Two Booked Up Episode 37
Hello, friends. Thank you for joining Shelley and me on Two Booked Up today. I'm Rowena Mabbott, and today is our Christmas special episode of the podcast. We are going to be talking about some of the ways you can make this holiday season a little more bookish.
[00:00:23] Shelley: Oh yes, and if you're looking to read more this season, and maybe encourage those friends and family members around you to do the same, then we've got some fun ideas for you to try out. They may even become traditions like they are becoming in my house. And we're also going to be giving these traditions a bit of a Southern Hemisphere twist, of course.
[00:00:45] Rowena: Oh, and you know we've got a few, or more than a few, book recommendations for you for the holiday season, right? We'll share some of our favourite fiction and non fiction books from the last few months, and we'll be telling you what's on each of our To Be Read lists for the holidays.
[00:01:01] Shelley: As usual, my TBR is quite ambitious, but I've also felt challenged to bring some more variety into my list thanks to our 23 for 2023 reading challenge, which I'm pleased to say we will be repeating in 2024 with 24 books in the challenge. So stay tuned to hear what we've each got on our lists and how you can make this a delightfully bookish holiday season. This is the Two Booked Up Podcast, where we talk about books,
[00:01:40] Rowena: The books that are challenging us to live more intentional lives,
[00:01:44] Shelley: the books that are equipping us on our business and professional journeys.
[00:01:48] Rowena: and the books that delight and bring us joy.
[00:01:51] Shelley: If you want to live life with more intention, and if you want to be doing work that brings you joy, then come join the bookish conversation with me, Shelley Tonkin Smith.
[00:02:01] Rowena: And me, Rowena Mabbott, here on Two Booked Up. Okay, so Shelley, before we get into our favourites and what's on our TBR lists, I know that in classic Shelley style, you have started a new tradition in your family that's all about books. Come, tell us all about it.
[00:02:28] Shelley: Oh, it's so exciting. It is called Jolabokaflod, which means Christmas or Yule Book Flood, and it's an Icelandic term and an Icelandic tradition that came out of, post war or in round about 1944, when paper goods were among the most available items in Iceland. And what happens is that the books are purchased as presents to be gifted on Christmas Eve.
And then Christmas Eve is spent reading those books next to the fire, drinking a hot cup of cocoa, having some treats to eat. And I thought this was just a delightful tradition to start in our home. But of course, we had to put our own spin on it, mainly because of the weather, but also because I put my own spin on things.
So we scheduled it way earlier than Christmas Eve. We, I think we did it in November, like the end of November, it was still. So for you listening, you can pick any date that works for you. A lot of us have other plans on Christmas Eve, and we put a summer Southern Hemisphere spin on it. We sat out on our patio, and I covered the table with books that I had bought recently.
So some of those books I was buying for Christmas and they were meant to be Christmas presents, but the kids had seen them on our trips to the bookstore and they were actually desperate to read them. So, it was so cool to go, all right, let's lay them out on the table and we can spend December actually reading and enjoying these books.
And it was so awesome to see all these books on display. And I actually included books that I'd bought in the last couple of months that I hadn't really opened yet. So. Instead of gathering around the fire, of course, uh, we might've had a braai fire, but the boys swam, and then they enjoyed ice creams, and then I sent them back into the pool to clean their sticky hands before we all lounged around and grabbed a book, and we just grabbed the books that, like, appealed to us.
And it was really so fun that we've now repeated that tradition with our homeschool co op friends. Where, I just brought out all the books that I've got, I've got tons, and all the kids, like, just sat there and read. It was amazing. Uh, so, if you are listening and Jolabokaflod sounds fun, then I really encourage you to give it a try, but make it your own, and, Honestly, you can be as flamboyant, or as simple as you'd like.
You don't even have to buy books. A lot of people I know go to the library and just take out a bunch of books, max out their library cards, uh, choose some books that you feel your family will love, and Bring those and flood the house with books, um, or go raid a friend's bookshelf and then borrow some of their books.
So my overall rule I think is if it's stressful, then you're not doing it right. So keep it light, keep it fun and keep it all just about sitting around reading however that looks for you.
[00:05:26] Rowena: Oh, it sounds absolutely fabulous, Shelley. And now a couple of quick notes for our listeners who aren't in South Africa. So a braai in the rest of the world is called a barbecue. And for those of you who may not have easy access to a library, uh, little libraries, so those little pop up libraries that. appear in communities could also be a great way to do it. So you borrow them and then you can return them. So anyway, it's super cool. I love hearing about that, Shelley, and I particularly love knowing that your kids have embraced this idea of books being associated with holidays, which is such a great thing.
