Category Archives: Uncategorized

Books that challenge the status quo – addressing your confirmation bias

Confirmation bias: the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs or theories

Confirmation bias has been around for a long time and is a topic that is currently prevalent in social media with increasing importance for everyone to become aware of and address. If affects us in many facets of our lives, from the books we buy to how we search online. It’s pretty simple to summarise but somewhat harder to change – we want to be right about how we see the world, so we seek out information which confirms our beliefs and avoid contradictory evidence and opinions.

We’ve rounded up a few of our favourite titles that challenge how we think. Brace yourself, you’ll be somewhat pensive at the end of this reading marathon!

Mistakes were made (but not by me) by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson

Why do people dodge responsibility when things fall apart? Why the parade of public figures unable to own up when they make mistakes? Why the endless marital quarrels over who is right? Why can we see hypocrisy in others but not in ourselves? Are we all liars? Or do we really believe the stories we tell? Renowned social psychologists Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson take a compelling look into how the brain is wired for self-justification. When we make mistakes, we must calm the cognitive dissonance that jars our feelings of self-worth. And so we create fictions that absolve us of responsibility, restoring our belief that we are smart, moral, and right – a belief that often keeps us on a course that is dumb, immoral, and wrong. A fascinating explanation of self-deception – how it works, the harm it can cause, and how we can overcome it.

The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking

When and how did the universe begin? Why are we here? What is the nature of reality? Is the apparent ‘grand design’ of our universe evidence for a benevolent creator who set things in motion? Or does science offer another explanation? In The Grand Design, the most recent scientific thinking about the mysteries of the universe is presented, in language marked by both brilliance and simplicity. The Grand Design explains the latest thoughts about model-dependent realism (the idea that there is no one version of reality), and about the multiverse concept of reality in which there are many universes. There are new ideas about the top-down theory of cosmology (the idea that there is no one history of the universe, but that every possible history exists). A succinct, startling and lavishly illustrated guide to discoveries that are altering our understanding and threatening some of our most cherished belief systems, The Grand Design is a book that will inform – and provoke – like no other.

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

The renowned psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. The impact of overconfidence on corporate strategies, the difficulties of predicting what will make us happy in the future, the profound effect of cognitive biases on everything from playing the stock market to planning our next vacation. Each of these can be understood only by knowing how the two systems shape our judgments and decisions. Kahneman reveals where we can and cannot trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking, offering practical and enlightening insights into how choices are made in both our business and our personal lives and how we can use different techniques to guard against the mental glitches that often get us into trouble.

This Will Make You Smarter by John Brockton

John Brockman has brought together the most influential thinkers of our age to offer their choice of the ideas, strategies and arguments that will help all of us understand our world, and its future. Every year he sets them a question, in 2013 that question was: What Scientific Concept Would Improve Everybody’s Cognitive Toolkit? Their answers are collected in this book and explore philosophy, psychology, economics, and other disciplines – and all share one aim: to provide the most reliable ways of gaining knowledge about anything, whether it be human behaviour, corporate behaviour, the fate of the planet, or the future of the universe.

 

 

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig

Acclaimed as one of the most exciting books in history, this modern epic became an instant bestseller upon publication in 1974, transforming a generation and continuing to inspire millions. A narration of a summer motorcycle trip undertaken by a father and his son, the book becomes a personal and philosophical odyssey into fundamental questions of how to live. Resonant with the confusions of existence, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a touching and transcendent book of life.

 

 

 

 

Outliers by Malcom Gladwell

Malcolm Gadwell is one of my favourite authors. I have read and reread two of his other books The Tipping Point and Blink and have recommended them to many others. In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of “outliers” – the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high-achievers different?

His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing. Along the way he explains the secrets of software billionaires, what it takes to be a great soccer player, and what made the Beatles the greatest rock band.

Enjoy!

Reading resources that help foster the love of reading

Mad for books?  Have a number of different versions of the same book?  *Refuse* to watch a film adaptation of your favourite book because it will ruin it for you?  You, my friend, are book obsessed.  A bibliophile.  A book addict.

Booko features many resources and guides to help support both children and adults to improve their literacy.  But what about those people that don’t need support, they just need a *support* group?  We’ve uncovered some absolute gems of resources that can not only feed your addiction but also connect with other book lovers from all over the world.

