40DaysOfMum: 11 great reads for the beach, the pool or on your commute

Summer reads. Do you look back fondly to lying on the beach immersed in a fat novel? I know I do. The idea of taking a book (much less books) on holiday is almost laughable once you’ve got kids. But it is worth doing, even if you have to lock yourself in the loo to get past the front cover. Reading is a great way to give yourself a break (check out my blog about self-care), and learn something at the same time.

Here are some suggestions of books I’ve really enjoyed that might give you inspiration for career change, parenting or – well – life. Some have been out for a while, but I'm guessing you've had other 'distractions'!

If reading them yourself isn’t likely to happen then most of these titles are available on Audible and, top tip, you can get them free on its 30-day trial. Plug yourself in and listen instead.

Love, Nina – Nina Stibbe

I love this book. It’s charming, endearing and laugh-out-loud funny (I really don’t laugh out loud at books but this one made me hoot – if that’s an indication!). The story of a nanny to a single parent family in North London, she’s supremely unqualified but gets hired anyway. Stand-out moment was a family discussion at the dinner table of how to say ‘mofo’ in German.   

Calm Parents, Happy Kids – Dr Laura Markham

Perhaps holidays are a time to switch off but if you’ve been meaning to seek some guidance on parenting challenges then this is the book for you. I can’t recommend Laura Markham enough; such a positive approach. Helpful, grounded and it doesn’t make you feel like you’re failing. Concrete, implementable advice that will help you to develop your connection with your child.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*!k – Mark Manson

The title might give it away, but this book’s a bit sweary. It’s also a brilliant take on how to live a life that matters. Or, rather, making sure you’re focused on what matters to you. The starting point is that life’s too short to care about everything so we are instructed in the subtle art of not giving a f*!k. There are too many nuggets to do the book any sort of justice in a brief description. Just read it! 

Daring Greatly: How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead – Brené Brown

Brené Brown’s TED talk catapulted her and the subject of vulnerability into the limelight five years ago. She is brilliant – it’s well worth a watch – and the book is an easy, enlightening read. As the title suggests, it highlights the importance of stepping into your vulnerability, particularly if you want to live a life in which you actually get to be yourself.

Yes Please – Amy Poehler

I really enjoyed this book. I read it on the recommendation of a friend and didn’t know much about Amy Poehler at all. As it turns out she’s a very funny former Saturday Night Live-er and besties with Tina Fey. And she tells a brilliant story. It’s a funny person’s memoir, in which she talks a lot about balancing motherhood and success.

Wild – Cheryl Strayed

One woman’s walk to self-discovery and healing. Yes, Hollywood did make a movie out of it; Reese Witherspoon almost won an Oscar for playing Cheryl. But we know the original books are always better than the big-screen versions. I loved it. 

Hot new titles on my reading list.

Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change and Thrive – Susan David

This sounds like it is the book I wish I’d written (if only I had the training and expertise Susan David does) and most likely the book I’ll be recommending to my clients. It’s all about how to develop emotional agility, which is  ‘a process that enables us to navigate life’s twists and turns with self-acceptance, clear-sightedness, and an open mind’. We then bring the best of ourselves to the party.

Carpe Diem Regained – Roman Krznaric

I love the premise of this book. That is, that carpe diem, once a call to action, has been hijacked by consumer culture; it is now nothing more than a trite slogan on Facebook posts or an excuse to go shopping and blow some cash. The book looks at how we can reclaim the power of carpe diem.

Parenting the Shit out of Life – Mother Pukka

This one’s not out until September but I can’t wait to read it. It’s a book about Mother Pukka (aka Anna Whitehouse) and Papa Pukka’s five years as parents and ‘even includes some vaguely useful information’. If she’s as good in print as she is on Instagram then it’ll be a great read.

Better than Before – Gretchen Rubin

I’ve actually owned this book for a while and haven’t gotten round to reading it. But research shows that the more we can make a habit of things that are good for us (healthy eating, exercise, meditation), then the more headspace we free up for everything else. In other words, habits are the key to change. And this book looks at how to form good habits. A must read as far as I’m concerned.

Drop the Ball: Expect Less from Yourself, Get More from Him, and Flourish at Work & Life – Tiffany Dufu

Tiffany Dufu is chief leadership officer at Levo. More relevantly perhaps, she is all about advancing women’s and girls’ voices. Her book, which is a memoir as much as a guide, is about perfecting the art of letting go and achieving more by doing less. Erm….yes please! It has a big endorsement from Gloria Steinem (she’ll have liked the idea of ‘getting more from him’).