So we do things a little bit differently in our family. It's far more streamlined. So for Christmas, it is still for Christmas, but we have a kind of three gift category. So it's something to read, something you need, and something fun. Each of those categories can have more.
So for example, something to read means you could have two or three books. That's fine. But that's the three categories. So it's something to read. can be a book. Something you need could also be a book. Um, something fun. Sometimes I've been very sneaky and slipped a book in there, but generally something fun is a family experience or it's an experience for the, the gift receiver.
So, yeah, . Something to read, something you need and something fun. It keeps it nice and streamlined. It also keeps decision making quite easy as well.
[00:06:48] Shelley: And I love the inclusion of an experience as well as a
[00:06:51] Rowena: Yes. We're all about experiences. Yeah. I like to give experiences and I like to receive experiences and not just for my kids and my husband, but, for the last few years, for my parents, we've been doing experiences.
We either do experiences or consumables. That's the other thing. That way it's not stuff. But it's something you eat or something you use up.
[00:07:10] Shelley: Okay. That's not cluttering your house afterwards.
[00:07:13] Rowena: not clutter, exactly.
[00:07:15] Shelley: huh. Uh huh.
[00:07:16] Rowena: So Shelley mentioned earlier in our introduction The 23 for 2023 Reading Challenge.
And now many of you know, Shelley and I love to read. That's why we do this podcast. And we also know that many of you listeners did play along with us on our 23 for 2023 Reading Challenge. So as a quick reminder, in episodes 35 and 28, we both shared what we'd been reading and our favorite nonfiction and fiction reads up to that point.
[00:07:44] Shelley: Yeah. And if you are keen to know which books we read in 2023 that were our favourites, you can go and listen back to those episodes. That's 35 and 28. Uh, but Ro, let's quickly talk about some additional favourites that we've had since that last episode a few months ago. So tell me, what's one favorite fiction book you've read, because I've been a little bit sloppy on my fiction and I need some recommendations now.
And then one favorite nonfiction since we last shared what we were reading.
[00:08:13] Rowena: Sure. Okay. So my fiction favorite was actually pretty tricky to narrow it down to just one. I have read a lot of fiction since we last caught up, but I picked this one. It's fabulous title. It's called The Benevolent Society of Ill Mannered Ladies, and it's by Alison Goodman. She's an Australian author.
So it's set in 1812, so it's kind of like Jane Austen with a feminist heroine crossed with Janet Ivanovich's Stephanie Plum. So it's a female amateur detective who's a bit of a feminist, set in 1812, so there's all discover lovely descriptions of bonnets and needing to have, you know supervisory male accompaniments.
But it's just, it's an absolute cracker of an adventure. The tension was absolutely fabulous. It was brilliant, but there were also laugh out loud moments. So it ticked a lot of boxes for me.
And then my non fiction favorite. was one I finished just, recently, and it was called Keep Moving by Maggie Smith.
And now it's an older book. I borrowed it from the library. Um, in fact, I borrowed both of these from the library. And it's a book of daily notes to self, thoughts, poems, and personal essays. And specifically, they deal with grief, New Beginnings and Transformation. So it was very moving, but also very inspiring, but also a reasonably quick read if you were to sit down and read it cover to cover.
But it didn't lend itself to that because there was a lot of, a lot of stuff in there to really think about and kind of impact you emotionally. So how about you, Shelley? What are your favorites?
[00:09:45] Shelley: Yeah. That's, that, that sounds amazing. One to add to my fiction list and Keep Moving sounds like a very different kind of, of nonfiction read. I like the spaciousness that it sounds like it's created.
And so my fiction favorite I've, I've gone to a book that I've read with my boys in Read aloud, and it is called Space Band by Tom Fletcher.
And it's all about a mediocre band who enters a battle of the bands contest at their school only to be beamed up into space to battle 12 other bands from other planets. And if they don't win, then Mega Volt, the baddy is going to obliterate earth. So it was, it's just been so fun to read, particularly because it's got an accompanying album of songs played by Tom Fletcher, who's the author, but who also happens to be the guitarist in the band McFly.
And so the songs are actually really fun. They're really cool, like sort of punk rockish, um, pop, rocky kind of songs. And my boys have actually, they've been playing them on the drums and I play along on the piano and my husband sometimes joins in the guitar.
So just brilliant how a book kind of then affected the rest of our lives. And it brought that sense of fun and inspired us to play music together. So that was a fiction, my fiction favorite that had to hit the top.