Image from Instagram.com

 

Audiobooks

Audiobooks were once the realm of the older members of society who listened to the Classics from the comfort of their Jason recliners.  Now in the modern world of multi-tasking, we are listening to books while we drive from A to B, fold the washing, make dinner or walk the dog.  In a world where you’re expected to be well versed in the latest books, music and Ted  Talks, audiobooks are a great way to get across some of the new releases or favourite classics while you’re on the move.  We have compiled a great selection that you can choose from here.

Apps

As you can imagine, there are a huge number of apps that can enhance your reading experience.  We’ve explored some of the best ones for you:

This award-winning app is a bookmarking service which is owned by Pinterest.  Web pages can be marked to read later on another device such as an iPad for example.

A speed-reading app for iPhone, this service allows you to speed-read all your favourite articles, allowing you to read faster.

This app is a reader that allows you to read your Ebooks comfortably.  The use of visually pleasing font and ability to just display the text of the book you are reading without distraction, you can adjust the brightness of the screen to make the reading process more enjoyable.

iReadItNow is a great way to manage all the books you are reading or planning to read.  Its a great historical record of your reading life – what you read, how you read it and what resonated with you.

Book Clubs

Book Clubs are a great way to discuss your favourite books with like-minded book addicts. Depending on your schedule and your preferences, there are some great face-to-face and virtual Book Clubs you can join.  If you are a fan of a particular genre, it might make sense to join a book club that suits.

Some of the most popular options are the Goodreads Book Club (Emma Watson has her own Goodreads Feminist Book Club) or some great face-to-face options via your local city.

Experiences

If you’re keen to visit famous bookshops or literary places of interest, there are some great travel options for you to choose from.  The Lonely Planet features a range of literary walking tours around the world which explore the birthplaces of famous authors and significant places that are featured in books.

If beautifully quaint bookshops are more your thing, there is a travel agency that specialises in bookshop travel.  If you are interested in visiting bookshops in a more virtual sense, check out one of our recent blog posts.

Great start to literacy – 1000 Books Before School

Most people are aware that reading to children is beneficial; in fact, it is one of the best preparations for school.  When we read to children, we are exposing them to a rich vocabulary, helping them develop listening skills and attention spans, conveying information and fostering a love of reading.  These skills create a solid foundation for developing literacy.

Many libraries are now running “1000 Books Before School” programs (sometimes called “1000 Books Before Kindergarten”) to help encourage caregivers and children to keep reading and reap those literacy benefits.  The 1000 books goal is based on research – it is big enough to allow children to experience a variety of language, but still achievable – for children who start school at 5, it translates to about one book every 2 days. And for children who prefer to have the same book read over and over, each time counts as one book!

To make the process more fun, libraries and some websites offer record sheets to help families keep track of their reading.  Regular milestones (with small rewards) help build a sense of achievement until the big, final graduation.

Families living in Victoria can enrol in the program through the State Library of Victoria website or at your local library.

To get you started, here are some new and older favourites, perfect for sharing with your children.  6 down, 994 to go…

Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell

Sturdy board books are great for the youngest readers, who might show their enjoyment of books by chewing and throwing! In Dear Zoo, a child writes to the zoo to send them a pet.  It takes a bit of trial and error to find a pet that is just right!  Dear Zoo has been a favourite with both little and big kids for over 30 years.  Its combination of a funny story, cute animals, lift-the-flaps and call-and-response makes it an excellent choice for both reading aloud and reading on your own.

Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson

Tap the Magic Tree is as much a toy as it is a picture book.  Each page invites the reader to tap, shake, jiggle, or pat the book, even to blow it a kiss!  Starting with a bare brown tree, we gradually see leaves sprout, buds blossom, apples grow, the leaves yellow and finally blow away with the changing of the seasons.  The simple drawings and sparse text combine into an absorbing story that is elegant and sweetly magical.

I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato by Lauren Child

Charlie and Lola stories are laugh-out-loud funny, with vivid characters and situations that perfectly captures life with young children.  I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato is the story that started it all, and is still one of the best.  Big brother Charlie – the sensible, long-suffering one – needs to give dinner to his funny little sister Lola.  But she is really fussy about her food! So Charlie plays a trick on Lola – what if he is not giving her mashed potato, but cloud fluff from the peak of Mount Fuji?

