an exquisite love story about how a person can change another person’s life – a simple yet profound realisation that unfolds beautifully over the course of the novel. It tells us how difficult it is to talk about how we feel and it tells us – blazingly – about cycles of domination, legitimacy and privilege. Alternating menace with overwhelming tenderness, Sally Rooney’s second novel breathes fiction with new life. Check out Sally’s first novel Conversations with Friends here

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Keiko has never really fitted in. At school and university people find her odd and her family worries she’ll never be normal. To appease them, Keiko takes a job at a newly opened convenience store. Here, she finds peace and purpose in the simple, daily tasks and routine interactions. She is, she comes to understand, happiest as a convenience store worker. But in Keiko’s social circle it just won’t do for an unmarried woman to spend all her time stacking shelves and re-ordering green tea. As pressure mounts on Keiko to find either a new job, or worse, a husband, she is forced to take desperate action. Convenience Store Woman is a best-seller in Japan, and the winner of the prestigious Akutagawa Prize. This is the English-language debut of a writer who has been hailed as the most exciting voice of her generation. 

Enjoy!

The best books to help with your copywriting

Ugh. There is nothing worse than staring at a blank screen (or piece of paper if you’re old school) and willing inspiration to hit. Earlier this week we asked for your top tips for getting through the dreaded writers block, be sure to jump onto instagram and facebook to join in the conversation. 

Copywriting is a tricky game. Sometimes we can sit and write with ease but when we reread it, it fails to excite or inspire us. We have so been there but luckily have found a handful of books that are amazing. These little gems will help you shape your copy to really connect with your audience, and also offer tips and tricks to get you started. 

So sit back, have a read with a cup of tea and prepare to be inspired. 

Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss

This is an oldie but a goodie. When Lynne Truss wrote her “small book on punctuation”, she had no idea that it would become a bestseller that reinvigorates interest in the niceties of the English language. Eats, Shoots & Leaves is more than a guide to punctuation use, it is also a lament and a call-to-arms. Through amusing anecdotes drawn from history, literature, and real signage, Lynne Truss discusses the origin and history of different punctuations and how they should be used. Eats, Shoots & Leaves manages to be witty, informative and compulsively readable, because it shows that misplaced or absent punctuation can change the meaning of sentences in dramatic and funny ways.

Copywrong to Copywriter by Tait Ischia 

This beautifully designed book is a little gem. It’s packed from cover to cover with tips for writing clearly, with the perfect tone and with strategic purpose. It’s a great tool for small business owners, copywriters and design studios. If you’re planning a career as a copywriter, it’ll help you to explain the basic concepts to your clients. Discover how to make words work in your favour while learning the fundamentals to write your own copy. Reading, and digesting, this book will increase your knowledge, skill and confidence.

Persuasive Copywriting by Andy Maslen

With the majority of creative professionals developing their skills on the job, it is notoriously difficult to benchmark successful copy. This book provides a step up for those who already know the basics, and are seeking more advanced, psychology-driven techniques to gain the competitive edge. With practical insight into human decision making and consumer engagement, it inspires the clear-cut confidence needed to create, quantify and sell stand out copy in a cluttered marketplace.

This second edition of Persuasive Copywriting complements the “how to” perspective of copywriting, with impressive interviews from leading ad agencies and copywriters across the globe, addressing day to day issues faced in a multitude of roles. Updates include practical advice to measure and benchmark effective copy, guidance on creating and critiquing briefs, plus four new chapters on how to weave copywriting skills into the wider industry. These cover particularly useful ground around storytelling, content marketing and the impact of evolving channels like mobile and social media. Practical and inspiring, it is a vibrant, all-encompassing guide to copywriting; an essential for your bookshelf.

The Copy Book by D&AD

In 1995, the D&AD published a book on the art of writing for advertising. The then best-selling book remains an important reference work today -a bible for creative directors. D&AD and TASCHEN have joined forces to bring you an updated and redesigned edition of the publication. Regarded as the most challenging field in advertising, copywriting is usually left to the most talented professionals, often agency leaders or owners themselves. The book features a work selection and essays by 53 leading professionals in the world, including copywriting superstars such as David Abbott, Lionel Hunt, Steve Hayden, Dan Wieden, Neil French, Mike Lescarbeau, Adrian Holmes, and Barbara Nokes. The lessons to be learned on these pages will help you create clearer and more persuasive arguments, whether you are writing an inspiring speech, an engaging web banner or a persuasive letter. This is not simply a “must-have” book for people in advertising and marketing, it is also a “should-have” for anyone who needs to involve or influence people, by webpage, on paper, or in person.

The Mom Test by Rob Fitzpatrick

*Technically* this isn’t a book on copywriting but is a great book on having conversations with your customers so we just had to include it. The Mom Test is a quick, practical guide that will save you time, money, and heartbreak. They say you shouldn’t ask your mum whether your business is a good idea, because she loves you and will lie to you. This is technically true, but it misses the point. You shouldn’t ask anyone if your business is a good idea. It’s a bad question and everyone will lie to you at least a little . As a matter of fact, it’s not their responsibility to tell you the truth. It’s your responsibility to find it and it’s worth doing right. Talking to customers is one of the foundational skills of both Customer Development and Lean Startup. We all know we’re supposed to do it, but nobody seems willing to admit that it’s easy to screw up and hard to do right. This book is going to show you how customer conversations go wrong and how you can do better.

