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The best books from famous book clubs around the world

Book clubs have come a long way with the digital age; no longer do you have to head to a cafe on a Winter’s night to chat through a book that you may have only *just* finished (or let’s be honest, sometimes only read the first, middle and last chapter of…we won’t judge, some books are just too hard to get through in 4 weeks!). The increasingly popularity of book clubs on the internet allow us to stay at home in our slippers curled up on a comfy chair and given the huge number of participants we may no longer be the only person who hasn’t finished the book. 

All joking aside, we do love a good book recommendation and we know you do, too, so the Booko team has scoured the internet and found the best picks from some of the world’s most famous book clubs (with books that we know you’ll actually want to read). 

Let’s start with the biggest book club of them all…Oprah’s. Anything recommended by this lady is sure to be a bestseller!

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her centre. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

A compulsively readable debut novel about marriage, immigration, class, race, and the trapdoors in the American Dream. This is the unforgettable story of a young Cameroonian couple making a new life in New York just as the Great Recession upends the economy Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself, his wife, Neni, and their six-year-old son. In the fall of 2007, Jende can hardly believe his luck when he lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Clark demands punctuality, discretion, and loyalty, and Jende is eager to please. Clark’s wife, Cindy, even offers Neni temporary work at the Edwardses’ summer home in the Hamptons. With these opportunities, Jende and Neni can at last gain a foothold in America and imagine a brighter future. However, the world of great power and privilege conceals troubling secrets, and soon Jende and Neni notice cracks in their employers’ facades. When the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Jongas are desperate to keep Jende’s job even as their marriage threatens to fall apart. As all four lives are dramatically upended, Jende and Neni are forced to make an impossible choice. 

Emma Watson started a book club in 2015 with a firm focus on feminism. The books the club, known as The Shared Shelf, reviews and discusses books every two months. Here are their latest titles. 

Solito, Solita by Steven Mayers

They are a mass migration of thousands, yet each one travels alone. Solito, Solita (Alone, Alone) is an urgent collection of oral histories that tells the story of young refugees fleeing countries in Central America and traveling for hundreds of miles to seek safety and protection in the United States.

Fifteen narrators describe why they fled their homes, what happened on their dangerous journeys through Mexico, how they crossed the borders, and for some, their ongoing struggles to survive in the United States. In an era of fear, xenophobia, and outright lies, these stories amplify the compelling voices of migrant youth. What can they teach us about abuse and abandonment, bravery and resilience, hypocrisy and hope? They bring us into their hearts and onto streets filled with the lure of freedom and fraught with violence. From fending off kidnappers with knives and being locked in freezing holding cells to tearful reunions with parents, Solito, Solita’s narrators bring to light the experiences of young people struggling for a better life across the border.

This collection includes the story of Adrián, from Guatemala City, whose mother was shot to death before his eyes. He refused to join a gang, rode across Mexico atop cargo trains, crossed the US border as a minor, and was handcuffed and thrown into ICE detention on his eighteenth birthday. We hear the story of Rosa, a Salvadoran mother fighting to save her life as well as her daughter’s after death squads threatened her family. Together they trekked through the jungles on the border between Guatemala and Mexico, where masked men assaulted them. We also meet Gabriel, who after surviving sexual abuse starting at the age of eight fled to the United States, and through study, legal support and work, is now attending UC Berkeley.

Butterfly by Yusra Mardini

Yusra Mardini fled her native Syria to the Turkish coast in 2015 and boarded a small dinghy full of refugees bound for Greece. When the small and overcrowded boat’s engine cut out, it began to sink. Yusra, her sister and two others took to the water, pushing the boat for three and a half hours in open water until they eventually landed on Lesbos, saving the lives of the passengers aboard. Butterfly is the story of that remarkable woman, whose journey started in a war-torn suburb of Damascus and took her through Europe to Berlin and from there to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Yusra Mardini is an athlete, one of People magazine’s twenty-five women changing the world, a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador and one of Time Magazine’s thirty most influential teens of 2016.

Our favourite Southern gal Reece Witherspoon also has a hugely popular book club called Hello Sunshine. We love following along with what Reece is reading and just know you’ll enjoy her latest picks.