Mr Huff by Anna Walker

Bill woke up with a bad feeling about his day.  As more things go wrong, his huffy feelings coalesce into a big grey thing, who sighs and keeps following Bill around.  How can Bill make Mr Huff go away?  Mr Huff is a cute and poignant story, and perfect conversation-starter about how to deal with sad, gloomy feelings.  Anna Walker’s understated illustrations add surprising amounts of drama and emotion.  Well-deserved winner of last year’s CBCA Early Childhood Book of the Year Award.

The Usborne Big Book of the Body

Non-fiction (information) books can often engage children who don’t seem interested in stories.  Usborne is known as a publisher of beautifully-produced, interesting information books for children, and The Big Book of the Body is no exception.  The pages fold out into giant posters showing our main bodily functions, including bones and muscles, heart and blood, lungs, brain and our senses. A mix of short explanations and quirky facts make The Big Book of the Body entertaining as well as educational.

Billie’s Underwater Adventure by Sally Rippin and Alisa Coburn

As your child gets older, why not introduce them to great characters whose stories will keep them company through their school years? Billie’s Underwater Adventure is a picture book where Billie and her friend Jack use their imaginations to have marvellous adventures at Kinder.  Then there’s the Billie B Brown and Hey Jack series, which are slice-of-life stories aimed at beginner readers; and the Billie B Brown Mysteries is a collection of short chapter books that is perfect for those mystery- and excitement-loving middle graders.

Fostering adult literacy

Can you imagine not being able to help your child with their homework?  For many people in our society, reading their mail or filling out a form is a seemingly impossible task.

14% of adults (one in seven) in our community have low levels of literacy, according to the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) survey.  Many of the tasks you might take for granted like reading medicine labels, writing lists, interpreting maps, reading instruction manuals and other things that we encounter in our lives are a challenge.

If you know of a family member, friend or neighbour that could benefit from assistance, there’s a multitude of resources that can help improve their proficiency (as you might imagine).  Here are some of them:

Adult migrant English program

Eligible adult migrants and humanitarian entrants to Australia can access up to 510 hours of free English lessons.

Literacy Net

Part of the Australian Government Department of Education and Training, this site provides a range of adult literacy resources, training material and Professional Development resources for industry trainers/assessors.

National Literacy and Numeracy Week 

This occurs from 29 August – 4 September and celebrates the progress Australian schools are making in raising the literacy and numeracy levels of students.

Skills for Education and Employment 

This site provides language, literacy and numeracy training to help people improve their speaking, reading, writing or basic maths skills. The program aims to improve chances of getting and keeping a job, as well as making everyday life easier.

Bringing attention to literacy challenges is quite often met with shame and embarrassment.  What’s important to bear in mind is that people who acquire literacy skills later in life are adults; they think like adults and require resources and support tailored to them specifically.  We’ve sourced a range of resources suited to adults learning to read and write, here are some of them:

Yes We can Read by Libby Coleman

Gatehouse Books is a great source of literacy support books.  ‘Yes we can read’ is a fantastic ‘go-to’ book because it guides the coach through the entire program.  Suited towards any learners between the ages of 8 and 80, it’s a phonics-based program helping people develop reading for meaning.

The book teaches you how to help with teaching individual phonic sounds, blending sounds, building words and sentences together and reading fluently.

 

 

Teach anyone to read by Lillie Pope

If you’re not trained as a teacher and not an expert in the field, teaching an adult to read might seem like an overwhelming ask.  Pope’s books is as ‘no-nonsense’ as she claims. The techniques described in Pop’s book have been used successfully for more than 50 years and by thousands of instructors, helping thousands of students to read.

 

 

 

 

Liz and Joe go on holiday by Jennie Cole

This book is part of a series that feature the Liz and Joe characters.  Aimed at new readers, it’s targeted at those learning English as a second language (ESOL),  In short story format, the books are illustrated with colour photos and in a comic books style format.  The objective of these titles is to gradually increase your vocabulary with regards to daily life.  Other titles in the series include Joe’s Surprise, Liz and Joe Have a Day out and Liz Gets a Gas Bill.

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde: Level 3 by Robert Louis Stevenson

Pearson English Readers have a great reputation as a ‘go-to book’ when working with adults.  Like most readers they work in a graded system and they cover a range of titles, including Young Adult or Adult titles, making them suitable for adult literacy support.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crow Girl Rises by Kate Cann

Crow Girl Rises is published by Barrington Stoke, a publishing company established by a mother-daughter team aimed at helping children and teens suffering with dyslexia.  Innovations such as dyslexia-friendly font, tinted paper and short, engaging achievable books from an amazing range of authors have helped them win a number of publishing awards.  This title is aimed at the Teen/Young Adult reader and deals with the teenage themes of love, parties and friendship (with a halloween theme).