Draft No. 4 by John McPhee

Draft No. 4 is a master class on the writer’s craft. In a series of playful, expertly wrought essays, John McPhee shares insights he has gathered over his career and has refined while teaching at Princeton University, where he has nurtured some of the most esteemed writers of recent decades. McPhee offers definitive guidance in the decisions regarding arrangement, diction, and tone that shape nonfiction pieces, and he presents extracts from his work, subjecting them to wry scrutiny. In one essay, he considers the delicate art of getting sources to tell you what they might not otherwise reveal. In another, he discusses how to use flashback to place a bear encounter in a travel narrative while observing that “readers are not supposed to notice the structure. It is meant to be about as visible as someone’s bones.” The result is a vivid depiction of the writing process, from reporting to drafting to revising―and revising, and revising.

Draft No. 4 is enriched by multiple diagrams and by personal anecdotes and charming reflections on the life of a writer. McPhee describes his enduring relationships with The New Yorker and Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and recalls his early years at Time magazine. Throughout, Draft No. 4 is enlivened by his keen sense of writing as a way of being in the world.

Enjoy!

The Best Books on Philanthropy

Philanthropy may be as small as giving away used toys, or as big as a multi-billion dollar donation. It’s about looking out for each other and supporting those in need. Perhaps you are looking for ways to give back to your community – because that’s the type of community you want to live in – but you’re not sure where to start. This week we’ve selected books that cover different aspects of philanthropy, from how-to guides, to inspirational manifestos to sociopolitical analyses – offering lots of ideas and food for thought.

Doing Good Better: Effective Altruism and a Radical New Way to Make a Difference by William MacAskill

Think of Doing Good Better as a guide on how to turbocharge philanthropy – it is an (entertaining and highly readable) primer on effective altruism, a philosophy focussed on maximising the good you can achieve.  Effective altruism uses a mix of ethics, logic, economics and data analysis to question the normally sentimental basis for doing good.  Using many surprising examples (eg de-worming can have a bigger impact on educational outcomes than donating books and stationery), William MacAskill argues that there can be more than 100-fold difference between doing good, and doing the most good possible.  Doing Good Better challenges our thinking, and suggests a new framework for making the biggest difference we can.

The Ask: for Business, for Philanthropy, for Everyday Living by Laura Fredericks JD

The Ask is, very simply, a guide on how to ask for that donation / promotion / anything you really want.  It is a tool that helps us develop the confidence and skills to overcome our fear of asking for things, particularly money. The Ask contains a simple framework backed by detailed instructions – how to plan, what to say, what not to say – that Laura Fredericks developed through years of experience as a lawyer and professional fundraiser – asking the right questions to get what she wanted.  So whether you are a parent fundraising for your school; or you work in the non-profit sector; or perhaps you want a promotion, or another personal goal – The Ask is the self-help book that will help you get what you want. 

Generation Impact: how Next Gen Donors are Revolutionizing Giving by Sharna Goldseker and Michael Moody

We are at the cusp of a new “golden age of giving”, where entrepreneurship has enabled massive wealth creation, much of which will be donated to charitable causes.  However, the philanthropy landscape is changing – not only are philanthropists getting younger – with entrepreneurs actively donating in their 30s and even 20s – they are also taking a more hands-on approach, donating their skills, time and influence, actively tracking the impact of their donations.  Generation Impact is a detailed survey of the state of this next-gen philanthropy and the opportunities it offers. A must-read for anyone interested in philanthropy, nonprofits, impact investing, and social change.

Giving: Purpose is the New Currency by Alexandre Mars

Alexandre Mars is a tech entrepreneur turned (nearly) full-time philanthropist.  In fact, he has taken it one step further, working to help normalise giving for both individuals and organisations. His challenge?  There are three main barriers to overcome – people don’t know where to give, don’t have time to research charities, and don’t trust their money is being spent well. His solution? He created the Epic Foundation, which emphasises transparency and performance analysis when choosing the causes it supports; it also offers an app for donors to track their impact in real time. Giving: Purpose is the New Currency is Alexandre Mars’s journey from venture capitalist to activist; it is his mission statement, and a call to arms for everyone to view giving as an encouraging and joyful practice.

Just Giving: why Philanthropy is Failing Democracy and how it can Do Better by Rob Reich

Rob Reich is a political scientist asking a thought-provoking question: is philanthropy a threat to democracy?  In Just Giving, Rob Reich investigates the ethical and political dimensions of philanthropy, and calls for reform to how it’s structured and incentivised.  Read it and see if you agree with his argument that philanthropy, especially by wealthy individuals or big organisations, is an exercise of power that can influence policy without accountability; or that in some (many?) cases, philanthropy actually worsens inequality.

