Tag Archives: #Topbooks

The Creepiest and Spookiest Books on the Market

Do you like your Halloween cute and funny, or dark and scary? While I definitely prefer cute and funny – I’m such a scaredy cat that I cannot handle horror – I do have a weakness for fist-clenching, frantic-feeling crime thrillers. Whether it’s fast-paced and action-packed, or stealthy slow-burning, you won’t want to stop reading a well-written thriller. Here are some recently published thrillers that will give you a delicious chill this Halloween week.

It Should Have Been Me by Susan Wilkins

Fans of TV crime dramas will love Susan Wilkins’ writing style, developed over decades as a scriptwriter. Jo Biden was only a child when her older sister Sarah was brutally murdered at university. Sarah’s boyfriend, Nathan, was convicted of the killing.  Now, with his impending release, a documentary film-maker – and uni friend of both Sarah and Nathan – is ready to prove Nathan’s innocence.  Revisiting the case is pitting Jo’s professional life (as a rising police detective) against her personal life, where family loyalties and emotions encourage her to question the evidence.  It Should Have Been Me offers many flawed but believable characters – including the likeable protagonist Jo – and top-notch character development. It is a fast-paced, action-packed thriller, perfect for fans of Clare Mackintosh and Susie Steiner

The Secret by K L Slater

K L Slater has many bestsellers under her belt, and The Secret shows her in their prime.  The Secret revolves around two sisters, Alice and Louise.  Louise is elegant and successful, living a seemingly-perfect life; whereas Alice is a wreck, anxious and reclusive.   Louise and Alice were estranged until Louise started leaving her son, 8 year-old Archie, in Alice’s care while she works. What Louise doesn’t know – and what Alice is trying to discover – is that Archie has a secret.  One that he won’t tell because it could destroy his family… The Secret uses flashbacks and multiple narrators to give us rich characterisation, revealing why the two sisters have turned out so differently. K L Slater has also created a nice balance between the tension and the intrigue, and the growing connection between Alice and Archie.  The Secret promises to be a new favourite of fans of Girl on the Train and Gone Girl!

Whisper Network by Chandler Baker

Sloane, Ardie, Grace and Rosalita are four women who work for Truviv, an athleisure company.  They’re all struggling with work-life balance and with countering casual and institutional sexism in their workplace – something that even relative wealth and privilege doesn’t shield them from.  When their boss, the predatory Ames, looks likely to become the next CEO, these women decide that enough is enough.  They fight back by adding Ames’ name to a viral, online “BAD Men list”, and by filing a sexual harassment lawsuit against Ames and Truviv.  What happens next is tense, viciously funny… and will surprise you.  Whisper Network is a thriller of the #MeToo era, weaving themes of gender politics, power balances and office culture through its mystery / legal thriller plot. Chandler Baker, herself a lawyer with a young family, has recreated a setting that is highly recognisable.  Whisper Network is a highly addictive read endorsed by the Reese Witherspoon Book Club.

A Nearly Normal Family by M T Edvardsson

How far would you go to protect your child? This is the question Adam (a pastor) and Ulrika (a criminal lawyer) must face when their 17 year-old daughter is charged with a brutal murder. While they instinctively stand by Stella, this crime and its aftermath batter them with parental guilt, protectiveness, moral dilemmas, and doubt. A Nearly Normal Family is told in three parts, narrated in turn by Adam, Stella and Ulrika.  These three strands – which don’t always match up – challenge us to question their reliability and biases.  This is both a domestic drama and a courtroom thriller, particularly affecting because Stella’s family seems so ordinary.  A Nearly Normal Family is the first of M. T. Edvardsson’s works to be translated into English, and it definitely upholds the excellent reputation of Scandinavian crime fiction.

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Jess is a young makeup artist struggling to make ends meet in New York City.  When she learns of a lucrative research study being done by a respected psychiatrist, she tricks her way into participating (the irony being that the study is about ethics and morality). As the study progresses, the supportive mentor/protege relationship between Jess and Dr Lydia Shields turns increasingly sinister, with directions to attempt increasingly personal, uncomfortable roleplaying tasks.  An Anonymous Girl is a novel of chilling suspense and obsession.  Readers quickly start sharing Jess’ sense of dread and desperation as she realises she is up against a master manipulator.  An Anonymous Girl is a worthy sophomore effort from the team behind the bestselling The Wife Between Us.

The Neighbour by Fiona Cummins

The Neighbour is a psychological thriller about a neighbourhood devastated by a serial killer.  The neighbourhood seems quiet and ordinary – but its inhabitants all have secrets to hide… and one of them is the killer.  For newcomers the Lockwood family, and for investigating detective Wildeve Stanton, the race is on to reveal the psychopath from behind his/her harmless mask.  The Neighbour has taken this classic premise and spun it into story full of horror, menace and trepidation. Fiona Cummins has created a memorable killer, who narrates part of the story in a highly unsettling way.  She also induces a creeping sense of claustrophobia by confining most of the action to one single street.  The Neighbour is a dark story, full of twists and turns, that will keep you guessing right to the end.

The Best Books of 2019 picked by Team Booko

We are still pinching ourselves that it is somehow October already! Wow the year has whizzed by. With the end of the year looming and Christmas (ahem) just around the corner we thought we would round up the best books that the Booko Team has read this year. 

The team has a wide and mixed bunch of titles so find yourself somewhere comfy to sit and get ready to be inspired to sink yourself into some fabulous stories. 

From the Founders:

Riina’s Pick: Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

I have been meaning to read Exit West by Mohsin Hamid ever since it was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2017, and finally managed to read it this year. Though the story takes place in an unnamed city, it bears much resemblance to the humanitarian crisis in Syria. I was firstly drawn to the book because of the refugee theme, but ended up finding much more than a refugee story: a thought-provoking story about belonging, prejudice, loyalty and love.

