Category Archives: Community

Posts about community involvement and social change

How books can open your mind

What happens when a dream you’ve held since childhood doesn’t come true? As Lisa Bu adjusted to a new life in the United States, she turned to books to expand her mind and create a new path for herself. She shares her unique approach to reading in this lovely, personal talk about the magic of books.


The Best Books of 2019 picked by Team Booko

We are still pinching ourselves that it is somehow October already! Wow the year has whizzed by. With the end of the year looming and Christmas (ahem) just around the corner we thought we would round up the best books that the Booko Team has read this year. 

The team has a wide and mixed bunch of titles so find yourself somewhere comfy to sit and get ready to be inspired to sink yourself into some fabulous stories. 

From the Founders:

Riina’s Pick: Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

I have been meaning to read Exit West by Mohsin Hamid ever since it was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2017, and finally managed to read it this year. Though the story takes place in an unnamed city, it bears much resemblance to the humanitarian crisis in Syria. I was firstly drawn to the book because of the refugee theme, but ended up finding much more than a refugee story: a thought-provoking story about belonging, prejudice, loyalty and love.

The story is of young lovers who are forced to leave the city of their birth due to escalating violence and civil war. They hear rumours of mysterious doorways that open up in random places and that take those who can pay the price to some far-flung place that is safer than the place they leave behind. The couple end up going through two more doorways in search of a place they can feel safe in. By inventing these “magic doorways” Hamid is removing the journey from the refugee story, instead focusing on the experiences of leaving and arriving, and how such events shape and change a person. This way the story is in some ways relatable to anyone who’s ever migrated for one reason or another.

As events unfold, Hamid pays homage to various humanitarian crises across history, showing the reader how easy it is for history to repeat itself; how close we are to losing our humanity. Fear, prejudice and “otherness” are never far below the surface.

Though the book was not a pleasant or easy read, it made it to one of my most favourite this year due to the thoughts it left me with for days after I had finished reading the story.

Dan’s Pick: Practical Object-Oriented Design by Sandi Metz

I first heard the name Sandi Metz at a programming conference I was attending in Sydney.  My friend had bought a ticket and flown from Melbourne to see her speak.  Sandi was the keynote and the subject was on persuasion.  My friend, the Sandi fan, convinced me to watch a few of her programming videos and on the strength of those, I bought her latest book, ‘Practical Object-Oriented Design

It’s a dry sounding subject, but I was hooked immediately. Like me, Sandi is a Ruby programmer and like me, she builds systems in Ruby. The strength of the book is the way it introduces and discusses problems in designs of systems.  Sandi identifies problems in design with straightforward examples.   There were many moments during the book, when a problem was introduced that I immediately recognised and had struggled with.  The main difference is that rather than move on to the next issue, Sandi reduces the problem to its kernel, then deftly brings a few tools or patterns to bear on the problem.  It’s like watching a tangled cord be unknotted.  

I’m not sure I’d have been so engrossed in this book had I not, quite literally, struggled with the exact problems presented.  This book has improved me as a programmer and I would highly recommend it to any developer with a few years under their belt. 

From our youngest reviewers:

Niko’s Pick: Brotherband by John Flanagan

A series I recommend is Brotherband. It is by John Flanagan, and exists in the same world as his international bestselling series “Ranger’s Apprentice,” which is about the Rangers of Araluen, and Will, the ranger Halt’s apprentice. Brotherband’s events happened shortly after Ranger’s Apprentice, where Gilan is actually a character in both of the series.

Brotherband is set in Skandia, a land of sea wolves and democracy (as in they vote for their leader, the Oberjarl, instead of having a royal bloodline, like Araluen). The main characters are a Brotherband called the Herons (named after the bird) and they are led by Hal. They fight bad guys and do missions for the Oberjarl, Erak.

I recommend this book to anyone who likes Vikings and battles and action and many other things I forgot to name. This book is good for anyone older than 8, but really, it’s good for all ages as long as you can read. It’s that good.