Whisper Network by Chandler Baker

Sloane, Ardie, Grace, and Rosalita have worked at Truviv, Inc. for years. The sudden death of Truviv’s CEO means their boss, Ames, will likely take over the entire company. Each of the women has a different relationship with Ames, who has always been surrounded by whispers about how he treats women. Those whispers have been ignored, swept under the rug, hidden away by those in charge. But the world has changed, and the women are watching this promotion differently. This time, when they find out Ames is making an inappropriate move on a colleague, they aren’t willing to let it go. This time, they’ve decided enough is enough. Sloane and her colleagues’ decision to take a stand sets in motion a catastrophic shift in the office. Lies will be uncovered. Secrets will be exposed. And not everyone will survive. Explosive, timely, resonant and relatable. If you love Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies or Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere, you will love Whisper Network.

The Cactus by Sarah Haywood

Legal battles, lapses of logic and the joys and fears of motherhood are explored in this astute, funny and moving novel of a woman learning how to let go. People aren’t sure what to make of Susan Green. Family and colleagues find her prickly and hard to understand, but Susan makes perfect sense to herself, and that’s all she needs. At 45, she thinks her life is perfect, as long as she avoids her feckless brother, Edward, a safe distance away in Birmingham. She has a London flat which is ideal for one; a job that suits her passion for logic; and a personal arrangement providing cultural and other, more intimate, benefits. Yet suddenly faced with the loss of her mother and, implausibly, with the possibility of becoming a mother herself, Susan’s greatest fear is being realised: she is losing control. When she discovers that her mother’s will inexplicably favours her brother, Susan sets out to prove that Edward and his equally feckless friend Rob somehow coerced this dubious outcome. But when problems closer to home become increasingly hard to ignore, she finds help in the most unlikely of places. This sparkling debut is a breath of fresh air with real heart and a powerful emotional punch. In Susan we find a character as exasperating and delightful as The Rosie Project’s Don Tillman.

Enjoy!

Best Books for Business Startups

So it was our birthday this week. We turned 12 and boy are we excited.  

Taking an idea and turning it into a thriving business is a dream for many entrepreneurs and one of the best ways to make sure you can do this is to learn and listen to those you admire who have also been through the process. That’s why we are super excited about this week’s blog. Today we’re sharing some the the most recommended books for business startups in today’s digital world. We hope they will inspire you to take your idea to the next level. 

So get your pen and paper ready (well actually it’d be easier to just add them to your list in Booko or set an alert for the price you want to pay for them), here we go…

Atomic Habits by James Clear 

If we had a $1 for every time someone recommended this book on a podcast…oh boy. It’s no surprise this book is a New York Times bestseller. 

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.

The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz 


This book is currently sitting on my nightstand and I am 3/4 of the way through. It’s amazing. 

Ben Horowitz is the cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz and one of Silicon Valley’s most respected and experienced entrepreneurs. In this book he offers essential advice on building and running a startup and practical wisdom for managing the toughest problems business school doesn’t cover.

While many people talk about how great it is to start a business, very few are honest about how difficult it is to run one. Ben Horowitz analyses the problems that confront leaders every day, sharing the insights he’s gained developing, managing, selling, buying, investing in, and supervising technology companies. A lifelong rap fanatic, he amplifies business lessons with lyrics from his favourite songs, telling it straight about everything from firing friends to poaching competitors, cultivating and sustaining a CEO mentality to knowing the right time to cash in.

Filled with his trademark humour and straight talk, The Hard Thing About Hard Things is invaluable for veteran entrepreneurs as well as those aspiring to their own new ventures, drawing from Horowitz’s personal and often humbling experiences.