The story is of young lovers who are forced to leave the city of their birth due to escalating violence and civil war. They hear rumours of mysterious doorways that open up in random places and that take those who can pay the price to some far-flung place that is safer than the place they leave behind. The couple end up going through two more doorways in search of a place they can feel safe in. By inventing these “magic doorways” Hamid is removing the journey from the refugee story, instead focusing on the experiences of leaving and arriving, and how such events shape and change a person. This way the story is in some ways relatable to anyone who’s ever migrated for one reason or another.

As events unfold, Hamid pays homage to various humanitarian crises across history, showing the reader how easy it is for history to repeat itself; how close we are to losing our humanity. Fear, prejudice and “otherness” are never far below the surface.

Though the book was not a pleasant or easy read, it made it to one of my most favourite this year due to the thoughts it left me with for days after I had finished reading the story.

Dan’s Pick: Practical Object-Oriented Design by Sandi Metz

I first heard the name Sandi Metz at a programming conference I was attending in Sydney.  My friend had bought a ticket and flown from Melbourne to see her speak.  Sandi was the keynote and the subject was on persuasion.  My friend, the Sandi fan, convinced me to watch a few of her programming videos and on the strength of those, I bought her latest book, ‘Practical Object-Oriented Design

It’s a dry sounding subject, but I was hooked immediately. Like me, Sandi is a Ruby programmer and like me, she builds systems in Ruby. The strength of the book is the way it introduces and discusses problems in designs of systems.  Sandi identifies problems in design with straightforward examples.   There were many moments during the book, when a problem was introduced that I immediately recognised and had struggled with.  The main difference is that rather than move on to the next issue, Sandi reduces the problem to its kernel, then deftly brings a few tools or patterns to bear on the problem.  It’s like watching a tangled cord be unknotted.  

I’m not sure I’d have been so engrossed in this book had I not, quite literally, struggled with the exact problems presented.  This book has improved me as a programmer and I would highly recommend it to any developer with a few years under their belt. 

From our youngest reviewers:

Niko’s Pick: Brotherband by John Flanagan

A series I recommend is Brotherband. It is by John Flanagan, and exists in the same world as his international bestselling series “Ranger’s Apprentice,” which is about the Rangers of Araluen, and Will, the ranger Halt’s apprentice. Brotherband’s events happened shortly after Ranger’s Apprentice, where Gilan is actually a character in both of the series.

Brotherband is set in Skandia, a land of sea wolves and democracy (as in they vote for their leader, the Oberjarl, instead of having a royal bloodline, like Araluen). The main characters are a Brotherband called the Herons (named after the bird) and they are led by Hal. They fight bad guys and do missions for the Oberjarl, Erak.

I recommend this book to anyone who likes Vikings and battles and action and many other things I forgot to name. This book is good for anyone older than 8, but really, it’s good for all ages as long as you can read. It’s that good.

Elora’s Pick: Smile by Raina Telgemeier

I made a book report for a Book called Smile. I recommend this book for 6+! This book was written by Raina Telgemeier. She also wrote some books called Sisters, Ghosts, Drama and Guts. Those are all the books by her that I know of. I thought it was a good Graphic Novel. The good things about it are: it actually happened, it’s funny and all other emotions including the sad emotion 😭 Sad😢. Her so called annoying sister named Amara says “You’re gonna be a METAL-MOUTH” when she gets braces from tripping over and losing 2 fully grown teeth! The dentist was nice so he gave her fake teeth to make her look normal and she ends up with a good life.

From the Marketing Team:

Cheekily, Marie has two favourites and because they are so different from each other we thought we’d let that slide and let her review two. 

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss

If you like to sink your teeth into fascinating stories and learn practical tips at the same time, then this book is for you. A great friend recommended this to me and I loved it (and have since recommended it to a number of other people).

After a stint policing the rough streets of Kansas City, Missouri, Chris Voss joined the FBI, where his career as a hostage negotiator brought him face-to-face with a range of criminals, including bank robbers and terrorists. Reaching the pinnacle of his profession, he became the FBI’s lead international kidnapping negotiator. in his chatty style, Voss takes you inside the world of high-stakes negotiations and into his head, revealing the skills that helped him and his colleagues succeed where it mattered most: saving lives. In addition to the unbelievable stories, this is a practical guide of tactics and strategies that you can use to become more persuasive in both your professional and personal life.

Educated by Tara Westover

I still think about this book regularly after finishing it a few months ago, I think it is haunting me. With three little girls of my own and being brought up in a home where education was highly valued, I was intrigued when hearing about this story. I couldn’t imagine a world more different from my own and was so moved by the account of Tara’s life as she gets to the heart of what an education is and what it has to offer. I’m putting the blurb for the book below as I couldn’t describe it any better. However, prepare yourself because it is an exceptionally sad tale. 

Tara Westover grew up preparing for the End of Days, watching for the sun to darken, for the moon to drip as if with blood. She spent her summers bottling peaches and her winters rotating emergency supplies, hoping that when the World of Men failed, her family would continue on, unaffected. She hadn’t been registered for a birth certificate. She had no school records because she’d never set foot in a classroom, and no medical records because her father didn’t believe in doctors or hospitals. According to the state and federal government, she didn’t exist. As she grew older, her father became more radical, and her brother, more violent. At sixteen Tara decided to educate herself. Her struggle for knowledge would take her far from her Idaho mountains, over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she’d travelled too far. If there was still a way home. Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty, and of the grief that comes with the severing of the closest of ties.

Enjoy!

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!

