[00:00:00] Welcome to Two Booked Up. A podcast about business and personal development books, and the conversations they ignite. I'm Shelley Tonkin Smith. I'm a copywriter, entrepreneur and homeschooling Mom.
[00:00:19] And I'm Rowena Mabbott. I'm a career and life confidence coach, and I'm also a mom.
[00:00:24] We're kicking off our summer series of Minisodes today with a rundown of our favorite nonfiction books we each read in 2022. So if you're looking for some recommendations for books to over the holidays or to put on your reading wishlist for 2023, we're confident you'll find some great suggestions in this episode.
[00:00:46] So Ro, kick us off. What were some of your favorite reads of 2022?
[00:00:52] Oh, it was so hard to select as at the time of recording. I'm on track to have read over a hundred books this year,
[00:00:58] A hundred books. Well done.
[00:01:01] nearly, yeah. Um, it's a lot
[00:01:05] What was your goal?
[00:01:06] Fortunately, I write them down. Um, Hundred and four, which I will, I will make that I'm already at 97 or something,
[00:01:14] That's amazing.
[00:01:16] I'll make that for sure.
[00:01:17] I wanted to beat last year where I made 104. So
[00:01:20] Okay. Okay.
[00:01:21] Such an Upholder.
[00:01:22] Having a goal, being an Upholder, it motivates me.
[00:01:24] Yes, I love it.
[00:01:26] Okay. So it was tricky, but thinking about the premise of Two Booked Up, that is sharing how we can apply lessons from a book we've read to improve our business or life. I then narrowed it down to these books that I wanna share today.
[00:01:40] So the first one, which is not read in any particular order, Let me just be clear. The book was From Strength to Strength by Arthur C. Brooks. Now I read this one as an ebook. So this book has a subtitle of Finding Success, happiness, and Deep Purpose in the Second Half of Life. Now there's lots of data is shared in this book, but it is really presented in an easy to digest manner with lots of stories.
[00:02:06] It's written the way Arthur speaks, which is very helpful if you've seen any of his YouTube videos or listened to his podcast. So what stood out for me was the idea of crystallized and fluid intelligence curves and how moving from one to the other will help us find meaning and purpose as we move through life, which helps us to be happier too.
[00:02:26] Now the impact of reading this for me was the greater awareness of the tools we can use to be even happier as we age.
[00:02:34] Another book that was definitely in my top few books was Things That Matter, Overcoming Distraction to Pursue A More Meaningful Life by Joshua Becker. And again, I read this as an ebook.
[00:02:47] Now this is a very practical book and, really easy read. The idea of this book is that we can choose to live differently when we focus on what matters and the things we have been told matter generally don't. So when we set aside the things that distract us, so technology, fame, et cetera, we have more time and energy to focus on what does matter, which according to Becker, are our meaningful pursuits.
[00:03:11] Now there are great prompting questions in here, and it's based on results from a national survey undertaken in the US. So it's gotta really, It's a good read and it's tied in with the other books I was reading at the time. And there's a bit of a theme there that came up through some of the books we'd read this year on the podcast too.
[00:03:28] So the impact of reading this for me was it was a great reminder of living true to our values.
[00:03:35] Alright, so next up, 4,000 Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkman. And I read this as a paperback. So the basic premise of this is that if we live until we are 80, we have 4,000 weeks in our lifetime.
[00:03:51] So starting at this point, and then using philosophy, literature, and psychology, which are, I have to say, lots of my favorite areas. The book explores our relationship with time and completely debunks the myth that we can do it all if only we had better time management techniques. Now, the impact of reading this was probably similar to the other two books I've just mentioned and possibly like all the books we talked about in the first season of the podcast. My take home message was, you can't do everything, so focus on what really matters.
[00:04:21] Next up, Burnout: The Secret to Solving the Stress Cycle by Emily and Amelia Nagoski. Now, I listened to this as an audiobook and this book, I would say is so much more than the title suggests.
[00:04:35] It has an exploration of all things that contribute to women experiencing burnout, including both the stressor and the stress held in our bodies. I really enjoyed some of the terminology they use, like Human Giver Syndrome and Bikini Industrial Complex, as well as other cultural references. And the audiobook was read by the authors, which, I absolutely love.