The Givers: Wealth, Power, and Philanthropy in a New Gilded Age by David Callahan

The Givers shares some of the concerns raised in the previous book, Just Giving – that a growing group of ultra-rich philanthropists, fully confident in their (and their vast wealth’s) ability to solve problems, is effectively directing public policy by pouring millions into their pet causes.  What’s more, this is often done without the type of scrutiny or public consultations required of public officials.  David Callahan gives us an insider’s view of elite philanthropy – by people like Bill and Melinda Gates and Mark Zuckerberg – and how their more hands-on approach, coupled with clear social and political viewpoints, is changing the way philanthropy interacts with politics and public policy.  

Opening our eyes and hearts to refugees

Do you know that Refugee Week has been observed in Australia for over 30 years?

Refugee Week is celebrated annually in mid June, incorporating World Refugee Day on June 20.  This is a time when Australians can acknowledge the contributions that refugees and asylum seekers have made to our country, and also for us to learn about the challenges many refugees face as they re-establish themselves and their communities in a new land.

The theme for this year’s Refugee Week is “A World of Stories” – reminding us that each refugee seeking safety has their own story of why they left home, and what they had to do to find safety. Readers who want to learn, and understand, the current conflicts and refugee situations will find these stories powerful and enlightening:

First Generation: 36 Trailblazing Immigrant and Refugees Who Make America Great by Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace

In the tradition of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls comes this collection of mini biographies celebrating the achievements of some very special first-generation immigrants and former refugees.  From musician Yo-yo Ma to scientist Albert Einstein, from former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to tennis champion Martina Navratilova, this collection of high achievers span different ethnicities, religions, and professions.  And despite the America-centric title, many of their contributions have impacted / benefitted the entire world.  First Generation also offers a powerful reminder on how a safe environment, personal freedoms and educational opportunities help people realise their potential.

The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen

In Viet Thanh Nguyen’s mind, the experience of becoming a refugee – unwanted where they come from, unwanted where they go to – brands you forever.  He explores this idea in the eight short stories that comprise The Refugees.  These are not stories about escaping war, nor even about adapting to new cultures; they are simply stories of love, loss, memory and family – melancholy stories seen through the prism of the refugee experience.  Viet Thanh Nguyen is a respected academic who has become a literary star since winning the Pulitzer Prize (and several other awards) with his first novel, The Sympathizer.  The Refugees is his first collection of short stories. 

Stepping Stones: a Refugee Family’s Journey by Margriet Ruurs and Nizar Ali Badr

Canadian writer Margriet Ruurs was inspired by the art of Syrian artist Nizar Ali Badr to create this book – they didn’t know each other and had never met, but managed to collaborate despite the distance between their two countries, and the political turmoil in Syria.  Stepping Stones tells the story of Rama and her family, who live a happy, peaceful life in Syria until war comes.  As bombs fall ever closer to their village, Rama’s family flees with only a few belongings, travelling overland and across the seas until they find a safe, new home. Nizar Ali Badr’s distinctive illustrations are made by arranging multicoloured stones – into characters and scenes with surprising levels of emotion and humour.  Stepping Stones is an excellent way to introduce the topic of war and refugees to young readers.

Homes by Abu Bakr al Rabeeah with Winnie Yeung

Abu Bakr al Rabeeah was a young teen when he confided his dream to his English teacher: he wanted to tell his story of growing up in Iraq and Syria, and of his family’s journey to safety in Canada.  He noticed that his fellow Canadians knew little about the situation in the Middle East, and wanted to challenge those who wanted to define his family only by their experience as refugees.  Eight months later, Abu achieved his dream with the help of his teacher, Winnie Yeung.  Homes is a gripping first-person account of growing up in a war zone.  The horrors of war are interwoven with ordinary childhood pursuits in a way that shocks the reader – flying kites with cousins among bombed-out buildings; playing with shell casings in the street – yet Abu’s childhood is not without love, or fun.  

I Can Only Tell You What My Eyes See by Giles Duley

Giles Duley is a photojournalist who is best known for documenting the long-term impact of war.  Despite losing both legs and an arm during an explosion whilst on assignment, he has continued his work as a photographer, reporting the stories of refugees not to evoke pity, but to encourage empathy and to inspire change.  I Can Only Tell You What My Eyes See is a record of the refugee crisis in Europe during 2015/6.  Giles Duley travelled through Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan, through the Balkans and to Greece and Germany, to retrace the journeys of people forced to flee their homes in the Middle East to seek safety in Europe.  Profits from the sale of this book will be donated to the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR).

We are Displaced: My Journey and Stories from Refugee Girls Around the World by Malala Yousafzai

In We Are Displaced, Malala Yousafzai uses her considerable public profile to highlight the issue of displacement – people forced to flee their homes due to conflict, persecution or natural disaster.  This is a much more widespread problem than most people realise – happening all around the world, affecting more than 68 million people, mostly women and girls. Starting with Malala’s own experience of internal displacement within Pakistan while escaping from Taliban rule, we are introduced to eight other girls, from countries as diverse as Yemen, Syria, Guatemala and the Congo, and their stories of displacement and disruption (and often discrimination as well).  These accounts are powerfully personal, confronting, and ultimately hopeful, as these resilient girls rebuild their lives in new communities.

