Spring Reads

I get very excited when I read a good book, and typically pester everyone about it until they read it and/or buy it in bulk and give it to all my friends for Christmas. So for me to be truly authentic on this website, there absolutely needed to be a page where I could do the same electronically. This is it!

But first, a disclaimer: I love books. Especially real books. You know, the paper kind (sorry, Kindle, you’re really special to me too). I love the way they feel, the way they smell, the way they age. For as long as I can remember, I have been a total bookworm – and, save for a short time in high school when I tried to act less nerdy to be cool (not that I fooled anyone!) – a very proud total bookworm. Bookshops are my Kryptonite: my wallet is extremely safe in most shoe shops, but I have yet to leave a bookshop empty-handed. So I have no claim to objectivity as far as books are concerned – ours is a tale of passion.

With that caveat out of the way, here’s a list of some of my favourite Spring-Minded reads:

General Spring Minding:

  • anything by Brene Brown (you knew this was coming, right?) My personal recommendation – start with The Gifts of Imperfection, then Daring Greatly, then Rising Strong. Brene also has two fabulous TED talks and some really cool online courses, and she is such a joy to listen to. Love her love her love her.
  • Playing Big, by Tara Mohr – the first two chapters in particular (on the inner critic and the inner mentor) are life-changing.
  • Self Compassion, by Kristin Neff – Brene quotes her. A lot. ‘Nuff said.
  • The Upward Spiral, by Alex Korb – a book about using neuroscience to reverse the course of depression. Forget that it’s about depression and just use it as a manual to teach your brain happiness.
  • How Will You Measure Your Life, by Clayton Christensen – this is perfect for the no-nonsense, more business-minded among us, because it uses business case studies to illustrate how we should live our lives. I bought it for most of my MBA friends.
  • Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert, for anyone who has any desire to be creative – which is everyone.
  • I Know How She Does It, by Laura Vanderkam – a book about how successful working mothers find time for everything. Key tip: look at your week, not your day!
  • Better Than Before, by Gretchen Rubin – a book about habits that really delivers. I have all of my clients take her Four Tendencies quiz, it’s a real eye-opener!
  • The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, by Marie Kondo – yes, a book about tidying. Laugh if you want but give it a chance. Won’t work for everyone (some of us need messy spaces to feel free / creative / ourselves), but for others (myself included) it can be revolutionary.
  • Mindset, by Carol Dweck – this book blew my mind. Turns out there are two types of mindset: fixed and growth. Spoiler alert: we should go for growth.
  • Winning From Within, by Erica Ariel Fox. Key idea: the most important negotiation you’ll ever have is with yourself.
  • Difficult Conversations, by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton and Sheila Heen of the Harvard Negotiation Project. I’m just reading this again, pen in hand…
  • On Form, by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz. Key idea: we should be managing our energy, not our time, and they’ll tell us how.
  • Tiny Beautiful Things, by Cheryl Strayed. Turns out Cheryl Strayed (the author of the famous “Wild”, that book that got made into a movie where Reese Witherspoon hikes by herself for two hours) once ran an online agony column. I’ve highlighted this book to death. Sample highlight: “real, true, deep, authentic, staisfying, kickass, righteous life”. Amen, people, amen! Sugar (her agony aunt alter ego) is back as a podcast, btw – check it out!
  • Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, by Anna Quindlen – I know the idea of feeling good about aging sounds far fetched, but this book does exactly that. Perfect comfort read, just grab the hot chocolate.
  • The Course of Love, by Alain de Botton – this should be required reading before anyone is allowed to enter a committed relationship.
  • Year of Yes, by Shonda Rhimes – just because she’s brilliant and funny and makes you want to jump around and say yes!

Parenting

There are thousands of parenting books out there, and new parenting theories pop up faster than new fad diets. Here’s my take on it  – parenting is hard and awesome and scary and fantastic and we each figure it out our own way. We will definitely mess up, hopefully not too badly (more on messing up as a parent in this post, btw).These book just happens to summarise the theory that resonates most with my view of the world. Do try and see what works for you and for your child. Definitely take your cues from your child as far as baby books are concerned – in our case, what worked for our first-born (swaddling, rocking, carrying) didn’t work at all for our second.

  • The Happiest Baby on The Block, by Harvey Karp – this is the swaddling / rocking / white noise approach to sleep. It was the only thing that ever worked for my first-born. If you love this approach but your arms are tired, they now have a custom-made crib – check it out here.
  • Parent Effectiveness Training, by Thomas Gordon. Read the book, did the course – this is hard as hell to implement but soooo rewarding if you manage it. The tagline is “raising responsible kids”, so I’m definitely sold on the brand promise! Still working on implementation.
  • How to Talk so Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, and Siblings Without Rivalry, by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. Same general concept as Thomas Gordon: based on active listening and supporting kids to solve their own problems.
  • Happy Children, by Dr Rudolf Dreikurs. A classic, but still very relevant.
  • Raising Cain, by Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson – probably the best book about raising boys.
  • Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, by Amy Chua – the book that started the Tiger Mother debate. I basically read it just to see how the other half lives, get horrified, then get worried that maybe they’re right. I’ve decided this is not for me or my kids, but the book is fascinating nevertheless.
  • Black Milk, by Elif Shafak – a novel about coming to terms with motherhood and they ways it changes us, but also about all the different facets of being a woman. Lovely lovely lovely.

and last, but certainly not least…

  • Go the F*ck to Sleep, by Adam Mansbach. Because sometimes a parent can’t even. And if you’re too tired to turn the page, you can listen to Jennifer Garner’s sweet, lovely, butter-wouldn’t-melt (dimpled smile included, of course) reading of the book here.

Work in Progress

And here are some of the books currently on my shelf / Kindle which look very promising indeed:

  • Authentic, by Stephen Joseph. My Instagram is likely to be flooded with quotes from this book for the next couple of weeks.
  • The Coaching Habit, by Michael Bungay Stanier
  • Designing Your Life, by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans (one of them is a Stanford professor and together they teach a course on life design, which I think still is Stanford’s most popular course. This book is based on that course.)
  • The Art of Money, by Bari Tessler – this is a wild card; the author is a financial therapist (who knew they existed?) and approaches the issue of money with a very emotion-focused, almost spiritual lens. Key idea – we all have money hang-ups, most dating from childhood, and it’s a good idea to sort them out so we can be adults about our finances.
  • Raising our Children, Raising Ourselves, by Naomi Aldort
  • Raising Human Beingsby Jonathan Todd Ross

Cover photo copyright: juliasudnitskaya / 123RF Stock Photo

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