15 All-star reads to see you thrive!

Desiring more than a scan through your social feeds as these nights draw right in?

From lifestyle change to leadership wisdom, mindset shifts to overhauling sleep,  inspirational adventures to kicking out that chaos.

Some freshly published, others are older favourites, each secured my five-star review.

  1. Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts.
       Brené Brown 2018

Out of the blocks with the latest from Brené Brown – oh my days. Filled with brilliance, with content that is sure to flood through your social platform of choice. She rocks, and this work is no exception.

Deeply insightful, her typical accessible style. So many writer downers, no surprise to hear I couldn’t put it down!

I love her definition of a leader, “anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes, and who has the courage to develop that potential.”

Section headers run as follows; rumbling with vulnerability, living into our values, braving trust and learning to rise.

Her heart is to see a wave of leaders self-aware enough to lead from their own hearts. Yep, that pretty much got me from the off!  Whatever your blend of leadership, I’d say it’s a must-read.

  1. 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos.
        Jordan Peterson 2018

Hot off the press, 12 Rules for Life offers a fascinating read.

Clinical psychologist and professor of psychology, Peterson offers an insightful guide to living a full life. To help orientate yourself before each day unfolds.

You may well baulk at the reference to “rules” in the title. But chapter headings such as “stand up straight with your shoulders held back” and “do not bother children when they are skateboarding” give more than a nod to Peterson’s approach which is filled with spirit not hemmed in by law.

His proposal acknowledges that too much order can be excessive, yet chaos can swamp us, don’t we know it!? A creative, helpful and inspiring work.

  1. Micro Resilience: Minor Shifts for Major Boosts in Focus, Drive and Energy.
       Bonnie St.John and Allen P. Haines 2017

So often the dialogue around resilience looks at the big picture. You know, our ability to bounce back from adversity.

These guys dive into the details of what can be done at a micro level, “inbetween the points”, developing a definition of resilience which is also hopeful of daily growth.

Insightful and easy to implement. A gem of a read.

  1. The Power of Habit: Why we do what we do and how to change.
        Charles Duhigg 2013

A great deep dive into the subject of habit, exploring how fundamental habits are to success, whatever your life season or focus.

Duhigg takes a serious look at the science of habit formation and change, offering a powerful blend of scientific rigour combined with practical advice on how to effect positive change.  Such a helpful explanation of what’s going on as we press “repeat” on a particular habit.

  1. The Skills: from first job to dream job, what every woman needs to know.
        Mishal Husain 2018.

4th Estate did a fantastic job on the cover of Husain’s book on workplace skills for women, catching my eye as I whizzed through Waterstone’s last month. I was intrigued to hear from Husain on this subject, given her outstanding career success as a journalist presenting for BBC radio and television. I was not disappointed.

Accurately described as a manual-cum-memoir, Husain successfully shares the essential tools of her trade, which she realised were relevant no matter the work you do, or indeed your life stage.

The first section sets the scene (where we are, growing up female) before then diving into the skills themselves.

Easy to read and filled with “how to” – from self-presentation and preparation, to confidence and honing the resilience to navigate the inevitable ups and downs of working life.

I was inspired. For myself, my daughters and of course my amazing clients :-).

  1. Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action.
        Simon Sinek 2011.

Not so recent, but this list wouldn’t be complete without the reference to Simon Sinek’s writing. His ‘Start With Why” TED Talk is one of the highest viewed, EVER.

I’m right with Sinek in believing that clarity around your “why” is a game changer, always.

Knowing your why fuels that fire in your belly. If you haven’t read this, I highly recommend it whatever your blend of leadership – from entrepreneur to CEO of your home tribe, to a seat in the boardroom.

  1. High-Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way.
        Brendon Burchard 2017

The energy of this guy, incredible!

Brendon Burchard, one of the world’s leading high-performance coaches, conducted years of research into individual and team success, motivation, enjoyment and progress.

His findings identify six common habits; seek clarity, generate energy, raise necessity, increase productivity, develop influence and demonstrate courage.

If you’re looking for a “system for success” within one book, this is for you!

  1. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.
        Angela Duckworth 2016

Relevant across the board – from parenting to pioneering, and everyone in between!

Duckworth, former high school maths teacher and psychology don, shines a powerful light on the key virtue that enables people to achieve, to accomplish their goals, to succeed.

She busts through the myth that innate talent is the key ingredient to achievement in life.
A great read, her winsome writing style backed with tons of compelling evidence,.