And then my nonfiction favorite, I would say would be Radical Candor by Kim Scott. This was actually part of a book club read along that I did and the book is aimed at managers to give people feedback, but I really feel it's very helpful to use more broadly.
I've used it with my clients, with my kids, um, and when I was giving feedback to my friend on the novel that she wrote. By the way, everybody, Rowena Mabbott's debut novel, Avoiding the Friend Zone, is available for purchase, and we are going to a link to that in the show notes, and we did a whole episode on that in our last episode, in episode 36.
So as this airs, this can be one of the books that you can add to your TBR list, but I'm kind of getting ahead of myself there.
But just coming back to Radical Candor. I I felt that that book has made me feel more confident when I'm giving feedback, because it's always difficult to give people really honest feedback.
But the book taught me that feedback is a gift, both positive and negative feedback. It's a gift that you giving someone. So it equipped me to give that feedback in a more confident way.
[00:12:15] Rowena: Fabulous. I think From, as a recipient of that feedback, I can say that that book definitely helped because I felt very cared for and supported in the way that you delivered the feedback.
I also love, Shelley, that you said Radical Candor helped you feel more confident because as a confidence coach, I love that.
But also that you mentioned about with your, Book that you've been reading with the boys, it helped you to bring more fun into your reading with the boys, but it also inspired them and you and your husband, Garren, to do something other than just the reading. So I love that there's those feelings and how books are influencing you because reading to feel a certain way is the latest thing.
Shelley, you and your family, you're ahead of the game. So on TikTok and BookTok, um, not that I'm on either of those, but I've been immersed in this world. It's an emerging trend to select a book to read, not because of the plot, but because of how you want to feel.
So, for example, you want to feel happy, so you read a book that pretty much guarantees you're going to feel happy at the end of it. So as a result, TikTok has created a whole new way of talking about books.
And so reviewers are doing that. So they're saying, it made me laugh, it made me cry, it gave me all the feels. And some select bookstores, books are now grouped around the feelings they elicit rather than the topic or genre, which I think is just mind boggling, but also kind of cool. So Shelley, how about you?
What are your thoughts on this?
[00:13:41] Shelley: yeah, I think that's really cool. And I love that I'm an early adopter, ahead of the trend here. Even though I'm also not on TikTok. But I think that's a really cool way of choosing your books. And I think any good fiction book, and I'm assuming on BookTok, they're talking mainly about fiction. Any good fiction book is going to make you feel something.
And I'm just thinking back to a book that I read, The Lincoln Highway, and I'm thinking, Oh, how would that make me feel? And like, there's a bit of sadness in it. But then there's also this feeling of hope and forgiveness, which is quite interesting. So yeah, if I had to write a review on that, it would Bring out those feelings.
And I think that's a really interesting idea, not just for fiction though, but also for nonfiction as well. Um, I've mentioned Sarah McKenzie of Read Aloud Revival before, and she has a saying, "read for what you need." And yeah, I think you could extend that to feelings. Like, do you need to feel inspired to do things a new way?
Do you need to feel. the clarity that comes with how to book. So then you might choose a different book. If you want to feel inspired, you're going to choose one book. And if you want to feel like guided and, you know, told what to do in a way, then you're going to choose the how to book. Um, or do you want to feel more whimsical and just bask in the beauty and joy of a book.
That makes me think of the Maggie Smith book you mentioned in the beginning. Or do you need to feel challenged and pushed outside your comfort zone? You know, sometimes we need to feel ready for that. So yes, I think that can work really well. And I have a few books on my TBR list that I think could fit into some of those feelings that I've just listed there.
[00:15:18] Rowena: Great. So what I'm hearing is that we both like this idea of reading for how you want to feel. And so this leads us on to how do we want to feel during this holiday period and for us in the Southern Hemisphere over the summertime.
So Shelley, for your summer, what's on your to be read list?
[00:15:38] Shelley: so I've got a mix of fiction and non fiction. I'll start with non fiction because I always, I love non fiction and I've got a lot of those books ready. I don't mind if it's the holidays, I'll still read my non fiction. So what I've got, I'm going to list them off. I've got When by Daniel Pink, all about timing.
The whimsical one is called, uh, Create Anyway by Ashlee Gadd and the subtitle of that one is The Joy of Pursuing Creativity in the Margins of Motherhood. That one just looks really beautiful. It's got full color photography in it with little interviews with moms. It looks amazing.
