[00:00:00] Rowena: Hello, you are listening to Two Booked Up. I'm Rowena Mabbott, here with Shelley Tonkin Smith, and today we are going to be talking about how you can be more intentional about your reading life. If you find yourself getting stuck in a rut with a particular genre of book, or you find you're spending more time reading, maybe social media posts than books, and you wanna change that, then we've got a fun challenge to share with you today.
[00:00:27] Shelley: Oh yes. What we are reading is effectively what we are putting into our brains, and so that's gonna affect our thoughts. It's gonna affect our actions, our mood, and, just really how we show up in the world. So I think it's really important, not just to leave that up to chance and rather, instead to choose to read really good books.
But as I say that, I do even wonder that that sounds all a little too serious.
[00:00:55] Rowena: Exactly, and you are supposed to be the Playful one, Shelley, but you are absolutely right. What we read or don't read is a very powerful influence in our lives. But rather than getting overly serious about this, we are gonna be turning intentional reading into a bit of a game today.
[00:01:14] Shelley: Oh, I love it. So listeners come and play along with us.
This is the Two Booked Up podcast, where we talk about books.
[00:01:29] Rowena: The books that are challenging us to live more intentional lives.
[00:01:33] Shelley: The books that are equipping us on our business and professional journeys.
[00:01:37] Rowena: and the books that delight and bring us joy.
[00:01:40] Shelley: If you want to live life with more intention and you want to be doing work that brings you joy, then come and join the bookish conversation with me, Shelley Tonkin Smith.
[00:01:52] Rowena: And me, Rowena Mabbott here on Two Booked Up.
[00:01:55] Shelley: Cool. So Rowena reading nonfiction can sometimes, as I said in the intro, seem a little bit serious, seem overly serious. Um, especially those books that are geared towards self-improvement. Those books, you know, we are reading them because we do want to learn, we do want to improve. Um, we do want this information and sometimes it can feel like school,, maybe you know that we are gonna be tested on all of this so that we really have to keep serious notes. So I think with all the business and professional development books, all these self-improvement books, we can start feeling a little bit overwhelmed and a little bit like too serious about all of it.
And I think unfortunately then the play of reading and the joy of reading is missing if we see our nonfiction reading like that. As you know, I always say play is what makes life fun, and as I shared back in episode 13, if you wanna go and look that up through play, we really do find greater meaning and greater purpose in life.
So I think it's really important to bring some play into our reading lives.
[00:03:14] Rowena: Absolutely agree with you and you are right. There is an assumption that non-fiction has to be serious but let's think instead about what you're reading as the food that you are feeding your mind with. And so if you are having the same basic meal every day and every week, it gets a bit boring. And through that, we are not actually challenged to learn or to grow. And with non-fiction books, those books you just mentioned, Shelly, along the lines of improving and informing business or professional development, self-improvement, the whole purpose of us reading them generally is to be challenged to learn or to grow.
And so we know that a lot of our listeners are all inspired to learn and grow because otherwise you guys wouldn't be listening to our podcast. So this is where getting a little bit more intentional with a touch of a, maybe a sprinkling of spicy play comes right in.
[00:04:05] Shelley: Oh yes. I like that. And when we say being more intentional, what we are talking about is just actively choosing the books that you're going to read. And, we'd like to give you some inspiration here so that it doesn't feel like that old book list that you got in literature class back in high school or in university.
Uh, what we'd like for you to do today in this podcast is to stretch you a little bit, but in a Playful way to inspire you to read a few books that are not your usual choices. But that will help you to just widen your reading tastes. And yes, Rowena, you mentioned about the, the food idea. If we continue with that food sort of analogy in mind, it, it would be like trying a new cuisine that you haven't tried before and you might go, "yes, thank you, I've had enough of that. Uh, I didn't really like that." But then again, you might discover, "oh my goodness, I love this. I love my poke bowl." Uh, and you'll discover these new flavors, these new tastes, and, and have a new favorite. And it makes life more exciting and life more interesting.
So in our reading lives, That could look like being exposed to new ideas uncovering new perspectives that you might not be exposed to in your day-to-day life. And importantly, it sparks creative ideas that, that creativity in each and every one of us. As we are exposed to other people's ideas, it sparks the ideas that are actually circling around in our brains.
[00:05:40] Rowena: It absolutely can. This is really important because as a lot of our listeners are business owners or people who are thinking about starting a business or creative beings. Creativity is vital for our wellbeing. And so as we shared back in episode 18, inspiration can come from anywhere. So no matter what you read, nonfiction or fiction or magazines or blog posts or dare I said, Occasional social media posts, you will learn something.