Books to Help You Launch a Blog

For the past few weeks we have been looking at social media options that help support your side business.  Today we are focussing on the Granddaddy/mummy of them all – the blog.  Blogs allow us to share our thoughts and connect with other people on pretty much any topic.    Whether you want to start blogging for personal enjoyment, to support your professional goals or to develop a business idea,  here are titles that will inspire and help you get started. 

The One Hour Content Plan by Meera Kothand

This is a great tool for those of us who like a bit of structure and a “big picture” overview before we plunge into a project.  Meera Kothand is a digital marketing specialist, and this is her method for generating a year’s worth of blog post ideas in an hour or less. The secret is to set regular blogging goals, and to never forget the purpose of your blog.  The One Hour Content Plan contains downloadable worksheets and templates to help you work through Meera’s actionable ideas.  This mix of business / marketing and writing advice will help you craft a cohesive, authentic blog that will support your public/professional persona or business.

Likeable Social Media (Third Edition): How to Delight your Customers, Create an Irresistible Brand, and be Generally Amazing on all Social Networks that Matter by Dave Kerpen

You know a book must be good if it is onto its Third Edition in eight years. Likeable Social Media is not just about how to get more “Likes” on Facebook; instead it is about how to develop likeable business practices and likeable content that capture customer loyalty, build communities and strengthen reputations in the long run. This latest revision offers strategies about newer social media platforms such as Snapchat, and news and tactics on the latest tools and options.  The direct, conversational tone of the book is easy to read and feels like Dave Kerpen has become your personal mentor. 

The Essential Habits of 6-Figure Bloggers by Sally Miller

If you’ve ever dreamt of making a living as a blogger – or want to know how to make money from your blog – then you need this book.  In The Essential Habits of 6-Figure Bloggers, Sally Miller interviewed 17 top bloggers to learn the strategies, habits and mindsets that have helped them become successful.  These bloggers make six- or even seven-figure salaries from blogging – when most bloggers struggle to make a tiny fraction of that. The bloggers all took different paths to success, but showed that persistence and smart work habits are essential.  The tips and advice they shared are sensible and practical, and can help to improve the focus and quality of any blog.

Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All by Tom & David Kelley

Creative Confidence is not specifically about blogging, but is a guide on how we can use creative thinking to become more productive and successful in our lives.  Tom and David Kelley are brothers and co-founders of the award-winning design firm, IDEO – innovation and creativity is their life’s work.  They wrote Creative Confidence in order to inspire and help everyone realise their creative potential.  Using many interesting anecdotes, and ideas based on design / iterative thinking, the Kelleys show that greater creativity can be learnt – by trying new things without fear of failure, and by learning from our mistakes.

Influencer: Building your Personal Brand in the Age of Social Media by Brittany Hennessy

If you’ve ever scrolled through your Instagram feed and thought, I wear clothes, eat avocado toast and like sunsets, why can’t someone pay me to live my best life? Then this book is for you – Influencer is a detailed guide on how to nurture your social media presence – including your blog and your personal brand – into valuable social influence.  With her experience from both sides of the industry – starting as a blogger, eventually entering senior marketing roles in influencer strategy for various companies – Brittany Hennessy is able to offer a range of tips and tricks  to help you.  She is also refreshingly honest about the flipside of the influencer lifestyle – the amount of hard work and attention-to-detail required to live that picture-perfect life.  Essential reading.

365 Blog Topic Ideas: For The Lifestyle Blogger Who Has Nothing to Write About by Dana Fox

Dana Fox fell in love with the creative potential of the internet as a teen, then went on to build a successful career as a graphic artist, web designer, and blogger.  She is now paying it forward, sharing tips and tutorials on how to start blogging, through her blog I Can Build a Blog, and this book, 365 Blog Topic Ideas.  On each page there is a basic topic, such as “7 things found on the net this week”.  These are great starting points that also prompt you to modify or expand to suit the tone and focus of your own blog.  There is also a section full of holiday and seasonal ideas.  365 Blog Topic Ideas is a great resource for getting started, injecting variety or helping you become unstuck in your blogging.

The Funniest Books of 2018

After last week’s blog post about the most heart wrenching books released (you can read it here – be warned, the authors went straight for your heart strings) we thought we’d liven things up a little for you and share the funniest books released last year. 

We have collated our top six, but if you want more recommendations head over to our facebook and instagram pages where our followers have suggested their all time favourite funny books. 

Let’s dive in.

Springfield Confidential by Mike Reiss, Mathew Klickstein and Judd Apatow

In celebration of The Simpsons thirtieth anniversary (what the!!!), the show’s longest-serving writer and producer offers a humorous look at the writing and making of the legendary Fox series that has become one of the most revered artistic achievements in television history.

Four-time Emmy winner Mike Reiss, who has worked on The Simpsons continuously since episode one in 1989, shares stories, scandals, and gossip about working with America’s most iconic cartoon family ever. Reiss explains how the episodes are created, and provides an inside look at the show’s writers, animators, actors and celebrity guests. He answers a range of questions from Simpsons fans and die-hards, and reminisces about the making of perennially favourite episodes.