Uh, another brilliant sounding book called Cave of Bones by Lee Berger, about the Sterkfontein Caves, which are just around the corner from me, and they've made some amazing discoveries there.
Brain Body Parenting by Mona Delahooke. That was a recommendation from Elle Leher's podcast, Wonderfully Wired. Then, uh, hint, hint. You Should Write a Book by Katel DeLu and Lisa Marie Marquis
And finally, I have ordered How to Grow your Small Business by Donald Miller. So I've got those, what is it, the six lined up and not that I need any more, Rowena, but, but let me hear yours and I can see if I might add them to my list.
[00:16:59] Rowena: That is a lot of books, Shelley. Six is a lot. Mind you, I'm only one shy. So on my nonfiction to be read list, is
Bright Shining by Julia Baird. She's an Australian author and journalist and I've read some of her earlier books and I really enjoyed them.
Life in Five Senses by Gretchen Rubin, who we love here on the podcast this is her latest book.
Everything and Nothing by Heather Mitchell. Heather Mitchell is an Australian screen and stage actor and absolutely fabulous. And I listened to her and saw her at a literary festival and just thought I need to buy her book. So that's pretty special. I've got a nice autograph inside that.
And then the last two other ones, Shelley, you gave me for my birthday. So Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott and On Writing by Stephen King.
Now some, I have started a couple of these, as in I've at least cracked the spine.
And I will note that I'm going to read all of these in print editions because my summer time generally involves time on the beach and I want the flexibility to throw my paper back into a beach bag without worrying about sand or water in a device.
[00:18:06] Shelley: Whereas I'm looking for, for Kindle books. We're mainly going to be in Jo'burg or not by the beach, for holidays. And so I'm looking for Kindle books. And so I've got a few that, um, I know you've recommended, uh, the people on platform five, was it platform five? Is
[00:18:20] Rowena: Yes. Yeah. People on Platform
[00:18:21] Shelley: Five
can't find the. Kindle edition. Anyway, I'll be on the lookout or maybe I'll look for it at the library. So that is one that I do want to read. But, I've selected for Kindle, really. And so I have got The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams. And I know that's one of your sort of indirect recommendations, because you read the next one.
So I thought I'll start with the first
[00:18:43] Rowena: and, and she's Australian, so I love
[00:18:46] Shelley: that
Okay, there we go. Southern Hemisphere, author, ticked off.
Then we watched The drama on Netflix called Silo, and it's based on the book Wool by Hugh Howey. So, that one my husband has on Kindle and we have a family account. So, I want to give that a go. It's slightly outside of my comfort zone.
Then, talking about perhaps outside of my comfort zone, but stretching, I want to read more classics. Particularly in the classical homeschooling community, there's this big push to read classics and, um, I feel I want to up my game there. And so, on my shelf, I do have Mansfield Park by Jane Austen, and then I also have Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery. So, I'm going to see which one of those takes my fancy.
The boys and I have also, I've started reading aloud the next Harry Potter book, we are on Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling. And my last one is a recommendation from my aunt, who always has wonderful recommendations, and she highly recommended A Terrible Kindness by Jo Browning Wroe.
She said despite the title and despite the first chapters, it's, it's amazing. So, we'll see.
[00:19:57] Rowena: Well, Shelley, I think that's a fabulous list. I think those six, those five with your other six, that's, that's a lot of reading you're planning to get through this summer.
[00:20:07] Shelley: I'm going to see how I feel.
[00:20:08] Rowena: yeah, could, good idea, choose by how you want to feel. So I can't wait for you to read the Dictionary of Lost Words because I absolutely loved it.
And as a huge Jane Austen fan, I'm tempted to say go with Mansfield Park. But I also adore Anne of Green Gables. So the classics, I'm all over those. I love them. But I suspect you might like Anne of Green Gables more than Fanny Price. Fanny Price is the lead character in Mansfield Park. But they are both very great female characters.
So I think either one of those could bring you a lot of enjoyment. But if you get stuck or you want to ask about things, feel free to,
[00:20:44] Shelley: I know where to go.
[00:20:46] Rowena: get, you know where to come. Exactly. So in my fiction to be read list, I've got four at the moment. So the first one is called Everyone on This Train is a Suspect by Benjamin Stevenson. Now it's his second novel, but I've not read his first, but this one looks hilarious. It's set in Australia and it's a whole bunch of writers and then someone is murdered. And so all the writers who are murder mystery writers become both suspects and they're also writing the story.
So I thought that was a very entertaining premise for a book. So I must read that.
The next two are authors that I've read many books by.