Opening our eyes and hearts to refugees

Do you know that Refugee Week has been observed in Australia for over 30 years?

Refugee Week is celebrated annually in mid June, incorporating World Refugee Day on June 20.  This is a time when Australians can acknowledge the contributions that refugees and asylum seekers have made to our country, and also for us to learn about the challenges many refugees face as they re-establish themselves and their communities in a new land.

The theme for this year’s Refugee Week is “A World of Stories” – reminding us that each refugee seeking safety has their own story of why they left home, and what they had to do to find safety. Readers who want to learn, and understand, the current conflicts and refugee situations will find these stories powerful and enlightening:

First Generation: 36 Trailblazing Immigrant and Refugees Who Make America Great by Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace

In the tradition of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls comes this collection of mini biographies celebrating the achievements of some very special first-generation immigrants and former refugees.  From musician Yo-yo Ma to scientist Albert Einstein, from former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to tennis champion Martina Navratilova, this collection of high achievers span different ethnicities, religions, and professions.  And despite the America-centric title, many of their contributions have impacted / benefitted the entire world.  First Generation also offers a powerful reminder on how a safe environment, personal freedoms and educational opportunities help people realise their potential.

The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen

In Viet Thanh Nguyen’s mind, the experience of becoming a refugee – unwanted where they come from, unwanted where they go to – brands you forever.  He explores this idea in the eight short stories that comprise The Refugees.  These are not stories about escaping war, nor even about adapting to new cultures; they are simply stories of love, loss, memory and family – melancholy stories seen through the prism of the refugee experience.  Viet Thanh Nguyen is a respected academic who has become a literary star since winning the Pulitzer Prize (and several other awards) with his first novel, The Sympathizer.  The Refugees is his first collection of short stories. 

Stepping Stones: a Refugee Family’s Journey by Margriet Ruurs and Nizar Ali Badr

Canadian writer Margriet Ruurs was inspired by the art of Syrian artist Nizar Ali Badr to create this book – they didn’t know each other and had never met, but managed to collaborate despite the distance between their two countries, and the political turmoil in Syria.  Stepping Stones tells the story of Rama and her family, who live a happy, peaceful life in Syria until war comes.  As bombs fall ever closer to their village, Rama’s family flees with only a few belongings, travelling overland and across the seas until they find a safe, new home. Nizar Ali Badr’s distinctive illustrations are made by arranging multicoloured stones – into characters and scenes with surprising levels of emotion and humour.  Stepping Stones is an excellent way to introduce the topic of war and refugees to young readers.

Homes by Abu Bakr al Rabeeah with Winnie Yeung

Abu Bakr al Rabeeah was a young teen when he confided his dream to his English teacher: he wanted to tell his story of growing up in Iraq and Syria, and of his family’s journey to safety in Canada.  He noticed that his fellow Canadians knew little about the situation in the Middle East, and wanted to challenge those who wanted to define his family only by their experience as refugees.  Eight months later, Abu achieved his dream with the help of his teacher, Winnie Yeung.  Homes is a gripping first-person account of growing up in a war zone.  The horrors of war are interwoven with ordinary childhood pursuits in a way that shocks the reader – flying kites with cousins among bombed-out buildings; playing with shell casings in the street – yet Abu’s childhood is not without love, or fun.  

I Can Only Tell You What My Eyes See by Giles Duley

Giles Duley is a photojournalist who is best known for documenting the long-term impact of war.  Despite losing both legs and an arm during an explosion whilst on assignment, he has continued his work as a photographer, reporting the stories of refugees not to evoke pity, but to encourage empathy and to inspire change.  I Can Only Tell You What My Eyes See is a record of the refugee crisis in Europe during 2015/6.  Giles Duley travelled through Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan, through the Balkans and to Greece and Germany, to retrace the journeys of people forced to flee their homes in the Middle East to seek safety in Europe.  Profits from the sale of this book will be donated to the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR).

We are Displaced: My Journey and Stories from Refugee Girls Around the World by Malala Yousafzai

In We Are Displaced, Malala Yousafzai uses her considerable public profile to highlight the issue of displacement – people forced to flee their homes due to conflict, persecution or natural disaster.  This is a much more widespread problem than most people realise – happening all around the world, affecting more than 68 million people, mostly women and girls. Starting with Malala’s own experience of internal displacement within Pakistan while escaping from Taliban rule, we are introduced to eight other girls, from countries as diverse as Yemen, Syria, Guatemala and the Congo, and their stories of displacement and disruption (and often discrimination as well).  These accounts are powerfully personal, confronting, and ultimately hopeful, as these resilient girls rebuild their lives in new communities.

The best self help books that can help you decide what’s important

Self help books are one of the most popular genres in the world. There are thousands and thousands of titles to choose from and it can get a little over whelming. Some titles focus on discovering who you are, uncovering your strengths, and passions. Others take a different approach and teach us to take on qualities we aspire to. Sometimes a book comes along and really speaks to us, challenging our mindset and making us think about what’s really important. These are our favourite ones.

We’ve had a hunt around the internet and have found some of the best that we think will help you decide what’s really important to you. 

What do you really, really want? by Kevin Stebbings

What matters most to you? What keeps you from living a life of joy and purpose? In this unique narrative of life changing conversations, Kevin Stebbings offers an authentic framework for overcoming the distractions of life to rediscover what you really, really want.

He draws on the proven ideas and practices from the world of coaching to create a highly original and insightful book that will teach you how to discover your purpose, pursue your dreams, and achieve your goals.

