About a year ago, I decided to read more. It was one of those resolutions I recycled year after year. I thought it would be a good way of improving my vocabulary and communication skills. It started with one book that I kept seeing and hearing about over and over again (ever heard of the Marketing Rule of 7? It still works), followed by me watching a Bill Gates documentary and finding out he reads A LOT. I found that quite inspiring. I finally picked up that book and so began my journey which has led me to some gems, and to continue on my mission of improving my communication skills I’ve now decided to write a recommended reading list. So, here’s to you Bill.
This is the book I heard about time and time again, and rightly so. This is a MUST READ, and I mean everyone from every walk of life should read this. In fact, I see myself re-reading this every couple of years. But what could be so interesting about sleep, you ask? Well, I’ve always been quite the fan of sleep, or more specifically staying in bed way longer than I should, but I had no idea how much our brain and body did during that time. Sleep is hugely important, and I feel like shouting that from the rooftops in the middle of London, a city where overworking and under-sleeping is almost honourable and always expected. Sleep helps with information learning and recall, emotional health, mental health, immune system and more. Did you know the IARC have categorised night shift work as a carcinogen due to its disruption of the circadian system? Yeah, go to bed!
How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back by Sally Helgesen & Marshall Goldsmith
I would recommend How Women Rise for all genders, despite the title. It is equally important for the person wishing to rise as it is for the manager of said person. Sally & Marshall walk through 12 habits that are most often found in women, but can be found in other genders. This book came to me at a time when I was seriously reflecting on my career, how to be a better manager, a more confident member of the team. I resonated with so many of these habits and some of them were so obvious once they were pointed out, it has helped me in so many ways. As a working professional you often hear you need to speak up but I never quite understood how much of a self-sabotage it was to stay quiet and believe that my work would speak for itself.
3. The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday
In my personal life, I am sorry to say that I am a definite quitter. If I’m not good at something right away or if something doesn’t go the way I wanted it to, I drop it immediately, get angry, sad, frustrated, feel inadequate. Enter Ryan Holiday and stoicism. In the most simplest terms, when one door closes another opens. The Obstacle Is The Way explains how even the worst setbacks and failures can point you towards a better path, and this meandering trial and error journey is actually what life is all about.
Burnout: Solve Your Stress Cycle by Amelia Nagoski and Emily Nagoski
Not just for people who have experienced or are experiencing burnout, but for everyone and anyone who often feels stressed out. Amelia and Emily discuss something I had never heard about, the stress cycle. Turns out there is one and it’s something we should complete and close on the regular. I realised that my stress cycle had been going for a few years so no wonder I felt like s**t! Again, it’s kind of aimed at women but they are obviously not the only gender getting stressed. This book explains the how and the why, and then walks you through 7 ways you can close the stress cycle. It’s another one of those face-palm obvious things but it made me forget all my usual excuses about exercising and I actually did it and it didn’t feel like a chore anymore.
5. Jog On: How Running Saved My Life by Bella Mackie
This book appeared several times in my recommended section as I started down a path of reading personal development books, but I didn’t go for it until I had an in-person recommendation from a friend. I have always hated running and I used to avoid it at all costs, however, I had heard about this mysterious “runners high”. I was intrigued and it remained as a thought in the back of my mind, what if I give this another chance? I read Jog On. It was good, however not entirely relatable for me personally as the author was going through something that was so much more severe and intense compared to my experience, but it opened a door for me. Behind that door was the connection between running and mental health. I genuinely had no idea. I thought all those weirdos in the park were just super into fitness, and why on earth would you choose to run around during your free time? Well, I’m now one of those weirdos.
6. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
I am a self-proclaimed introvert with some extroverted tendencies. This book was calling out my name from the moment I saw it. Just the title itself Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, yes, yes, YES! I always felt that my quietness came across as weak, boring, sometimes even as arrogance or stupidity. I also felt like I had reached a point in my career where in order to keep growing I had to pretend to be an extrovert, this was a tremendously painful thought for me and this was the first time I had seen someone describe how utterly exhausting it is to be a chatty person when you are inherently not. Unfortunately, there is no real fix for that as there are always going to be times when speaking up is needed just as there are times when it is better for you to keep your mouth shut. The key is being adaptable, understanding yourself, your audience and finding an appropriate balance. Are you an extrovert who thinks introverts are weird, quiet, hermit, potential psychopath types? Read this book. Are you an introvert who feels this personally trait is holding you back? Read this book.
7. How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
I wasn’t sure if I should include this book on my list. It has been around for a long time and has made the rounds, it is after all one of the best-selling books of all time. I also don’t have overwhelmingly good feelings about it. This book was originally published in the 1930’s and some of the antiquated and sexist views seep through especially if you opt for the original edition, as I did, instead of the revised edition (I’m told there is also a “girls” edition?). That aside, as an introvert who has had their fair share of socially awkward experiences and failed business interactions, this book felt like I had discovered the secret code that everyone else was somehow instinctually born with. My following suggestion may offend some hard-core book lovers and I admit it is an unconventional way to end recommended reading list, but rather than read the book…read the wikipedia page.