Now I have a very interesting example about this because over the summer holiday, My youngest son, who's currently 12, at the time of recording we were in a country town, a long way from really anywhere in Australia and we'd stopped to get some lunch and outside one of the little bookshops there, they had a bucket of books saying, free books help yourself.
And my youngest son picked up a book called Two Lipsticks and a Lover. . Now
[00:06:37] Shelley: Intrigue.
[00:06:38] Rowena: I know it's, it sounds raunchy, but I kind of, he goes, "this looks like one for you mum." Mostly cuz it had pink writing on it and it had a lady on the front, so he thought, oh, mum's a lady, she'll like to read that. Now it wasn't a book that I would've naturally chosen and it turns out it was a non-fiction. It wasn't, you know, some kind of bodice-ripper a book like that, it was No, no, disappointingly, I know . I was like, Hey, come on. This is not a holiday read. It was not a book I would've chosen. And I have to say I didn't particularly love it, but I did finish it.
And as a result, I have actually been inspired to make a few changes my life as a result of certain ideas that were multiple times mentioned in this book. And certain ideas really resonated. So even though I didn't love the book, even though I wouldn't probably not have chosen it for myself, it has influenced me to make some changes in my life, which means it actually was a successful non-fiction read for me.
So I really wanna just point that out to say sometimes we don't know what we don't know. So a fiction read that I've just finished listening to actually it was an audiobook, has made me wanna get a tattoo. Now, the reason I'm sharing that is because ideas come from anywhere. Now I'm hoping. I did think the desire to get a tattoo might pass when I finally finished the book, but uh, it's been a week and that idea is still lingering.
And I did find myself searching on Pinterest for tattoo ideas. So we're hoping that in a few more days after I read a few more books that will just quietly go somewhere else.
[00:08:08] Shelley: It's not totally off the table, but, uh,
[00:08:11] Rowena: No, it's not totally off the table just yet, but I guess what I'm trying to say is that ideas come from anywhere and we can't be overly selective about where they come from. We just need to be open to them.
[00:08:22] Shelley: Yes. Yes. Uh, I'm very intrigued of what you would put on a tattoo because that for me is why I never would get a tattoo, because I don't know what I exactly want on my body forever, , but we
[00:08:34] Rowena: I
[00:08:34] Shelley: feel like
[00:08:35] Rowena: that could be a whole nother episode.
[00:08:36] Shelley: Oh, yeah.
[00:08:37] Rowena: could talk about, you know, our dream tattoos and how, if they'd be relative, related to books or anything
[00:08:43] Shelley: I know. It's like the, the book Worms, the nerds got tattoos. Um, and, and it actually reminds me of a book that you recommended to me, uh, called The Power of Regret by Daniel Pink. And one of the things that he talks about is how many people have the tattoo that says No regrets. And if you do read that book, which we're kind of thinking we might feature on the Two Booked Up podcast, you'll learn that living a life of no regrets is not always a good idea. We kind of can learn from our regrets and get lots of power from them.
So that also just illustrates to me of how a friend recommending a book helped me to get more intentional about my reading again. And I know Rowena, you're a really good friend to have to source book recommendations from, you read a ton of books last year, I believe it was the hundred and 25, you got a, a century and a. Hundred 20. I like it. I like
[00:09:37] Rowena: Nearly, nearly.
[00:09:38] Shelley: round number. Um, but you, you got to lift your cricket bat and, you know, clap the century in your reading life. How many of those books were nonfiction Books?
[00:09:49] Rowena: Ah, so I did a quick tally cuz I suspected you were gonna ask me that and I read 45 nonfiction books last year. And so when you think that's almost one a week, that's a lot. Um, but in eighties, a lot , but 120 I worked out was like 10 a month. So it kind of, you know, I like to have numerical things.
Cause you, as you rightly hinted, I'm a bit of a nerd when it comes to some of this stuff, especially when it's like goal setting. But in line with my phrase of the year, which I shared in the last episode, "curate and cultivate." I decided to be more intentional with my reading, and by that I actually mean deliberate.
So really. Selective or deliberate. And I embraced the idea of a challenge. Now for me, I decided that I would do 23 for 2023. So to be really clear, I wanna read 23 non-fiction books in 2023, which is a lot less, nearly half as many as I read last year. Um, because I actually think that would be, if they're more deliberate and more intentional, they'll be more powerful.
[00:10:51] Shelley: Mm-hmm.
