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The best books to read when you need to switch off.

Switching off, digital detox, unplugging, taking time out…hiding. Whatever you call it, it’s okay. 

When life gets a little too much or we just need to take some time for ourselves we tend to reach for a book (or an e-reader…whatever works right?). But not just any book will do. While here at Team Booko we love reading business books, self help titles, autobiographies and all the Marie Kondo books, sometimes we just want to put our business brains away and be entertained. 

And because we know you love a recommendation, we have found the top six books that are sure to help you switch off and enjoy sitting on the beach (looking at you London) or curling up in front the fire (yep, that’s you Melbourne). 

So pop on your SPF or your woolly jumper and have a read. 

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

She’s back!!! the author of Eat Pray Love has given us another gem of a book. 

It is the summer of 1940. Nineteen-year-old Vivian Morris arrives in New York with her suitcase and sewing machine, exiled by her despairing parents. Although her quicksilver talents with a needle and commitment to mastering the perfect hair roll have been deemed insufficient for her to pass into her sophomore year of Vassar, she soon finds gainful employment as the self-appointed seamstress at the Lily Playhouse, her unconventional Aunt Peg’s charmingly disreputable Manhattan revue theatre. There, Vivian quickly becomes the toast of the showgirls, transforming the trash and tinsel only fit for the cheap seats into creations for goddesses. Exile in New York is no exile at all – here in this strange wartime city of girls, Vivian and her girlfriends mean to drink the heady highball of life itself to the last drop. And when the legendary English actress Edna Watson comes to the Lily to star in the company’s most ambitious show ever, Vivian is entranced by the magic that follows in her wake. But there are hard lessons to be learned, and bitterly regrettable mistakes to be made. Vivian learns that to live the life she wants, she must live many lives, ceaselessly and ingeniously making them new. ‘At some point in a woman’s life, she just gets tired of being ashamed all the time. After that, she is free to become whoever she truly is,’ she confides. And so Vivian sets forth her story, and that of the women around her women who have lived as they truly are, out of step with a century that could never quite keep up with them.

I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella

Sophie Kinsella has a knack of making us snort with laugher, cry with a character and slunk with recognition of our own behaviour mirrored in her books. And she’s got another goodie for us to read. 

This is a story of love, empowerment and an IOU that changes everything . . .Fixie Farr can’t help herself. Straightening a crooked object, removing a barely-there stain, helping out a friend . . . she just has to put things right. It’s how she got her nickname, after all. So when a handsome stranger in a coffee shop asks her to watch his laptop for a moment, Fixie not only agrees, she ends up saving it from certain disaster. To thank her, the computer’s owner, Sebastian, scribbles her an IOU – but of course Fixie never intends to call in the favour. That is, until her teenage crush, Ryan, comes back into her life and needs her help – and Fixie turns to Seb. But things don’t go according to plan, and now Fixie owes Seb: big time. Soon the pair are caught up in a series of IOUs – from small favours to life-changing debts – and Fixie is torn between the past she’s used to and the future she deserves. Does she have the courage to fix things for herself and fight for the life, and love, she really wants? 

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

Ever wonder what your therapist is really thinking? Now you can find out …

Meet Lori Gottlieb, an insightful and compassionate therapist whose clients present with all kinds of problems. There’s the struggling new parents; the older woman who feels she has nothing to live for; the self-destructive young alcoholic; and the terminally ill 35-year-old newlywed. And there’s John, a narcissistic television producer, who frankly just seems to be a bit of a jerk. Over the course of a year, they all make progress.

But Gottlieb is not just a therapist – she’s also a patient who’s on a journey of her own. Interspersed with the stories of her clients are her own therapy sessions, as Gottlieb goes in search of the hidden roots of a devastating and life-changing event.

Personal, revealing, funny, and wise, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone opens a rare window onto a world that is most often bound by secrecy, offering an illuminating tour of a profoundly private process.

Rest by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

Technically this isn’t a light fiction book that makes our world disappear for a moment…but we couldn’t resist popping this one in. We all need to learn how to rest anyway. 

In our 24/7 global economy, rest feels like a luxury at best and a weakness at worst. We see work and rest as competitors – but what if they’re actually partners in a productive, balanced life? Blending rigorous scientific research with examples of writers, painters and thinkers – from Darwin to Stephen King – Silicon Valley futurist and business consultant Alex Soojung-Kim Pang exposes how we’ve underestimated the power of rest for our success. Though it’s as natural as breathing, it’s also a skill we can all learn to boost our creativity and productivity. Full of tips for upping our downtime, from sleep to hobbies to vacation, Rest is a new roadmap for finding renewed energy and inspiration, and getting more done.

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Connell and Marianne grow up in the same small town in rural Ireland. The similarities end there; they are from very different worlds. When they both earn places at Trinity College in Dublin, a connection that has grown between them lasts long into the following years. This is an exquisite love story about how a person can change another person’s life – a simple yet profound realisation that unfolds beautifully over the course of the novel. It tells us how difficult it is to talk about how we feel and it tells us – blazingly – about cycles of domination, legitimacy and privilege. Alternating menace with overwhelming tenderness, Sally Rooney’s second novel breathes fiction with new life. Check out Sally’s first novel Conversations with Friends here

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Keiko has never really fitted in. At school and university people find her odd and her family worries she’ll never be normal. To appease them, Keiko takes a job at a newly opened convenience store. Here, she finds peace and purpose in the simple, daily tasks and routine interactions. She is, she comes to understand, happiest as a convenience store worker. But in Keiko’s social circle it just won’t do for an unmarried woman to spend all her time stacking shelves and re-ordering green tea. As pressure mounts on Keiko to find either a new job, or worse, a husband, she is forced to take desperate action. Convenience Store Woman is a best-seller in Japan, and the winner of the prestigious Akutagawa Prize. This is the English-language debut of a writer who has been hailed as the most exciting voice of her generation. 

Enjoy!