20 and 1/3 Books that Rocked my 2013

I regularly get emails from women asking for book recommendations. They are some of my most popular posts. So here, hopefully just in time for last minute Christmas pressies, are my favourite books of the year.

This year I have bought myself not one but TWO books for Christmas.


First up is Leonie Dawson‘s 2014 Create Your Amazing Year in Life and Business Workbook I have used and loved this baby for three years now. And it has changed how I live my life and do business! Totally.

I remember doing the business one last year, and writing down figures for income and social media followers and teachers I wanted to work with that seemed so far out in dream land. I’ve done them. Almost exactly! WOW!

Its transformational life and business stuff carefully packaged behind girly pictures and gorgeous colours which make me feel so happy and safe whilst I’m doing it!

I get the wonderful printable PDF version free on her Life and Business Academy (you can buy the Life and Business versions individually for $9.95 here which is what I did last year). BUT I wanted a lovely bound copy to hold in my hands. And this year for the first year you can buy a printed copy of both versions together from Amazon. I ripped mine open last night and started the life planner the moment the kids were asleep, and continued whilst one came into me… and then first thing at work this morning I did some of the business part. I LOVE this book. I’ve spent the morning taking stock of the mammoth year of dreams that has been 2013 and looking forward to an even more glorious year next year – oh the things I have in store already!!

And second is food porn – Bill’s Everyday Asian by Bill Granger, Ozzie food boy extraordinaire. The recipes take me back to my footloose pre-kid travelling days. And the photos… Look at the photos. I first set my eye on it whilst looking after 6 kids at a friend’s house! Ooops!

My copy of it arrived whilst I was doing an interview last week. The interviewer immediately started oooohing and ahhing over it and noted down the title so she could get herself a copy. It is sumptuously photographed, and the recipes are the real deal… but doable. I am officially not cooking from it till after Xmas… just stroking it – it I said, not him!

The Mystic Cookfire: The Sacred Art of Creating Food to Nurture Friends and Family by Veronika Robinson is the opposite of cookery porn. It is food with soul and meaning. Words of wisdom about eating. And beautiful black and white drawings. And hundreds of vegan recipes. I got it for myself for my birthday as a treat having seen it at another friend’s house – I do actually talk to my friends you know, not JUST eye up their book collections!.

Veronika is the editor of The Mother magazine and a whole lot more alternative than me. But I love her writing and her soul. And I love that she is a real creative rainbow mama too AND an earth mama at the same time! This is self published, as are all her diverse books, and I love that too!

Haha! I’ve just realised that my top three books so far are all by Australians! Go Ozzies!

Obviously The Rainbow Way has been the book I have spent most time with in every way this year. (I am so honored that Leonie named it one of her top 20 books for 2013!) I am VERY impressed by all the mamas who have emailed me to say that they have received their copy as a gift to themselves or from their hubbies, and ARE WAITING TILL THE BIG DAY! You are made of stronger stuff than me ladies! I was SO excited to see that it is number 10 on Amazon.co.uk’s most wished for book in the Motherhood genre at the time of writing!

The Gift – Poems by Hafiz the Great Sufi Master is not a pretty book at all. In fact that’s one reason why I haven’t read it until now. Gosh what a superficial bibliophile I am! It has sat next to the fire in my father’s house for years. I know the cover well, but never picked it up, it looked too dull for words. Then I was checking out one of my favourite artists’ new websites (Mara Friedman Berendt), and she kept quoting it, so I headed straight over to Amazon to check it out. Ordered and devoured it. And now nibble on it about once a week. It is like praying. Magical, mystical, laugh out loud hilarious, light bulb, deeply sad words. All in the space of one short poem. Written almost a thousand years ago in a different language. Mindblowing! I quoted it quite a few times in The Rainbow Way in my final edit, as I was TOTALLY in love with it!