[00:04:55] So the style of the book also made it more engaging. Because it was, read and written in a very conversational style, presenting the scientific research in a entertaining way. Now, the impact of reading this was an awareness of when I feel stress, I need to discharge that from my body before dealing with the stressor.
[00:05:15] Next up, Into The Rip: How the Australian Way of Risk Made my Family Stronger, happier, and Less American by Damien Cave. And I listened to this one as well. This is an exploration of risk and differences between the US and Australian cultures told with personal stories. I loved that Damien read the audio book and shared openly the challenges and discomfort felt when he moved himself and his family from New York City to Sydney in Australia.
[00:05:45] Damian and his family's experience of surf life saving, and the nippers, which is the young surf life savers for ages five to 14 year olds, showed the way that Australia embraces and respects risk taking by the community. I loved that it shared personal stories as well as interviews with experts, cause it made it a really enjoyable read or listen.
[00:06:04] And the impact of reading this one was I have a much greater appreciation for the Australian way of looking at risk, which in turn encouraged me to be more comfortable with my boys doing certain activities. So there's kind of where I'm at too. Shelly, how about you? What were your favorite non-fiction reads?
[00:06:21] Well that, Damian Cave one sounds so intriguing. So is he talking about risk as in like letting your children do, I mean, not even risky things, but things that like, like Yeah, like out of your safety zone or comfort zone?
[00:06:35] Yeah, so it's more around his comfort zone was saying. Well, I don't want my kids going out into that water where there are rips and sharks and all sorts of other things. Whereas in Australia, that's normal if you're part of Nippers, if you're part of the surf lifestyle culture, you are taught that yes, the sea is dangerous, but you can learn about it and you acquire skills to deal with it.
[00:06:59] And so it was really using that as an analogy for other parts of our life. It's a really interesting book. I really enjoyed it.
[00:07:06] Oh, I think I'm gonna put that one on my list. I've put a few others on my list. I already have the Oliver Burkman one on my Kindle, so, Oh my goodness, the episode of our planned reads for 2023 is gonna be rather long and, like you, Ro, I had some trouble whittling this list done, and I didn't read nearly close to a hundred books this year.
[00:07:28] But I've, whittled it down to this. So, In true Gretchen Rubin fangirl style, after reading the Four Tendencies for the podcast, I went to her predecessor, book, which is called Better Than Before. And Better Than Before, is a book about habits and Gretchen Rubin's overarching arguments in better than before is that to adopt new good habits and stop bad habits you need to know yourself.
[00:07:58] So, a theme that we had coming through a lot of our podcasts in Two Booked Up season one. Once you know yourself, then you need to customize your strategies accordingly. So for example, a lark or like a morning person versus an owl, a night person. So if you are a night person and you want to introduce a new yoga practice into your life, then it might not be the best idea to do, you know, the typical morning yoga session. It might be better for you to introduce it as a kind of bedtime routine.
[00:08:31] So, I really like this personalized approach in Better Than Before and I found it better than, you know, this, uh, than Atomic Habits, which I read before that as well. And I found Atomic Habits was turning us all into behaviorists. I know it's like a Top 10 super bestselling book, but I found it too simplified for me and I really like the personalization of Better Than Before.
[00:08:58] Then the next book that I want to highlight here is called Soundtracks by an author called John Acuff. I didn't quite resonate with this author, but I really found the book very valuable. So the term soundtracks refers to the things we say to ourselves. So our thoughts, our self-talk, which is so influential in the way we act.
[00:09:20] And he points out that our brains very easily cling onto the negatives. So he argues that we should actually stand in front of a mirror each morning and each evening and say out loud what could be called positive affirmations. So he has put together what he calls the new anthem, and my favorite part of that anthem is the phrase that you say in the evening. You say, "What a day! The best part is I left myself a whole lot of fun things to work on tomorrow." And I just felt that that was so much more positive than the self-talk I had adopted, which was kind of like, "Oh, I didn't get everything done today and I've got so much to do tomorrow." I like that reframing of, I've got so many cool, fun things to do tomorrow.
[00:10:09] So there was a lot of really nice little pearls of wisdom like that that I got from Soundtracks by John Acuff.
[00:10:17] So yeah, those are the two business and personal development books that I'm gonna highlight. As I say, I had to limit myself. But then I wanna highlight a few in the memoir category.
[00:10:27] So that's what we're going to do after a quick break. We'll be back in a little bit.
