Category Archives: Top Books

Our best picks and recommendations

The best books showcasing the stories behind music in 2019…so far.

Music has the ability to change a person’s mood in seconds, making a foot start tapping to a beat or evoking memories of days gone by. Everyone has a favourite song, but few know the stories behind them or what was going on in the artist’s life when they were written and recorded.

Today we are sharing some of the best new books on the market that uncover amazing stories behind the music we love. Brace yourself, it’s a fascinating ride. 

Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity…until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock ‘n’ roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things. Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road. Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realises that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice.

The Book of Daniel by Jeff Apter

When Silverchair shuddered to a halt in 2011, there was no swan song, no farewell tour, just a brief statement and then they were gone – after more than fifteen years of brilliant music, five hit albums, legions of fans, millions of record sales, scores of awards and the odd controversy. Three teenagers from Newcastle had taken the world by storm within the time it typically takes most bands to record their first single. Over their stratospheric career, Daniel Johns developed into a performer and songwriter with few peers in modern music. After the end of his marriage to Natalie Imbruglia and the break-up of his band, he became the focus of sordid headlines and whispers of wayward behaviour. People feared what might happen next. But at the same time a new Daniel Johns emerged. His debut solo album, Talk, appeared to rapturous reviews in 2015 and raced to the top of the Australian charts, and then 2018 saw the advent of DREAMS, his long-awaited collaboration with Luke Steele. This was a vastly different Daniel Johns to the grungy, guitar-blazing teen of the 1990s. His new sound and image were sophisticated, brilliant and sexy as hell. It was a remarkable creative makeover, perhaps the most ambitious ever undertaken by an Australian rockstar. Former rockstar. The Book of Daniel documents how the reclusive Johns also battled many personal demons, including life-threatening anorexia and crippling reactive arthritis.

Drawing on more than fifteen years of documenting the life and times of Daniel Johns, author Jeff Apter has brought his story to life, revealing the struggles and triumphs of one of Australia’s most distinctive and dazzling talents. The book also includes a collection of exclusive photographs of Johns by eminent rock photographer Tony Mott.

Unmasked by Andrew Loyd Webber

In Unmasked, internationally acclaimed composer Andrew Lloyd Webber looks back over more than five decades in the spotlight as he recounts his fascinating life and remarkable career. Webber goes back to his origins, illuminating his charming, offbeat family, including his bohemian mother and her pet monkey; his grandmother, who was a founding member of the Christian Communist Party; his zany aunt, who authored the first gay cookbook; and his richly talented younger brother Julian Lloyd Webber.

Lloyd Webber recalls the musicals he created as a child, his school days at Oxford, his artistic influences, including Tim Rice and David Niven, and how he made the decision to leave school to pursue the musical career that would make him a global superstar. Webber illuminates his creative process and takes us behind the scenes of his productions, sharing fascinating details about the shows and the rich cast of characters involved with making them hits.

Full of colourful characters and rich storytelling and illustrated with sixteen pages of colour photos, Unmasked at last reveals the true face of the extraordinary man beneath the storied legend.

Not Dead Yet by Phil Collins

Technically this book wasn’t released in the past year, but it’s been so popular we thought we’d include it for you. This is the roller coaster journey from Phil Collins’ beginnings as a child actor to his domination of the charts both as a solo artist and as part of Genesis. His success is astounding, his music has global reach and his story is legendary. Not Dead Yet is Phil Collins’ candid, witty, unvarnished story of the songs and shows, the hits and pans, his marriages and divorces, the ascents to the top of the charts and into the tabloid headlines. As one of only three musicians to sell over 100 million records both in a group and as a solo artist, Collins breathes rare air, but he has never lost his talent for crafting songs that touch listeners around the globe. This is the story of his epic career to one of the most successful songwriters of the pop music era. A drummer since almost before he could walk, Collins received on-the-job training in the seedy, thrilling bars and clubs of 1960s swinging London before finally landing the drum seat in Genesis. Later he would step into the spotlight on vocals after the departure of Peter Gabriel, and compose the songs that would rocket him to international solo fame with the release of Face Value and ‘In the Air Tonight’. Whether he’s recalling jamming with Eric Clapton and Robert Plant, pulling together a big band fronted by Tony Bennett, playing twice at Live Aid, or writing the Oscar-winning music for Disney’s smash-hit animated film Tarzan, Collins keeps it intimate and his storytelling gift never wavers.