[00:10:52] Rowena: So on that, after I kind of toyed with this idea, and I happened to mention, to lovely Shelly here. We thought our listeners might like to play along with an intentional reading challenge that was specifically for non-fiction books. So one afternoon, when I was feeling creative, cuz I'd been reading my fiction books and I'd finished reading Two Lipsticks and a Lover, I came up with 23 different types of books, non-fiction, to bring variety and new ideas into our non-fiction reading. Now before you all freak out, cause I know given I read 45 last year, you would be quite tempting if you're listening to throw your phone away or just turn us off.
Don't, don't, don't do that. It's fine. . What I've tried to do is to make it more Playful and more fun. So instead of giving you actual names of books, which is too prescriptive and not fun, instead I've put down genres. So for example, it includes things like memoir or bestseller list, or a famous author you've avoided, one with different themes, and yes, a style you wouldn't normally read.
[00:11:59] Shelley: Oh yes. I am so excited about this Ro. I love the idea when you brought it to me, and I think it's such a nice way of giving you structure. Cuz even us rebels, we need our structure. Um, those creatives out there, we, we need a little bit of intention, and this brings that kind of structured intention, but at the same time gives you the world of opportunities, to choose from.
So like some of the other categories that you've included in the the 2023 Reading Challenge are, uh, classics, so classic nonfiction books. So I've got some ideas there. I was thinking of, Dale Carnegie's, How to Win Friends and Influence People. How about that one? Have you read that one?
[00:12:42] Rowena: I have not, I was thinking of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
[00:12:47] Shelley: Oh, yes. Oh,
[00:12:48] Rowena: That's another classic. That's, um, pretty, pretty readily available as well. That's the other thing. I think that's quite good. When you choose an older book, you can often find a copy in a secondhand book shop or in a library.
[00:13:00] Shelley: Yes.
[00:13:01] Rowena: friends might have one that you can borrow.
[00:13:03] Shelley: And yes, being from the southern hemisphere, Rowena of course it's gonna include an author from the Southern Hemisphere in the list.
So I've got one here from an author in South Africa. I'm going to bring it even more in, closer to home, by an author called Bulelwa Mabasa called My Land Obsession, A Memoir, and she is a land rights lawyer and it's just like, also totally something that I wouldn't normally read. It's so I definitely could fit into that last category, A style you wouldn't normally read.
So I saw it in the bookshop the other day and I thought, ah, yes, let, let me, let me try that. Let me broaden my horizons on this idea of, of land rights and. It's something that really, it's not in my perspective, and I think that's what I love about the challenge is that it's just pushing us out into an area that's not entirely our lived experience and helping us to experience the lives and experiences of other people. And I know you've also got a, black or indigenous person of color author book as well on the list. So I think that's, that really helps that broadening aspect. So if that's something you are looking to do in the new year, I think this will be, So fun. And then there's of course a a book recommended by a friend, and you can count us at Two Booked Up as your friends. Absolutely. And of course, Rowena did this list, so it's always gonna include an audio book as well, guys.
So you're gonna have to go, go get your Audible trial or go to your library. They often have apps. Go and try out an audiobook, if you haven't, it's on the list. Uh, I think that'll be a nice fun one to, to tick off. Um, and really I think this whole challenge is just a super fun way to bring play and intention to our non-fiction reading for 2023.
And it's, it's really is aligned I think with both of our, our words for the year. So you, with you being "curate and cultivate" and me being "momentum." This is a beautiful way to bring momentum into your reading life. And I think also just bring a cool vibe to the podcast. So we'll be sharing some of the books that we read as we tick off our lists on our social media.
We'll share those at the end of the episode where you can find us. And then we'd love to hear from you too on how this has inspired you to read books that you perhaps wouldn't have read before. So yes, we have created a beautiful one pager, this is Rowena's handiwork, of those 23 categories that you can download. So you just need to sign up to be on our Two Booked Up email list. When you sign up you'll get that PDF sent to your email inbox. So if you just go to signup.twobookedup.com, you'll be able to get that pdf list and print it off, and then go and tick off and fill in the books that you have read in those various categories.
[00:15:58] Rowena: Yes. I'm so excited. And there's space for you to write down the book. Now, I'm not gonna be very prescriptive about this because whilst I am super pumped about, This list because you know I am an upholder and I do love me a list, but I completely understand that unlike me, many of you would find reading 23 books of any sort too much of a challenge. So let me reassure you, the list is there to help inspire you to be more intentional or more deliberate in your reading to welcome new perspectives and ideas. You don't have to read 23 books and if there is a category or two that maybe feel completely out there, or just not your cup of tea, skip it.
This is not a prescriptive list.
