I am a big reader.
I love to read. I always have done.
I can read a book in an hour, I can devour 5 books in a day…I rarely get the chance to read for a whole day these days, but I am a fast reader so have been known to on many occasions.
I have had periods of my life though where I haven’t read at all, these have tended to coincide with quiet unhappy times on reflection. Because when I am reading I know I am prioritising myself, taking my own learning and growth seriously…taking time out for me.
When I was off on maternity leave for example I had a huge period of time to read, I was unemployed and unsure of what I would do next so I read books on all sorts of topics. I would go to the library most days with Rose in her pram and get 10 books out at a time…and whenever I travel I read heaps of books too, it’s how I unwind.
Even though I am busier these days running a business and training for marathons I still read a lot. I listen to audiobooks when I run, and I normally have 2 or 3 nonfiction books on the go either hardcopies or on my ipad…I haven’t done much fiction reading this year, something I would like to change for 2018…so any recommendations of a must read novel please do send them my way.
Anyway, I estimate I have read around 100 books this year…so the 10 I am going to highlight are a bit of a mixture really, and I am choosing them because they changed me somehow, and maybe not because they were the best book of all times, if that makes sense…oh and they are in no particular order….so here goes…
So I read this book during a time this year where I was quite anxious and overwhelmed with work. It really helped me to realise how rarely I lived in the present. I have often been one to think about the past or focus on the future and forget that the here and now is what is important. I think when you are running a business, or building a life where the hard work is now and the benefits are likely to come in the future it is easy to miss out on all of the wonderful things which you have available to you now. Having small children around is a great reminder of that too…they are not very small for very long so being present and in the moment is essential.
Now this is a real cracker and such a good buy for this time of the year. IT’S ABSOLUTELY LIFE CHANGING. Before reading this book I didn’t realise I had a problem…or perhaps I did but I din’t want to admit to it and I definitely was not ready to start addressing it. This book on the surface is about tidying up, getting organised and getting rid of stuff you don’t want…and even stuff you do want, but shouldn’t really. It opened up a tin of worms for me around what actually brought me joy in my life and what just made my life more challenging…it helped me clear out a wardrobe full of clothes that didn’t fit me, bookshelves full of books that I will never read again, and most importantly it helped me to upgrade my purchases…so rather than 5 quite shitty bags from Primark, one decent one which I will get real use out of. I don’t think you can understand the real value of this book without reading it…the concepts can be applied to so many areas of our life. Decluttering is a major pastime of mine now…and I’ve stopped buying so much crap in the first place.
Now I love everything about Jessamyn Stanley….I mean just check out her instagram account to get an idea of her awesomeness. Anyhow, I met the lady herself a couple of years ago and she has helped me to realise that Yoga really is for EVERYBODY. This book is not just a series of instructions about how to do Yoga, but it also goes into Jessamyn’s journey with the practice. In a world where imagery is so powerful the sight of a larger body doing the poses I tell myself I can’t do is so important. When I met her she said that often the same things which stop us on the yoga mat are the things which hold us back in life too, fear, resistence, lack of patience. It is a brilliantly practical book, but is so much more than that too. One of my goals for 2018 is to get on my Yoga Mat everyday…what I do on the mat might not be as epic as Jessamyn, but I want to get into the habit of at least facing it.
I hate the title of this book. I hate what it stands for. I hate some of the content…but I love that I learned a lot about myself through reading this. A few years back I threw out all of my diet books. It was the declutter of all declutters…and I felt to much better once they were gone. The reason I bought this book was it was recommended by the Hypnotherapist who worked on my retreat. It talked about a type of hypnosis that I had found to be quite powerful in identifying some of the early memories around body image and my relationship with food. So I gave it a go. There were lots of really provocative suggestions around what to eat and what not to eat some of which I still can’t shake from my head…but also some really interesting sections around the types of eaters there are…helping me to understand my own behaviours. I have a lot of respect for the work of Marisa Peer as she has a wonderful track record of helping people overcome addictions. I do think you have to read this with a good sense of self esteem though, because areas of it felt quite shaming. It was most definitely a book which triggered the start of a new way of thinking for me.
I once saw Russell doing stand up comedy in the upstairs room of an Islington pub long before he was famous. He was neurotic, funny as hell, but he looked ill. I have never really had much of a view of him and his antics otherwise. I got one of his earlier books out of the library once and took it back unread as I just couldn’t get into it…into him I guess. But after watching on a TV show recently talking about this book I knew I had to read it. I am only half way through it as it keeps triggering new ways of thinking for me which are quite powerful. I had never really thought of myself as an addict really until reading this book, but I do have addictive ways of behaving when it comes to food. I know I will look back at this book in years to come as a massive turning point. I love how he weaves his own story through the book, and turns the well known 12 step programme for addicts on its head in quite a funny way. I have been avoiding reading the rest of this book the last few weeks because I know I am well on my way to facing some of my demons…and that in itself can be a bit scary.