Pink Floyd All The Songs by Jean-Michel Guesdon

Ahem…yep, this one wasn’t released in the past year either…but it’s Pink Floyd so how could we not include it? The newest addition to the best-selling All the Songs series details the unique recording history of Pink Floyd, one of the world’s most commercially successful and influential rock bands. Since 1965, Pink Floyd have been recording sonically experimental and philosophical music, selling more than 250 million records worldwide, including two of the best-selling albums of all time Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall. While much is known about this iconic group, few books provide a comprehensive history of their time in the studio. In Pink Floyd All the Songs, authors Margotin and Guesdon describe the origin of their nearly 200 released songs, details from the recording studio, what instruments were used, and behind-the-scenes stories of the tensions that helped drive the band. Organised chronologically by album, this massive, 544-page hardcover begins with their 1967 debut album The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, the only one recorded under founding member Syd Barrett’s leadership; through the loss of Barrett and the addition of David Gilmour; to Richard Wright leaving the band in 1979 but returning; to Roger Waters leaving in 1985 and the albums recorded since his departure, including their 2014 farewell album, The Endless River, which was downloaded 12 million times on Spotify the week it was released. Packed with more than 500 photos, All the Songs is also filled with stories fans treasure, such as Waters working with engineer Alan Parsons to employ revolutionary recording techniques for The Dark Side of the Moon at Abbey Road Studios in 1972 or producer Bob’s Ezrin’s contribution in refining Water’s original sprawling vision for The Wall.

Chopin’s Piano by Paul Kildea

In November 1838 Frederic Chopin, George Sand and her two children sailed to Majorca to escape the Parisian winter. They settled in an abandoned monastery at Valldemossa in the mountains above Palma, where Chopin finished what would eventually be recognised as one of the great and revolutionary works of musical Romanticism – his 24 Preludes. There was scarcely a decent piano on the island (these were still early days in the evolution of the modern instrument), so Chopin worked on a small pianino made by a local craftsman, which remained in their monastic cell for seventy years after he and Sand had left. This brilliant and unclassifiable book traces the history of Chopin’s 24 Preludes through the instruments on which they were played, the pianists who interpreted them and the traditions they came to represent. Yet it begins and ends with the Majorcan pianino, which during the Second World War assumed an astonishing cultural potency as it became, for the Nazis, a symbol of the man and music they were determined to appropriate as their own. The unexpected hero of the second part of the book is the great keyboard player and musical thinker Wanda Landowska, who rescued the pianino from Valldemossa in 1913, and who would later become one of the most influential musical figures of the twentieth century. Kildea shows how her story – a compelling account based for the first time on her private papers – resonates with Chopin’s, while simultaneously distilling part of the cultural and political history of Europe and the United States in the central decades of the century. Kildea’s beautifully interwoven narratives, part cultural history and part detective story, take us on an unexpected journey through musical Romanticism and allow us to reflect freshly on the changing meaning of music over time.

Enjoy!

The best books exploring Art in 2019…(so far).

Art can be an intimidating and mind boggling form of expression as an artist attempts to take us on a journey and share their view of society with us. While some people can stand in front of a painting on the wall and stare in wonder and awe, others crumple their brow in complete confusion. 

Today we are sharing some of the best new titles on the market that attempt to uncover the secrets of the art world.  So settle in, make yourself a cup of tea, and prepare to broaden your understanding of the mysterious world of art.

Civilization: The Way We Live Now by William A. Ewing, Holly Roussell

We hurtle together into the future at ever-increasing speed – or so it seems to the collective psyche. Every day and every hour, human civilisation expands, evolves and mutates. While we frequently lapse into celebrating the individual at the expense of the group, in science and art, at work and at play, at home and in transit, we increasingly live the collective life. Civilization shows how contemporary photography, notably art photography, is fascinated by, and attempts to decode and communicate, the way we live today. This landmark publication is accompanied by an internationally touring exhibition produced by the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography – a global cultural event for a global subject. Civilization is presented through eight thematic chapters, each led by breathtaking imagery and accompanied by essays, quotes, commentaries and captions to provide a deeper understanding of its theme. Visually epic and ambitiously popular in approach, it will reach out beyond the boundaries of the photography world to connect with audiences worldwide.

Chromatopia: An Illustrated History of Colour by David Coles

Did you know that the Egyptians created the first synthetic colour; or that the noblest purple comes from a predatory sea snail? Throughout history, artist pigments have been made from deadly metals, poisonous minerals, urine, cow dung, and even crushed insects. From grinding down beetles and burning animal bones to alchemy and serendipity, Chromatopia reveals the origin stories of over 50 of history’s most extraordinary pigments. Spanning the ancient world to modern leaps in technology, this is a book for the artist, the history buff, the science lover and the design fanatic.

Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up by Claire Wilcox, Circe Henestrosa

In 1954, following her death, Frida Kahlo’s possessions were locked away in the Casa Azul in Mexico City, her lifelong home. Half a century later, her collection of clothing, jewellery, cosmetics and other personal items was rediscovered. Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up offers a fresh perspective on the life story of this extraordinary artist, whose charisma and entirely individual way of dressing made her one of the most photographed women of her time. Specially-commissioned photographs show her distinctive Mexican outfits alongside her self-portraits, an unprecedented pairing that is enriched by iconic images taken in her lifetime.

Tate: Colour A Visual History by Alexandra Loske

Prepare to unravel the rainbow with this amazing colour history and discover the story of colour through the significant scientific discoveries and key artist’s works over 400 years. From Isaac Newton’s investigations through to Olafur Eliasson’s experiential creations, this stunning book documents the fascinating story of colour with an extraordinary collection of original colour material that includes charts, wheels, artists’ palettes, swatches and schemes.

“In 1704, the scientist Isaac Newton published OPTICKS, the result of many years of researching light and colour. By splitting white light, Newton identified the visible range of colours, or the rainbow spectrum. In OPTICKS, he built a colour system around his findings, and he visualised this system in a circular shape, making it one of the first printed colour wheels. The influence of Newton and his followers, combined with the invention of many new pigments as well as watercolours in moist cake form, had made painting with colour an exciting occupation not just for serious artists but also for a much wider audience. The colour revolution had begun.”

Mirka & Georges: A Culinary Affair by Lesley Harding, Kendrah Morgan

They entertained Mick Jagger. They have connections to Albert Einstein and Ned Kelly. Their local admirers are a who’s who of artists, writers, film makers, politicians and celebrities. The impact of Mirka and Georges Mora on Australian food culture and the art scene has been remarkable. Arriving from Paris in 1951, these bon vivants brought colour and flavour to local society and the culinary landscape. Their apartment in Melbourne’s centre became a hub for the bohemian set, and their cafes and restaurants brimmed with food, sex and art. Mirka’s distinctive paintings and drawings were a vital part of this heady mix. Launched in the year of Mirka’s 90th birthday, Mirka & Georges- A Culinary Affair gloriously illustrates the Moras’ extraordinary story. With classic French recipes from the couple’s eateries and home kitchen, photographs from family albums and from inside Mirka’s studio, as well as Mirka’s vibrant artworks, the inimitable personalities of these epicurean pioneers leap out of these pages.

Pattern Design by Elizabeth Wilhide

Throughout history, patterns have come in countless permutations of motif, colour-way and scale. Yet what all have in common is the regularity of repetition, that insistent rhythm that animates a flat surface with a sense of movement and vitality and gives it depth. Evident in the arrangement of petals on a flower head, the branching growth of stems and vines, the spirals of a seashell – pattern is inherent in the natural world that surrounds us. Powerful and transformative, pattern has an irrepressible joie de vivre. With more than 1,500 illustrations of patterns from all ages and cultures, Pattern Design is a visual feast. This comprehensive compendium is arranged thematically according to type, with chapters on Flora, Fauna, Pictorial, Geometric and Abstract designs. These broad categories are supplemented by in-depth features highlighting the work of key designers from the rich history of pattern-making – such as William Morris, Sonia Delaunay, Charles and Ray Eames, Lucienne Day and Orla Kiely – along with sections detailing the characteristic motifs of key period styles from Baroque to Art Deco.

Enjoy!

The Best Science Books of 2019 (so far)

I love Popular Science as a genre – having a science background myself, I am passionate about encouraging everyone to have a better understanding of science, and of becoming more aware of its place in everyday life.  I also love anything that shows off the quirky nerdy humour that I know many scientists and engineers have!  The best science books often combine in-depth research, stranger-than-fiction facts and a cracking narrative  – here’s the pick of the recent crop:

Humble Pi: a Comedy of Maths Errors by Matt Parker
Matt Parker is a mathematician and a comedian, and he uses both skillsets to great effect in Humble Pi, a book about the maths that is all around us – and what happens when you get it wrong. The stories range from trivial and quirky (such as posters where the cogs won’t turn) to potentially deadly (wobbling bridges and NASA disasters); and Matt manages to highlight the funny and entertaining side in all of them. Humble Pi subtly celebrates the importance of maths to science and engineering, without depressing readers about being “not good at maths”.

