Category Archives: Personal development

Self help and personal development

The Most Inspiring Books of the Past Year

Stuck in a rut? Looking for a new direction? Not quite on top of those new year resolutions? It’s okay. We’ve all been there. It’s with this in mind that we have rounded up our picks of some of the most inspiring reads from the past year to help you recharge your optimism batteries. So sit back and relax, you’re in good hands.

Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

With wry wit and hard-earned wisdom, popular online personality and founder of TheChicSite.com founder Rachel Hollis helps readers break free from the lies keeping them from the joy-filled and exuberant life they are meant to have. Each chapter of Girl, Wash Your Face begins with a specific lie Hollis once believed that left her feeling overwhelmed, unworthy, or ready to give up. As a working mother, a former foster parent, and a woman who has dealt with insecurities about her body and relationships, she speaks with the insight and kindness of a BFF, helping women unpack the limiting mind-sets that destroy their self-confidence and keep them from moving forward. From her temporary obsession with marrying Matt Damon to a daydream involving hypnotic iguanas to her son’s request that she buy a necklace to “be like the other moms,” Hollis holds nothing back. With unflinching faith and tenacity, Hollis spurs other women to live with passion and hustle and to awaken their slumbering goals.

Any Ordinary Day by Leigh Sales

As a journalist, Leigh Sales often encounters people experiencing the worst moments of their lives in the full glare of the media. But one particular string of bad news stories – and a terrifying brush with her own mortality – sent her looking for answers about how vulnerable each of us is to a life-changing event. What are our chances of actually experiencing one? What do we fear most and why? And when the worst does happen, what comes next? In this wise and layered book, Leigh talks intimately with people who’ve faced the unimaginable, from terrorism to natural disaster to simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Expecting broken lives, she instead finds strength, hope, even humour. Leigh brilliantly condenses the cutting-edge research on the way the human brain processes fear and grief, and poses the questions we too often ignore out of awkwardness. Along the way, she offers an unguarded account of her own challenges and what she’s learned about coping with life’s unexpected blows. Warm, candid and empathetic, this book is about what happens when ordinary people, on ordinary days, are forced to suddenly find the resilience most of us don’t know we have.

Year of Less by Cait Flanders

In her late twenties, Cait Flanders found herself stuck in the consumerism cycle that grips so many of us: earn more, buy more, want more, rinse, repeat. Even after she worked her way out of nearly $30,000 of consumer debt, her old habits took hold again. When she realised that nothing she was doing or buying was making her happy, only keeping her from meeting her goals, she decided to set herself a challenge: she would not shop for an entire year. The Year of Less documents Cait’s life from July 2014 to June 2015, during which time she bought only consumables: groceries, toiletries, petrol for her car. Along the way, she challenged herself to consume less of many other things besides shopping. She decluttered her apartment and got rid of 70 percent of her belongings; learned how to fix things rather than throw them away; researched the zero waste movement; and completed a television ban. At every stage, she learned that the less she consumed, the more fulfilled she felt. What started as a simple challenge quickly became a lifeline, however, as Cait found herself in a number of situations that turned her life upside down. In the face of hardship, she realised why she had always turned to shopping, alcohol and food—and what it had cost her, for so many years. By not being able to reach for any of her usual vices, Cait changed habits she’d spent years perfecting and discovered what truly mattered to her.

The Bright Hour by Nina Riggs

In 2015 poet and writer Nina Riggs was diagnosed with breast cancer, and it metastasised later that year. She was thirty-eight years old, married to the love of her life and the mother of two small boys; her mother had died only a few months earlier from multiple myeloma. The Bright Hour is Nina’s intimate, unflinching account of ‘living with death in the room’. She tells her story in a series of absurd, poignant and often hilarious vignettes drawn from a life that has ‘no real future or arc left to it, yet still goes on as if it does’. This is an unforgettable memoir leading the reader into the innermost chambers of the writer’s life: into the mind and heart, the work and home and family, of a young woman alternately seeking to make peace with and raging against the reality of her approaching death. 

The Messy Middle by Scott Belsky

Silicon Valley is full of start-up success stories; every day stories emerge of a new company with the potential for a billion-dollar valuation and plans for global domination. But what can we really learn from these stories? How many of these start-ups are genuinely successful in the long term? When nine out of ten start-ups end in spectacular burnout, how can we ensure our own success story? While most books and press focus on the more sensational moments of creation and conclusion, The Messy Middle argues that the real key to success is how you navigate the ups-and-downs after initial investment is secured. It will give you all the insights you need to build and optimise your team, improve your product and develop your own capacity to lead. Building on seven years’ of meticulous research with entrepreneurs, small agencies, start-ups and billion-dollar companies, Scott Belsky offers indispensable lessons on how to endure and thrive in the long term.