 

 

Changing your world: how to make a difference in 2017

If you’re anything like me, your New Year’s resolutions are already in tatters. The standards of losing weight, doing more exercise and improving one’s diet have all been compromised by the Christmas/New Year festivities and holidays.

And the others? Well maybe next year.

However don’t despair. One resolution that everyone can still achieve is the determination to make a difference this year : to make 2017 the year you put back into your community and world, engage with people and help those worthy causes in your world and local community.

How best to go about this though? Where to start with your new altruistic approach?

Here are a few books that will help inspire you and make this year one where you make an important change in your world.

Change from within

Learn meditation. Charity begins at home is the saying and improving oneself is the first step to making a difference with others. So, why not learn meditation?

This ancient skill is proving more and more relevant (and useful) these days in the battle with the stress of modern day living. Learning to meditate is an important tool to be able to relax and focus and therefore learning how to be able to put back into our community.

Not only will learning to meditate allow you to relax, it will also help improve physical and mental health and boost creativity. Eric Harrison’s excellent book “Teach Yourself to Meditate” is an entry-level place to learn the art of meditation at your own pace with over 20 easy exercises for daily practice.

 

Change your community

Manage time better. One of the key factors in not being able to help out in your local community is time. You probably have work and family commitments and balancing this alone is a struggle in our time-poor society before you can consider volunteering for organisations.

However Katherine Noyes Campbell and Susan J. Ellis aptly-titled “The (Help) I-Don’t-Have-Enough-Time Guide to Volunteer Management”, will help you organise your time to build a volunteer management team and conquer those community activism goals that you’ve been aiming to do for some time.

The book is a must for the bookshelf of anyone who is looking to juggle work and family with volunteer pursuits. It contains a wealth of strategies and solutions that will help you become a more effective volunteer manager.

 

Social entrepreneurship. Whether you are changing the world or your local community, one effective way is to be a social entrepreneur.

David Bornstein’s How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas is both a guide and a source of inspiration for those looking at entering this sector. He shows that social entrepreneurs are people with amazing ideas that act to transform their societies.

Using the examples of a number of people who have changed their communities through ideas, the author shows the benefit that these people can make in their society. What better way to be inspired to change your own world than to read of the deeds of others?

 

Make the impossible happen. Sometimes trying to make a positive change in the world can seem overwhelming. There are so many needs in the community that choosing just one is difficult, if not impossible. It is common to be overwhelmed by our apparent insignificance in being able to act as a catalyst for change.

Not so, according to the groundbreaking book “Getting to Maybe: How the World is Changed” by Frances Westley, Brenda Zimmermann and Michael Patton. The book shows the real driving force behind positive change is being able to harness the various forces that surround us rather than taking on all the tasks by yourself.

The authors use an array of examples from around the world that demonstrate this new, exciting way of moving positive change in our communities and the world.

 

Podcasting. Finally, have you considered taking your message to make a difference to potentially the world? Podcasting has increased in popularity in leaps and bounds as more folk look to download programs that can be accessed “on the go”: on mp3 files while on trains, buses, in the car or just walking or jogging.

Now you can bring positive change to the world through the power of the Internet. Choose the issue that you want to highlight: homelessness, organic food, equal rights, inequality and set up a website and podcast to deliver news items, content and podcasts to interested people.

Paul Colligan’s “How to Podcast 2016: 4 Simple Steps to Broadcast your Message to the Entire Connected Planet” is a must have ebook or book if you are thinking of reaching people in this way to change their lives. The easy-to-understand four step guide will get you on your way to connect your unique ideas to the world.

The author outlines the steps needed to deliver a quality podcast to the world without the need for expensive equipment or an extensive knowledge of computers. Perfect for the amateur looking to make a positive change.

Caring is … Sharing great books and games

How do you extend that summertime feeling to the rest of the year? For me, summer holidays mean more time to enjoy the company of family and friends – eating, chatting and playing together. Such quality time may seem impossible within the busyness of your normal routine, but is definitely worth scheduling. Start with an activity that can involve your whole family – such as cooking, making things, playing games or reading – here are some resources to get you started. And if you are a fan of board games, don’t forget that Booko can help you find the best prices for games as well as books!