Elora’s Pick: Smile by Raina Telgemeier

I made a book report for a Book called Smile. I recommend this book for 6+! This book was written by Raina Telgemeier. She also wrote some books called Sisters, Ghosts, Drama and Guts. Those are all the books by her that I know of. I thought it was a good Graphic Novel. The good things about it are: it actually happened, it’s funny and all other emotions including the sad emotion 😭 Sad😢. Her so called annoying sister named Amara says “You’re gonna be a METAL-MOUTH” when she gets braces from tripping over and losing 2 fully grown teeth! The dentist was nice so he gave her fake teeth to make her look normal and she ends up with a good life.

From the Marketing Team:

Cheekily, Marie has two favourites and because they are so different from each other we thought we’d let that slide and let her review two. 

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss

If you like to sink your teeth into fascinating stories and learn practical tips at the same time, then this book is for you. A great friend recommended this to me and I loved it (and have since recommended it to a number of other people).

After a stint policing the rough streets of Kansas City, Missouri, Chris Voss joined the FBI, where his career as a hostage negotiator brought him face-to-face with a range of criminals, including bank robbers and terrorists. Reaching the pinnacle of his profession, he became the FBI’s lead international kidnapping negotiator. in his chatty style, Voss takes you inside the world of high-stakes negotiations and into his head, revealing the skills that helped him and his colleagues succeed where it mattered most: saving lives. In addition to the unbelievable stories, this is a practical guide of tactics and strategies that you can use to become more persuasive in both your professional and personal life.

Educated by Tara Westover

I still think about this book regularly after finishing it a few months ago, I think it is haunting me. With three little girls of my own and being brought up in a home where education was highly valued, I was intrigued when hearing about this story. I couldn’t imagine a world more different from my own and was so moved by the account of Tara’s life as she gets to the heart of what an education is and what it has to offer. I’m putting the blurb for the book below as I couldn’t describe it any better. However, prepare yourself because it is an exceptionally sad tale. 

Tara Westover grew up preparing for the End of Days, watching for the sun to darken, for the moon to drip as if with blood. She spent her summers bottling peaches and her winters rotating emergency supplies, hoping that when the World of Men failed, her family would continue on, unaffected. She hadn’t been registered for a birth certificate. She had no school records because she’d never set foot in a classroom, and no medical records because her father didn’t believe in doctors or hospitals. According to the state and federal government, she didn’t exist. As she grew older, her father became more radical, and her brother, more violent. At sixteen Tara decided to educate herself. Her struggle for knowledge would take her far from her Idaho mountains, over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she’d travelled too far. If there was still a way home. Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty, and of the grief that comes with the severing of the closest of ties.

Enjoy!

The Top Sporting Books for 2019 (and a few other goodies)

Everyday it seems like a sports team is on the field, court, pitch or in the pool. The great thing about sport, other than the healthy living skills you gain from taking part, is that it it can teach you lessons that go way beyond the rules of a game. 

We have had a hunt around for sporting books that have been released this year so you, too, can learn and gain insights from the wonderful world of sport. 

Just a note of warning: reading this may make you want to pop your running shoes on or ride your bike through France… or get that horse you’ve always dreamed about.  

Sevens Heaven by Ben Ryan

This is the inspirational story of how one man changed a nation, how that nation changed the man and how together they made sporting history. It is late summer 2013. Ben Ryan, a red-haired, 40-something, spectacle-wearing Englishman, is given 20 minutes to decide whether he wants to coach Fiji’s rugby sevens team, with the aim of taking them to the nation’s first-ever Olympic medal. He has never been to Fiji. There has been no discussion of contracts or salary. But he knows that no one plays rugby like the men from these isolated Pacific islands, just as no one plays football like the kids from the Brazilian favelas, or no one runs as fast as the boys and girls from Jamaica’s boondocks. He knows too that no other rugby nation has so little (no money and no resources) only basic equipment and a long, sad history of losing its most gifted players to richer, greedier nations. Ryan says yes. And with that simple word he sets in motion an extraordinary journey that will encompass witchdoctors and interfering prime ministers, sun-smeared dawns and devastating cyclones, intense friendships and bitter rows, phone taps and wild nationwide parties. It will end in Rio with a performance that not only wins Olympic gold but reaches fresh heights for rugby union and makes Ben and his 12 players living legends back home.