When the Dogs Don’t Bark: a Forensic Scientist’s Search for the Truth by Angela Gallop
Angela Gallop has had an extraordinary career as a forensic scientist. In over 40 years, she has worked on a string of high profile cases that made significant advances to forensics and criminal law.  When the Dogs Don’t Bark is her memoir of how science has helped to uncover the truth behind some shocking crimes.  While the sensational details showcase her amazingly analytical mind, Angela is also keen to educate her readers about the risks of relying on forensic evidence too heavily.  When the Dogs Don’t Bark will appeal to fans of True Crime and police procedurals, while its level of technical detail should engage science buffs. The Guardian newspaper also considers it an essential resource for aspiring crime writers!

The Wisdom of Wolves: How Wolves can Teach Us to be More Human by Elli H. Radinger
Wolves get pretty bad press in many cultures, and Elli Radinger is out to show everyone that they are not as Big & Bad as we’ve previously heard.  Drawing on 25 years’ of observations, The Wisdom of Wolves describes the social structures and behaviours of wolf packs and shows how similar they are to human societies.  The stories of how the entire pack helps to care for their young and their elderly; how the grownups teach their young to play; and how key decisions are made by females and the elderly, are heartwarming and offer surprising insights into kinship and parenting.  


Why Can’t We Sleep? by Darian Leader
Sleep.  It is a human necessity that has become a luxury in our busy world – so much so that there is an ever-growing industry helping us get the quantity and quality of sleep we want/need.  Why Can’t We Sleep? is a timely examination of this hot topic – weaving together a history and critique of sleep research, with neuroscience, psychology, and the social, cultural and economic significance of sleep.  This is psychoanalyst Darian Leader’s complex, intelligent, yet highly readable story on how and why humans sleep.

Guns, Germs and Steel: the Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond
Guns, Germs and Steel is a hugely influential book that helped to establish Popular Science as a genre.  Jared Diamond examines why some civilisations are more successful than others, in terms of wealth and political power, despite no inherent advantage in genetics or intelligence.  He theorises that the tools of success are guns (superior weapons for military might); germs (Eurasian diseases weakening local populations, making them easier to conquer) and steel (advanced technology facilitating imperialism) – and that they all arose from environmental conditions that allowed early adoption of agriculture. Drawing together ideas from history, geography, economics and anthropology, Guns, Germs and Steel offers compelling theories and surprising insights into the development of societies.

Influenza: the Quest to Cure the Deadliest Disease in History by Dr Jeremy Brown
The deadliest disease in recorded history was the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, which killed up to 100 million people worldwide.  A century later, scientists are still searching for a cure – and an understanding of why this strain disproportionately affects young, apparently-healthy people.  Dr Jeremy Brown uses the Spanish flu pandemic as the starting point of his history of our fight against this ubiquitous yet still deadly virus.  Readers are swept along by this tense mystery/thriller as we begin to understand the high stakes involved – the ‘flu’s ability to spread widely and mutate repeatedly still cause thousands of deaths each year, with widespread social, political and economic consequences, and yet there is still no “bullet-proof” cure or vaccine in sight.

The best comedic books in 2019…so far

This month we’re working on broadening our horizons and with the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in full swing we are going to start by diving into comedy and see how it teaches us about our lives and sheds light on the human psyche.

Let’s dive in…

I can’t remember the title but the cover is blue by Elias Greig

As any retail or service worker will tell you, customers can be irrational, demanding, abusive, and brain-scramblingly, mind-bendingly strange. They can also be kind, thoughtful, funny, and full of pathos. Something about the often-fraught interaction between customer and worker – with the dividing line of the counter between them, and the commercial imperative, with its curious etiquette and toleration of all kinds of suspect behaviour brooding above – dims down certain inhibitions, and has a kind of hot-house effect on eccentricity. In I Can’t Remember the Title But the Cover is Blue, veteran bookseller Elias Greig collects the best, worst and most interesting customer encounters from his years at Berkelouw Balgowlah. From ill-behaved children to nostalgia seniors and everything in between, this hilarious and unpredictable book is the perfect gift for anyone who’s ever been on the wrong side of a store counter.