The Crowdsourceress by Alex Daly

In the past few years, crowdfunding platforms helped generate a staggering $34 USD billion dollars in funding. But the harsh reality is that the majority of crowdfunding campaigns fail: only 40% meet their goals. And failing means failing hard. If you fall short of your goal by the deadline, not only won’t you see any of the money you’ve worked so hard to raise, but you might actually tarnish your shiny idea. Alex Daly is a hugely successful crowdfunding expert who has run some of Kickstarter’s biggest campaigns, from TLC’s new album to Neil Young’s music player to Joan Didion’s documentary “We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live.” In this book, she shows you how to build a deep fan base prior to launch, understand the psychology of why people give and create the right narrative around your project, find the right platform on which to raise funds, deal with unfulfilled promises and angry backers, create intimacy and promote shareability of your project and the best use of influence and exclusivity to get funded. Woven throughout is Alex’s own entrepreneurial story and the unconventional career path she took to ultimately start her business, Vann Alexandra, thanks to crowdfunding.Daly takes us deep into her most successful campaigns, showing how she helped them get funded. As someone who’s spent lots of time in the trenches, she has learned the hard way how to communicate and connect with people on the Internet-and offers tangible tools to run your own crowdfunding campaigns. Above all, this is a book about how to fully connect with the crowd, get people to pay attention, and inspire them to act.

Little Black Book by Otegha Uwagba

This is the essential career handbook for creative working women. It’s the modern career guide every creative woman needs, whether you’re just starting out or already have years of experience. Packed with fresh ideas and no-nonsense practical advice, this travel-sized career handbook is guaranteed to become your go-to resource when it comes to building the career you want.

Writer Otegha Uwagba takes you through everything you need to build a successful self-made career: from how to negotiate a payrise to building a killer personal brand, via a crash course in networking like a pro, and tips for overcoming creative block. Plus Little Black Book is full of indispensable advice on how to thrive as a freelancer, and an entire chapter dedicated to helping you master the tricky art of public speaking.

With contributions from trailblazing creative women including acclaimed author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Refinery29 co-founder Piera Gelardi, The Gentlewoman’s Editor in Chief Penny Martin, and many more, Little Black Book is a curation of essential wisdom and hard-won career insights. Whether you’re a thinker, a maker, an artist or an entrepreneur, you’ll find plenty of inspiration for your working life here.

Playing Big by Tara Mohr

This book was named Book of the year by Apple’s iBooks. 

Tara Mohr is a groundbreaking women’s leadership expert and popular conference speaker who gives women the practical skills to voice and implement the changes they want to see in themselves and in the world. In her coaching and programs for women, Tara Mohr saw how women were “playing small” in their lives and careers, were frustrated by it, and wanted to “play bigger.” She has devised a proven way for them to achieve their dreams by playing big from the inside out. 

While not all women aspire to end up in the corner office, every woman aspires to something. Playing Big fills a major gap among women’s career books; it isn’t just for corporate women. The book offers tools to help every woman play bigger whether she’s an executive, community volunteer, artist, or stay-at-home mum.

The Creative Curve by Allen Gannett

Big data entrepreneur Allen Gannett overturns the mythology around creative genius, and reveals the science and secrets behind achieving breakout commercial success in any field. We have been spoon-fed the notion that creativity is the province of genius of those favoured, brilliant few whose moments of insight arrive in unpredictable flashes of divine inspiration.  And if we are not a genius, we might as well pack it in and give up. Either we have that gift, or we don’t.  But Allen shows that simply isn’t true.  Recent research has shown that there is a predictable science behind achieving commercial success in any creative endeavour, from writing a popular novel to starting up a successful company to creating an effective marketing campaign.  

As the world’s most creative people have discovered, we are enticed by the novel and the familiar. By understanding the mechanics of what Gannett calls “the creative curve”, the point of optimal tension between the novel and the familiar, everyone can better engineer mainstream success.  

In a thoroughly entertaining book that describes the stories and insights of everyone from the Broadway team behind Dear Evan Hansen, to the founder of Reddit, from the Chief Content Officer of Netflix to Michelin star chefs, Gannett reveals the four laws of creative success and identifies the common patterns behind their achievement.

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.

Embrace your crafty side this Christmas

With the biggest gift giving day of the year fast approaching (yikes it’s only just over 3 weeks away) it’s easy for panic to set in and totally ruin your budget. So let’s flip that panic and make the festive season much more merry by embracing our inner creativity and having a clever little crafty Christmas instead. 

Our elves have scoured the internet for titles that we think have the most fun craft to try. So sit back, grab yourself a cup of your favourite beverage and let your imagination flow…

 

Weaving Within Reach by Anne Weil

The resurgence of the ’70s in fashion and home decor has brought about a new trend in crafting; weaving. Anne Weil gives macrame basket weaving, and other weaving skills a makeover with beautiful photography and styling with projects that can be made on various easily sourced looms, and even some that don’t require a loom, with just about any kind of material or fibre (including yarn, leather, and paper). The photography is light and bright, and the book’s look is a little bit bohemian. Best of all, projects are organised by time commitment (one hour, weeknight, and weeknight projects), so readers can craft at their comfort level…and you could totally finish something by Christmas!