Red Card by Ken Bensinger

The story of FIFA’s fall from grace has it all: power, betrayal, revenge, sports stars, hustlers, corruption, sex and phenomenal quantities of money, all set against exotic locales stretching from Caribbean beaches to the formal staterooms of the Kremlin and the sun-blasted streets of Doha, Qatar. In Red Card, investigative journalist Ken Bensinger takes a journey to FIFA’s dark heart. He introduces the flamboyant villains of the piece – the FIFA kingpins who flaunted their wealth in private jets and New York’s grandest skyscrapers – and the dogged team of American FBI and IRS agents, headed by Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who finally brought them to book. Providing fresh insights on a scandal which has gripped the world, he shows how greed and arrogance brought down the most powerful institution in sporting history. A wild, gritty, gripping, and at times blackly comic story, Red Card combines world-class journalism with the pace of a thriller. 

Keep an eye out too as Red Card is set to become a major film produced by Pearl Street Films (the production company owned by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck).

My World by Peter Sagan


From 2015 to 2017, Peter Sagan achieved the seemingly impossible: he won three road race World Championships in a row, ensuring his entry into the history books as one of the greatest riders of all time. But to look at Peter’s record in isolation is to tell only a fraction of his story, because Peter doesn’t just win: he entertains. Every moment in the saddle is an opportunity to express his personality, and nobody else has succeeded in making elite cycling look so much fun. From no-hands wheelies on the slopes of Mont Ventoux to press conference mischief with clamouring journalists, Peter exudes a passion for the sport and a loveable desire to bring smiles to the faces of his fans. So, for the very first time, you will have the opportunity to glimpse behind the scenes of Peter’s world. You will discover the gruelling training programmes necessary for success, and how Peter copes with the pressure of high expectation. You will feel that sense of elation when crossing the line ahead of the pack, and moments of desperation, like in 2017 when Peter realised he wouldn’t be allowed to challenge for his sixth Tour de France green jersey. But what better tonic than to ensure a third year in rainbow – an achievement which may never be repeated again.

Range by David Epstein

Range is the ground-breaking and exhilarating exploration into how to be successful in the 21st Century, from David Epstein the acclaimed author of The Sports Gene. What if everything you have been taught about how to succeed in life was wrong? From the ‘10,000 hours rule’ to the power of Tiger parenting, we have been taught that success in any field requires early specialisation and many hours of deliberate practice. And, worse, that if you dabble or delay, you’ll never catch up with those who got a head start. This is completely wrong. In this landmark book, David Epstein shows that the way to excel is by sampling widely, gaining a breadth of experiences, taking detours, experimenting relentlessly, juggling many interests – in other words, by developing range. Studying the world’s most successful athletes, artists, musicians, inventors, and scientists Epstein discovered that in most fields – especially those that are complex and unpredictable – generalists, not specialists, are primed to excel. They are also more creative, more agile, and able to make connections their more specialised peers can’t see. Range proves that by spreading your knowledge across multiple domains is the key to success rather than deepening their knowledge in a single area. Provocative, rigorous, and engrossing, Range explains how to maintain the benefits of breadth, diverse experience and interdisciplinary thinking in a world that increasingly demands, hyper-specialisation.

Life as I know It by Michelle Payne

Ahem, technically this books wasn’t released this year, nor last, but this book is definitely worth a read so we’ve popped it in. 