[00:12:06] Okay, so we have back and I'm going to share with you some of my favorite memoirs.
[00:12:12] And so the first one is, Called I Am. I Am. I Am: Seventeen Brushes With Death by Maggie O'Farrell. So as the subtitle suggests, this is a book of Maggie Ferrell's Life told through the lens of 17 near death experiences that she's had either herself or with her children. She certainly lived an astounding life and though death is the focus of this book, I think the overall message is about living life to the fullest because life is so fragile.
[00:12:49] So this one was a recommendation from my bookworm aunt and a big Maggie O'Farrell fan. So thanks Aunty Sue for this recommendation. I really enjoyed it a lot. And I also went on to read Maggie Farrell's Hamnet, which is a, Fictional book about Shakespeare's, son Hamnet, which I loved as well. So throwing that one in there on the fiction side.
[00:13:10] Then my next favorite memoir was a book called How to Write One Song by Jeff Tweedy. So Jeff Tweedy is the lead singer of a band called Wilco. And I have to admit, I had not heard of Wilco before reading this book, or rather I listened to it. Uh, it was really fun to listen to this book because he breaks into song every now and then and he's got some tracks from Wilco and, oh and just a warning, if you don't like swearing, you might have to give this one a miss. But it is a book about writing one song and he's quite specific about this because he wants to demystify the idea that you need to become this songwriter with a capital S. Um, it can be quite an intimidating notion. But even for you non musos out there, it's a book about creativity in general. So even if you're not a musician or you're not looking to write songs, I'd recommend it.
[00:14:11] I really loved doing his word association exercises to come up with lyrics that were novel and that didn't sound cliche. I was actually sitting on the beach on a holiday and looking around me and looking at the things at the beach and writing down words, and then writing down, um, other associations and then putting them all together to write down these like very cool sounding lyrics in the end.
[00:14:33] So yeah, that I really enjoyed and I thought it was something different, and played into my creativity. But now, Ro, I know you enjoy a good memoir. So what memoirs have stood out for you this year?
[00:14:47] Yeah, thanks. I'm just intrigued that you had never heard of Wilco. I'm still kind of reeling from that fact.
[00:14:52] I'm sorry, you hadn't heard of Johnny Clegg, so sorry.
[00:14:56] Yes. I guess that's the thing. Yeah. But I love that you were doing, word association on the beach because that lends itself to being kind of this part of the summer reading.
[00:15:05] So yes, I do love a memoir. I. And I would actually think when in reflection, maybe into the rip might have been more of a memoir book as well, but it did have a lot of other stuff in there too. So a couple of memoirs this year that really stood out for me, and that I kept thinking about months or weeks after I'd finished reading them. And I think that's often a good sign of a book that's really affected you.
[00:15:27] The first one it's a new release come out in 2022 called The Space Between the Stars by Indira Naidoo. Now Indira Naidoo is a very well known Australian broadcaster.
[00:15:38] So this is a beautiful book. And actually the physical book itself was also beautiful, like it was quite tactile cover, so that was quite a different experience as well. It was really lovely. Um, but the book shares how nature around Sydney Harbor helped Indira, the author after the sudden death of her younger sister.
[00:15:56] So it's interspersed with stories and memories of her sister within her renewed appreciation of nature. Kind of, you'll have a chapter of a memory or a beautiful story about her sister and her when they were kids. And the next chapter will be Current Day and exploring the nature of around Sydney Harbor.
[00:16:15] So it has a very gentle rhythm. Now, I read this book in October, which is the time when our son was still born. So I found a lot of parallels with my own experience of grief, which was also top of mind when I read it, but it's not a sad book. I didn't sit there, you know, sobbing my eyes out. I just felt that it spoke deeply to a lot of very beautiful truths.
[00:16:37] So really gorgeous book.
[00:16:39] And the other memoir that I think made my absolute top favorites was a book called The Happiest Man on Earth by Eddie Jaku, which I listened to. Now this is a heartbreaking, very powerful, but ultimately uplifting book written by Holocaust survivor, Eddie Jaku. Again, he's a very, um, well known Australian and the chief message was that happiness can be found even when we're surrounded by darkness.