 

Craft the Rainbow by Brittany Watson Jepsen

What began as an Instagram hashtag and project collection (#CrafttheRainbow) that quickly went viral has become a show stopping book, offering a rainbow of completely new project ideas. Learn how to make playful party decorations, luscious flowers, amazing cards, and sophisticated wreaths, garlands, centrepieces, and more than you can imagine, all with nothing but the creative power of paper. Sought-after designer Brittany Watson Jepsen is known for the unusually imaginative and amazingly beautiful designs she creates for her website and host of clients (including Anthropologie). In Craft the Rainbow, Jepsen walks readers through the easy basics of transforming simple paper -including tissue, crepe, cardstock, leaves of books, and vintage and recycled paper- into vibrant, fanciful, handmade projects suitable for every occasion.

 

Japanese Stitches Unraveled by Wendy Bernard

Japanese stitch patterns are eye-catching and much sought after by devotees, but before now, they often seemed out of reach, whether locked behind Japanese-only instructions or tangled up in difficult-to-decipher illustrations. Japanese Stitches Unraveled offers over 160 rare patterns inspired by these elusive and intricate Japanese stitch designs, along with fully illustrated charts, familiar symbols, and clear instructions for every single stitch. Each stitch pattern receives Bernard’s unique four-direction makeover-topdown, bottom-up, back-and-forth, and in-the-round. To showcase the knitting in action, Bernard also includes instructions for six garments as well as her famous formulas for knitting without a pattern.

Go on, give it a go, you know you want to. 

 

By Hand: The Art of Modern Lettering by Nicole Miyuki Santo

In a world of screens and social media, people are constantly searching for ways to reconnect to the handmade and the authentic to add a personal spark and a beautiful look to everyday objects and occasions. The art of modern lettering is a point of connection, a way of crafting letters and words into something that delights the eyes and feeds the soul. With unique projects and an Instagram-worthy aesthetic, By Hand provides an inspirational jumping-off point for readers who want to incorporate lettering into a slower, more intentional lifestyle. Blending the aspirational and the instructional, By Hand brings the beauty of lettering beyond the page, through 30 distinct projects, from dip-dyed place cards to acrylic home furnishings. Relatable lessons introduce readers to the essentials of lettering, including tools (watercolour brushes, brush pens, and markers), fonts, and essential lessons, with the warm and welcoming approach of popular Instagram letterer Nicole Miyuki Santo. Encouraging lessons sprinkled throughout the book add a touch of mindfulness, while bright, airy photography and step-by-step lettered samples make this lovely volume a stunning approach to an on-trend pastime.

 

Macramé for Beginners and Beyond: 24 Easy Macramé Projects for Home and Garden by Amy Mullins

Discover a fresh, new take on the traditional craft of macrame, a craft that was incredibly popular in the seventies, is currently enjoying a renaissance. Macrame projects are the best way to bring the current trend for hippy luxe, boho interiors into your home (oh and for other people too…sorry totally forgot we are thinking of crafting presents for other people!) Macrame for Beginners includes very on trend macrame projects for inside and outside the home. You can choose from 12 different projects with an ‘easy’ and ‘more advanced’ version for each so you can develop your skills as you go. Learn all the basic macrame knots with the knot tutorial library so you can get started with your favourite projects whether it’s the ubiquitous hanging plant holder or a statement arch for the garden or a doorway.

 

The Flower Expert by Fleur McHarg

Flowers are a beautiful gift to receive. Fleur McHarg is a florist in the true, traditional sense of the word. Guided by the eternal wisdom of Constance Spry, the trailblazing early 20th century British florist, Fleur believes in letting flowers be the stars of the show by working with the natural shape of a flower or branch. When it comes to beauty, you can’t beat nature – but you can learn how to showcase it for startling impact. The Flower Expert is a stunning celebration of Fleur’s artistry and her ability to fuse modern and classic to create a style that suits each occasion.