Michelle Payne rode into history as the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup. She and her 100-to-1 local horse Prince of Penzance took the international racing world by surprise but hers was no overnight success story. Michelle was first put on a horse aged four. At five years old her dream was to ride in the Melbourne Cup and win it. By seven she was doing track work. All of the ten Payne children learned to ride racehorses but Michelle has stayed the distance. She has ridden the miles, done the dawn training, fallen badly and each time got back on the horse. So when she declared that anyone who said women couldn’t compete in the industry could ‘get stuffed’, the nation stood up and cheered.

Michelle has the audacity to believe she can succeed against all the odds. Her story is about hope triumphing over adversity, and how resilience and character made a winner.

The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle

Okay, one more cheeky book that wasn’t released this year, nor is it a sporting book, but it does cover the topic of excellence, so we thought this earned a spot alongside the great books above. 

Where does great culture come from? How do you build and sustain it in your group, or strengthen a culture that needs fixing?

In The Culture Code, Daniel Coyle goes inside some of the world’s most successful organisations—including the U.S. Navy’s SEAL Team Six, IDEO, and the San Antonio Spurs—and reveals what makes them tick. He demystifies the culture-building process by identifying three key skills that generate cohesion and cooperation, and explains how diverse groups learn to function with a single mind. Drawing on examples that range from Internet retailer Zappos to the comedy troupe Upright Citizens Brigade to a daring gang of jewel thieves, Coyle offers specific strategies that trigger learning, spark collaboration, build trust, and drive positive change. Coyle unearths helpful stories of failure that illustrate what not to do, troubleshoots common pitfalls, and shares advice about reforming a toxic culture. Combining leading-edge science, on-the-ground insights from world-class leaders, and practical ideas for action, The Culture Code offers a roadmap for creating an environment where innovation flourishes, problems get solved, and expectations are exceeded.

Culture is not something you are—it’s something you do. The Culture Code puts the power in your hands. No matter the size of your group or your goal, this book can teach you the principles of cultural chemistry that transform individuals into teams that can accomplish amazing things together.

Enjoy! 

What ping pong taught me about life

Growing up in England, Pico Iyer was taught that the point of a game was to win. We’ve found a charming and profound ted talk where Pico explores what regular games of ping-pong in his neighborhood in Japan have revealed about the riddle of winning and shows why not knowing who’s won can feel like the ultimate victory.

This is not business as usual

Along with many other business across the globe, we’ve signed the Not Business As Usual pledge. Today, we are joining the millions of children around the world because we believe urgent and meaningful action needs to take place to ensure future generations can enjoy our planet too.

How we can eat our landscapes

What should a community do with its unused land?

Perhaps plant food.

With energy and humour, Pam Warhurst shares the story of how she and a growing team of volunteers came together to turn plots of unused land into communal vegetable gardens, and to change the narrative of food in their community.

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.

The top books that can help us slow down

Balance. Apparently we’re all meant to find it, embrace it and have it all of the time. The problem is, when we are busy it just ends up being yet another thing added to our ever-growing to do lists. The slow movement is one that isn’t new. There are cultures around the world that do not embrace being busy and rushing about and certainly don’t consider the idea of being stressed as a badge of honour. When we slow down we can take time to reflect on what’s important, see the bigger picture when we have problems, and find things that truly make us happy. 

In a effort to help you find a moment to yourself we have scoured the internet and collated a number of great books that all discuss the notion of slowing down. So pour yourself a cup of tea and find somewhere comfy to sit for five minutes for a readyou never know, it may be just what you need. 

Rushing Woman’s Syndrome by Dr Libby Weaver

In this book, nutritional biochemist Dr Libby Weaver explains the true cost of constantly rushing and the impact this can have on our health. Through these pages you’ll learn how and why your body interprets constant rushing as a ‘stress’, how an imbalanced nervous system may be causing you to gain weight or disrupting your sleep, why you feel tired but wired and how to identify if you have adrenal fatigue, whether stress might be behind your sluggish thyroid, how daily stressors may be affecting your sex-hormone balance and contributing to issues such as PMS, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, infertility, and debilitating menopause symptoms, why stress could be at the heart of your bloating, cravings or unpredictable appetite and how your emotional landscape holds the key to leading a fulfilling life without the need to rush. This book offers real solutions to restore your health, so that you can stay productive, healthy and energised in today’s world. Don’t let it take a health crisis to wake you up to change the way you’re living and get to the heart of what’s driving your rush, allowing you to live a more meaningful life that you love.