Qwirkle Cubes

The latest version of this award-winning game comes as a set of colourful cubes. Make rows or columns of cubes by matching either the colour or shape on their faces. The cubic shape of the pieces add an extra level of game play – you can try to change the shapes you have by rolling the cubes. The basic rules are easy to learn for even young players, while some tactical thinking will ensure you achieve high scores. For 2-4 players, ages 6+

Sleeping Queens card game by Gamewright

Sleeping Queens has become a family favourite after we travelled with it this summer. It is a compact card game with a fairytale / Alice in Wonderland flavour (and this special 10th Anniversary edition comes in a beautiful carry tin). The Pancake Queen, the Rose Queen and their ten queenly friends have fallen into a magical sleep and need to be woken up. A King can wake a Queen but watch out for Knights that might steal her away! Winning is based on a little skill, some maths and some luck. Sleeping Queens also shines through its gorgeous and funny art. For 2-5 players, ages 8+

Parlour Games for Modern Families by Myfanwy Jones and Spiri Tsintziras

Parlour Games for Modern Families shows how to play silly and raucous games with big crowds and small, and with few or no props at all. Unusual games such as Farkle and Blind Potatoes join old favourites including Chatterboxes, Murder in the Dark and Dictionary. There are chapters for word games, drawing games, card games and mystery games. Suitable for ages 4-104, these games will help to lighten up rainy days, family gatherings, even dinner parties and work functions.

 

 

Banish Boredom: Activities to Do with Kids that you will Actually Enjoy by Rebecca Green

We’ve all been there – that resigned feeling of doing an activity “for the kids” rather than “with the kids”. Banish Boredom promises to change all that, with suggestions on activities that are stimulating and fun for both adults and kids. From art to science experiments to excursions, Rebecca Green offers a variety of ideas as well as useful tips on how to plan, manage and extend activities. Banish Boredom is a great parenting resource for any time of year.

 
The World of David Walliams CD Story Collection by David Walliams

 

Listening to audiobooks turns reading into a social activity, especially useful on those long holiday car trips. Comedian-turned-superstar-author David Walliams is the creator of bestsellers including Mr Stink and Awful Auntie. Many reviewers see him as a successor to Roald Dahl, skilfully mixing over-the-top humour with poignant reflections on friendship and loneliness. David Walliams voices his audiobooks himself – but listen out for cameos by famous guests such as Matt Lucas. For immediate gratification, choose the 14-CD 5-story set ; or pre-order the Bumper-tastic 27-CD, 8-story edition , out in late January.

 

Cooking with Coco: Family Recipes to Cook Together by Anna Del Conte

Cooking is a great activity to do with children – not only will there be a delicious outcome, you will also be nurturing some healthy habits and useful life skills. Cooking with Coco is a collection of recipes Anna Del Conte has cooked with her children and grandchildren (Coco, now in her teens, has become a confident and creative cook). The collection features classic dishes including baked polenta, beef rolls, basic biscuits and pear cake – sophisticated food that will appeal to both adults and children, without resorting to novelty shapes or lollies.

Be savvy – purchase your children’s school books through Booko

The end of one year and the start of another are expensive times: there’s Christmas at one end and back to school at the other, with sometimes just weeks in between.  With the cost of uniforms, school fees and school books to consider, it’s handy to know that with a bit of planning, you can make some great savings on your children’s schoolbooks and not have to leave the comfort of home!

We’ve selected a few titles from the recommended reading lists for a few different VCE subjects to give you a guide of just how varied some of our books are.  Whether they are E-Books, Reference books, Fiction or Non-Fiction, you should be able to pick up the majority of your children’ book list through Booko. Make sure you search using the book’s ISBN (if you know it) to ensure you’re looking at the edition specified on your list.

To get the best price on a title, set up a Booko alert so that you’ll be notified when the book falls under a certain price range.  Setting up Booko alerts is easy – just follow our simple guide and get started.  If you are concerned about the books arriving in time, it makes sense to pay attention to the delivery timeframes provided by each book store on the Booko website.  Happy shopping!

 

Cloud street by Tim Winton

“Cloudstreet” is the undisputed classic from one of Australia’s best loved storytellers and national treasures.

From separate catastrophes, two families flee to the city and find themselves sharing this great sighing structure called Cloudstreet and beginning their lives again from scratch.