The book of the year 2018 by No Such Thing As A Fish

In a year dominated by Russian collusion and Brexit confusion, The Book of the Year returns with another dose of barely believable yet wholly unimpeachable facts and stories from the past twelve months. Every week for the past four years, Dan, James, Anna and Andy – the creators of the award-winning, chart-topping comedy podcast No Such Thing As A Fish – have wowed each other and millions of their listeners with the most astonishing trivia they have learned over the previous seven days. Now, once again, they have put down the microphones, picked up their pencils, and transformed a year’s worth of weird and wonderful happenings into one uplifting book that you won’t be able to put down. Discover how Peruvian mummies affected the World Cup, and why Love Island contestants are experts in game theory – as well as hundreds of stories that may have passed you by entirely, including the news that:
– NASA sent a man with a fear of heights to the International Space Station.
– An ice hotel in Canada caught fire.
– Mark Zuckerberg’s private data was compromised while he was talking to Congress about compromised data.
From Kim Jong Un’s personal potty to Jeremy Corbyn’s valuable vegetables, The Book of the Year 2018 is an eye-opening tour of yet another incredible year you didn’t know you’d lived through.

I built no schools in Kenya by Kirsten Drysdale

In September 2010, Kirsten Drysdale was tricked. Her friend called with a job offer too curious to refuse; a cruisey-gig as a dementia carer for a rich old man in Kenya. All expenses-paid, plenty of free time to travel or do some freelance reporting. There seemed no good reason to say no so she got on a plane. Only Kirsten’s friend hadn’t given her the full story. It was only on arrival in Nairobi that she discovered the rich old man’s family was fighting a war around him, and that she would be on the front line. Caught in the crossfire of all kinds of wild accusations, she also had to spy on his wife, keep his daughter placated, rebuff his marriage proposals, hide the car keys and clip his toenails, all while trying to retain her own sanity in the colonial time warp of his home. Meanwhile, the Kenyan army was invading Somalia, Al-Shabaab was threatening terror attacks, the East African bodybuilding scene beckoned, and Kirsten discovered she had long-lost cousins running a bar on the other side of the city. I Built No Schools in Kenya is a travelogue-tragedy-farce about race, wealth, love, death, family, nationhood, sanity, benzodiazepines, monkeys and whisky. It is almost entirely true.

Born a crime by Trevor Noah

One of the comedy world’s brightest voices, Trevor Noah is a light-footed but sharp-minded observer of the absurdities of politics, race and identity, sharing jokes and insights drawn from the wealth of experience acquired in his relatively young life. As host of the US hit show The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, he provides viewers around the globe with their nightly dose of biting satire, but here Noah turns his focus inward, giving readers a deeply personal, heartfelt and humorous look at the world that shaped him. Noah was born a crime, son of a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother, at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the first years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, take him away. A collection of eighteen personal stories, Born a Crime tells the story of a mischievous young boy growing into a restless young man as he struggles to find his place in a world where he was never supposed to exist. Born a Crime is equally the story of that young man’s fearless, rebellious and fervently religious mother – a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence and abuse that ultimately threatens her own life. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Noah illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and an unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a personal portrait of an unlikely childhood in a dangerous time, as moving and unforgettable as the very best memoirs and as funny as Noah’s own hilarious stand-up. Born a Crime is a must read.

GuRu By Ru Paul

A timeless collection of philosophies from renaissance performer and the world’s most famous shape-shifter RuPaul, whose sage outlook has created an unprecedented career for more than thirty-five years. GuRu is packed with more than 80 beautiful photographs that illustrate the concept of building the life you want from the outside in and the inside out. ‘You’re born naked and the rest is drag.’ As someone who has deconstructed life’s hilarious facade, RuPaul has broken ‘the fourth wall’ to expand on the concept of mind, body, and spirit. This unique perspective has allowed RuPaul to break the shackles of self-imposed limitations, but reader beware, this is a daily practice that requires diligence and touchstones to keep you walking in the sunshine of the spirit. Once you’re willing to look beyond the identity that was given to you, a hidden world of possibilities will open its doors. Throughout the history of humans on this planet, there’ve always been shaman, seers, and mediums who are able to interpret both high and low frequencies and remind humans to look beyond the surface for the truth of who we really are. And who we really are is an extension of the power that created the universe (aka: God in drag). FYI: most people are not willing to hear or accept that. That is RuPaul’s secret for success, not only in show business, but in all aspects of life, especially in navigating the emotional landmines that inhibit most sweet, sensitive souls. If you think this book is just about ‘doing drag’, you are sorely mistaken because for RuPaul, drag is merely a device to deactivate the identity-based ego and allow space for the unlimited.