Big Potential by Shawn Achor

In a world that thrives on competition and individual achievement, we are measuring and pursuing potential all wrong. By pursuing success in isolation – pushing others away as we push ourselves too hard – we are not just limiting our potential, we are becoming more stressed and disconnected than ever. In his highly anticipated follow-up to The Happiness Advantage, Achor reveals a better approach. Drawing on his work in 50 countries, he shows that success and happiness are not competitive sports. Rather, they depend almost entirely on how well we connect with, relate to, and learn from each other. Just as happiness is contagious, every dimension of human potential – performance, intelligence, creativity, leadership ability and health – is influenced by those around us. So when we help others become better, we reach new levels of potential, as well. Rather than fighting over scraps of the pie, we can expand the pie instead. Small Potential is the limited success we can attain alone. Big Potential is what we can achieve together.

Let us know which books have inspired you the most. Head on over to our facebook or instagram pages and join in the conversation. 

Enjoy!

How to immerse yourself in Australia’s Summer of Sport.

It’s no secret that sport is hugely popular in Australia as it is all over the world. With Summer in full swing here many Australians opt to take on the searing heat, load up cooler bags, grab picnic rugs and head outside to watch sport… any sport. Currently we have the tennis at the Australian Open in full swing, cricket balls being bowled with an impending game against Sri Lanka along with sailing, cycling, rugby, not to mention the Grand Prix coming up on the calendar at the tail end of the season. 

With so many options, how on earth does one understand all of the rules, athletes and scandals? To help you with this, we have found a few fabulous titles that can give you an insight into the world of sport so you can hold your own in a conversation around the picnic rug. 

First up, let’s look at sport in Australia…

Thoroughly Unhelpful History of Australian Sport by Titus O’Reily

When it comes to sport, Australians are mad. Completely, irrationally insane. It’s the closest thing we have to a culture. From Don Bradman’s singular focus to Steven Bradbury’s heroic not falling over, sport has shaped our sense of self. But how did we get here? Part history, part social commentary and a lot of nonsense, Titus O’Reily, Australia’s least insightful sports writer, explains. Covering Australian Rules, League, Union, soccer, cricket, the Olympics and much more, Titus tackles the big topics, including; how not to cheat the salary cap, the importance of kicking people in the shins, and the many shortcomings of the English. Titus takes you through the characters, the pub meetings, the endless acronyms, the corruption and the alarming number of footballers caught urinating in public. Sport is important – gloriously stupid, but important. To understand Australia you must understand its sporting history. With this guide you sort of, kind of, will.

Fair Go, Sport by Peter FitzSimons

The idea for this book is simple. In the year when Australian cricketers have colluded to nakedly cheat, when attendance rates for all of soccer, rugby union and rugby league have either drifted or roared south, there is an obvious disaffection with modern sport and all the grubbiness that has come with it. Over the last 30 odd years, in articles and books, Peter FitzSimons has tried, among other things, to capture the best, most inspiring, and most heart-warming tales of sports, together with profiling the characters who gave us that magic – or at the very least, engaged us. One thing that became apparent over the years was that there was frequently more reaction for stories about unknowns, and golden greats of yesteryear rather than the modern big bird professionals. Fair Go, Sport is what he regards as the best of such tales. Most, but not all, are Australian based. Ideally, they represent the best of sport, or at least the most alluring, and inspirational, before the ‘serious-ification’ of the whole shebang started to squeeze the life out of it, on so many different levels at once. This is Fitzy at his passionate best. He reminds us that there really are good guys in sport, and that fair play still exists.

One for the Tennis fans…

Fedegraphica by Mark Hodgkinson

He may have just been knocked out of the Australian Open but he’s still our favourite player. Roger Federer’s incredible 2017 comeback which saw him winning Grand Slams in his mid-thirties and reaching new heights most had thought impossible has confirmed his place in the history books as the greatest male tennis player of all time. In this innovative graphic biography, Federer’s tennis is explored like never before: stunning graphics illustrate his serving patterns and superb footwork, detail the spin and speed of his shots, as well as showcase his astonishing records – no man has won more majors, or spent more weeks as the world number one. Drawing on Mark Hodgkinson’s conversations with the Swiss and exclusive interviews with those closest to him, this is the ultimate celebration of the genius of Roger Federer.