The Pickles and the Lambs share their home for 20 years and over time observe, overhear and submerge themselves in each other’s joys, fears and secrets.

‘A generous watery epic…Winton is just one of the best.” -Independent.

The Lieutenant by Kate Grenville 

A stunning follow-up to her Commonwealth Writers’ Prize-winning book, “The Secret River,” Grenville’s “The Lieutenant” is a gripping story about friendship, self-discovery, and the power of language set along the unspoiled shores of 1788 New South Wales.

As a boy, Daniel Rooke was an outsider. Ridiculed in school and misunderstood by his parents, Daniel could only hope that he would one day find his place in life.

‘It glows with life: imaginative in its recreations, respectful of what cannot be imagined, and thoughtful in its interrogation of the past…Grenville’s most intellectually sophisticated novel to date.’ – The Age (Australia)

 

No Sugar by Jack Davis

This play, commissioned for the 1985 Perth Festival, is the spirited story of the Millimurra family’s stand against racist government ‘protection’ policies in 1930’s Australia.

In depression era Australia, up to 30% of the Labour Force were unemployed with Aboriginal workers worst hit.  The Nyungar family were sent to the Moore River Native Settlement from Northam in 1931 as part of a ‘forced evacuation’.

“No Sugar” portrays Davis’ political awareness, citing the reasons for the evacuation and also the characterisation of key political figures such as Mr Neville, Chief Protector of Aboriginies in Western Australia involved in the resettlement.

 

Maths Quest VCE Foundation Maths 

This pack is specifically designed for the VCE Foundation Mathematics course, which is a one year course. Generally undertaken in Year 11 but some schools do complete it in Year 10. The workbooks also cover the required content for VCAL schools. Instead of a textbook, Maths Quest Foundation Mathematics comprises eight individual booklets, covering a range of content areas and aspects of the syllabus: Maths Skills, Finance, Sport, The house and land package, Travelling, Car Safety, Water wise and A Musical Production.

Australian Pocket Oxford Dictionary (H/B) (7th Edition) 

First published in 1976, the “Australian Pocket Oxford Dictionary” has remained Australia’s best-selling dictionary. The seventh edition retains the popular features of previous editions and adds many new Australian and international words and meanings. All Australian words and meanings are labelled with an Aust. regional marker. The seventh edition of the “Australian Pocket Oxford Dictionary” is an indispensable guide to English as it is written and spoken in Australia.

How to be the best ‘you’, you can be.

I don’t know why but part of the process of starting a new year is determining how we can be fitter, smarter and happier individuals.  A new year seems to offer opportunities and potential that the previous 9 or 10 months didn’t.  Whether you are wanting to increase your confidence or work out which career best suits your strengths, here are our recommendations for some of the most popular self help guides on the market.

Create the Style You Crave on a Budget You Can Afford: The Sweet Spot Guide to Home Decor by Desha Peacock

If you are anything like me, you have spent time in friends’ homes and thought ‘how can I get my home to look like this?’

The starting point is, as Peacock explains, understanding and exploring your own unique sense of style.  Then the fun part comes with working out how to bring it to life with a mixture of vintage, modern and op shop finds according to your budget.  This book is a little different to most decorating books – it’s not filled with multi million dollar homes and budgets, but showcases the stories of everyday women with busy lives and limited budgets who have infused personal values, meaning, and style into making their home their own.

 

The Brain Fog Fix : Reclaim Your Focus, Memory and Joy in Just 3 Weeks by Mike Dow

Ever wander into a room and forget why you went in?  No?? Lucky you!

Perhaps it’s a symptom of our lives becoming busier, more stressful and less….fun but many of us are wandering around in a ‘brain fog’.  The good news?  It’s not an irreparable condition and this book contains steps to help you reclaim your focus, memory and joy in under a month.

Want to become more ‘present’ and be able to fully participate in your life?  This is the book for you.

 

Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by Timothy Ferriss

This book has been one of our most ‘clicked’ titles on Booko for over a month now.  It’s the output of Ferriss having interviewed nearly 200 world-class performers to determine what makes them successful.

In it, Ferriss discusses the routines, habits and tactics that have made these people so successful and shows you how you can implement these into your life to achieve success.

 

Strengths finder 2.0 by Tim Rath

If you are one of those people who are working at a job they like but don’t feel like it’s their passion or ‘calling’, this book is a great resource.