The flourish formula, and overachiever’s guide to slowing down by Courtney Pinkerton

Courtney Pinkerton reveals a simple yet comprehensive process that will help you slow down and accomplish and savour more of what is important to you. Courtney shares eight powerful mindset and mind-body techniques to help you break out of the “busyness fog” so you can contribute your unique professional and creative gifts and thrive in your personal life. The Flourish Formula is a bit of a self-care manual that every overachieving woman should read. Every page offers fresh insights about how to lean back before you can lean in. 

It’s about time by Valorie Burton

Our culture makes it so that even the most organised and efficient among us feels the pressure of the ticking clock and the possibility and regret of missing out. Modern life has evolved in a way that sets us up for stress, pressure, and overload. New norms and attitudes tap into deeply-wired psychological impulses that make it harder than ever to take control of your time. On top of that, many of us also have innate personality traits that make the struggle even worse. No wonder time can become a tyrant that leaves us chronically stressed and discontented. In It’s About Time, you can unlock an approach to life that bestselling author Valorie Burton calls “living timelessly.” You will come to understand the gradual changes that have led us to a place where having too much to do and too little time to do it is the norm, the vision for what it could look like if you were free from the stress of time and how to blast through the obstacles to those possibilities, and the practical steps to choosing the meaningful over the urgent so that your life is unhurried yet purposeful and reflects the values and impact that are unique to you.

It’s About Time helps you reimagine a life that is meaningful, at a pace that is natural, with a load that is doable and equips you with the tools to make it happen.

Ostro by Julia Nishimura

For some of us the way to slow down is not by sitting still, it’s by doing something…something meaningful. If you’re one of those ‘active slow downers’ then Ostro is for you. Since launching Ostro online in 2014, Julia Busuttil Nishimura has gained a strong and loyal following for her generous, uncomplicated, seasonal food. As an Australian of Maltese descent and a fluent Italian speaker, who is married to a Japanese man, Julia and her food represent everything that is good about modern Australian eating. She deftly brings together a broad range of cuisines and culinary influences using the very best produce on offer. This truly is good food, made by hand. Julia guides us through the uniquely satisfying experience of making pasta or pizza dough from scratch, clearly explaining the processes and demystifying the reasons behind them. She also shares plenty of simple, flavourful salads and one-tray bakes for days when time is scarce. Baking and desserts, too, needn’t be overly complicated – as Julia shows us, some of the best go-to recipes are the ones passed down the generations. But we also need the odd show-stopper on standby for special occasions! This is simple food that is comforting and generous in spirit. Slow down, take your time and enjoy it.

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen Rubin had an epiphany: Time is passing, and I’m not focusing enough on the things that really matter.” In that moment, she decided to dedicate a year to a happiness project. With humour and insight, she chronicles her adventures during the year she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier. Rubin didn’t have the option to uproot herself, nor did she want to; instead she focused on improving her life as it was. Each month she tackled a new set of resolutions. She immersed herself in principles set forth by all manner of experts, from Epicurus to Thoreau to Oprah to Martin Seligman to the Dalai Lama to see what worked for her — and what didn’t. this is a great read. You can check out Gretchen’s other work here

The Art Of Simple by Eleanor Ozich

This book has the potential to be life changing. I read this in a day and absolutely loved it. When Eleanor Ozich moved to the outskirts of the city with her husband and young family she set about enjoying a much calmer way of life. Shedding unnecessary clutter and adopting a simpler style of living, Eleanor found herself with more time and energy to appreciate her family and friends and the natural beauty that surrounded her. In this, her third book, Eleanor shares recipes and ideas she has embraced in her quest to cherish life’s simple pleasures. Alongside recipes for nourishing meals you’ll find practical ideas to declutter your home, get your children to sleep and bring order to your day. There are also instructions for making natural beauty products and household cleaners, which promise to cost you less and be kinder to you and the environment. The author of My Petite Kitchen and My Family Table, in this book Eleanor unlocks the secrets to a more fulfilling life.