For the cricket lovers…

Crossing The Line by Gideon Haigh

`I’m not proud of what’s happened. Y’know, it’s not within the spirit of the game.’ Steve Smith was not to know it at Cape Town on 24 March 2018, but he was addressing his last press conference as captain of the Australian cricket team. By the next morning he would be swept from office by a tsunami of public indignation involving even the prime minister. In a unique admission, Smith confessed to condoning a policy of sandpapering the cricket ball in a Test against South Africa. He, the instigator David Warner, and their agent Cameron Bancroft returned home to disgrace and to lengthy bans. The crisis plunged Australian cricket into a bout of unprecedented soul searching, with Cricket Australia yielding to demands for reviews of the cricket team and of itself to restore confidence in their `culture’.

The Instant Cricket Library: An Imagined Anthology by Dan Eddy

This is bound to make you chuckle. In Dan Liebke’s debut cricket book, The Instant Cricket Library, you’ll find excerpts from a number of remarkable cricket books, none of which you’ve ever read before -because none of them actually existed. There’s I, Pad, Shane Watson’s infamous manifesto arguing that the LBW Law should be abolished. There’s Out of My Ed, in which you’ll discover the truth about the real Ed Cowan. There’s a Banner-Man comic book, a Mitch Marsh play, and much more. They’re all part of the Instant Cricket Library. Imagine a world after a complete societal collapse. A big collapse, like Australia on a raging Chennai turner. In this dystopian future, all of the world’s cricket books have been destroyed. Nothing remains, not even the Steve Waugh autobiographies, which were previously believed to be impervious not just to casual readers, but to all known forms of physical damage. And yet, a hardy group of researchers search desperately for hints of what might have been lost. A title here. A snippet of text there. A tattered cover somewhere else. They gather all the clues they’ve discovered of the lost world of cricketing literature, and enter them into a hastily constructed supercomputer. Finally, with a burst of makeshift artificial intelligence, they extrapolate from those fragments and regenerate a complete cricket library in an instant. This instant cricket library is a marvel of resourcefulness, and a glorious tribute to the ingenuity and determination of humanity, even when faced with the most nightmarish and cricketless of futures. Just because a cricket book never existed doesn’t mean it’s not worth reading.

For the NBA diehards…

Basketball (and Other Things): A Collection of Questions Asked, Answered by Shea Serrano

Who had the greatest dunk of all time? Which version of Michael Jordan was the best Michael Jordan? What is allowed and absolutely not allowed in a game of pickup basketball? Basketball and Other Things takes readers through the most pivotal and ridiculous fan disputes in basketball history, providing arguments and answers to basketball’s greatest questions, explained with the wit and wisdom that is unique to Shea Serrano. Serrano breaks down debates that all NBA fans have considered, from the classics (Which years was Kobe at his best?) to the fantastical (If you could assign different values to different shots throughout basketball history, what would they be and why?). With incredible art from Arturo Torres, this book is a must-have for anyone who has ever stayed up late into the night debating basketball’s greatest moments, what-ifs, stories, and legends.

And one for those that have been inspired by the athletes in your favourite sport…

Atomic Habits by James Clear

So this isn’t technically a sporting book, but it’s message is on point for all athletes, coaches and anyone with a goal. 

An atomic habit is defined as a small habit with big results. People say when you want to change your life, you need to think big, swap jobs, move house, change partners. But they’re wrong. World-renowned habits expert James Clear has discovered a completely different way to transform your behaviour. He knows that lasting change comes from the compound effect of hundreds of tiny decisions – doing two push-ups a day, waking up five minutes early, or holding a single short phone call. He calls them atomic habits. In Atomic Habits, Clear delves into cutting-edge psychology to explain why your brain can amplify these small changes into huge consequences. He uncovers a handful of simple life hacks (the forgotten art of Habit Stacking, or the unexpected power of the Two Minute Rule), to show how you, too, turn minuscule shifts in behaviour into life-transforming outcomes. And he reveals a simple four-stage method that will let you build atomic habits into your day-to-day routine, starting now. These nuclear changes will have an explosive effect on your career, your relationships and your life.

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.

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!

How new technology helps blind people explore the world

Technology is an amazing thing. We can use it to navigate the world without using the sense of vision. Inventor and IBM Fellow Chieko Asakawa, who’s been blind since the age of fourteen, has been working on just this. In a charming demonstration, she shows off some new technology that’s helping blind people explore the world ever more independently … because, she suggests, when we design for greater accessibility, everyone benefits.