An updated version of the StrengthsFinder program developed by Gallup experts, Rath’s book helps readers to discover their distinct talents and strengths and how they can be translated into personal and career successes.

Resources include a 2.0 assessment with features that include a personalized Strengths Insight Report, an Action-Planning Guide, and a web-based Strengths Community.

The Confidence Gap by Dr Russ Harris

Sometimes all that separates us from others that are successful in their fields is the self confidence to make the most of opportunities available to us.

This is a hands-on, self-help guide to gaining long-lasting confidence and overcoming fear using mindfulness-based therapy. The author explains how many of us are playing the ‘confidence game’ using the wrong rules, and guides the reader through clear, simple exercises designed to help you manage difficult emotions such as anxiety and build genuine confidence. 

Minimalism by Joshua Fields Millburn

 

The show I have been binge-watching on Netflix has been ‘The Minimalists’.  Essentially, two guys (best friends) turned their backs on highly lucrative careers, reduced their ‘stuff’ to bare requirements and focused on what’s important.

If you find you are living pay-check to pay-check and consumed by what stuff you are going to purchase next, ‘Minimalism’ is a great read and focuses on 5 key themes that make a meaningful life: health, relationships, passion, growth and contribution.  It contains actionable tasks to start creating more meaning and less ‘stuff’ in your life.

Load your eReader this summer with these great titles

Much as I still prefer paper books, I have discovered that eBooks offer some great benefits.  For example, eBooks are great for holidaying – they add hardly any bulk or weight to your luggage; they allow easy adjustment to font size and colour contrast; and you can buy and download them instantaneously wherever you are. So whether you prefer an eReader or eBook apps on a tablet or phone, you will never be without a book again!  Here are some great summer e-reads, whether you are travelling or relaxing at home:

Rogue One: a Star Wars Story by Alexander Freed

Loved the latest Star Wars film and want to revisit the story?  Perhaps you haven’t yet seen the film, but don’t feel like battling with crowds during your summer break?  Download the novelisation of the film instead. Rogue One: a Star Wars Story is more than a standard movie novelisation – many scenes have been extended and expanded to give a richer story while being totally faithful to the film.  Alexander Freed has used his extensive knowledge of the Star Wars Universe – as creator of earlier video games, comics and novels – to deliver a well-written novel that contributes strongly to the overall canon.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

The Austen Project – six modern retellings of Jane Austen’s beloved novels – has attracted stellar authorship including Joanna Trollope (for Sense and Sensibility ) and Alexander McCall Smith (for Emma). Now Curtis Sittenfeld has tackled Pride and Prejudice – probably the most daunting one to adapt – with impressive results.  The story is set in suburban Cincinnati, where Liz and Jane Bennet return to the family home after Mr Bennet suffers a heart attack. Jane is a yoga teacher and Liz a magazine writer based in New York – both nudging 40 and still single. Along comes Chip Bingley (a doctor and former contestant in a reality-TV dating show) and his snooty neurosurgeon friend Darcy…  Eligible is spot-on in retaining the wryness of the original while lampooning modern-day obsessions.  It is riotous and totally addictive – even when you already know what happens!

Neighbourhood by Hetty McKinnon

Hetty McKinnon is the powerhouse behind Sydney’s Arthur Street Kitchen, a salad delivery service renowned for its innovative and flavourful modern salads – think layers of textures and flavours provided by herbs, grains and roasted vegetables as well as leafy greens.  Following the success of her first cookbook, Community, comes Neighbourhood, with salads inspired by the multicultural neighbourhoods of New York, her new hometown.  Neighbourhood is not just a recipe collection, it celebrates the sharing of food in building friendships and communities.  I love Neighbourhood for its warmth, stunning photography as well as its message – the idea of connecting with others through sharing food is perfect for this time of year.  The delicious recipes provide rich inspiration for summer eating, whether entertaining a crowd, or preparing something simple for those too-hot-to-cook days.

The Hidden Life of Trees: What they Feel, How they Communicate by Peter Wohlleben

Popular science is a great genre if you prefer books with both readability and substance.  The Hidden Life of Trees is a recent release with an intriguing premise – that trees are social beings that count and remember; that look out for, and support neighbours and relatives; that communicate with each other by sending signals through a vast underground network of fungus.  The Hidden Life of Trees uses an anthropomorphic style that is captivating but may sound fantastical; however, these revelations are based on Peter Wohlleben’s extensive experience as a forest ranger, and backed by recent research in biology and ecology.  A bestseller in its native Germany, The Hidden Life of Trees challenges us to value forests as much more than a habitat or a source of timber.

Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome

Swallows and Amazons epitomises an idyllic summer full of freedom and adventure.  During the school holidays, the Walker children (John, Susan, Titty and Roger) are staying at a lakeside farm with their mother and infant sister.  The children are given permission to sail their dinghy, the Swallow, to an island in the lake to set up camp.  Camp life involves plenty of swimming, sailing and fishing for their food – and no adults.  One day, the Swallows spy two fierce pirates – sisters Nancy and Peggy in their dinghy Amazon.  What follows is a summer of friendship, fun and even some mystery… Swallows and Amazons is a classic story that still excites young readers with its spirit of independence and derring-do; it also unleashes adult nostalgia about our own free-roaming childhoods during endless summers.  A perfect waterside read!

The Booko Team’s favourite holiday reading picks

There are a fair few of us that are responsible for the day-to-day operations of Booko.  This often involves liaison with booksellers around the world, working on the Booko platform and ensuring all pricing and delivery information is accurate and up to date and responding to admin messages. The Booko team spend a reasonable time during the year doing what they love best: reading.  This might involve reviewing a book, getting an understanding of a new title or author and ensuring that our customers are given the best and most relevant information about books.

When we’re not working, we love reading just for the sake of it – just like everyone.  Here are the summer reading picks that our team are currently working through or planning to read whilst reclining on a banana lounge somewhere else:


Karen’s pick: 

Girl Stuff 8-12 by Kaz Cooke

Girl Stuff 8-12 is on my summer reading list, and I think it will make an excellent gift for both girls and their parents. Kaz Cooke’s Up the Duff was my don’t-panic-source-of-wisdom during pregnancy, so I am looking forward to her take on how to survive the pre-teen years (and my resident pre-teen has already given it the thumbs-up). Kaz Cooke’s advice is forthright, respectful, sensitive and funny all at once – and carefully researched to boot. Girl Stuff 8-12 offers advice on a range of the most important topics including body changes, healthy habits, relationships, bullying and mental health.

https-covers-booko-info300100yearmanRiina’s pick:
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

It has taken me a while to get around to reading this one, but now that I have, I can see why it became the bestseller it did. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman is a heart-warming tale about that grumpy old man I’m sure we’ve all come across, and it made me laugh and cry (apologies to fellow passengers on Tram route 55!). Bit by bit, as you learn about the experiences that shaped Ove, you come to understand and even love him, no matter how little you like him at first.
Whether you’re in the Southern or Northern hemisphere, this one makes a good holiday read. It’s light enough to read on the beach, but its themes of family, honour and community bring warmth to even the whitest of Christmasses.

https-covers-booko-info300undoingMarie’s pick:

The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis

This is on my summer reading list at the recommendation of my husband who has suffered from the ‘just can’t put it down’ addiction that we have to the books we love.  I’m a big fan of non-fiction and getting a better understanding of how our minds work.

This is the story of a bromance between two Israeli psychologists which has turned our understanding of how we make decisions on it’s head.  One of the pair’s observations is that ‘no one ever made a decision because of a number – they need a story.’ On the whole, humans make decisions based on emotions rather than facts.  Their work created the field of behavioural economics and established rules for human irrationality.

https-covers-booko-info300bigmagicRenae’s Pick:

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

One of my new year resolutions is to try and be more creative.  Easier than it sounds, right?  When you come from a pretty rational way of looking at the world, creativity can be challenging!  This book was recommended to me by a friend.  It promises to unravel the mystique around the processes leading to creativity, making it seem easier and more natural.

Gilbert explains the habits and approaches we need in order to live our most creative lives and how to harness creativity in whatever project we are involved with.  Living a mindful life is one of the areas I need to focus on more.  I’m looking forward to reaping the benefits of reading this book in the new year.


Dan’s Pick
Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

I’ve chosen a story of apocalypse for my holiday reading.  Already part way in and I find myself engaged enough in the story that some mornings when I wake, I look up at the sky and wonder how the people on Izzy ( International Space Station ) are holding up.  Neal Stephenson’s books seem to have that effect on me. Depictions of the near future which are well researched and realistic, characters I feel I know well enough that their predicaments generate so much tension once I’ve finished reading, I feel I need a(n other) holiday.