Your essential reading list for the next 12 months
I have such a deep love for reading – it is one of my all-time favourite activities. Last year, I read and listened to 55 books. I don’t for a second underestimate the power reading has on my growth on development. Most of the books I read were excellent, and taught me numerous concepts, inspired ideas, or altered my perception on a topic. In this post, I thought it would be helpful to present you with a list of my Top Ten books I’ve read over the last year, and create a Reading List for you for 2023.
There’s only one small problem…whittling my list down to ten was nearly impossible, so I present you with my top 12 books. If you read a book a month, that’s your next 12 months of reading sorted!
A quick caveat for my list – all of the titles are non-fiction books. Non-fiction personal development books are my genre of choice. I did read some fiction last year, but most of these were for my book club. I find selecting fiction books really challenging, which is why I joined a book club, and this has definitely helped me discover new books I wouldn’t necessarily chose myself.
I will present my list book by book, sharing what is written on the back cover, as well as my synopsis on it.
This list is in no particular order, but I at the end I will highlight the books you should start with, so stick with me until the end!
First up is The 4% Fix by Karma Brown. The back cover says:
How to find guilt-free time for what you really want to do, and why it matters
Do you feel like you’re always busy, even as your to-do list continues to grow?
Do you think you can’t keep up as it is, let alone add another thing to your plate?
An award-winning journalist, avid reader and new mom, Karma Brown dreamed of writing her first novel. But between diapers and tight deadlines, how could she? Like so many of us, she felt stretched taut and hyper-scheduled, her time a commodity over which she had lost control. For Brown, the answer to this problem was to rise earlier every day and use that time to write. Although she experienced missteps along the way, after committing to her alarm clock and an online community of early risers, she completed a debut novel that became a national bestseller.
In The 4% Fix, Karma Brown reveals the latest research about time management and goal-setting and shares strategies that have worked for her as well as for others. Refreshingly, her jargon-free approach doesn’t include time-tracking spreadsheets, tips on how to squeeze in yoga exercises while cooking dinner, or methods that add bulk to those never-ending lists. How will you use this one hour—only 4% of your day—to change your life?
The 4% Fix was a thoroughly engaging and entertaining read. As a mum to two primary-school ages kids I could completely relate to many of the challenges Brown faced. I also concurred with Brown’s strategy of getting up earlier, which is something I’ve also been doing for years and found effective in my life. Brown’s tone is warm and at times humorous, and this is definitely a book I would dive into again.
Number two is Your Dream Life Starts Here by Kristina Karlsson.
Karlsson has had a challenging few years with her business, Kikki K going into administration. I have no doubt this would have been a very stressful experience for Karlsson, and I admire her rise like a “Phoenix from the Ashes” with her new business, Dream Life, which consists of The Dream Life Store – a curated collection of beautiful products to inspire, empower & support you and others wanting to live fulfilling lives. The online store is also complemented with Karlsson’s coaching and courses. Her dream is to empower 101 million people around the world to discover and chase their own dreams, in the process helping make the world a better place.
This mission is reflected in her book, Your Dream Life Starts here. The back cover says:
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. Your dream life awaits – start today!
I could read this book over and over again, and I will also read it with my children. We often underestimate the power of dreams as we get caught up in everyday life. Dreams are so important and we should all have them – they provide hope and encourage us to make the most of our precious lives. I adored the inspiring stories scattered throughout this book, as well as Karlsson’s own story. The book is also packed with lots of actionable activities and journal prompts, and you know how much I love actionable exercises!