You are invited into the story of two individuals who seek the help of a coach to find answers to life’s challenges. Their stories illuminate a path that you can follow to answer these questions: How do I overcome my tendency to procrastinate? What does it take to learn to say ‘no’ graciously and with confidence? How can I move beyond my fear of failure and start pursuing my dreams? What can I do to be more focused and less distracted? Stebbings uses coaching conversations to show us how to put our insights into practice so that we can live with passion and hope. What Do You Really, Really Want? is a compelling story with a powerful, yet simple message to empower you to live a life that is aligned with what matters most.

Start with Why by Simon Sinek

Technically this book was written to help businesses and brands but in reality the messages in this book are applicable to more than that. After watching Sinek’s Ted Talk (you can view it here) we believe that asking and finding your ‘why’ can really help you hone in on what is important. 

There’s a naturally occurring pattern shared by the people and organisations that achieve the greatest long-term success. From Martin Luther King Jr. to Steve Jobs, from the pioneers of aviation to the founders of Southwest Airlines, the most inspiring leaders think, act, and communicate the exact same way-and it’s the complete opposite of everyone else. The common thread, according to Simon Sinek, is that they all start with why. This simple question has the power to inspire others to achieve extraordinary things. Any organisation can explain what it does; some can explain how; but very few can clearly articulate why. Why do we offer these particular products or services? Why do our customers choose us? Why do our employees stay (or leave)? Once you have those answers, teams get stronger, the mission clicks into place, and the path ahead becomes much clearer. Starting with why is the key to everything from putting a man on the moon to launching the iPod. Drawing on a wide range of fascinating examples, Sinek shows readers how to apply why to their culture, hiring decisions, product development, sales, marketing, and many other challenges. Some naturally think this way, but Sinek proves that anyone can learn how. 

Simon’s also written another book, Find Your Why, which you can find here

You are a badass by Jen Sinecero

You Are A Badass is the self-help book for people who desperately want to improve their lives but don’t want to get busted doing it. In this refreshingly entertaining how-to guide, bestselling author and world-traveling success coach, Jen Sincero, serves up 27 bite-sized chapters full of hilariously inspiring stories, sage advice, easy exercises, and the occasional swear word, helping you to identify and change the self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviours that stop you from getting what you want, creating a life you totally love, and make some damn money already (the kind you’ve never made before). By the end of the book, you’ll understand why you are how you are, how to love what you can’t change, how to change what you don’t love, and how to use The Force to kick some serious ass. It’s a great read.

Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

Every time we are introduced to someone new, try to be creative, or start a difficult conversation, we take a risk. We feel uncertain and exposed. We feel vulnerable. Most of us try to fight those feelings – we strive to appear perfect. In a powerful new vision Dr. Brené Brown challenges everything we think we know about vulnerability, and dispels the widely accepted myth that it’s a weakness. She argues that, in truth, vulnerability is strength and when we shut ourselves off from vulnerability – from revealing our true selves – we distance ourselves from the experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives. Daring Greatly is the culmination of 12 years of groundbreaking social research, across every area of our lives including home, relationships, work, and parenting. It is an invitation to be courageous; to show up and let ourselves be seen, even when there are no guarantees. This is vulnerability. This is daring greatly.

Brené Brown has one of the most watched Ted Talks (you can view it here) and her Netflix special was launched earlier this year (you can view the trailer here)

I thought It Was Just Me by Brené Brown

While we are diving into the inspiring world that Brené Brown opens us up to, we have another one of her books for you to read. 

The quest for perfection is exhausting and unrelenting. We spend too much precious time and energy managing perception and creating carefully edited versions of ourselves to show to the world. As hard as we try, we can’t seem to turn off the tapes that fill our heads with messages like, ‘Never good enough!’ and ‘What will people think?’ Why? What fuels this unattainable need to look like we always have it all together? At first glance we might think it’s because we admire perfection, but that’s not the case. We are actually the most attracted to people we consider to be authentic and down-to-earth. We love people who are ‘real’ – we’re drawn to those who both embrace their imperfections and radiate self-acceptance. There is a constant barrage of social expectations that teach us that being imperfect is synonymous with being inadequate. Everywhere we turn, there are messages that tell us who, what and how we’re supposed to be. So, we learn to hide our struggles and protect ourselves from shame, judgment, criticism and blame by seeking safety in pretending and perfection. Based on seven years of ground-breaking research and hundreds of interviews, I Thought It Was Just Me shines a long-overdue light on an important truth: Our imperfections are what connect us to each other and to our humanity. Our vulnerabilities are not weaknesses; they are powerful reminders to keep our hearts and minds open to the reality that we’re all in this together.

Girl, Stop Apologising by Rachel Hollis

I believe we can change the world. But first, we’ve got to stop living in fear of being judged for who we are.”

Rachel Hollis has seen it too often: women not living into their full potential. They feel a tugging on their hearts for something more, but they’re afraid of embarrassment, of falling short of perfection, of not being enough. In Girl, Stop Apologising, #1 New York Times bestselling author and founder of a multimillion-dollar media company, Rachel Hollis sounds a wake-up call. She knows that many women have been taught to define themselves in light of other people-whether as wife, mother, daughter, or employee-instead of learning how to own who they are and what they want. With a challenge to women everywhere to stop talking themselves out of their dreams, Hollis identifies the excuses to let go of, the behaviours to adopt, and the skills to acquire on the path to growth, confidence, and believing in yourself. Rachel’s written another inspiring book that we love, it’s called Girl, Wash Your Face and you can find it here.

Enjoy!

The most gift worthy coffee table books this Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is just around the corner so it’s time to find a little something special for the mums in our lives. One thing that is always a delight to receive, but something they never seem to buy themselves, is a fabulous coffee table book. We have rounded up some of the most glorious ones recently released on interiors, fashion, space and history so that you are bound to find one to treat your mum.