In his freewheeling, irreverent comic style, Reiss reflects on his lifetime inside The Simpsons which is a personal highlights reel of his achievements, observations, and favourite stories. Springfield Confidential exposes why Matt Groening decided to make all of the characters yellow; dishes on what it’s like to be crammed in a room full of funny writers sixty hours a week; and tells what Reiss learned after traveling to seventy-one countries where The Simpsons is watched (ironic note: there’s no electricity in many of these places); and even reveals where Springfield is located! He features unique interviews with Judd Apatow, who also provided the foreword, and Conan O’Brien, as well as with Simpsons legends Al Jean, Nancy Cartwright, Dan Castellaneta, and more.

Lose Well by Chris Gethard

This is a laugh-out-loud, kick-in-the-pants self-help narrative for anyone who ever felt like they didn’t fit in or couldn’t catch a break. Comedian and cult hero Chris Gethard shows us how to get over our fear of failure and start living life on our own terms.

Let’s face it: we all want a seat at the cool table, a great job, and loads of money. But most of us won’t be able to achieve this widely accepted, black-or-white, definition of winning, which makes us feel like failures, that we’re destined to a life of loserdom. That’s the conventional wisdom. It’s also crap, according to comedian and cult hero Chris Gethard, who knows a thing of two about losing. Failing is an art form, he argues; in fact, it’s the only way we’re ever going to discover who we are, what we really want, and how to live the kind of life we only dreamed about. Setting flame to vision boards and tossing out the “seven simple steps” to achieving anything, Gethard illustrates his personal and professional manifesto with hilarious and ultimately empowering stories about his own set-backs, missteps, and public failures, from the cancellation of his Comedy Central sitcom after seven episodes to rediscovering his comedic voice and life’s purpose on a public access channel. With his trademark wit and inspiring storytelling Gethard teaches us how to power through our own hero’s journey, whether we’re a fifteen-year-old starting a punk band or a fifty-year-old mother of three launching an Etsy page. In the process, he shows us how to fail with grace, laugh on the way down, and as we dust ourselves off, how to transform inevitable failures into endless opportunities. It might get a little messy, but that’s exactly the point. Because the first step in living on your own terms is learning how to lose well, and more often than not, the revolutionary act of failing lets us witness firsthand what awaits us on the other side.

Look Alive Out There by Sloane Crosley

This book was named a Most Anticipated Book of 2018 by Entertainment Weekly, Glamour, Buzzfeed, Elle, Cosmopolitan, The Millions, InStyle, Bustle, BookRiot, and Southern Living. 

In Look Alive Out There Sloane Crosley returns to the form that made her a household name in really quite a lot of households: Essays! It’s a brand-new collection of essays filled with her trademark hilarity, wit, and charm. The characteristic heart and punch-packing observations are back, but with a newfound coat of maturity. A thin coat. More of a blazer, really.

Fans of I Was Told There’d Be Cake and How Did You Get This Number know Sloane Crosley’s life as a series of relatable but madcap misadventures. In Look Alive Out There, whether it’s scaling active volcanoes, crashing shivas, playing herself on Gossip Girl, befriending swingers, or staring down the barrel of the fertility gun, Crosley continues to rise to the occasion with unmatchable nerve and electric one-liners. And as her subjects become more serious, her essays deliver not just laughs but lasting emotional heft and insight. Crosley has taken up the gauntlets thrown by her predecessors–Dorothy Parker, Nora Ephron, David Sedaris–and crafted something rare, affecting, and true.

When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger

We thought we’d pop in a novel for you too…because we saw someone on the tram reading it and she was laughing so hard she had to put the book down and get a tissue to wipe away her laughter tears! 

Welcome to Greenwich, Connecticut, where the lawns and the women are perfectly manicured, the Tito’s and sodas are extra strong, and everyone has something to say about the infamous new neighbour. Let’s be clear: Emily Charlton does not do the suburbs. After leaving Miranda Priestly, she’s been working in Hollywood as an image consultant to the stars, but recently, Emily’s lost a few clients. She’s hopeless with social media. The new guard is nipping at her heels. She needs a big opportunity, and she needs it now. When Karolina Hartwell, a gorgeous former supermodel, is arrested for a DUI, her fall from grace is merciless. Her senator-husband leaves her, her Beltway friends disappear, and the tabloids pounce. In Karolina, Emily finds her comeback opportunity. But she quickly learns Greenwich is a world apart and that this comeback needs a team approach. So it is that Emily, the scorned Karolina, and their mutual friend Miriam, a powerful attorney turned stay-at-home suburban mum, band together to not only navigate the social land mines of suburban Greenwich but win back the hearts of the American public. Along the way, an indispensable ally emerges in one Miranda Priestly. With her signature wit, Lauren Weisberger offers an alluring look into a sexy, over-the-top world–and proves it’s style and substance together that gets the job done.

Just The Funny Parts by Nell Scovell and Sheryl Sandberg

This is not your typical funny book but one we know you’ll want to read. 