The next one is called The Wake Up Call by Beth O'Leary. And she writes good romantic comedy type of ones with alternate point of views.
And then Darling Girls by Sally Hepworth.
I've read a lot of Sally Hepworth novels and they're always domestic thriller type of things with some really good plot twists in them. So I'm looking forward to that one as well.
[00:21:44] Shelley: Super cool, Ro. That sounds like a lovely list. And I love that you've kind of you've got your go to authors. So you want the summer to feel easy and light and you want to escape into a book. So you've got your go to authors. And I'm starting to recognize your favorite authors now.
[00:21:59] Rowena: Yeah. And I think that's right. It's about feeling that's that sense of rather than slipping in with favorite characters, which we often do when we go back to read. Like if there's a series of books and we're waiting for the author to put out the next one, that's like, we can't wait. And then it's like finding your friends again.
And you kind of like, Oh, this is what they're up to now. Favorite authors have a similar, they'll have a style that you get used to and you're familiar with. And so you go, okay, I really like the style of this author. And so you're right, the feeling is one of comfort and relaxation, not being surprised, except in the plot, rather than discovering that you actually don't like the style of writing at all.
Cause that's not a good, that's not a good surprise on a holiday.
All right. So Shelley, one last thing before we wrap up today's episode, let's call it our choose your own adventure step. Perhaps our listeners will know those books. I loved them as a child. So they're where you make a choice and then you turn to that page.
So they're kid's books or, middle school. And if the choice was no good. Once you've made that choice and you turn to that page, you could go back and choose again. So, I loved those books and I along those lines, I'd love to know, Shelley, if there was one action from today's episode that you'd encourage listeners to try.
What would it be?
[00:23:13] Shelley: Oh, exciting. Well, if you want a good adventure, it's definitely easy. Go and try your own version of Jolabokaflod. I've tried to come up with a new South African name for it, but I'm embracing Jolabokaflod. And eventually, if you said it. Enough times, you will know how to pronounce it, but yes, make it your own, make it happy for your home, for your budget, for your taste in books, whatever, but celebrate books and sit around reading.
It's going to be so fun. That would be what I'd encourage listeners to do, to choose their own adventure. And what about you, Ro? What would you encourage listeners to try as an action for today?
[00:23:53] Rowena: Well, it would have to be to choose a book based on how you want to feel. So see what you can find out about the book. And if you want to feel happy, read a book that you know in the past. When you read those sorts of books, they make you feel happy. Um, or however you want to feel on your holidays. If you love a mystery and you love to be kind of scared or a thriller, choose that.
Um, so yeah, choose a book based on how you want to feel. That would be my suggested choose your own adventure action.
[00:24:19] Shelley: Okay, so there we go, everyone. You've got two suggestions. You can pick one or you can pick both. Um, or you can go and choose your own adventure entirely based on something that's inspired you from these episodes. And we'd love to know what you decide and how you find that little adventure of yours.
[00:24:38] Rowena: Absolutely. And please let us know if any of the books we've mentioned here appeal to you, and if they might make their way onto your summer or winter reading list. And of course, we'd love to know what you're reading over the holidays. I'm not sure we can fit any more books into our lists, but we've got all of 2024 ahead of us.
[00:24:58] Shelley: Yes, let us know what you're reading. You can connect with me on LinkedIn. I'm Shelley Tonkin Smith, and you can also sign up for my firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm going to write a little blog post on our Jolabokaflod, experience and include some pictures of what we did. So that I will put up on ShelleyTonkinSmith. com. And if you'd like to learn more about my copywriting services, then head on over to shelleysmithcreative.com. Where can listeners find you Ro?
[00:25:29] Rowena: Oh, you can find me at Rowena Mabbott on Instagram. And if you'd like to learn more about my new book, the debut novel, Avoiding the Friend Zone, or download either of my two earlier books for free, or learn how I can support you as a coach, you can find all of that information at RowenaMabbott. com.
[00:25:47] Shelley: And of course, remember to go and visit twobookedup. com where you can find the show notes for this episode, a transcript, and of course, links to all of those books we've mentioned and links to Rowena's book where you can go and get Avoiding the Friend Zone.
And then all that remains to be said is happy holidays and keep on reading. We'll see you in 2024.
[00:26:20] Rowena: You've been listening to Two Booked Up with me, Rowena Mabbott.
[00:26:24] Shelley: And me, Shelley Tonkin Smith. Please subscribe or follow Two Booked Up in your podcast player, and if you've enjoyed this episode, we'd love it if you'd leave a positive review.