Imaginarium by Sibella Court

This is a sumptuous picture book of style and design inspiration from award-winning Australian stylist Sibella Court. Imaginarium is a glorious coffee table book of images that reflect the things that inspire and motivate this interior stylist, historian and globetrotter. Immersing you in a world of travel, nature, interiors, art, oddities and curiosities, Imaginarium will open your eyes to the world around you and fuel your imagination for your own creativity, design and adventures. Themed by colour and featuring more than 300 beautifully shot and curated photographs, Imaginarium is the ultimate picture book for lovers of design and interior styling, and anyone looking for fresh ideas or inspiring daydreams.

A Tree In The House by Annabelle Hickson

A Tree in the House is part guide for the aspiring home florist, and part celebration of rural life in sync with nature. Annabelle Hickson provides stunning ideas and instructions for flower installations and arrangements, covering beautiful, seasonal bouquets, flowers for friends, table and overhead arrangements and flower arrangements for special occasions. A Tree in The House celebrates the joy and simple, natural beauty flowers bring to the home, every day, with a focus on foraged and locally and seasonally grown plants. Interspersed throughout are gorgeous snapshots of Annabelle’s picturesque rural life. A Tree in the House is a stunning ode, in words and pictures, to flower arranging, and is as much an aspirational window into rural life as an inspirational guide to creating beautiful, simple arrangements.

Anti Glossy by Patrick Remy

Capturing contemporary trends and forecasting the look of the future, this dazzling anthology collects the work of the most cutting-edge photographers working today. This volume is an essential compilation of the most important photographic trends of the age of social media and digital publication.

The interaction between photography and fashion has always been compelling – how can artists balance commercial viability against their own creative vision? Anti-Glossy collects some of the most innovative photographers working in the field of fashion, exploring the way new media is influencing the direction of photography for print.

As the notion of the “fashion photographer” becomes less distinct, the industry is benefitting from the talents of artists whose influence leads the genre into a multitude of surprising, often shocking, directions. In this collection of new fashion photography, full-page colour and black-and-white photographs represent an incredible range of styles and techniques.

From the evolving vision of masters of the form such as Juergen Teller and Glen Luchford, to the ironic work of Sebastian Kim, to the challenges posed by young female voices like Annemarieke Van Drimmelen, Charlotte Wales, Sarah Piantadosi, Joanna Piotrowska, and Karen Knorr. The photographers featured in this exciting collection represent a cutting-edge trend in all its diversity. Paris-based author and editor Patrick Remy has selected over twenty photographers from emerging talents that hold the prospect of creating enduring fashion images and influencing the cultural and style trends of tomorrow to established figures exploring new directions.

Off The Grid by Dominic Bradbury

Recent advances in technologies and home-generated renewable energy have made building away from urban and rural infrastructures more practical and affordable than ever. This survey of the world’s most innovative off-grid homes reveals the cutting edge architecture and technology that is enabling us to escape to some of the most extraordinary natural environments on the planet. All of the houses featured in this book are fully, or almost fully, self-sufficient in terms of energy, water and, in some cases, food. Architecture and interior design expert Dominic Bradbury reveals how each architect has made everyday living in these wild and natural settings a rewarding and tempting reality. From snowbound cabins in the far Northern Hemisphere to coastal retreats that can only be accessed by boat, the diverse projects collected here show the innovative ways in which architects and their clients are tackling extreme climates, remoteness and construction challenges to enable a new way of life that is both liberating and sustainable. The imperative to reduce our carbon footprints and refocus on renewable sources of energy is having a profound impact on our domestic lives. This fascinating survey demonstrates that creative architecture, design and technology are redefining the possibilities for leading a truly rewarding and responsible lifestyle.

Space Utopia by Vincent Fournier

This unique collection of photographs features over ten years of collaborations with the most important space and research centres in the world, resulting in a one-of-a-kind story of the human race to the stars.

Vincent Fournier’s visionary photographs provide an imaginative look at space exploration by merging fantasy with reality in images of rockets, other worldly landscapes, research facilities, and cosmonauts. To produce these extraordinary images, Fournier has collaborated with the world’s major space centres and astronomical observatories, including NASA, the European Space Agency, the Russian space agency, and the European Southern Observatory. Readers are given access to confidential locations and projects such as the NASA SLS rocket. Fournier’s artistic vision creates a unique look at the history of space exploration, from the early Sputnik and Apollo programs to the future Mission on Mars.

The images invite us to focus on our perceptions of space and time. Fournier questions our past and future utopias–what are our expectations for the future and has the future already happened? The evocative images document and archive while also exploring humankind’s myths and fantasies about the future. 

As It Was by Heather Cremonesi

The iconic black-and-white photographs of Hamburg-born photographer Frank Habicht (born 1938) reflects the spirit of the Swinging Sixties in London. In the 1960s, the conservative postwar years in England gave way to a period of upheaval, with a younger generation dreaming of an unconstrained life, one full of free love, peace and harmony. On the streets of the British capital, Habicht began photographing the profound social and political changes that were underway. 

Habicht, who has lived in New Zealand since 1981, has produced photographs for many international magazines and newspapers, such as the Guardian, Die Welt, Camera Magazine and Twen. His photographs were recently exhibited at the Barbican in London, and he has made portraits of music and film greats such as Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones, Jane Birkin, Christopher Lee and Vanessa Redgrave.

Enjoy!

The Best Books on Love and Friendship

It’s Valentine’s Day! Ahhhh the day of love. 

We love celebrating this day (honestly that was an unintended pun) because we like to acknowledge our appreciation of our wonderful circle friends along with our family. It’s with this in mind that we have rounded up some of the best books published last year that show you that you can have feel love from friends, pets, family…and a character from inside a book. 