Number 3 on my list is Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. This is hands-down the best ever book I’ve read on writing (so far). The back cover says:
With insight, humor, and practicality, Natalie Goldberg inspires writers and would-be writers to take the leap into writing skillfully and creatively. She offers suggestions, encouragement, and solid advice on many aspects of the writer’s craft- on writing from “first thoughts” (keep your hand moving, don’t cross out, just get it on paper), on listening (writing is ninety percent listening; the deeper you listen, the better you write), on using verbs (verbs provide the energy of the sentence), on overcoming doubts (doubt is torture; don’t listen to it)-even on choosing a restaurant in which to write. Goldberg sees writing as a practice that helps writers comprehend the value of their lives. The advice in her book, provided in short, easy-to-read chapters with titles that reflect the author’s witty approach (“Writing Is Not a McDonald’s Hamburger,” “Man Eats Car,” “Be an Animal”), will inspire anyone who writes-or who longs to.
I listened to the audiobook version of this book, and one of the highlights for me was listening to Goldberg’s slow, soothing voice, enhanced by her slight Jewish New Yorker inflection. Goldberg is an incredible storyteller and it was such a delight! It has been over thirty years since this book was first published, and Goldberg’s insight and advice is still as relevant today as it ever was. So I would affirm that this book is a classic ‘must-read’ for aspiring writers, as well as anyone who is curious about the craft and practice of writing.
At number four I have Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. The back cover says:
“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. [It] was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said. ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'”
With this basic instruction always in mind, Anne Lamott returns to offer us a new gift: a step-by-step guide on how to write and on how to manage the writer’s life. From “Getting Started,’ with “Short Assignments,” through “Shitty First Drafts,” “Character,” “Plot,” “Dialogue.” all the way from “False Starts” to “How Do You Know When You’re Done?” Lamott encourages, instructs, and inspires. She discusses “Writers Block,” “Writing Groups,” and “Publication.” Bracingly honest, she is also one of the funniest people alive.
If you have ever wondered what it takes to be a writer, what it means to be a writer, what the contents of your school lunches said about what your parents were really like, this book is for you. From faith, love, and grace to pain, jealousy, and fear, Lamott insists that you keep your eyes open, and then shows you how to survive. And always, from the life of the artist she turns to the art of life.
The Bird By Bird story completely resonated me. I think we’ve all been there, right? That total state of overwhelm that triggers a Fight, Flight, or Freeze response (I’m a Freeze, by the way). This simple instruction, as well as many others in this book are transferable to a number of challenging situations in life. What appears to be a ‘book on writing’ on the surface, is essential life advice that I couldn’t love more.
If you’ve ever been curious about health hacks, Max Lugavere’s book, Genius Life: Heal Your Mind, Strengthen Your Body, and Become Extraordinary (um, yes please!) will set you straight. At number 5 on my list, here’s what the back cover has to say:
The human body was honed under conditions that no longer exist. The modern world has changed dramatically since our days as hunter gatherers, and it has caused widespread anxiety, stress, and disease, leaving our brains in despair. But science proves that the body and brain can be healed with the intervention of lifestyle protocols that help us to regain our cognitive birthright.
In The Genius Life, Lugavere expands the Genius Foods plan, which focused on nutrition and how it affects brain health, and expands it to encompass a full lifestyle protocol. We know now that the health of our brains-including our cognitive function and emotional wellness-depend on the health of our gut, endocrine, cardiac and nervous systems as there is a constant feedback loop between all systems. Drawing on globe-spanning research into circadian biology, psychology, dementia prevention, cognitive optimization, and exercise physiology, The Genius Life shows how to integrate healthy choices in all aspects of our daily routines: eating, exercising, sleeping, detoxing, and more to create a healthy foundation for optimal cognitive health and performance.
Among Max’s groundbreaking findings, you will discover:
A trick that gives you the equivalent of a “marathon” workout, in 10 minutes.
How to get the benefits of an extra 1-2 servings of veggies daily without eating them.
The hidden chemicals in your home that could be making you fat and sick.
How to boost melatonin levels by up to 58% for deeper sleep without supplements.
The book features an achievable prescriptive 21-day plan for Genius Living that includes daily workouts, meal plans, and meal prep tips, and accompanied with helpful suggestions for healthy swaps and snacks.