I am about to embark on a “Year of no Beer” well not beer precisely but booze. I have long been wanting to give up and have been reducing my intake for a long time now. I used to be a big drinker…gosh the tales I could tell you…I was your typical binge drinker, drinking to get drunk. I never had a glass of wine with dinner, in fact I rarely had alcohol in the house…but my late twenties and thirties were pretty much weekends in a drunken blur and the rest of the time battling with poor mental health. In the past couple of years I have dramatically reduced my consumption, but I still find myself drinking too much on big nights out with friends, weddings and conferences…the difference now is I am questioning why I do it and what life would be like alcohol free. I don’t know how successful this year will be but either way I know I will learn a lot about myself. And this book? Well I think it is a must read for any woman who has ever forgotten what they got up to after too much drink or had friends of family question their drinking habits no matter how hard that is to hear. The book is actually very funny to read…like seriously funny, but towards the end you realise that it isn’t actually that funny after all. Very powerful stuff.
I listened to this as an audiobook back in July during my first ultra marathon. It kept me company for 42 miles and 24 hours. The book in a nutshell is about a block who has an army seal move in with him in an attempt to get into the best shape of his life. The guy was in pretty reasonable shape to begin with but the regime the seal puts him through is out of this world crazy. The book is funny, but also says a lot about human behaviour and the things which drive us. It shone a light on the behaviours that hold so many of us back from being the best version of ourselves and the excuses we use. It was exactly what I needed as I attempted to run the furthest I had ever run…lighthearted enough to keep my mind off the pain I experienced after the first 12 hours or so of running. The book run out at some point and I couldn’t bring myself to start something new…I was so satisfied with my original choice….then I was left with the innards of my brain!!! What was also interesting was that Jesse is the wife of millionaire Spanxs creator Sara Blackley.
Now I have long been a fan of Pam Grout. I have listened to 3 of her books as audiobooks, always while marathon training. She was the one to introduce me to the Law of Attraction. long before I read The Secret. I loved how some of her experiments could be done while out running, I love where her ideas took my brain on those long lonely runs. This one I listened to while I was running a half marathon…it was at the beginning of the year when I was really trying to work on my money mindset and avoid the feast and famine patterns that so many entrepreneurs face in their early years. I thought the book would be about money, but actually it was about wealth in a more general sense. It helped me to be more thankful for what I have, to see my business for what it actually is, to see the power I have to change the world, with or without a million pound in my bank. In fact I think I might listen to this again in the new year. I love how she sets mini experiments to help you make sense of the concepts. Check out her earlier books ESquared and ECubed which are equally brilliant.
Again a book I listened to while running earlier in the year. A very simple concept. Very much aligned to the way I do things. Facing your fears, taking action, closing your eyes and just jumping. I loved the storytelling aspect of this, and how Mel used these techniques to get herself out of a hole and living a truly inspired life. I think it is definitely a concept that I have been using more and more as the year had progressed. Sending the emails that are scary to send, picking up the phone and asking for help, signing up for things even when you worry it might all end in tears.
I remember clear as day ordering this book. I was having a bit of a rough time earlier in the year. I was exhausted. Overwhelmed and filled with so much fear. I seriously did not know where to turn and someone suggested I read this book. It arrived and I literally read it one sitting…and then took the afternoon off and went for a run. I came home to found an inbox full of exciting things and I had clarity like I hadn’t had in a long while. This book helped me look back at my life realising that even all of the crap stuff had led me to a good place in the end. It spoke about staying connected to the things which bring you joy, the things where you are being yourself completely…in flow. Since reading that book I often find myself saying “It’s OK Julie…the universe has got your back” and for all of you guys that don’t believe in the power of the universe or the law of attraction, it is still an interesting read…a book which helps you to find coping strategies and to take inspired action to help things along the way. I loved this book so much I bought a set of Gabrielles cards which sit on my desk for inspiration.
So there you have it the books which really sum up so much of the things which shifted in me this year.
I have a few ideas for books of my own up my sleeves this year…a book about half marathons I have been wanting to write for a while, one around fear and how we can harness it as women, and one about how to live a bigger life…I will wait until inspiration hits to get going on them.
If you want a good book quite fitting for this time of year and written by yours truly, check out New Year, Same You a book all about why new years resolutions don’t work and how you can achieve health and happiness in a more realistic way.
I am really looking forward to 2018…I have massive plans including a new website, a new coaching programme…and maybe even a UK wide tour….watch this space.
And if you wonder how I find the time to read so many books, write my own, run a business, train for marathons and be a mum to my 5 year old…join me on Instagram for my upcoming FREE 10 day “Find time to achieve your goals in 2018” challenge.
Oh and remember I am looking for some good fiction recommendations, so drop me a line on social media about what you have read recently.