We did spot a gap in the market. As hard as we tried, we couldn’t find many books about male friendship. Let us know if you in the comments below if you know of any great ones.

Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton 

I both laughed out loud, cried and cringed with my own memories when reading this book. When it comes to the trials and triumphs of becoming a grown up, journalist Dolly Alderton has seen and tried it all. In her memoir, she vividly recounts falling in love, wrestling with self-sabotage, finding a job, throwing a socially disastrous Rod-Stewart themed house party, getting drunk, getting dumped, realising that Ivan from the corner shop is the only man you’ve ever been able to rely on, and finding that your mates are always there at the end of every messy night out. Glittering, with wit and insight, heart and humour, this is a book about the struggles of early adulthood in all its grubby, hopeful uncertainty. It’s recently been re-released with an additional chapter capturing Dolly’s thoughts on turning 30. Winner of Autobiography of the Year at the National Book Awards 2018, Everything I know About Love has also been shortlisted for the Waterstones Book of the Year 2018. 

The F Word by Lily Pebbles

We featured blogger Lily Pebbles’ book last year when her beautiful pink hard cover edition came out. One year on, she’s released the paperback version – fantastically so as it’s much easier to throw into your handbag when travelling to work. If there’s one piece of invaluable advice for women and girls of all ages, it is that there is nothing more important than creating and maintaining strong, positive and happy friendships with other women. In a culture that largely pits women against each other, Lily wanted to celebrate female friendships… all strings attached! If her 1998 diary is anything to go by, female friendships are incredibly complex and emotional but they’re the mini love stories that make us who we are. For many women, friends are our partners in crime through life; they are the ones who move us into new homes, out of bad relationships, through births and illnesses. In THE F WORD Lily Pebbles sets out to explore and celebrate the essence of female friendship at different life stages and in its many wild and wonderful forms.

The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2018, this New York Bestseller is a fearless and heartbreaking novel about love, friendship and incarceration. Romy Hall is starting two consecutive life sentences at Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility. Her crime? The killing of her stalker. Inside awaits a world where women must hustle and fight for the bare essentials. Outside- the San Francisco of her youth. The Mars Room strip club where she was once a dancer. Her seven-year-old son, Jackson. As Romy forms friendships over liquor brewed in socks and stories shared through sewage pipes her future seems to unfurl in one long, unwavering line – until news from beyond the prison bars forces Romy to try and outrun her destiny.

The Friend by Sigrid Nunez

This is a moving story of love, friendship, grief, healing, and the magical bond between a woman and her dog. When a woman unexpectedly loses her lifelong best friend and mentor, she finds herself burdened with the unwanted dog he has left behind. Her own battle against grief is intensified by the mute suffering of the dog, a huge Great Dane traumatised by the inexplicable disappearance of its master, and by the threat of eviction: dogs are prohibited in her apartment building. While others worry that grief has made her a victim of magical thinking, the woman refuses to be separated from the dog except for brief periods of time. Isolated from the rest of the world, increasingly obsessed with the dog’s care, determined to read its mind and fathom its heart, she comes dangerously close to unravelling. But while troubles abound, rich and surprising rewards lie in store for both of them. Elegiac and searching, The Friend is both a meditation on loss and a celebration of human-canine devotion.

The Friendship Cure by Kate Leaver

Friendship is like water. We need it to survive, we crave it when it’s scarce, it runs through our veins and yet we forget its value simply because it’s always available. The basic compulsion to make friends is in our DNA; we’ve evolved, chimp-like, to seek out connection with other human beings. We move through life in packs and friendship circles and yet we are stuck in the greatest loneliness epidemic of our time. It’s killing us, making us miserable and causing a public health crisis. But what if friendship is the solution, not the distraction? Journalist Kate Leaver believes that friendship is the essential cure for the modern malaise of solitude, ignorance, ill health and angst. If we only treated camaraderie as a social priority, it could affect everything from our physical health and emotional well-being to our capacity to find a home, keep a job, get married, stay married, succeed, feed and understand ourselves. In this witty, smart book – an appealing blend of science, pop culture and memoir – she meets scientists, speaks to old friends, finds extraordinary stories and uncovers research to look at what friendship is, how it feels, where it can survive, why we need it and what we can do to get the most from it – and how we might change the world if we value it properly. 


Text Me When You Get Home by Kayleen Schaefer

After joyful nights out together, female friends say this to one another as a way of cementing their love. It’s about safety but, more than that, it’s about solidarity. From Broad City to Big Little Lies to what women say about their own best friends, the stories we’re telling about female friendship have changed. What used to be written off as infighting between mean girls, or disposable relationships that would be tossed as soon as a guy came along, are no longer that. Now, we’re lifting up our female friendships to the same level as our other important relationships, saying they matter just as much as the bonds we have with our romantic partners, children, parents, or siblings. Journalist Kayleen Schaefer tells her own story of realising what other women could mean to her as she moved through a journey of modern female friendship – from being a competitive teenager to trying to be one of the guys in the workplace to ultimately awakening to the power of female friendship and the soulmates, girl squads, and chosen families that come with it. Schaefer has put together a completely new sociological perspective on the way we see our friends now, one that’s drawn not only from her own story but from interviews with dozens of other women across the country – historians, creators of the most iconic films and television shows about female friendship, celebrities, authors, and other experts. A validation of female friendship unlike any that’s ever existed before, Text Me When You Get Home is a mix of historical research, the author’s own personal experience, and conversations about friendships with women across the country. Everything Schaefer uncovers reveals that these ties are making us, both as individuals and as society as a whole, stronger than ever before.

Enjoy!

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!