Since reading this book I no longer heat up left overs in plastic containers, take Vitamin D and religiously wash fruit ad veg. There’s more I could do, for sure, but this book is eye-opener and with a number of concepts well worth considering.
Everyone you Hate is Going to Die by Daniel Sloss is the funniest book I’ve read in like, forever. I listened to the audiobook in the middle of winter, which was the antidote I needed to sub zero Canberra mornings! I guarantee you’ll laugh your pants off, as I did. Just don’t listen to in front of the kids – it’s far from appropriate, but that’s what I loved best. Sloss is a master story-teller, which is what makes the best comedians. If you’re not convinced yet, here what the back cover says:
In the first book from one of this generation’s hottest and boldest young comedians, Daniel Sloss presents a transgressive and hilarious analysis of all of our dysfunctional relationships, and attempts to point us in the vague direction of sanity.
Daniel Sloss engages, enrages, comforts, and gets audiences roaring with laughter. In his irreverent Netflix and HBO specials, he has tackled everything from male toxicity and friendship to love, romance and marriage. Sloss proudly claims that his brutally honest dissection of relationships on-stage has single-handedly caused more than 300 divorces and 120,000 breakups.
Now, in his first book, he picks up where his specials left off, and goes after every conceivable kind of relationship – with one’s country (Sloss’s is Scotland); with America; with lovers, ex-lovers, ex-lovers who you hate, ex-lovers who hate you; with parents; with best friends (male and female), not-best friends; with children; with siblings; and even with our own mortality.
In Everyone You Hate Is Going to Die, every human connection gets the mercilessly funny Sloss treatment as he illuminates the ways in which all of our relationships are fragile and ridiculous and awful – but also valuable and meaningful and important.
I dare you not to laugh!
So, at number 7 I have The Artist’s Way by Julian Cameron. This book should be essential reading for EVEYONE! The back cover says:
Since its first publication, The Artist’s Way has inspired the genius of Elizabeth Gilbert, Tim Ferriss and millions of readers to embark on a creative journey and find a deeper connection to process and purpose. Julia Cameron guides readers in uncovering problems and pressure points that may be restricting their creative flow and offers techniques to open up opportunities for self-growth and self-discovery.
The program begins with Cameron’s most vital tools for creative recovery: The Morning Pages and The Artist Date. From there, she shares hundreds of exercises, activities, and prompts to help readers thoroughly explore each chapter.
A revolutionary programme for personal renewal, The Artist’s Way will help get you back on track, rediscover your passions, and take the steps you need to change your life.
Julia Cameron is credited with starting a movement in 1992 that has brought creativity into the mainstream conversation – in the arts, in business, and in everyday life. She is the bestselling author of more than forty books; a poet, songwriter, filmmaker and playwright. The Artist’s Way has been translated into forty languages and sold over five million copies to date.
The thing I love most about this book is that Cameron doesn’t just reveal the what – she also disclosed the how through a number of exercises, prompts and activities. The Artist’s Way is not simply a book – it is a program. It is a way of life. Perhaps the title, including the work “Artist” is also slightly misleading, because I passionately believe this is work everyone should do on themselves in order to nurture their inner artist. This is important because our “inner artist” is the part of ourselves responsible for creating our life. This book was originally published in 1992 and is still as relevant today as ever. I can’t recommend it highly enough!
Next at number 8 is Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers. I’d wanted to read this book for years, then I spotted it in a street library when I was only holidays and thought this was a sign I should pick it up. I was not disappointed! The back cover says:
What are you afraid of? Public speaking; asserting yourself; making decisions; being alone; intimacy; changing jobs; interviews; going back to school; ageing; ill health; driving; dating; ending a relationship; losing a loved one; becoming a parent; leaving home, failure, believing in yourself…
Internationally renowned author Susan Jeffers has helped millions of people overcome their fears and heal the pain in their lives with her simple but profound advice. Whatever your anxieties, Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway® will give you the insight and tools to vastly improve your ability to handle any given situation. You will learn to live your life the way you want – so you can move from a place of pain, paralysis, depression and indecision to one of power, energy, enthusiasm and action.
