I’ve been a bookworm from way back – my bedside table is always loaded with books I’m reading and those I’m going to read…one day. Generally speaking I have a number of fiction and non-fiction books on the go at any one time, which I pick up according to my mood and timeframe.

Knowing how many of us love lists I thought I’d share some of the books that have helped me the most both personally and professionally over the last few years.

And with most of us having holidays coming up, we could earmark a little more time to relax with a good book – one that might even help us start 2019 on a more positive and effective note.

…and books make great Christmas presents…

In no particular order:


Feel the fear and do it anyway, by Susan Jeffers

Over 30 years after it was first published, this book remains one of the key “self-help” books of our time. I’ll be honest and admit that because its title sounded like a cliché, I was initially sceptical of reading it, but finally did so when I started my coaching studies, and it was life-changing. I have recommended this book to more of my clients than any other.

Jeffers’ helps give perspective and understanding to our fears as well as providing tools and actions we can use to start slowly but surely expanding our comfort zone and in the process make our lives less fearful and anxious, more enjoyable, and interesting. Her writing style is totally accessible and conversational.


The subtle art of not giving a f*ck, by Mark Manson

To say I loved this book is an understatement! I’ve read it twice in the past two years and again, recommended it to many, many people. Yes he swears (a lot) and is super-irreverent but if you can get past that, there’s a heap of practical and life-changing gold in this book.

Here’s the i-Tunes preview description of the book: “Manson says that instead of trying to turn lemons into lemonade, we should learn to stomach lemons better, and stop distracting ourselves from life’s inevitable disappointments … It’s time to re-calibrate our values and what it means to be happy: there are only so many things we can give a f*ck about, he says, so we need to figure out which ones really matter.” Word.


Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert

Best known for her book Eat, Pray, Love (which I haven’t read) I read this book at exactly the right time. I was about to embark on a large work-related project that required creativity and boldness, and this book helped me gear-up for that. Fear, creativity, inspiration, self-doubt, trust – this book covers many big and important concepts to help us hone our curiosity for greater confidence, inspiration and expression.


Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl

I’m going to make a bold call, but I think this book should be compulsory reading for everyone young adult and older. Frankl was a Jewish Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist who was detained in a Nazi death camp during World War Two. He witnessed inhumane circumstances and watched many people around him die at the hands of the Nazis, yet he retained his hope and his will to live and ultimately survived the war. His book’s vital message for all of us is: “forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing – your freedom to choose how to respond to your situation. You cannot control what happens to you in life, but you can always control what you will feel and do about what happens to you.”

Simply by being aware of this and living by it would change your life for the better.


The 7 habits of highly effective people, by Stephen Covey

I’ve talked about this book before, and so I won’t go into too much detail here.

One of the reasons this book continues to be a perennial favourite for many people, myself included, is because it lays out the steps we can take to create a life more in tune with what we want. Sounds simple – it’s not. It is however doable when you learn how and apply this knowledge. Another life-changing book.


You can read more in my two blogs about it:




Daring Greatly, by Brené Brown

This book is about how to develop the courage to risk being vulnerable and open in order to genuinely connect with other people. It talks about shame, self-worth, boundaries, authenticity – things that every one of us have to deal with throughout our lives on varying levels at various times. It might sound like a heavy and painful read, but that’s not what I found. So often when we can understand the origin of our deeply human challenges and realise how connected we are through them, we realise that we are not alone and we can learn how to transcend them.


Awaken the Giant Within, by Tony Robbins

If you wanted to understand yourself on a deeper level and use this understanding to radically improve your life, then you’d need to look no further than this definitive guide by global transformational phenomenon, Tony Robbins. Covering values, beliefs, emotions, thinking patterns and a whole lot more, this empowering book has the explanation and structure to help you make profound change.


Emotional Intelligence – why it can matter more than IQ, by Daniel Goleman

Daniel Goleman, leader in the field of emotional intelligence, defines EQ as: The capacity for recognising our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships. This book helps break down the various elements that contribute to our emotional intelligence and gives us plenty of stories and examples to help digest this important information.


Flourish, by Martin Seligman

Seligman is known as the father of positive psychology – the branch of psychology that explores how we thrive and flourish (in other words how we create wellbeing). In this book he sets out the building blocks we can all use to help us feel good and function well. The great news: it’s not rocket science either to understand or implement.


Thrive, by Ariana Huffington

Redefining what we’ve traditionally thought of as success, this book helps us explore what we need to create a “good life.” Huffington talks about the four key concepts we can grasp and own to help us live lives that are more true to ourselves, fulfilling, healthy and connected – wellbeing, wonder, wisdom and giving. Another great read.


When you’re reading books like these, it’s easy to digest them as interesting and maybe entertaining, but if we want to benefit from the messages and information they’re giving us, we need to take the steps of actually using the ideas, tools and actions and applying them in our own situations and contexts. That way they go from being interesting to being genuinely useful and maybe even life-changing.