Looking back over August, I read a lot. Mostly fiction – luxuriating in the pure please of reading a thrilling novel for no other reason than I wanted to. But August has also been the month of starting and not finishing books so expect to see some of these books crop up again in later months if and when I finally finish them!
The Gifts of Imperfection – Brené Brown
Why I Picked It Up: This was recommended by my new friend Siobhan, who blogs over at ToGetHer Further. Siobhan and I both struggle with perfectionism, piling on the pressure for no real reason. She said this book really resonated with her so I was curious to try it.
What the Cover Says: Each day we face a barrage of images and messages from society and the media telling us who, what, and how we should be. We are led to believe that if we could only look perfect and lead perfect lives, we’d no longer feel inadequate. So most of us perform, please, and perfect, all the while thinking, “What if I can’t keep all of these balls in the air? Why isn’t everyone else working harder and living up to my expectations? What will people think if I fail or give up? When can I stop proving myself?”
In The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown, Ph.D., a leading expert on shame, authenticity and belonging, shares what she’s learned from a decade of research on the power of “Wholehearted Living” – a way of engaging with the world from a place of worthiness.
In her ten guideposts, Brown engages our minds, hearts, and spirits as she explores how we can cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, “No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.” And to go to bed at night thinking, “Yes, I am sometimes afraid, but I am also brave”. And, “Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am worthy of love and belonging”.
My Key Takeaways: Oh, there were so many! The mantra of “I am enough” has really stuck in my mind and heart. What I loved about this book was Brene’s honesty about her own struggles and the different things she has tried to come to terms with her
breakdown spiritual awakening, as she puts it. The book is full of practical exercises to try. The idea of an “ingredients for joy and meaning list” definitely struck a cord and is something I’m working on at the moment, as was the advice to “Say no today. Take something off your list and add ‘take a nap'”. Those of you that read my last post on what I learned in August will notice a theme for me of creating more of a sense of ease in my life, striving a little less, and relaxing into myself and my life. This book has been a key part of that realisation.
Jack Reacher Books 1-6 – Lee Child
For those of you who read my reflections on July, I decided that August would be a month of self-care and compassion. Part of that was doing things I really enjoyed and reading fiction after so many intense non-fiction books in recent months felt like a real luxury. I am a huge Lee Child and am very excited about the new Jack Reacher novel coming out later in the year so I’ve been re-reading the whole series from the start. Pure chilled out bliss!
The Art of Extreme Self-Care – Cheryl Richardson
Why I Picked It Up: I have been doing an online coaching course with Project Love recently that, along with Brené Brown’s book, really opened my eyes about how little compassion I show myself. This book was one of many Vicki and Selina recommended to improve practices around self-care.
What the Cover Says: This life-changing handbook by offers you twelve strategies to change your life, month by month. As each chapter challenges you to alter one behaviour or circumstance that holds you back, you’ll learn how to understand the true impact of your surroundings, accept disappointments in all areas when they arise, find your natural rhythm and ride life’s waves, and discover your passions and strengths to get the best out of your life. With sound advice, effective exercises and resources to take each step further, this practical handbook for the heart and mind will show you that by changing your mindset, you can radically change your life.
My Key Takeaways: The book has twelve different strategies and recommends that you read the whole book before working through the exercises, one each month, in an order that feels right to you. To be honest, I’m still working my way through the book so not much to report yet! I really like the structure of the book with short chapters on each strategy to prompt your thinking, then a challenge and resources on that theme. It feels like a practical book to change your habits and thinking about the importance and practice of self-care.
Ego is the Enemy – Ryan Holiday
Why I Picked It Up: This was our Rebel Read for August. Ben Saul-Gardner, one of Rebel Book Club‘s founders, is a huge Ryan Holiday fan after reading The Obstacle is The Way and hustled like a rockstar to secure the books direct from the publisher and Ryan himself joined us – via Skype from Texas – for the meetup.
What the Cover Says: As in The Obstacle is the Way, Ryan Holiday delivers practical and inspiring philosophy, this time exploring a powerful concept that runs back centuries, across borders and schools of thought: ego. Ego is our biggest enemy. Early in our careers, it can prevent us from learning and developing our talents. When we taste success, ego can blind us to our own faults, alienate us from others and lead to our downfall. In failure, ego is devastating and makes recovery all the more difficult. It is only by identifying our ego, speaking to its desires, and systematically disarming it that we can create our best work. Organised into bite-sized observations featuring characters and narratives that illustrate themes and life lessons designed to resonate, uplift and inspire, Ego is the Enemy shows how you can be humble in your aspirations, gracious in your success and resilient in your failures. It is an inspiring and timely reminder that humility and confidence are still our greatest friends when confronting the challenges of a culture which tends to fan the flames of ego and encourage the cult of personality at all costs.
Key Takeaways: This is another one I started but haven’t finished, which is very unusual for me with Rebel Reads. I struggled with it as soon as I started. Holiday’s style with this book just has not resonated with me at all. I enjoyed hearing him speak about the book at the meetup and tried again afterwards but I just can’t get through it. Other people seemed to really enjoy it though so don’t let me put you off! Just not for me at the moment. I will put it to one side and come back to it every so often and we’ll see what happens.
The Bingo Theory – Mimi Ikonn
Why I Picked It Up: Jess Lively mentioned this book in a recent podcast episode. She has interviewed Mimi and her husband, Alex, a couple of times on the show. Jess has talked a few times about exploring feminine and masculine energies – yin and yang – and mentioned this book in particular. It just sounded like something I wanted to explore a little more.
What the Cover Says: The traditional view of masculine and feminine energy is very black and white. If you are a woman, you are considered to be feminine, and similarly if you are man- you are considered to be masculine. This outdated and inadequate mindset has lead to a tremendous imbalance both internally in our lives, as well as externally in our world. The Bingo Theory breaks through this traditional gender-polarized idea of man and woman, by providing a new fresh view and understanding of masculine and feminine energies and the important role both of these energies play in our lives. Every single human on this planet has two energies living within them: the masculine and the feminine.The masculine energy helps us to operate in the outer world; it makes us strong, independent, and confident. The feminine energy, on the other hand, helps us love and connect to others. It’s what makes us creative and intuitive.
In this book you will learn how to balance the masculine and feminine energies within you so that you can be a Bingo. What is a Bingo? A Bingo is a winning combination of both of masculine and feminine energies. This inner balance is crucial in order to have a better relationship with yourself, attract your perfect romantic partner, improve your existing relationship, as well as have a fulfilling career.
Key Takeaways: I only recently started reading this so full notes will have to wait for next month. I am a masculine strength female, which came as no surprise to me at all. What was a little surprising was that I do have some strong feminine tendencies as well and I’m excited to learn more about that. I think balance in life in so important and I would love to tap into those feminine strengths more sometimes. Stay tuned!
So September will be trying to finish some of these as well as picking up this month’s Rebel Read, A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierly; Touching the Void by Joe Simpson was also on the Book Club vote and was my preferred choice so I might pick that up too. There may be a little bit more Jack Reacher in my life too but time may be limited as my Yoga Teacher Training starts in two weeks time and I have to study…