The power of a good book

I got my daughters school report back this morning. 

Rose is 10 and has been at her new school for 7 months. It hasn’t been an easy transfer from a inner city large multicultural school with 90 children in each year group between 4-18, to a predominantly white village school with less than 90 pupils in total. 

But we are getting there.

The new school is great with Rose, and are making every effort to help her feel at home. 

Academically I have no concerns at all, as Rose loooooovvvesss to learn, and so it gave me so much joy to read, 

“Rose has really impressed me this year with her reading, she loves discussing the texts with her learning partners and the whole class and can confidently articulate her ideas and her understanding of the characters and their motives. She is working far beyond the level expected for her age”

I was like Rose too at her age. Loved books. Read ANYTHING I could get my hands on, and would often have multiple books on the go at any one time.

Books are what saved me as a child. They gave me a place to escape from, worlds to adventure in, and people’s lives to aspire to. 

When I was 10 years old I turned my brothers attic room into a public library, and collated everyones books (and some from neighbour hood kids) into a fully systemised library. I spent that summer doing nothing other than reading, and the following Christmas got a full set of children’s encyclopedias as my main gift.

I was thrilled. 

When I went off to University I loved that we were given a reading list, I loved that there was always something else to read up on, and I would also scour the library (the university one and the public library in Winchester) for interesting books to just read for fun. 

However after completing a masters and eventually heading into the workplace the time available for reading dropped a bit, and I’d be lucky if I read a handful of books a year, mainly while on holiday round a pool, and often trashy chick lit, or self help books which I got into in my early twenties. 

When I became a mum in 2013 I fell in love with reading again, as I had all the time in the world to read again now that I was unemployed and I would take weekly trips to the local library to borrow books, 10 at a time, and would be back the following week having read most of them and wanting to grab more materials to keep my brain active.

Reading books wasn’t enough though…I wanted to write them too.

Recently I came across the first book I ever wrote…One of Six, an autobiography by Julie Creffield which I typed out in 1991 at the ripe old age of 12, I had been inspired by my Uncle Les (my nans brother) who was a writer and journalist.

“If you want to be a writer you must write” was the phrase I heard him say the most, followed by the advice “Write what you know”

That advice has served me well as my blogs and articles have been read by millions around the world, and the 13 books I have self published since have always followed that premise. 

But I am writing a new book…and interestingly I found myself for the first time ever questioning if I was the right person to write this book.

The book is about money

The acquiring of it, the leveraging of it, the losing of it, and the trying not to be defined by it.

It is called How NOT to be Broke and it is due out in September (do feel free to show your support by pre-ordering)

I have read many books about money over the years…I have a shelf full of them in fact. The typical rags to riches ones from the self-proclaimed gurus out there, the ones written by economists and financial experts, and ones from money mindset coaches that give you things to think about in terms of your beliefs and thought patterns that might be keeping you stuck.

But I read a book this weekend that literally gave me butterflies.

It is probably one of the first books written by an academic that I have read in a while, so it wasn’t easy reading…and at times hurt my brain a bit. But neither have I read a book that I have made so many notes along the sides of the text, or one that has had such a profound effect on me, causing me to quite literally have to exhale at times as I found myself holding my breath.

The book is by Selina Todd Professor of Modern History at The University of Oxford. 

The book is called Snakes and Ladders, the Great British Social Mobility Myth.

I have always been interested in politics and the history of working-class people, I mean I was born into a large working class family in East London, where being responsible for your own wealth creation was the order of the day…but reading this book and understanding the context in which I have attempted to change the trajectory of my own life over the last 3 decades has been an absolute eye opener. 

It has also given me a better understanding of the context in which we live now, the mess the country is in, and how we even start to address it….and it has fuelled my passion to write my own book about wealth.

Sometimes when I read books in the genre I write in, or on topics I want to write about, I feel a bit of a fraud. I remember listening to Brene Brown for the first time and thinking “Shit she got there first” “AND SHE’S AN ACADEMIC” but with this book I didn’t feel like this, instead I felt seen, I felt validated, I felt inspired to write my story and get it into the hands of as many ordinary people as I can.

Not everyone has the time, ability, or inclination to read academic books that go into the deep depths of sociology and psychology…sometimes we need books that are written in our language, using personal stories, talking to our lived experiences, from someone we can relate to.

But I for one am so incredibly glad I bought this book and read it cover to cover this weekend. 

It will be a book I refer to for sure in my own book, and one I will add to my list of BEST all-time reads. 

And I will leave you with this excerpt

“As a promise of a better society, social mobility has failed. Policies designed to encourage the talented to ascend to the top have not resulted in a meritocratic ladder. Instead, twenty-first-century Britain is more akin to the “greasy-pole” criticised by The Workers Education in the 1900s. At the top sits a tiny group of wealthy powerful people, who have spent the last few decades stripping the world of its resources and destabilising the global economy to make themselves richer and more powerful still. Far below is everyone else, clinging tight, occasionally jostling to inch their way slightly higher, but all too often sliding further down”

I have emailed Selina today to say thank you for writing this amazing book and to invite her onto my podcast…I hope she says yes.

Books might not be the answer to changing your financial situation, but they are a start. Education is power, the application of that knowledge is where the real danger for challenging the status quo sits.

So here is to taking action off the back of the stuff we learn.

Julie Creffield is a serial entrepreneur, speaker, author and change maker and the founder of The Year to Change.

Her new book How Not to Be BROKE comes out in September, please pre-order your ebook version today. She has set herself the target of pre-selling 1000 copies, and in October will be running a FREE money challenge for anyone who supported this pre-launch phase.

Order your copy here

You can also join her on Tuesday 18th @ 4pm for her Your Business is NOT Broke Masterclass

Register Here

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