 

So much craft…so little time.

Enjoy!

Have a Clever Christmas with Booko: A Smart Shopping Guide for Friends and Family Overseas

With only 5 weeks until Christmas (oh yes, you read that right!), time is ticking to ensure your gifts reach family and friends who live overseas. But fear not, we are here to help. 

If you fancy purchasing a book, DVD or board game as a gift for someone living abroad, Booko has some clever functionality where you can purchase in their local currency and the gift gets shipped directly to the recipient. How great is that!

Here’s what you do:

First off, jump online to Booko.

In the top right hand corner, there will be a flag (it’s usually your local country flag). Click on this and all the countries that Booko works with will appear. Select the country flag that you want to send your gift to. What’s great is that when you choose a different country, both the shipping charges and times are specific to that country (so it’s easy to make sure your gift will make it in time).

Let’s have a look at an example…

In the screen shot above we have selected the USA. From here, we will have a range of online booksellers that we can purchase from, just like you do when shopping in your local country on Booko. All prices and delivery charges have now been converted to USD. We can also see the shipping times involved.

We decided to purchase this book from Amazon UK, which is based in the UK but ships globally.  Because it is getting close to Christmas, you may want to choose a book retailer that has speedy shipping times. It makes sense to get the book delivered directly to your family and friends, it saves on postage costs, postage times and it gives you greater security that it will arrive before the big fellow in the red suit!

Do remember that when shopping online it is important to keep in mind the delivery dates for the country you are sending to. We’ve made a handy little table to help you with this.

Last Order Dates for Christmas (using standard delivery)

Shop To AUS To NZ To US To UK
Amazon AU 13 Dec (Country)

19 Dec (Metro)

Amazon CA 14 Dec 14 Dec 14 Dec 14 Dec
Amazon US TBC
Amazon UK 21 Dec
Angus & Robertson TBC
Book Depository (dispatched from AU) 23 Nov – 12 Dec (Country)

10-13 Dec (Metro)

5 Dec 5 Dec 5 Dec
Book Depository (dispatched from UK) 10 Dec 5 Dec 10 Dec 17 Dec
Booktopia 13 Dec (Country)

17 Dec (Metro)

13 Dec
Wordery 10 Dec 10 Dec 14 Dec 17 Dec

 

Some stores have express delivery or even same-day delivery options; these details and further country information can be found by clicking on the store name.

(Just a little fine print…Booko cannot take responsibility for deliveries which do not arrive by Christmas so please check the delivery estimates when ordering).

Finally, if you end up missing the postie completely and there’s no way a book, board game or DVD is going to arrive in time, then you always have the option of sending a gift voucher from one of the book stores. Gift vouchers are emailed directly to your recipient…which means you can sit back and pat yourself on the back for being clever this Christmas. 

Ho Ho Ho.

The Best Picks for Secret Santa Gifts 2018

Secret Santa gifts can be tricky…not only do you need to show that you are being thoughtful, but it also needs to remain affordable.

We’ve had a look around the internet and come up with a list of fab books that are sure to delight any name you happen to draw out of the hat. 

For your work bestie

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.

Prosecco Drinking Games by Abbie Cammidge

First up, we really recommend you drink responsibly…but you can still do that while reading this! Get the party started with this awesome collection of Prosecco-themed games to play with friends. What could be better than getting the gang together, grabbing a glass and cracking open a bottle of bubbles? Why, throwing a few Prosecco-based drinking games into the mix, of course! There are over 25 games that use everyone’s favourite sparkly tipple – ranging from hilarious Beyonce Bingo to the organised chaos that is the Prosecco Olympics. So what are you waiting for? Choose your game, pop a cork and prepare to laugh. A lot!

 

 

 

For the newbie

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. Featuring stories of: Dr Tererai Trent (Oprah Winfrey’s all-time favourite guest), Arianna Huffington, Stella McCartney, Sir Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey, Li Cunxin (author of Mao’s Last Dancer), Alisa Camplin-Warner (winner of a remarkable Olympic gold medal), Michelle Obama, and others. 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.