An empowering and life-affirming book, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway will help you triumph over your fears and move forward with your life.
Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway made me realise how much fear holds up back in so many areas of our life. Jeffers shares numerous relatable stories that help us understand why we become stuck or paralysed by fear, as well as an abundance of strategies to help us overcome this fear and boldly move forward in our lives.
Next up at number 9, Let it be Easy by Susie Moore is an engaging read consisting or individual chapters focusing on a different story or topic. This book was super easy to read, as I could dip in and out by reading a chapter at a time and didn’t lose track of Moore’s key message. The back cover says:
As readers turn these pages, they may hear echoes of A Course in Miracles, Abraham-Hicks, Byron Katie, Louise Hay, or Glennon Doyle, but what they are getting is a conversation with a new friend who has been there, done that, and knows the drill.
Susie Moore’s writing amuses and inspires. Each brief chapter delivers a poignant or funny message encouraging readers to become more free and powerful. Her stories about everyday interactions, such as dinner at a chichi restaurant or lunch with a friend, contain life lessons that don’t deny the reality of suffering but pivot toward a life-changing way of processing pain, grief, loss, and anxiety. Moore addresses forgiveness, family, friendship, health, love, work, and money in a wise but conversational tone that allows for the reader’s own insights and epiphanies to take hold.
Don’t be fooled by the bright and breezy cover – this book packs a lot in an goes deep, but Susie’s positive, humorous writing style manages to deliver even the toughest messages with humility and warmth.
Now onto my last three books you need to read this year. I don’t want to say that these books are my favourite, but all three have added immeasurable value to my life, and I would highly recommend you prioritise reading these books first.
Limitless: Upgrade Your Brain, Learn Anything Faster, and Unlock Your Exceptional Life by Jim Kwik is at number 10. The title definitely drew me in, and I have to say this book certainly lived up to expectations and did what it promised! The back cover reads:
JIM KWIK, the world’s #1 brain coach, has written the owner’s manual for mental expansion and brain fitness. Limitless gives people the ability to accomplish more–more productivity, more transformation, more personal success and business achievement–by changing their Mindset, Motivation, and Methods.
These “3 M’s” live in the pages of Limitless along with practical techniques that unlock the superpowers of your brain and change your habits.
For over 25 years, Jim Kwik has worked closely with successful men and women who are at the top in their fields as actors, athletes, CEOs, and business leaders from all walks of life to unlock their true potential. In this groundbreaking book, he reveals the science-based practices and field-tested tips to accelerate self learning, communication, memory, focus, recall, and speed reading, to create fast, hard results.
Learn how to:
FLIP YOUR MINDSET
Your brain is like a supercomputer and your thoughts program it to run. That’s why the Kwik Brain process starts with unmasking assumptions, habits, and procrastinations that stifle you, redrawing the borders and boundaries of what you think is possible. It teaches you how to identify what you want in every aspect of your life, so you can move from negative thinking to positive possibilities.
IGNITE YOUR MOTIVATION
Uncovering what motivates you is the key that opens up limitless mental capacity. This is where Passion + Purpose + Energy meet to move you closer to your goals, while staying focused and clear. Your personal excitement will be sustainable with self-renewing inspirations. Your mind starts strong, stays strong, and drives further exponentially faster.
MASTER THE METHOD
We’ve applied the latest neuroscience for accelerated learning. Our process, programs, podcasts, and products unleash your brain’s own superpowers. Finish a book 3x faster through speed reading (and remember every part of it), learn a new language in record time, and master new skills with ease. These are just a few of the life-changing self-help benefits. With Kwik Brain, you’ll get brain-fit and level-up your mental performance.
With the best Mindset, Motivation and Method, your powers become truly limitless.