The Uncollected plays of Shaun Micallef by Shaun Micallef

Shaun Micallef is without doubt one of Australia’s premier comedians, writer, producer, presenter, host, actor, author, broadcaster, bon vivant, gadfly, troubadour, dancer, impresario, trick-cyclist, acrobat, lion tamer, poet and elite sportsman. But did you know that he is also an internationally renowned playwright? No? Typical. It’s a stain on our national character that this doyen of theatre does not get anywhere near the credit he deserves or attention he craves in this country; mute testimony to Australia’s cultural cringe and inveterate dumbness. From Broadway to the West End, his name is mentioned in the same breath as Mamet and Ray Cooney; and in the salons of Paris he is worshipped as a God. His plays, uncollected until now, are irrefutable proof that when it comes to listing the world’s greatest dramatists, the name Micallef should be inserted in there somewhere. Even if you have never been to the theatre before, just holding this book in your hands as you are now will change your life forever. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, your body will spasm convulsively – you may even be so moved that you will open the book and read it.

Enjoy!

Growing your side business with Youtube

More and more people are carving out their own little corner of the internet to launch their side hustle. Video is the most powerful content on social media. It can stop us in our (scrolling) tracks and demand our attention with FOMO viral clips. Video also allows brands to show snippets of life behind the scenes of a business which is a  technique used to build trust with customers. 

If you’re thinking of utilising youtube for your side hustle read on. Our team has trailed the internet and has found the top titles for using youtube for business. 

Really professional internet person by Jenn McAlister

Jenn McAllister, better known as JennxPenn, has been obsessed with making videos since she found her parents video camera at the age of eight. A shy child, Jenn turned to film because, unlike with life, you can always have a do-over. Really Professional Internet Person offers both an insider’s guide to building a successful YouTube channel and an intimate portrait of the surreality of insta-fame and the harsh reality of high school. Brimming with honesty, heart and Jenn’s patented sense of humour, Really Professional Internet Person features top ten lists, photos, screenshots, social media posts and never-before-posted stories chronicling Jenn’s journey from an anxious middle-schooler just trying to fit in, to a YouTube sensation unafraid to stand out.

So you want to blog by Andrea Valeria 

So, you’re an aspiring vlogger? Your new favourite content creator, Andrea Valeria of “It’s a Travel O.D.,” has broken down the vlogging process for you, without taking herself too seriously or getting overly technical. From naming your vlog, refining your style, and advancing your skills—to the satisfaction of publishing your very first video — you now have a vlogging mentor (and maybe your first viewer!). 

I, Justine by Justine Ezarik

A one-woman media phenomenon and a leading YouTube influencer takes readers behind the camera, and deep inside her world. Justine Ezarik has been tech-obsessed since unboxing her family s first Apple computer. By sixth grade she had built her first website. A decade later, she became one of the Internet s first and most popular lifecasters, inviting people around the world to watch her every move, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. But it was a one-minute video about an itemised AT&T bill that gave Justine her first taste of viral success: Within ten days of release, her 300-page iPhone bill had garnered more than 3 million views and international media attention. These days, iJustine is a one-woman new media phenomenon: The popular techie, gamer, vlogger, and digital influencer has an army of nearly 3.5 million subscribers across multiple YouTube channels, with total views approaching half a billion. Now, Justine is giving friends and fans a look behind the scenes, sharing never-before-told stories about the hilarious (and sometimes heartbreaking) reality of sharing your life online. With her trademark wit and delightfully weird sense of humor, Justine delivers an inspirational message in support of creativity, entrepreneurship, and the power of staying true to yourself, while reminding readers that the Internet is a very small world you just never know who you re going to meet.

The Amazing Book is not on fire by Dan Howell and Phil Lester

Dan and Phil are youtube sensations who just about broke the internet when they announced they were releasing a board game back in 2017. You can check it out here. But back in 2015 they released a book offering helpful advice on how to make successful videos. Using themselves as object lessons, they start with short but thorough autobiographies that provide insight into their childhood, teen, and early vlogging years. They then move into talking about their creative processes, a little bit about their setups, and a lot of helpful advice, including what not to do, to make entertaining videos.

Vlog like a Boss by Amy Schmittauer

Vlog Like a Boss is the complete guide to video blogging.

Amy Schmittauer is the Vlog Boss. As a new media triple threat; a YouTuber, keynote speaker and author and all the while she coaches people to go after what they want in life and leverage online video to make it happen. Creator of the popular YouTube series Savvy Sexy Social, her channel boasts a global community and millions of views. Now, in her first book, she will show you how to Vlog Like a Boss and get the attention you deserve. The book is a collection of strategies and tactics from years of experience in online video, Schmittauer shares time-tested, proven methods to creating brand awareness with vlogging that will build a loyal community for years to come. 

Enjoy. 