The Best Travel Books for 2018

We’re rushing headlong towards the end of the year, and here in Australia the weather is warming up beautifully – two things that make me think of holidays and travelling! For me, the prospect of resuming travelling (after an extended break) is filling me with anticipation – there are still so many places I want to visit!  Whether you are a seasoned traveller, or one new to the game, there’s some excellent travel writing to inspire, entertain and inform you. Here are some of our favourites from this year:

Journeys of a Lifetime, Second Edition: 500 of the World’s Greatest Trips by National Geographic

Here’s all your travel inspo in one hit – the second edition of Journeys of a Lifetime, completely revised to mark its 10th anniversary.  From iconic places to hidden gems, these destinations and routes represent the 500 favourite journeys of the travel writers at National Geographic.  Covering every continent and mode of transport, Journeys of a Lifetime is particularly strong on adventurous trips – whether it’s cruising in Antarctica, trekking up Kilimanjaro or mountain biking in Transylvania.  There are also thematic sections, with ideas for urban walks, food pilgrimages, hot new museums and more.  Packed with maps, planning advice and amazing photography, this gorgeous book will provide inspiration and information for years to come.

Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Eatlist : the 500 Best Dishes to Eat on the Planet, Ranked by Lonely Planet

Ultimate Eatlist is another “500 Best” book that will be a great reference as well as inspiration.  For many people (myself included), trying different cuisines is a favourite part of travelling, so the team at Lonely Planet has scoured the world for the most delicious, iconic and memorable eating experiences.  From Laksa in Kuala Lumpur, BBQ in Texas to oysters in Tasmania, Ultimate Eatlist will show you what to eat, where to eat it, the history and culture behind each food, and why the experience will be special.  Don’t read this book when you’re hungry!

Rooms with a View: the Secret Life of Grand Hotels by Adrian Mourby

The names of famous hotels – such as the Dorchester (London), Raffles (Singapore), and The Plaza (New York) – instantly evoke images of history, glamour, money, celebrities. These are also potent ingredients for gossip!  Hotel historian and travel addict Adrian Mourby has collected wonderfully entertaining tales about 50 of these grand hotels around the world.  Read about how the details of India’s independence were drafted in the ballroom of the Imperial Hotel in Delhi; or about the time Salvador Dali asked room service at Hotel Le Meurice in Paris to send him a flock of sheep. The Great, the Good and the Eccentric, including Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemingway and Elizabeth Taylor – all made appearances, and some times, history – in these grand establishments.

Pasta, Pane, Vino: Deep Travels Through Italy’s Food Culture by Matt Goulding

Pasta, Pane, Vino is the latest book by Roads & Kingdoms, a crew that applies foreign correspondence-style journalism to food, music and travel (thereby elevating it to a new and impressive level).  Matt Goulding travels across Italy and shows how food staples – pasta, bread, cheese, wine – remain anchored in tradition, whilst allowing new generations of artisans the scope to innovate for the future.  Matt’s exploration of food is also the starting point for deep-dives into Italian history, politics and culture.  Each chapter is like a short documentary that is both intense and intimate. Pasta, Pane, Vino will hit the spot If you like your writing insightful and intellectual.

The Kings of the Yukon: an Alaskan River Journey by Adam Weymouth

Adam Weymouth spent four months canoeing along the Yukon River, tracing the life cycle of the legendary king salmon.  From the spawning grounds of McNeil Lake in the Canadian interior, he travels over 3,000 km to the Bering Sea – and each year, thousands of salmon make this same journey in reverse, against the current and uphill, back to their birthplace to spawn and then die.  Along the way, he meets various locals, whose lives are entwined with the fate of the salmon.  The Kings of the Yukon is a quiet, poetic book befitting a journey through such a remote, rugged area.  The slow pace of canoeing allows Adam Weymouth plenty of time for reflection on ecology, sustainability, and the tension between conservation and cultural traditions.

A Year Off: a Story about Travelling the World and How to Make it Happen for You by Alexandra and David Brown

“Don’t Dream it, Do it!” is the message by Alexandra and David Brown – if you have ever dreamt of taking a year off to travel the world, then this is the book for you.  A few months into their relationship, Alexandra and David decided to take a year off from work and travel together. Visiting 20 countries in 12 months is a big challenge for a new couple, and this book details the highs and the lows, the glorious moments and the sheer exhaustion.  Alexandra and David also show how to plan and budget for such a trip, the conversations you need to have with your boss, how to manage the mundane stuff whilst on the road.  Combining guidebook, travel essays and memoir, A Year Off will inspire you to finally take the plunge with that dream trip.

The Kindness of Strangers: Travel Stories that Make your Heart Grow edited by Fearghal O’Nuallain

Travelling is exciting because it takes us to new and distant places; however, in such unfamiliar places, without our usual support network, we become vulnerable.   The Kindness of Strangers explores what it means to be vulnerable and to be helped by someone we’ve never met, someone who could have walked past, but chose not to.  Contributors share personal stories of the kindnesses they have received from adventures around the world, from a warm and cheering bowl of soup, to a rescue from a dire situation.  The Kindness of Strangers is not just a travel book, but one that reminds its readers that much good can arise from even the smallest of kind gestures. In doing so, it encourages readers to empathise and be kind too.  All royalties go towards supporting Oxfam in their work with refugees – the most vulnerable travellers of them all.

The Atlas Obscura Explorers Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid by Dylan Thuras

The team behind the bestselling Atlas Obscura has returned with a book, designed to inspire wanderlust in a younger generation!  The Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid is packed with fascinating and unusual information about 47 different countries spread across every continent.  Besides distant and exotic places – such as the Crystal Caves in Mexico and Blood Falls in Antarctica – it also encourages young readers to explore and reveal the hidden wonders of their own environments.  Designed to appeal to 8-12 year olds (the age when curious facts and amazing records really capture their imaginations), this is a beautifully-produced book that will be perfect for gifting.