[00:16:39] Shelley: No, no, this is, an inspiration jogger. It's creativity, it's play, so, so treat it as such. It's Playful, it's fun. And yes, as I said, as a rebel, I don't like being told what to do. But because there's categories I can feel more comfortable about choosing a book that just fits in that category.
And believe me, I'll be creative enough to fit it in the category. If it doesn't fit , I'll find a way. And also we should say to our listeners is that some books can fit across two or three categories. So, like if I read Spiritually Loose, which Ro mentioned in the last episode, I could tick a few things.
I could tick, uh, the spiritual theme. I could tick a book that was gifted to me because by the way, listeners and listeners in South Africa know this is friendship and this is dedication. Rowena managed to send me Spiritually Loose from Australia to South Africa. It was a courier system in the end.
Um, she got it here in physical form. That is amazing . And I think that Spiritually Loose would probably fit, uh, also not my usual style kind of read. So really you can read one book and see if you need to, you can match it into several categories.
[00:17:54] Rowena: Um, and in this instance, I reckon you could maybe even stretch it to four categories, Shelley, because it could also come as an item recommended by a friend. So
[00:18:03] Shelley: Oh, cool. Oh,
[00:18:03] Rowena: not just spiritual theme. Not just usual style. So you could, you can all knock over almost a quarter of those items with just the one book.
Now, speaking of recommendations, let's just move on a little bit here because we could chat books all day, which is why we started this podcast after all reading with intention. And so speaking of all of this reading with intention, welcoming different views and perspectives, we have a bit of a treat coming up.
In our next episode, we'll be talking about habits and more specifically, Shelley will be doing a bit of a deep dive into a book that has topped the charts year after year. Now, I'm gonna pause for a minute. You can all take a punt, all type, a little guess, little gamble, what that book might be. I'm gonna give you half a second, and then we'll see if you're right.
I'm gonna guess that 99% of you are gonna be right. It's habits. It's a top chart one. It's Atomic Habits by James Clear!
[00:19:02] Shelley: Yes, at this time of year, everybody is recommending that you read or reread Atomic Habits, and even it's late February now. I was in the bookshelf on the weekend and it's still on the top 10 shelf in exclusive books here in South Africa. And I'm not gonna lie, It makes me very cross . It makes me mad even because honestly, controversial opinion coming... I do not care for the book. I could give Exclusives a list of, about a hundred other titles that I'd like them to please import here to South Africa and I will buy them instead of always going back to Atomic Habits. And, and listen, they're not the only ones.
It feels like everyone was recommending Atomic Habits at the end of last year, and I'm like, "why?!" It's honestly not just because I'm a rebel. And it's not because I don't like the idea of habits. I do, um, my objections go quite a lot deeper, but I also can see the appeal of the book. So before I start ramping up here in any other way, I'm gonna stop and if you want to know why I have such strong views on this book, then you'll have to tune into our next episode.
[00:20:14] Rowena: Yes. We might have to hose Shelley down, but don't miss the episode. . I will be hoping to calm her down a little bit and there should be some fantastic insights that you can get from Shelley about the book, and then I'll be following that episode up with a deeper dive into habits more generally and perhaps how we can approach habits in a different way, but still get their atomic power.
But for now, we hope that you are feeling inspired to reinvigorate your reading in a Playful intentional way. Remember, you can download for free our very cute, if I do say to myself, reading challenge checklist, just visit signup.Twobookedup.com and of course the link is also in the show notes.
[00:20:59] Shelley: yes. And then let us know which category you start with. So you can find me on Twitter, ShelleyTSmith. Sign up for my newsletter at ShelleyTonkinSmith.Com. And if you'd like to learn more about my copywriting services, head on over to ShelleySmithCreative.com and remember to subscribe or follow Two Booked Up in your podcast player.
We've got lots more to say about intentional living, about doing the work that lights you up and about all the books that help us to do that. So if you're subscribed, then all those episodes will automatically download for you.
[00:21:36] Rowena: And go and visit twobookedup.com where you'll find all the show notes and a transcript of this episode. And of course, whilst you're there on the website, downloading the reading challenge page, make sure you sign up for our email newsletter as well. because after all you'll find out how we are going with the challenge, cuz we are doing it too.
You can also find me on Instagram at RowenaMabbott and we can continue the conversation over there. And if you'd like to learn more about how I can support you as a career and life confidence coach or download my free ebook, the A to Z of Career and Life Confidence, or Read any of my over 150 blog posts, then head on over to my online home at rowenamabbott.com.
Thanks for listening to Two Booked Up today. Shelley and I will be back with another new episode in a couple of weeks time. Until then, here's to reinvigorating our reading by reading with Playful intention.