Best Books to help grow your side business with Instagram

This month we are stepping into the world of side hustles. Last week we showcased a number of top books focussing on your business making the transition from side hustle to real life business. You can read that here

Today, we are diving into the world of Instagram. Instagram is a super efficient marketing tool especially when have a side businesses to launch, or if you have made the decision to amp up your marketing game. 

Here’s our top picks for the titles that will offer you guidance. 

Capture your style by Aimee Song

With 3 million Instagram fans and counting, Aimee Song knows a thing or two about taking the perfect Instagram photo. In Capture Your Style, Song reveals the secrets behind creating the ultimate feed and breaks down the technical and editorial essentials for creating an account that will draw thousands of followers to earn you likes and brand attention. Organised by lifestyle categories, including fashion, travel, food, decor and more, the book presents the best apps and filters for processing photos, improving your voice and capturing your story on Instagram. There is also how-to information for propping and styling food and fashion photos. Whether you’re launching a career or simply sharing a gorgeous meal with your friends, Capture Your Style empowers you to become a master mobile photographer and shows you how to turn everyday moments into Instagold.

Crushing It by Gary Vaynerchuk

In his 2009 international bestseller, Crush It!, Gary insisted that a vibrant personal brand was one of the primary paths to entrepreneurial success. In Crushing It!, Gary explains why that’s even more true today, offering his unique perspective on what has changed and what remains timeless. He also shares stories from other entrepreneurs who have grown wealthier, and not just financially, than they ever imagined possible by following Crush It! principles. The secret to their success (and Gary’s) has everything to do with their understanding of social media platforms and their willingness to do whatever it takes to make these tools work to their utmost potential. Crushing It! is a state-of-the-art guide to building your own path to professional and financial success, but it’s not about getting rich. It’s a blueprint for living life on your own terms.

Styling for Instagram by Leela Cyd

Instagram is a rich source of inspiration and aspiration. It’s easy to set up an account, but to really master it, and gain a significant following, you need two things: a strong personal brand and an aspirational style that people will want to emulate. This book will help you achieve both. Written by renowned Instagram expert and photographer Leela Cyd, this book is packed with beautiful images as well as her sage advice for certain Instagram success. With sections on creating the perfect composition, finding the unique angle, and capturing scenes and places, this book covers all you need to know about getting the shots that work.

Instastyle by Tessa Barton

Instagram is the place where trends break, tastes are made, and brands are launched. Plus it’s packed with insightful analytics and handy business tools to help you elevate your social media presence to the next level. Create, connect with others, and share the way you see the world! Whether your passion is fitness, fashion, food, or anything in between, you can turn that passion into a business, inspire others, and meet amazing people. Learn from Tezza and her friends how to tell compelling visual stories on the fastest growing social media platform, with topics including photography tips, brand engagement strategies, and advice for finding management. InstaStyle is a must-have guide for a booming industry, full of beautiful imagery and easily understood guides to help you achieve your Instagram goals. You’ll learn how you can create an immediately recognisable grid aesthetic and showcase your life while remaining true to your personal brand. With contributions from successful influencers, you’ll be inspired to curate category-specific content to share with the Insta-universe.

Read this if you want to be instagram famous by Henry Carroll

So you’ve got an Instagram account, you’re posting pictures, but your follower count has flatlined. Read This If You Want to Be Instagram Famous holds the answers to fixing up your feed and finding thousands of new followers. Packed with the essential secrets of the hottest Instagrammers around, the book features tips covering photographic techniques, captioning, codes of conduct, kit and managing your account. Put the advice into practice and soon you too will be hailed as an Instagram icon.

Let us know in the comments if you have any other titles you think we should share. Nest week we’re sharing our top picks when using youtube for business.

Enjoy!

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!

Books that will tug at your heartstrings

Books have the ability to evoke amazingly strong feelings amongst readers. While we love finding books that make us laugh so hard we snort out our cup of tea, it is the sad books that can take you by surprise and before you know it you are swept up in an emotional rollercoaster that you just can’t get off (sometimes the thought of closing the book for a little while to gather yourself is just too harsh…because if the character had to go through it, then so must we).

Brace yourself, last year a number of authors went straight for our heartstrings and tear ducts. Here are our favourite tear jerkers that were released. 