Just the Funny Parts is a juicy and scathingly funny insider look at how pop culture gets made. For more than thirty years, writer, producer and director Nell Scovell worked behind the scenes of iconic TV shows, including The Simpsons, Late Night with David Letterman, Murphy Brown, NCIS, The Muppets, and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, which she created and executive produced.

In 2009, Scovell gave up her behind-the-scenes status when the David Letterman sex scandal broke. Only the second woman ever to write for his show, Scovell used the moment to publicly call out the lack of gender diversity in late-night TV writers’ rooms. “One of the boys” came out hard for “all of the girls.” Her criticisms fuelled a cultural debate. Two years later, Scovell was collaborating with Sheryl Sandberg on speeches and later on Lean In, which resulted in a worldwide movement.

Now Scovell is opening up with this fun, honest, and often shocking account. Scovell knows what it’s like to put words in the mouths of President Barack Obama, Mark Harmon, Candice Bergen, Bob Newhart, Conan O’Brien, Alyssa Milano, and Kermit the Frog, among many others. Through her eyes, you’ll sit in the Simpson writers’ room… stand on the Oscar red carpet… pin a tail on Miss Piggy…bond with Star Trek’s Leonard Nimoy… and experience a Stephen King-like encounter with Stephen King.

The Will Only Hurt A Little by Busy Phillipps

This one is for those of you that are one if the 1.6 million Busy Phillips’ followers on Instagram. This is a collection of humorous, autobiographical essays from actress and breakout star of Instagram stories, Busy Philipps. Busy Philipps’s autobiographical book offers the same unfiltered and candid storytelling that her Instagram followers have come to know and love, dealing with everything, from growing up in Scottsdale, Arizona and her painful and painfully funny teen years, to her life as a working actress, mother and famous best friend.

Busy is the rare entertainer whose impressive arsenal of talents as an actress is equally matched by her storytelling ability, sense of humour, and sharp observations about life, love, and motherhood. Her conversational writing reminds us what we love about her on screens large and small. From film to television to Instagram, Busy delightfully showcases her wry humour and her willingness to bare it all.

I’ve been waiting my whole life to write this book. I’m just so grateful someone asked. Otherwise, what was the point of any of it?’ 

Enjoy!

How to Make a Difference in 2019

New year, new start. A new year encourages us to try new things in the hope of personal improvement.  Why not challenge yourself with goals that benefit both yourself and your environment or wider community? Even small changes can make a positive impact. Here are some ideas on how to make a difference in 2019.

Waste Not: Make a Big Difference by Throwing Away Less by Erin Rhoads

Modern society is full of stuff designed to be short-lived and then thrown away – from plastic packaging to coffee cups to clothes and even phones.  Many of us are trying to create less waste, but find the idea of being Zero-Waste too daunting (even though we are impressed at the same time).  Waste Not is a collection of tips and tricks that Erin Rhoads learnt during her own Zero-Waste journey, covering different aspects of life, including food, cleaning, beauty, entertaining and kids.  Many of the ideas are small and very approachable (such as BYO fabric shopping bag) and there are also creative DIY ideas for making your own cleaning products, gift wrapping and much more!

Scraps, Peels and Stems: Recipes and Tips for Rethinking Food Waste at Home by Jill Lightner and Shannon Douglas

Scraps, Peels and Stems is a recipe book with a difference – it minimises food waste by making the most of every part of an ingredient.  It shows you how to turn items such as beef bones, broccoli stalks, wilting greens and parmesan rinds into easy but impressive snacks and meals; there are also tips on planning your shopping to avoid overbuying; how to store food to keep it fresh for longer; and guides to composting and recycling.  Jill Lightner and Shannon Douglas show how you can make your kitchen sustainable with minimal effort – it’s kind to the environment and kind to your wallet too.

Lagom: the Swedish Art of Balanced Living by Linnea Dunne

Lagom is the Swedish concept of moderation – not too little, not too much, but just enough. Linnea Dunne suggests that lagom can deliver sustainable happiness, because it’s a philosophy that promotes balance and shared experiences while minimising waste and extravagance. Lagom: the Swedish Art of Balanced Living is a compact guide on how to introduce lagom into different aspects of our lives.  Many lagom activities, such as pot-luck dinners, choosing functionality over fashion, or upcycling, are low-cost or sustainable practices that also encourage mindfulness and living in the present.

The Reducetarian Solution: how the Surprisingly Simple Act of Reducing the Amount of Meat in your Diet can Transform your Health and the Planet by Brian Kateman

Plant-based foods and veganism are hot topics right now, with ideas such as Meatless Mondays and reducetarian / flexitarian eating (people who are committed to eating less meat, without becoming fully vegetarian or vegan) gaining traction.  The Reducetarian Solution is a good introduction to this topic, with 70 short essays describing the wide-ranging consequences of eating meat – on health, environment, ethics, even finance.  There are also recipes for meat-free meals and tips on how to sub-out meat from your current diet.  The Reducetarian Solution offers positive yet non-judgmental inspiration for everyone interested in this lifestyle.