[00:17:06] It was very moving. I did have a few teas whilst I listened to this one, especially as I listened to the updated version, which was published to celebrate his 100th birthday where he shared that he believes he's the happiest man on earth. Now he has passed away this year. In 2022, and it was a huge funeral, massive state funeral. He was a very well known, well respected man. But, um, the book separate to all of that was very, very good and very, um, and I don't, I don't wanna say entertaining, but it was entertaining for such a potentially upsetting topic. It was done in a beautiful way. It was a really good listen.
[00:17:42] Oh, so now on a different note, Shelly, you haven't shared any homeschooling books yet, and I know you are always reading new books about homeschooling and education, cuz you're frequently telling me about them. So I think you should share some of the love and go on and tell our listeners what you've been reading in this category as well.
[00:18:00] Oh yes, thank you. I've saved some homeschooling recommendations, but I think these ones are also for, for parents in general, and like extending education into the home. So, the first one that I wanna highlight is called, Why You Should Read Children's Books, and then in brackets, Even Though You Are So Old and Wise.
[00:18:19] So this one is by Katherine Rundell, a children's book author, and it's a short book, it's more of an extended essay, and she argues against seeing reading as this linear progression that we sort of move from picture books to then like children's books and middle grade novels. And then we go out this ladder of increasing complexity until we land up at Shakespeare and the likes and we never look back on children's literature or anything like that.
[00:18:48] And she says that there is a lot of wonder and maybe even usefulness to be found in children's books for adults -read when you are an adult. So this actually inspired me to read a new children's book called A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus, which was delightful, which was so great. So I've actually, I've bought it for my boys, but my son doesn't like reading about orphans. So instead, I got to really enjoy it. It was so lovely. A real modern day classic.
[00:19:18] And then the next one I wanna highlight is called Uncovering the Logic of English, A Common Sense Approach to Teaching Reading, Spelling, and Literacy by Denise Eide. And look, this is getting into textbook territory, but I just had to include it.
[00:19:35] It's helped me with teaching my son to read, but I think it'll be valuable for anyone with kids learning to read whether you are homeschooling or not, because there's this assumption that English is full of exceptions when it comes to spelling and reading. But Denise argues that English is actually very logical, and then she outlines a very systematic approach to understanding English that will enable students to be able to read and spell 98% of English words.
[00:20:05] So particularly if your child is struggling with reading or spelling, get this book, it's really gonna help you to guide and mentor them.
[00:20:13] And then the last one I'm gonna say on homeschooling is Teaching from Rest. A Homeschoolers Guide to Unshakeable Peace by Sarah Mackenzie. So it's obviously a homeschool book, and I read a lot of homeschooling books, so I wasn't quite sure which one to highlight, but Teaching From Rest is, I think the permission slip that many of us homeschooling moms need to simplify and to trust that we are enough. But I think this is for all of us moms and just to embrace that on your homeschooling journey, and I feel I must mention that Sarah is a Christian, a practicing Catholic.
[00:20:51] So the book is written from that worldview. If this is a problem for you and you're looking for an inspiring homeschool read that's not overtly Christian, then I can also highly recommend The Call of the Wild and Free by Ainsley Arment. See what I did there, Ro? I squeezed in another favorite.
[00:21:09] I know! Oh my goodness. We're meant to be keeping these episodes short. Listeners, I'm gonna have to reign Shelly in, but if you do need any more book recommendations, you can find me at RowenaMabbott on Instagram to continue this conversation. And if you'd like to learn more about how I can support you as a career and life confidence coach, as well as all my blog posts, or subscribing to my newsletter, head over to my online home at rowenamabbott.com.
[00:21:35] And Shelley, where can listeners find you to learn more about your great insights about homeschooling books, your copywriting, and everything else?
[00:21:42] Cool. So you can find me on Twitter at Shelley T Smith or sign up for my newsletter at ShelleyTonkinSmith.Com. And if you'd like to learn more about my copywriting services, then head on over to ShelleySmithCreative.com and if you aren't already, please subscribe or follow Two Booked Up in your podcast player.
[00:22:04] We've got a whole lot more bonus minisodes coming your way, including our summer reading lists of what we want to read now that we've told you what we have read. So if you don't wanna miss out on that, then subscribe and go and visit twobookedup.com where you'll find show notes with the books we've mentioned today and a transcript of this episode.
[00:22:24] Thanks for listening to two Booked Up. Shelly and I will be back with another bonus episode in a couple of weeks time. Until then, happy reading.