 

The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving A F**k by Sarah Knight

A brilliant, hilarious homage to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, showing how to shed your mental clutter for good. Aimed at overachieving but dissatisfied people everywhere. Sarah’s inspirational two-step “NotSorry” program shows how unleashing the power of not giving a fuck will help you shed unwanted guilt and obligations to redirect time, energy, and enthusiasm to your true priorities. Sarah reveals why giving a fuck about what other people think is your worst enemy-and how to stop doing it; how to sort your fucks into four essential categories; simple criteria for whether or not you should give a fuck (i.e. “Does this affect anyone other than me?”); and the two keys to successfully not giving a fuck without also being an asshole.So, get rid of the mental clutter, ditch the perfectionism and create the life you want – for good.

 

For the boss

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight

In 1962, fresh out of business school, Phil Knight borrowed $50 from his father and created a company with a simple mission: import high-quality, low-cost athletic shoes from Japan. Selling the shoes from the boot of his Plymouth, Knight grossed $8000 in his first year. Today, Nike’s annual sales top $30 billion. In an age of start-ups, Nike is the ne plus ultra of all start-ups, and the swoosh has become a revolutionary, globe-spanning icon, one of the most ubiquitous and recognisable symbols in the world today. But Knight, the man behind the swoosh, has always remained a mystery. Now, for the first time, he tells his story. Candid, humble, wry and gutsy, he begins with his crossroads moment when at 24 he decided to start his own business. He details the many risks and daunting setbacks that stood between him and his dream – along with his early triumphs. Above all, he recalls how his first band of partners and employees soon became a tight-knit band of brothers. Together, harnessing the transcendent power of a shared mission, and a deep belief in the spirit of sport, they built a brand that changed everything. A memoir rich with insight, humour and hard-won wisdom, this book is also studded with lessons – about building something from scratch, overcoming adversity, and ultimately leaving your mark on the world.

 

Taskmaster by Alex Horne

Taskmaster- 200 Extraordinary Tasks for Ordinary People is the first book based on Dave’s flagship game show with a difference. In the show Greg Davies, as the Taskmaster, sets a series of ridiculous tasks to a group of comedians with Alex Horne assisting as his right-hand man, coaxing the hopeful champions to think creatively while completing various challenges – from trying to paint the best picture of a horse (while riding an actual horse), to destroying a cake in the most beautiful way. Taskmaster- 200 Extraordinary Tasks for Ordinary People is the closest thing to being a contestant on the show (without being a contestant on the show). It is a painstakingly plotted, carefully crafted collection of preposterous tasks, a personal introduction to the Taskmaster world and a fully-interactive guide to indulging your competitive streak with friends and family from the comfort of your own living room. From making the most artistic tea-stain on the page to creating a self-portrait while blindfolded, this book requires you to think – and draw – outside of the box. Rivalry is encouraged, dodgy tactics rewarded and bribes accepted. In short, the reader gets the total Taskmaster experience in the form of a book. Part board-game, part choose-your-own-adventure, part self-help guide, it is to books what Taskmaster is to TV; uniquely original and deviously addictive. Expect cheating. Expect arguments. Expect both cheating AND arguments.

 

 

For the person you’ve only ever seen in the lift

 

The Honey Badger Guide to Life by Nick Cummins

Are you jaded by modern life? Do you dream of ‘going rogue, running hard, standing tall, fearing nothing, getting off the grid and attacking life?’ Then meet The Badger . . . The Honey Badger Guide to Life is a maverick guide to a better life for anyone who wants to live at maximum revs and get smarter, stronger and happier in the process. With his hilarious stories, Aussie eccentricity, dedication to family and incredible lust for life, Nick ‘The Honey Badger’ Cummins has inspired Australians of all ages. The Honey Badger Guide to Life teaches novice Badgers how to survive and thrive in the urban jungle with tips on health and hygiene, sex and romance, culture and cooking, money and career, life and death, manners and morals, friends and family. Buckle up and listen in as The Badger schools you in how to; Give a speech, Win an argument, Administer a ‘man hug’, Tell a joke, Break-up with a bird, Survive in the wild, Stare down a bull and much more! Jam-packed with crazy yarns, dinkum Badger-isms and practical wisdom acquired on his adventures around Australia and the world, this hilarious, warm (and weird) book will enlighten, entertain, baffle and inspire you to embrace life . . . just like The Honey Badger.