Enjoy!

Time to focus and set some goals, our top titles for getting some direction in 2019

Are you a planner, list maker, goal setter or someone who likes to freewheel and wing it throughout the year?

Team Booko has some planners. Super planners. So if you are looking for a bit of focus in 2019 and fancy setting some goals, you are reading the right blog!

We have scoured the internet for the latest goal planning, list making and inspiring reads that are sure to give your life a little more direction and inspiration in 2019. So whip out your pen and paper (we know you are bound to have some on hand) and get ready to make 2019 your best year yet. 

An Edited Life by Anna Newton

Everyone loves Anna. Anna Newton is just another 20-something, trying to balance work, her friends, her husband Mark, a growing handbag habit and a penchant for reformer Pilates. Over the last 5 years, she’s become a massive YouTube star, with over 450k subscribers, who tune in for her weekly videos on everything from house renovations to the best summer foundation.

Anna is a typical Virgo – she loves being organised. Like, really loves it. An Edited Life outlines her strategy for staying on top of every aspect of her world; from work schedules to making time for friends, meal prepping to making sure she stays in the black at the end of the month, the perfect capsule wardrobe to the importance of a Sunday night at-home spa. It isn’t about chucking the contents of your sock drawer out, or about abandoning that Friday night pizza habit: it’s just a question of editing it down so it works for you. 

Click through to her blog where there are downloadable PDF lists and superb life hacks.

Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon

A mentor of mine said if she was a millionaire she’d give everyone she meets a copy of this book. I rushed out an bought it, and loved every page. When asked to talk to students at Broome Community College in upstate New York in the spring of 2011, Austin Kleon wrote a simple list often things he wished he’d heard when he was their age: ‘Steal like an artist; Don’t wait until you know who you are to start making things; Write the book you want to read; Use your hands; Side projects are important; Do good work and put it where people can see it; Geography is no longer our master; Be nice (the world is a small town.); Be boring (it’s the only way to get work done.); and, Creativity is subtraction.’ After giving the speech, he posted the text and slides to his popular blog, where it quickly went viral. Now Kleon has expanded his original manifesto into an illustrated guide to the creative life for writers, artists, entrepreneurs, designers, photographers, musicians, and anyone attempting to make things – art, a career, a life – in the digital age. Brief, direct, and visually interactive, the book includes illustrative anecdotes and mini-exercise sections calling out practical actions readers can take to unleash their own creative spirits.

How To Not Always Be Working by Marlee Grace

This book is a quiet revolution, a guide filled with practical advice to help you curb your obsessions and build boundaries between your work, your job, and your life. From business anecdotes about fulfilling orders to more personal stories about Marlee Grace’s recovery from divorce and addiction, this book is full of wisdom and resilience, with plenty of discussion about ritual and routine as ways to create effective and positive creative life change.

In her workshops on healing and creative process, Grace helps people acknowledge their blocks and address them by setting distinct parameters that change their behaviour. Now, she brings her methods and ideas to the wider world, offering all of us concrete ways to break free from our devices and focus on what’s really important; our own aliveness.

Part workbook, part advice manual, part love letter, How to Not Always Be Working ventures into the space where phone meets life, helping readers to define their work, what they do out of sense of purpose; their job, what they do to make money; and their breaks, what they do to recharge, and to feel connected to themselves and the people who matter to them. Grace addresses complex issues such as what to do if your work and your job are connected, provides insights to help you figure out how much is too much, and offers suggestions for making the best use of your time.

