Does anyone else feel surprised that 3 months of 2020 have gone by already? Usually we would all be looking forward to the Easter weekend, but hopefully we'll still have the August bank holiday :)
With so many of us looking for interesting reading at the moment I thought I'd update with my own list so far this year.
Reading for Jan-March
So far this year I have read 11 books and listened to 5 audio books. Some of them I have reviewed separately on this blog, you can click the links to read more about those
1. Richard Branson - Screw It, Let's Do It If you enjoy stories about successful entrepreneurs and business people then this is a great book. Richard Branson is one of the biggest characters out there as you probably already know. I loved reading about all of the challenges he faced whilst building his empire (and continues to face based on the Aviation crisis due to Covid-19)
Some people aren't fans of Branson which is fine, but he has personally come up with many best selling ideas, and his understanding of brand marketing was pretty far ahead of his time.
Most people who know The Guilty Feminist probably do so from the podcast. I have had it on my list to listen to for ages but still haven't. But when I spotted the book in the library I thought oh yes I recognise that brand and off I went. Deborah Frances White is funny, and the book is very positive and highlights lots of new interesting people to look up, which is always great in a book.
3. Six Impossible Things - John Gribbin
Last year a book I read encouraged people to change their inputs ( the content we consume) for new and different ideas. I have taken that seriously and regularly listen to and read about topics in which I am definitely not an expert. Like dark matter. The title of the book comes from the Alice in Wonderland quote, and goes into 6 different theories of Quantum Mechanics. Did I understand the whole book? Could I summarise it reliably? No. But I did have a tonne of new and different ideas after reading it. Try this approach yourself!
I have followed Sara Tasker on Instagram & Twitter for ages and her podcast, also named Hashtag Authentic was the first one that I actually went back and listened to the entire back catalogue of. She interviews lots of inspiring people from all around the world who are creative leaders and thinkers, on a range of topics from burnout to developing your own authentic voice. Sara is a creative who specialises on the use of beautiful imagery in her pictures, she has made a big name for herself by working on campaigns for lots of big brands, and she also teaches others how to use Instagram to the best of their creative ability. I highly recommend this book for easy wins on improving the look and feel of your Instagram account and thinking more about how high quality images can boost your audience.
A classic book on the concept of intelligence as a growth area. You have probably heard of fixed and growth mindsets? This is from Carol. One of the most interesting points this book made for me was that telling children they are intelligent can be the worst thing you can ever do for them.
6. The Mountbattens - Andrew Lownie
I do love a history book. History was one of my favourite subjects at school. Having watched The Crown recently I was inspired to pick up this book and find out more about the figure of Louis Mountbatten, second cousin (once removed) of the Queen. He certainly had an interesting life. I won't spoil it for you....
7. Margaret Atwood - The Testaments
I was really excited to read the 2019 booker Prize winner, and The Testaments, sequel to The Handmaids Tale did not disappoint. This book tells the story of three different characters with timelines being woven together as the book moves along. The treatment of women is of course the central theme. As a woman reading the story, you can't help but think about what is happening in the world today, cases like Me Too, Jeffrey Epstein/Prince Andrew and of course the current American President.
8. Getting started in self publishing - Kevin McCann and Tom Green
My news is out, I am working on an ebook! So why I read this one is kind of self explanatory. I found it really useful. Well written, and despite being written a few years ago now, very relevant. I tried to look up more from the authors but it appears they both stopped updating their social media around 3 years ago and I couldn't trace them further. Very mysterious...
I loved this book. Jonathan Taplin writes really well. He makes a very strong case against the likes of Facebook, Google and Amazon, from the point of view of the modern creative trying to break through and make a living. With current events as they are and Amazon being likened to the new Red Cross, one has to wonder where they will be after the crisis is over and competition regulations are perhaps examined more closely again.
10. Off the Record - Jonathan Pie
Want a laugh then try this book! Unless you have lived under a rock you probably have already seen Jonathan Pie in action ranting on Facebook or Youtube. Tom Walker, the creator is so often asked whether he actually is Jonathan Pie it must get very annoying, but the character is larger than life. In this short book he rants about various political figures from Margaret Thatcher to David Cameron. And ropes in Henry the Eighth for good measure, very funny and well written.
11. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Stephen R Covey
This really is the classic self help book for business people if you want to learn more about how to connect better with others, & then to work effectively with them. I've reviewed this one for Parents in Biz magazine coming out shortly, so I won't say too much here (yet) I'll pop up a full review in time.
The Audio Books
1. The Muse - Jessie Burton
I did enjoy this book but still didn't find it as interesting as The Miniaturist, see also audio book 5 comments :) Must be hard when you start your career with a massive bestseller.
2. The Volunteer - Jack Fairweather
Witold Pilecki was a Polish cavalry officer, intelligence agent, and resistance leader (straight from wiki) I first heard about him in Mark Mansons book - Everything is F*cked - A book about hope, last year.
During World War II, Pilecki volunteered for a Polish resistance operation that involved being voluntarily imprisoned in Auschwitz concentration camp in order to gather intelligence. He was one of the bravest people alive during the war, and is now considered a great war hero. Although I have studied WW2 several times this is the first time I have ever heard of him.
3. On Chapel Sands - Laura Cummings
An utterly mesmerising true story. The author Laura Cummings was aware for years that her mother came from a less than happy background, but as she got older and discovered more she felt compelled to go back and discover what had transpired all that time ago. The hook for this story is the disappearance of a 3 year old from a beach (Chapel Sands) in Lincolnshire in the 1920s. The girl came back unharmed 5 days later. This whole book is about what happened to cause the incident, and how lives were affected forever.
4. David and Goliath - Malcolm Gladwell
Confession time - I started this book last year but my library app (Borrow Box) decided to pinch it off me before I was finished. Mean. So I decided to listen again from beginning to end.
The premise is that people from difficult backgrounds can become giants, and people from privilege can often struggle to fulfil potential.
Read by Gladwell himself, this is definitely a bonus feature in this case. Full of interesting cases of people who have made a big difference in the world despite not being the biggest on paper.
5. The Confession - Jessie Burton
I am still deciding what I thought of this book. It was certainly compelling in places but compared to The Miniaturist I think I agree with those who have said it is a little bit like chick lit.
Thank you for reading about my reading :)
Singing for my Supper
If you enjoyed reading this article and maybe others I've written, found a tip that worked for you or learned something new, it would be great if you'd consider sending me the price of a cup of coffee :) https://www.paypal.me/thanksforreading/2.50
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Shona Chambers Marketing is a Marketing Agency based in Nunhead near Peckham. Specialising in helping Small Business Owners and Freelancers with their Marketing. Based at 61 Cheltenham Road, Peckham, SE15 3AF