 

Suburbia: The Familiar and Forgotten by Warren Kirk

“The sentiment that flows through these images is a balm to the knowledge that time is passing and things will change,” – William McInnes.    Warren Kirk’s photos will strike a chord with anyone who’s grown up in the Australian suburbs in the past 50 years. Somehow both achingly familiar and unimaginably strange, these luminous images continue his 30-year project of documenting a way of life that is slowly disappearing, along with the people who lived it. Taken with loving attention and considerable skill, and with the utmost respect for the people and places that appear in them, Kirk’s photos of shops and houses, of gardens and lounge-rooms, of people surrounded by the things they love, are beautifully evocative and powerfully nostalgic.

 

Enjoy!

Not your Average Father’s Day Book Suggestions

August usually brings new releases in thrillers, sports biographies and political/military history – typical “Father’s Day Gift” books.  But what if your dad is not a typical Dad?  This year, Team Booko has looked further, to see what other interesting titles we can find.  So here’s our pick of quirky, challenging and absorbing reads for the thoughtful, intellectual and playful Not-Average-Dads out there.

Dads are the Original Hipsters by Brad Getty

Help your dad relive his youth with this collection of photos from the 60s, 70s and 80s, which comprehensively show that dads are the original hipsters.  See these vintage dads grow big beards, ride fixies, listen to vinyl, wear tight jeans, thick-rimmed glasses, and drink home brew (craft beer!).  The snarky captions lovingly make fun of modern hipsters (and dads).  Dads are the Original Hipsters started life as a blog (a modern badge of quality – only the most successful blogs get book deals) and it screams “Father’s Day novelty gift” – in an ironic way, of course.   Lots of fun for dads and kids of a certain age, and for new hipster dads too!

Reservoir Dad by Clint Greagan

Reservoir Dad is another successful blog-turned-book.  Clint Greagan is a stay-at-home dad who has spent the last ten years tending to four young sons and a prize-winning blog.  Reservoir Dad is a record of those ten years – the funny bits, the sentimental bits, the gross bits and the frustrating bits.  Clint Greagan is funny, bawdy and candid as he writes about juggling parenting and relationship maintenance (with the lovely Reservoir Mum).  He is insightful about his non-traditional role, and his masculine perspective on parenting is refreshing. Reservoir Dad won’t just resonate with stay-at-home-dads, but with anyone who has ever wrangled young kids; it offers comfort and solidarity to shell-shocked young parents too.

Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear 1715 – 2015 by Sharon Sadako Takeda, Kaye Durland Spilker and M. Esguerra Clarissa

Blame Queen Victoria for making men’s fashion so bleak and boring – prior to her era, elegance in menswear often meant vibrant colours and intricate decorations.  Luckily for men who love to express themselves through clothes, history is coming full circle, with colour and flair returning to men’s fashion.  Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear is the stunning coffee-table book accompanying its namesake exhibition at LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art).  Tracing 300 years of history, it celebrates works by iconic designers including Yves Saint Laurent, Calvin Klein, Vivienne Westwood and Saville Row tailors.  Designs are analysed to show how historic dress continues to influence current fashions, and how menswear, like womenswear also use padding and shaping to express body ideals.  Reigning Men offers fascinating history, splendid imagery as well as design inspiration.

Who Stole My Spear by Tim Samuels

What does being a man mean, in the age of man-buns and paleo diets?  Societal expectations about “good masculinity” is changing rapidly, with efforts to destroy long-standing blokey attitudes that favour sexism and violence.  Men as a gender is still advantaged, but on an individual level, many are struggling against expectations to be everything to everyone: career high-achiever, committed spouse, hands-on parent.  Who Stole My Spear is Tim Samuels’ survey of what men and masculinity is all about in modern society, with discussions on corporate culture, monogamy, relationships and parenthood, religion, pornography and mental health.  Its lightheartedness makes for easy reading yet does not detract from the confronting questions it poses.

Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Cooks, and Good Food by Jeff Potter

Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Cooks, and Good Food is not the usual grilling/barbecuing-themed cookbooks normally pitched at men; instead it aims to explain the science behind cooking and tasting.  Understanding why particular techniques are used will turn cooking from black art to logical process – which helps beginner cooks achieve better and more consistent results.  It also helps more experienced cooks learn how to cook beyond following recipes.  And not only the explanations are good, the recipes sound delicious too – from simple dishes like pancakes to fancy ones such as duck confit.  Written by a software engineer and published by O’Reilly Media (better known for computer-related texts), its geek pedigree is never in doubt, but Cooking for Geeks will also appeal to anyone who loves to understand the “why” of everything.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Recently I saw Outlander referred to as “a good starting point for men to get into romance novels” and can’t resist sharing this suggestion.
It works because Outlander is not just a love story; as we follow the adventures of Claire Randall, a 20th-century nurse who unintentionally time-travels to 18th-century Scotland, her story encompasses fantasy, history, action (and war), political intrigue, and sex as well as burgeoning romance.  Fans love it for its clever mix of genres, historical detail, excellent character development as well as Diana Gabaldon’s emotionally-affective writing.  An acclaimed TV adaptation offers another way to engage with this beloved book series.

 

For more Father’s Day ideas (even the more traditional kind), check out our Pinterest board.

Lessons learned from your favourite childhood books

Growing up, books were how you made sense of the world.  Some books stood the test of time and made a lasting impression, along with the ‘life lessons’ they conveyed.  Here is a retro list of some of the books you enjoyed as a child and the lessons they taught us:

https-::covers.booko.info:300:MadMadeleine by Ludwig Bemelmans

“In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines
Lived twelve little girls in two straight lines….”

The first few lines of Madeleine always seem to spring from your memory easily.  The series of Madeleine books contain rich, intricate artwork and beautiful rhyming prose.  In a world where precision and order was admired and encouraged, Madeleine was feisty, brave and always up for an adventure.

Life lesson: Be courageous

https-::covers.booko.info:300:givingThe Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

“Once there was a tree . . . and she loved a little boy.” The Giving Tree has been a popular childhood book for the last 50 years.  50 years!   The boy and the giving tree have a relationship where they can communicate.  At various stages throughout the boy’s life, they boy comes to the tree asking for something to solve a problem, which the tree gives, selflessly, until there is nothing left to give.  The relationship between the tree and the boy has been described as modelling the parent-child relationship.

Life lesson: Give without keeping score

https-::covers.booko.info:300:1terabithiaBridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

This was our class novel in Grade 7 with one of my favourite teachers.  It’s a firm favourite and had the class in floods of tears.  Written in 1978 and now made into a film, it’s the story of 2 lonely children who are able to see the magic in each other that many cannot.  5th graders Jesse Aarons befriends a newcomer to the town, Leslie Burke.  Both social outcasts, they create the mythical kingdom of Terabithia where they both can truly be themselves.  When tragedy strikes, Jesse learns to overcome it.

Life lesson: Friendship conquers all

https-::covers.booko.info:300:loraxThe Lorax by Dr Seuss

The Lorax was Dr Seuss’ personal favourite among all his books.  It’s most commonly thought of as a modern fable: the threat of greed to nature.   The idea for the Lorax came from the anger of the author (Ted Geisel).  “In The Lorax I was out to attack what I think are evil things and let the chips fall where they might.”  The Lorax has been lauded as a brilliant teaching aid when discussing environmental issues with children.

Life lesson: We must speak for the trees (and all other living things).

 

https-::covers.booko.info:300:secretThe Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Secret Garden celebrated it’s 100th birthday in 2011.  A beloved classic, The Secret Garden  is about a young girl called Mary who loses her parents and is sent to live in her uncle’s gloomy mansion in England.  Lonely and with no-one to play with, she learns of a secret garden on the grounds.  A chance meeting introduces her to her cousin Colin who has an unidentified illness which prevents him from walking.  Both the garden and Colin thrive from the new friendship.

Life lesson: The only way to have experiences is to leave your comfort zone.

https-::covers.booko.info:300:poohWinnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne

Winnie the Pooh is yet another cult classic and essential part of any child’s library.  The tales of Pooh and his friends are gently told and illustrated beautifully (I love this one due to the simple and elegant drawings by E.H. Shepherd).  Each Pooh tale expresses a range of life lessons, most due, in part, to the bear’s positivity.  The values of empathy, gratitude and creative problem-solving are featured in just about every tale, making these books easily digestible values-based stories for children.

Life lesson: Cherish your friends