That Kind of Mother by Rumaan Alam

Like many first-time mothers, Rebecca Stone finds herself both deeply in love with her newborn son and deeply overwhelmed. Struggling to juggle the demands of motherhood with her own aspirations and feeling utterly alone in the process, she reaches out to the only person at the hospital who offers her any real help—Priscilla Johnson—and begs her to come home with them as her son’s nanny. Priscilla’s presence quickly does as much to shake up Rebecca’s perception of the world as it does to stabilise her life. Rebecca is white, and Priscilla is black, and through their relationship, Rebecca finds herself confronting, for the first time, the blind spots of her own privilege. She feels profoundly connected to the woman who essentially taught her what it means to be a mother. When Priscilla dies unexpectedly in childbirth, Rebecca steps forward to adopt the baby. But she is unprepared for what it means to be a white mother with a black son. As she soon learns, navigating motherhood for her is a matter of learning how to raise two children whom she loves with equal ferocity, but whom the world is determined to treat differently. Written with the warmth and psychological acuity that defined his debut, Rumaan Alam has crafted a remarkable novel about the lives we choose, and the lives that are chosen for us.

Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris

A picture is worth a thousand words, but sometimes the story behind the picture is worth a thousand more. 2 CHILDREN FOR SALE. In 1931, near Philadelphia, ambitious reporter Ellis Reed photographs the gut-wrenching sign posted beside a pair of siblings on a farmhouse porch. With the help of newspaper secretary Lily Palmer, Ellis writes an article to accompany the photo. Capturing the hardships of American families during the Great Depression, the feature story generates national attention and Ellis’s career skyrockets. But the piece also leads to consequences more devastating than he and Lily ever imagined and it will risk everything they value to unravel the mystery and set things right. Inspired by a newspaper photo that stunned readers throughout the country, Sold on a Monday is a powerful novel of ambition, redemption, love and family.

This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay

Welcome to the life of a junior doctor: 97-hour weeks, life and death decisions, a constant tsunami of bodily fluids, and the hospital parking meter earns more than you. Scribbled in secret after endless days, sleepless nights and missed weekends, Adam Kay’s This is Going to Hurt provides a no-holds-barred account of his time on the NHS front line. It’s hilarious, horrifying and heartbreaking, this diary is everything you wanted to know – and more than a few things you didn’t – about life on and off the hospital ward.

The Trauma Cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein

Technically this was released in 2017, but it is a wonderfully moving book that we just had to share it with you. Before she was a trauma cleaner, Sandra Pankhurst was many things- husband and father, drag queen, gender reassignment patient, sex worker, small businesswoman and trophy wife. But as a little boy, raised in violence and excluded from the family home, she just wanted to belong. Now she believes her clients deserve no less. A woman who sleeps among garbage she has not put out for forty years. A man who bled quietly to death in his lounge room. A woman who lives with rats, random debris and terrified delusion. The still life of a home vacated by accidental overdose. Sarah Krasnostein has watched the extraordinary Sandra Pankhurst bring order and care to these, the living and the dead – and the book she has written is equally extraordinary. Not just the compelling story of a fascinating life among lives of desperation, but an affirmation that, as isolated as we may feel, we are all in this together.

How to Walk Away by Katherine Center

If your life fell apart, could you start again?

Maggie Jacobsen has a bright future ahead of her, with a handsome boyfriend and a promising career, until an accident on what should be one of the happiest days of her life takes it all away. Lying in hospital and forced to face the possibility that nothing will ever be the same again, Maggie must figure out how to move forward on her own terms while facing family secrets, heartbreak, and the possibility that love might find her in the last place she would ever expect. How to Walk Away by Katherine Center is an unforgettable love story about finding joy in the darkest of circumstances.

So Much I Want To Tell You by Anna Akana

Okay, full disclosure, this book was actually released in 2017 but it is such a powerful book that we just had to include it. 

From Internet sensation Anna Akana comes a candid and poignant collection of essays about love, loss, and chasing adulthood. In 2007, Anna Akana lost her teen sister, Kristina, to suicide. In the months that followed, she realised that the one thing helping her process her grief and begin to heal was comedy. So she began making YouTube videos as a form of creative expression and as a way to connect with others. Ten years later, Anna has more than a million subscribers who watch her smart, honest vlogs on her YouTube channel. Her most popular videos, including “How to Put On Your Face” and “Why Girls Should Ask Guys Out,” are comical and provocative, but they all share a deeper message: Your worth is determined by you and you alone. You must learn to love yourself. In So Much I Want to Tell You, Anna opens up about her own struggles with poor self-esteem and reveals both the highs and lows of coming-of-age. She offers fresh, funny, hard-won advice for young women on everything from self-care to money to sex, and she is refreshingly straightforward about the realities of dating, female friendship, and the hustle required to make your dreams come true. This is Anna’s story, but, as she says, it belongs just as much to Kristina and to every other girl who must learn that growing up can be hard to do. Witty and real, Anna breaks things down in a way only a big sister can.

Enjoy!