I’m in awe of Jim’s tenacity and resilience. He provides a convincing argument for ‘if I can do it so can you’. Whilst his strategies appear simple on the surface, it is clear he has walked his talk by honing and perfecting these over a number of years. Kwik has distilled his learnings and practice into a blueprint anyone can apply to any area of their life. Read this book alone for Kwik’s step by step process on how to master speed reading.
At number 11 I present The One Thing by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan. You will never think about prioritising tasks in the same way again after reading this book! I devoured this book in audio version, and will also purchase a hard copy to read through again and make more notes. The back cover says:
YOU WANT LESS: you want fewer distractions and less on your plate. The daily barrage of e-mails, texts, tweets, messages, and meetings distract you and stress you out. The simultaneous demands of work and family are taking a toll. And what’s the cost? Second-rate work, missed deadlines, smaller pay cheques, fewer promotions – and lots of stress.
AND YOU WANT MORE: you want more productivity from your work. More income for a better lifestyle. You want more satisfaction from life, and more time for yourself, your family, and your friends.
Now you can have both less – and more!
In THE ONE THING, you’ll learn to:
– cut through the clutter
– achieve better results in less time
– build momentum toward your goal
– dial down the stress
– overcome that overwhelmed feeling
– revive your energy
– stay on track
– master what matters to you
THE ONE THING is the New York Times bestseller which delivers extraordinary results in every area of your life – work, personal, family, and spiritual.
WHAT’S YOUR ONE THING?
The best thing about this book? Apply this strategy it to any area of your life – home, work, projects – you name it, it will work. My one regret is that I didn’t read this book sooner!
Lucky last, but certainly not least on my recommended reading list is Timeshifting by Stephan Rechtschaffen. This book popped up a number of times as a reference in other books I was reading, so I thought it was worth tracking down. The back cover says:
Do you ever feel so rushed that you can’t stop to think? That you don’t have enough time to do your job well–or even to read this paragraph carefully? That’s because you spend your time either speeding forward or thinking about the past few minutes, without really concentrating on living in the present moment.
We all have the capacity to look at time–and, by doing so, to step into a new awareness of it and experience its next dimension, time freedom. But we cannot just look with our eyes and understand with our mind, we must experience it with all the facets of our being; with all our senses, with our perceptions, our feelings, and our heart. Timeshifting is the method for doing this, and how you can learn timeshifting is what this breakthrough book is about.
In Timeshifting, Stephan Rechtschaffen teaches us that time is subjective, not objective, and that we can take back control of our lives by changing the way we think about time. We can relearn how to live our lives to their fullest potential; to have the time to enjoy ourselves, our families, and our jobs. Timeshifting is not about time management; it won’t teach you how to do more in a shorter period of time. It will, however, give you back all the time you need to accomplish what you want, and you’ll find that you are more relaxed, less stressed-out, and better able to enjoy the best things in life.
What surprised me most about this book was that it was originally published in 1997 – remember that magical time before Smartphones when we weren’t contactable 24/7 and didn’t carry our emails around in our pocket? It was like Rechtschaffen had a vision of how the future would be! This book is more relevant today than ever. Don’t be fooled by this book’s thin demeanour. It is packed with well-researched advice and relatable stories from Rechtschaffen’s life and practice. After reading Timeshifting, you will never think about time in the same way again.
Phew! So there you have it – your reading list for the next 12 months! I hope you enjoy these books as much as I did, and that they inspire your thinking and introduce you to some new concepts you hadn’t considered before.
Reading really is one of the best pastimes you can have – it’s the easiest and most cost-effective form of learning I’ve come across! Books are so accessible these days thanks to online retailers of new and secondhand books, as well as audiobook retailers such as Audible. You can also source an abundance of physical, digital and audiobooks from your local library – all for FREE! I’m a huge fan of BorrowBox, which is a free audiobook platform available through most Australian libraries.
I’ll leave you with this quote from Matthew Kelly: “Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body and prayer is to the soul. We become the books we read.”
I couldn’t agree more, and hope you experience exponential growth over the next 12 months as you read and absorb the depth of knowledge in these wonderful books.