And finally – two super-topical bestsellers that are very much about mindful consumption:

The Barefoot Investor: the Only Money Guide You’ll Ever Need by Scott Pape

Team Booko have recommended The Barefoot Investor several times now – but its powerful message is worth repeating.  Scott Pape does not promise to help his readers become millionaires, but he does show us simple and achievable ways to develop good money habits and work towards financial independence. Whether you are 8 or 80, trying to shake off debts or saving for a goal, you can learn something from The Barefoot Investor. No wonder this has been Booko’s most popular book for two years running.

The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo

The recent Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo has brought a whole new audience to Marie Kondo’s bestselling books.   Shopping may be fun, but you can end up with too many possessions that weigh you down both physically and mentally. Simplify your life with the KonMari method of decluttering – systematically reviewing items and only keeping those that “spark joy”. You’ll feel great about yourself, gain new appreciation for the things you choose to keep, and kick that impulse buying habit as well.

Booko’s Most Popular Books of 2018

2018 saw the release of some fabulous books and when we look at the most popular books that our Booko community has clicked on it certainly was an eclectic year. 

If you fancy a new book to read over the holidays have a look below at the most popular books clicked on by our community of readers in 2018. 

Barefoot Investor by Scott Pape

It’s not a new book (in fact it was published in 2016) but we just may need to give Scott a trophy. The Barefoot Investor has been our most clicked on book this year…and last year! 

Pape claims this is the only money guide you’ll ever need, which is a bold claim, given there are already thousands of finance books on the shelves. So what makes this one different? Well, you won’t be overwhelmed with a bunch of ‘tips’ or a strict budget (that you won’t follow). You’ll get a step-by-step formula: open this account, then do this; call this person, and say this; invest money here, and not there. All with a glass of wine in your hand. This book will show you how to create an entire financial plan that is so simple you can sketch it on the back of a serviette and you’ll be able to manage your money in 10 minutes a week. This book is full of stories from everyday Aussies; single people, young families, empty nesters and retirees who have all applied the simple steps in this book and achieved amazing, life-changing results.

Ottolenghi Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi


Coming in at second place was this fabulous cookbook with recipes that we are sure featured on Christmas tables around the world this holiday season. Yotam Ottolenghi’s award-winning recipes are always a celebration: an unforgettable combination of abundance, taste and surprise. Simple is no different, with 140 brand-new dishes that contain all the inventive elements and flavour combinations that Ottolenghi is loved for, but with minimal hassle for maximum joy. Bursting with colourful photography, the book showcases Yotam’s standout dishes that will suit whatever type of cooking you find easy – whether that’s getting wonderful food on the table in under 30 minutes, using just one pot to make a delicious meal, or a flavoursome dish that can be prepared ahead and then served when you’re ready.

12 Rules for Life by Jordan B Peterson

What does everyone in the modern world need to know? Renowned psychologist Jordan B. Peterson’s answer to this most difficult of questions uniquely combines the hard-won truths of ancient tradition with the stunning revelations of cutting-edge scientific research.

Humorous, surprising and informative, Dr. Peterson tells us why skateboarding boys and girls must be left alone, what terrible fate awaits those who criticise too easily, and why you should always pet a cat when you meet one on the street. What does the nervous system of the lowly lobster have to tell us about standing up straight (with our shoulders back) and about success in life? Why did ancient Egyptians worship the capacity to pay careful attention as the highest of gods? What dreadful paths do people tread when they become resentful, arrogant and vengeful? Dr. Peterson journeys broadly, discussing discipline, freedom, adventure and responsibility, distilling the world’s wisdom into 12 practical and profound rules for life shattering the modern commonplaces of science, faith and human nature, while transforming and ennobling the mind and spirit of its readers.

The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers

This is a true story of a young Yemeni-American man, raised in San Francisco, who dreams of resurrecting the ancient art of Yemeni coffee but finds himself trapped in Sana’a by civil war. Mokhtar Alkhanshali grew up in San Francisco, one of seven siblings brought up by Yemeni immigrants in a tiny apartment. At age twenty-four, unable to pay for college, he works as a doorman, until a statue of an Arab raising a cup of coffee awakens something in him. He sets out to learn the rich history of coffee in Yemen and the complex art of tasting and identifying varietals. He travels to Yemen and visits countless farms, collecting samples, eager to bring improved cultivation methods to the countryside. And he is on the verge of success when civil war engulfs Yemen in 2015. The US Embassy closes, Saudi bombs began to rain down on the country, and Mokhtar is trapped in Yemen. Desperate to escape, he embarks on a passage that has him negotiating with political factions and twice kidnapped at gunpoint. With no other options, he hires a skiff to take him, and his coffee samples, across the Red Sea. A heart-pounding true story that weaves together the history of coffee, the ongoing Yemeni civil war, and the courageous journey of a young man, both a Muslim and a US citizen, following the most American of dreams.

The Barefoot Investor for Families by Scott Pape

We just knew this book would be on the most popular list. Scott Pape’s first book has become one of the best selling Australian books ever. Why is it so successful? It’s simple, funny and practical. And it has changed people’s lives. This eagerly anticipated follow-up, The Barefoot Investor for Families, sticks to the same script. It’s aimed fairly and squarely at parents, grandparents, and basically anyone who read that book and said: ‘Why the hell wasn’t I taught this years ago?’ Scott lays out ten money milestones kids need to have nailed before they leave home, and it’s all structured around one family ‘money meal’ each week (so roughly 20 minutes). If you follow the roadmap, with tailor-made lessons for each age group, your kids will know how to do things like: learn the life-changing value of hard work, set up a fee-free bank account (or jam jars!), go on a Treasure Hunt around the house, and sell some of their ‘stuff’ second-hand and save your parents $100 on household bills. 