Essential for everyone who feels overwhelmed and anxious about our hyper-connected world—whether you’re a corporate lawyer, a student, a sales person, or a yoga instructor—How to Not Always Be Working includes practical suggestions and thoughtful musings that prompt you to honestly examine your behaviour—how you burn yourself out and why you’re doing it. A creative manifesto for living better, it shows you how to carve sacred space in your life.

Your Dream Life Starts Here by Kristina Karlsson 

This book is filled with powerful ideas and simple proven tools that will help you transform your wishes into dreams, and then into an achievable one-page roadmap for creating your dream life, a life designed by you for you, and for your loved ones. Kristina Karlsson, the woman behind the inspiring global success story, kikki.K, shares personal insights from her amazing journey, from humble beginnings on a small farm in Sweden to the 3am light bulb moment that led her to chase and achieve dreams that are now inspiring a worldwide community of dreamers. Filled with simple and practical magic and inspiring stories and wisdom from people who’ve dared to dream big this book will show you how to harness the power of dreaming to transform your life in small, simple steps. Whether you want to get the most out of your personal life, career or business, the insights on dreaming and doing in this book may be your most important learnings this year. 

Calm The F**K Down by Sarah Knight

The latest no-fks-given guide from New York Times bestselling author of the international sensation The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k, Get Your Sh*t Together, and You Do You. Do you waste time overthinking things you can’t do anything about? Do you freak out when things don’t go to plan? Does anxiety get in the way of you living your best life? When life hands you a big fat f**king lemon, CALM THE F**K DOWN gives you practical ways to manage the situation, not to mention your anxiety about the situation. One hundred per cent practical and zero percent Pollyanna-ish, this is a book that acknowledges all the bad shit that can and probably will happen to you – from break ups and breakdowns to floods, family feuds and France running out of butter – and shows you what you can realistically do about it so you can get on with your life, stop worrying and wallowing, and start bouncing back. Think of CALM THE F**K DOWN as the friend who, instead of reassuring you that ‘everything’s going to be okay,’ actually shows you how to make it so.

It Doesn’t Have To Be Crazy At Work by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

In this timely manifesto, the authors of the New York Times bestseller Rework broadly reject the prevailing notion that long hours, aggressive hustle, and “whatever it takes” are required to run a successful business today. In Rework, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson introduced a new path to working effectively. Now, they build on their message with a bold, iconoclastic strategy for creating the ideal company culture, what they call “the calm company.” Their approach directly attacks the chaos, anxiety, and stress that plagues millions of workplaces and hampers billions of workers every day. Long hours, an excessive workload, and a lack of sleep have become a badge of honour for modern professionals. But it should be a mark of stupidity, the authors argue. Sadly, this isn’t just a problem for large organisations—individuals, contractors, and solopreneurs are burning themselves out the same way. The answer to better productivity isn’t more hours—it’s less waste and fewer things that induce distraction and persistent stress.

It’s time to stop celebrating Crazy, and start celebrating Calm. Fried and Hansson have the proof to back up their argument. “Calm” has been the cornerstone of their company’s culture since Basecamp began twenty years ago. Destined to become the management guide for the next generation, It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work is a practical and inspiring distillation of their insights and experiences. It isn’t a book telling you what to do. It’s a book showing you what they’ve done—and how any manager or executive no matter the industry or size of the company, can do it too.

Risk and Resilience by Lisa Messenger

What does it really take to survive in the start up scene? Why do some ventures thrive whilst others crumble? How does a brand the world loves end up in financial difficulties? Could it happen to you…and what should you do? As the founder of Collective Hub Lisa Messenger has helped millions of entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, thought-leaders, game-changers and style-makers turn their passions into profit. That’s only one side of the story… In the latest book in her series, Lisa reveals the tough lessons she’s learnt during the hardest 18 months of her entrepreneurial journey, when scaling too quickly, hiring without strategy and trying to please everyone almost turned her dream into disaster. And, the courageous steps she took to survive, thrive and prosper afterwards.

Enjoy!