The Hottest Cookbooks of 2018

Over the past few years there has been a change in our approach to what we eat and drink. This shift  reflects our changing attitudes towards our health and the environment – and also how we socialise. We are now in a culinary world of adventurous vegetarian and vegan cuisine with avocado smash being a standard brunch item, not to mention deconstructed and bowl meals. 

But fear not, we have compiled a list of the hottest cookbooks of the year so that you can adopt a few new dishes to pop into your foodie repertoire and wow your dinner guests. 

So make yourself comfortable and get your fingers ready as you’ll want to bookmark these titles as possible Festive Season meal inspiration, or even just to give Santa a nudge as to what you want to unwrap in on Christmas Day…which is only 11 weeks away (yep…true fact)!

 

Ottolenghi Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi

It’s no secret that we love Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes (you can read about Karen’s love of Ottolenghi here) But boy-oh-boy some recipes can be a little intimidating. Ottolenghi Simple showcases Yotam’s standout dishes that will suit whatever type of cooking you find easy – whether that’s getting wonderful food on the table in under 30 minutes, using just one pot to make a delicious meal, or a flavoursome dish that can be prepared ahead and then served when you’re ready.

 

 

 

Lagom By Steffi Knowles-Dellner

Technically this book came out last year, but it’s been a hot seller this year so we have included it on the list. This beautiful, fresh cookbook offers genuine insight into how Swedes eat and cook – with recipes that fit around the seasons, occasions, times of day, and appetite. Eating and cooking in tune with ‘lagom’ means embracing food that is good for body and soul, unfussy, delicious and sustaining, and all in harmony. The Swedes understand that balance is everything – that you crave comforting food when a bitter wind is howling outside, that refreshing, lighter meals suit hot, hazy days, that a mid-morning bun is good for morale, and that a long, sociable lunch with friends and family on a Sunday is the most rewarding way to end the weekend. There is a time and place for every kind of food, and when everything is in equilibrium, you will be content and satisfied. Steffi Knowles-Dellner is a Swedish food stylist and blogger (check out the blog here) who will introduce you to the unique Swedish concepts that encapsulate lagom, in this her debut book. From the well-known smörgåsbord table of open sandwiches, and Fredags mys (“cosy Fridays”) when hunkering down on a cosy sofa and tucking into tacos is a must, all the way to the irresistible idea of lördagsgodis – a single day for eating sweets to satisfy even the sweetest tooth.

 

 

Magnolia Table: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering by Joanna Gaines

Magnolia Table is infused with Joanna Gaines’ warmth and passion for all things family, prepared and served straight from the heart of her home, with recipes inspired by dozens of Gaines family favourites and classic comfort selections from the couple’s new Waco restaurant, Magnolia Table, which opened early 2018.

Jo believes there’s no better way to celebrate family and friendship than through the art of togetherness, celebrating tradition, and sharing a great meal. Magnolia Table includes 125 classic recipes from breakfast, lunch, and dinner to small plates, snacks, and desserts. Complemented by her love for her garden, these dishes also incorporate homegrown, seasonal produce at the peak of its flavour. Inside Magnolia Table, you’ll find recipes the whole family will enjoy. You can check out Joanna’s blog here.

 

 

Cravings: Hungry for More by Chrissy Teigen 

Chrissy Teigen serves up a second glorious cookbook packed full of more delicious, irresistible, ‘eat-me’ food that you’ll want to devour right here, right now. Just as in Cravings, Chrissy’s recipes are high on flavour, low on guilt and she knows how to make every bite count. In this book, her focus is on faster and easier, but never less than 100% delicious. You’ll find the best comfort food, the sneakiest midnight feasts, instant dinner party grub to impress your friends, and a few more John Legend favourites. All accompanied with Chrissy’s laugh-out-loud irreverence and page-lickingly gorgeous food photography.

 

 

Platters and Boards: Beautiful, Casual Spreads for Every Occasion by Shelly Westerhausen

Okay, so this is my favourite style of cooking….platters count as cooking I’m sure! This visual cornucopia of a cookbook is the guide to entertaining with effortless style. Celebrated author and food blogger Shelly Westerhausen shares the secrets to creating casually chic spreads anyone can make and everyone will enjoy (and envy). Organised by time of day, 40 contemporary arrangements are presented with gorgeous photography, easy-to-prepare recipes, suggested meat and drink pairings, and notes on preparation and presentation. Helpful advice includes tips on portioning, picking surfaces and vessels, pairing complementary textures and flavours, plus a handy chart featuring board suggestions for a variety of occasions (from holiday parties to baby showers). Platters and Boards is an inspiring housewarming or Christmas gift and resource for throwing unforgettable get-togethers.

 

 

On Vegetables: Modern Recipes for the Home Kitchen by Jeremy Fox

Okay…so this one was also published last year but it’s so good we had to include it. On Vegetables is the highly anticipated cookbook from Jeremy Fox, the California chef who is redefining vegetable-based cuisine with global appeal. Known for his game-changing approach to cooking with vegetables, Jeremy Fox first made his name at the Michelin-starred restaurant Ubuntu in Napa Valley. Today he is one of America’s most talked-about chefs, celebrated for the ingredient-focused cuisine he serves at the Los Angeles restaurant, Rustic Canyon Wine Bar and Seasonal Kitchen. In his first book, Fox presents his food philosophy in the form of 160 approachable recipes for the home cook. On Vegetables elevates vegetarian cooking, using creative methods and ingredient combinations to highlight the textures, flavours, and varieties of seasonal produce and including basic recipes for the larder.

 

Enjoy!