Scott’s mission is to make sure children are financially strong so they never, ever get sucked into the traps that middle-aged bankers have devised to rob them of their money and their confidence.

The Unreal and the Real by Ursula K. Le Guin 

Ursula Le Guin worked mainly in the genres of fantasy and science fiction, and authored children’s books, short stories, poetry, and essays. Her writing was first published in the 1960s and often depicted futuristic or imaginary alternative worlds in politics, the natural environment, gender, religion, sexuality, and ethnography. In 2016, The New York Times described her as “America’s greatest living science fiction writer” although she said that she would prefer to be known as an “American novelist”. The Unreal and the Real is a collection of some of Ursula K. Le Guin’s best short stories and garnered a lot of attention when she died in January. She won multiple prizes and accolades from the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters to the Newbery Honour, the Nebula, Hugo, World Fantasy, and PEN/Malamud Awards. She also had her work collected over the years, but this is the first short story volume combining a full range of her work. 

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff

With extraordinary access to the Trump White House, Michael Wolff tells the inside story of the most controversial presidency of our time. The first nine months of Donald Trump’s term were stormy, outrageous and absolutely mesmerising. Now, thanks to his deep access to the West Wing, bestselling author Michael Wolff tells the riveting story of how Trump launched a tenure as volatile and fiery as the man himself. In this explosive book, Wolff provides a wealth of new details about the chaos in the Oval Office. Brilliantly reported and astoundingly fresh, Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury shows us how and why Donald Trump has become the king of discord and disunion.

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s phenomenal international bestseller The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable shows us how to stop trying to predict everything and take advantage of uncertainty. What have the invention of the wheel, Pompeii, the Wall Street Crash, Harry Potter and the internet got in common? Why are all forecasters con-artists? What can Catherine the Great’s lovers tell us about probability? Why should you never run for a train or read a newspaper? This book is all about Black Swans: the random events that underlie our lives, from bestsellers to world disasters. Their impact is huge; they’re impossible to predict; yet after they happen we always try to rationalise them. 

Ottilie Colter and the Narroway Hunt by Rhiannon Williams

In the most thrilling fantasy of the year, a young girl must pretend to be a boy to rescue her brother from a secret order of monster hunters. Ottilie Colter and her brother, Gully, have always fended for themselves. So when Gully goes missing one night, Ottilie sets out to find him and soon makes a horrible discovery. Gully has been forcibly recruited by the Narroway Hunt, a secretive male-only organisation that hunts savage, blight-spreading monsters called `dredretches’. Disguising herself as a boy, Ottilie infiltrates the Hunt but quickly realises that taking her brother home won’t be easy. Trapped in the heart of the dredretch-infested Narroway, it’s impossibly dangerous for them to leave. But as she trains to become a Huntsman alongside her brother, hoping for a chance to escape, how long can she keep her true identity a secret? From Rhiannon Williams comes book one in this bewitching trilogy about friendship, bravery and having the courage to do what’s right.

Stories for Boys Who Dare to be Different by Ben Brooks 

This book can save lives. This book can change lives. This book can help to bring forth another generation of boys who dare to be different. Benjamin Zephaniah, Daniel Radcliffe, Galileo Galilei, Nelson Mandela, Louis Armstrong, Grayson Perry, Louis Braille, Lionel Messi, King George VI, Jamie Oliver… all dared to be different. Prince charming, dragon slayer, mischievous prankster… More often than not, these are the role-models boys encounter in the books they read at home and at school. As a boy, there is an assumption that you will conform to a stereotypical idea of masculinity. But what if you’re the introvert kind? What if you prefer to pick up a book rather than a sword? What if you want to cry when you’re feeling sad or angry? What if you like the idea of wearing a dress? There is an ongoing crisis with regards to young men and mental health, with unhelpful gender stereotypes contributing to this malaise. Stories for Boys Who Dare to Be Different offers a welcome alternative narrative. It is an extraordinary compilation of 100 stories of famous and not-so-famous men from the past to the present day, every single one of them a rule-breaker and innovator in his own way, and all going on to achieve amazing things.

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 by Francesca Cavallo and Elena Favilli

This is the sequel to the sensational international bestseller Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls. Inspiring girls around the world to dream bigger, aim higher and fight harder, Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 is an entirely new collection of one hundred bedtime stories that celebrate extraordinary women from Nefertiti to Beyoncé, Rosalind Franklin to J.K. Rowling. Queens and activists, ballerinas and lawyers, pirates and computer scientists, astronauts and inventors – a stunning juxtaposition leaving a thrilling sense of possibility. Francesca Cavallo and Elena Favilli are New York Times bestselling authors whose work has been translated into more than thirty languages. 

Enjoy!