She shares how a unique blend of passion and stickability is the real determinant to success.

“Grit is about working on something you care about so much that you’re willing to stay loyal to it”. Err, yes please!

  1. Psycho-Cybernetics.
       Maxwell Maltz 2015

Maltz’s observations through his career as a plastic surgeon led him to write this psychology book, first published in 1960.

Maltz, a forerunner in the field of personal development, draws a connection between our self-image and our results.

Much of the psychology around training elite athletes use Maltz’s concept that “a person cannot rise above how he sees himself”.

Using tools such as visualisation, mental rehearsal and relaxation, Psycho-Cybernetics explores the automatic creative mechanism within us, a super helpful prescription for understanding our subconscious mind.

  1. Hyperfocus – How to Work Less and Achieve More
        Chris Bailey 2018

Recently published here in the UK, author of “The Productivity Project”.

Bailey explores how we can best manage our attention, so to focus and see a surge in productivity levels.

He unpacks what he refers to as the hyperfocus (deep concentration) and scatterfocus (creative and reflective) modes within our brain, and how to best to create synergy from one to the other so to see you accomplish more.

The first chapter heading got my attention  “switching off auto-pilot mode”, yes indeed, that old chestnut. High praise for Bailey as he brings his creativity to this subject – fresh, inspiring and actionable.

  1. Factfulness – Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – And Why Things Are Better Than You Think.
        Hans Rosling 2018.

Hans Rosling (the late professor of International Health and esteemed global TED speaker) with his collaborators Ola and Anna Rosling ask simple questions about global trends.

They report the findings and reveal how we systematically get the answers wrong.

Offering a new explanation of why this happens, detailing 10 instincts that distort our perspective.

This book is filled with compelling visuals and practical guidance to help shift our thinking towards a fact-based worldview and how to see progress clearly. Loved it!

  1. The Sleep Revolution – Transforming Your Life, One Night At A Time.
         Ariana Huffington 2017

Written for “all those who are sick and tired of being sick and tired” this book is an absolute wake up call and has undoubtedly sparked a revolution!

Ariana explores her relationship with sleep, describing the dramatic events which triggered her transformation and resulting passion as an outright sleep evangelist.

Filled with the findings of sleep science, the impact of sleep deprivation on our whole health, case studies, acknowledgement of our cultural dismissal of sleep.

And a plan to see a sleep awakening, to help transform our lives and communities, one night at a time.

  1. Rest – Why You Get More Done When You Work Less.
         Alex Soojung-Kim Pang 2018.

Upping our downtime comes from the Silicon Valley-based futurist, consultant and author of the Distraction Addiction.

A compelling look at how we sustain and stimulate creativity, encouraging us to re-think how we do rest and how it serves to complement our work.

Filled with helpful reframes, science and statistics. I like the way Pang approaches the flow between work and rest/play.

  1. The Miracle Morning: The 6 Habits that will transform your life before 8 am.
         Hal Elrod 2017 ed.

If you’ve not read this, get it on your Christmas list – whether you’re a lark or a night owl, this book will see you starting your day differently, which then impacts everything!

Elrod has quite a story. The Miracle Morning was born out of desperation, his claim, not mine. Outlining a formula of practices (Life S.A.V.E.R.S) in response to his rock bottom, sharing with us here so to see us all waking up to our full potential.

The later chapters of the book look at how to keep your Miracle Morning fresh and in alignment with your current season and schedule, and also the broader subject of habit change. You’ll not be disappointed!

  1. Up: My Life’s Journey to the top of Everest.
         Ben Fogle and Marina Fogle 2018.

I’m quite partial to an adventure memoir and so just loved tucking into this during our October break.

To quote the first six sentences from Ben, penning a letter to his children:

“Life is about the journey, not the destination. Live it brightly. Live it brilliantly and live it wisely.
Don’t waste it. Not one single day. Add life to your days not days you to your life.”
And to close the letter, the words “And don’t forget to look UP”.

Part thrilling adventure, the ascent of Everest with expedition partner, Olympian cyclist Victoria Pembleton. Part deep memoir, the vision for this expedition of a lifetime flowing from Marina and Ben grieving the loss of their son, stillborn at 8-months.

UP is written with deep compassion and peppered with humour. 

That’s my 15!  The truth in each has inspired ME in some way to seek clarity, get focused and to enjoy living a better story. May that be the case for you too!

Enjoy, whether you listen on audible, read on your Kindle or thumb the pages of the hardback itself.


Happy winter reading!

Sally x



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