One Zentangle A Day: A 6-Week Course in Creative Drawing for Relaxation, Inspiration, and Fun (One A Day) This book is only incredible. It takes you from “what the flip is a zentangle any way?” to seriously proficient, and totally addicted, if truth be told, in a matter of days. I did it . My kids did it. My mum did it – and we all LOVED it.

Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything,
When my mum was over she brought this book with her and it resonated strongly with me. All about overcoming over-eating. For god here read whatever you see god as… but the title would have put me off buying it myself. Don’t let it! It is basically all about mindfulness and eating, with great compassion and humor.

Overcoming Underearning: A Five-Step Plan to a Richer Life
This is a very American business-money-self help book that I wouldn’t normally recommend. BUT she has a few GREAT exercises in it, and I am very grateful for having done them.

Sweetening the Pill: or How We Got Hooked on Hormonal Birth Control
Is rather wonderfully published by my publishers – I am very proud to be associated by default with this book. For me this and The Pill by Alexandra Pope should be required reading of all girls on their 16th birthday. This is a superbly researched and written examination of the Pill, how it is marketed, why we swallow it and what it does to us. First class.

And on the topic of my publishers, one of their 2012 titles has been on my to-read list for ages, Body of Wisdomand I just took delivery of it last night (I came home to a veritable mountain of books, all in the name of research you understand!!) and I have read the first few pages and WOW! it the the book of women’s wisdom I have been yearning for every moon time… I am SO excited about reading it.

Alchemy for Women: Personal Transformation Through Dreams and the Female Cycle
This has been my book of the year. I have learnt SO much about how my dreams are affected by my cycle… and so many blood mysteries which no one speaks of. This is a follow on title from the same authors as the class The Wise Wound: Menstruation and Everywoman (Paladin Books) – it is much smaller, but equally as valuable, though it never really made it as a book. It is a funny mix of the scientific and esoteric written in quite a bitty way – almost like a notebook of discoveries many of which have yet to be fleshed out. It is influencing my ideas for my next book and comes highly recommended.

And talking of woman-craft books, I got a number of really interesting ideas from Wild Feminine: Finding Power, Spirit & Joy in the Female Body (don’t you just LOVE the cover!) I found the exercises in it a little repetitive (I have a short attention span!) and it’s a long book – but if you’re looking for a book to help you get in touch with your female body and especially the pelvic bowl, Tami Lynn Kent is a loving insightful guide.

My Mother, Myself
This is a classic, written in the 70s, before it was even acknowledged how much power on a girl’s psyche her mother has. It is a book that I have bought for myself three times, but never gotten past the second chapter. The same happened again… so I skipped a few and got great insight from it. In truth I’m not mad about her writing style, and it feels a little dated as she is talking about the previous generation of mothers and daughters. But ouch her insights cut like a knife. She says what is now a classic took a while before really taking off, as women admitted to throwing it across the room or hiding it in cupboards before taking it out and finishing it, then recommending it to their friends, or buying a copy for their mother. So I guess I’m not alone! I have just ordered her other classic My Secret Garden: Women’s Sexual Fantasies which arrived last night and is an eye-opener – it both documents hundreds of women’s sexual fantasies as well as reflecting on the how and why of female sexual fantasy in our patriarchal culture! I think it probably qualifies as porn-porn!

E-Squared: Nine Do-It-Yourself Energy Experiments That Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality
So the basic premise of this book is that it is 9 experiments that prove the existence of God – however you envisage that force. It’s funkily written, very accessible, funny and easy to follow. And it works… In the sense that when we are looking for answers… we usually find them!

Healing with the Arts: A 12-Week Program to Heal Yourself and Your Community
This is a book I’ve been meaning to write about for months, I was mapping out a whole post dedicated to it – and then the launch of The Rainbow Way took over – but it gave me huge insight into using art to heal mind and body. Not coming from an art therapy background I admit ignorance on this topic and this book really opened my eyes. It was holistic and really inspiring book and gives a 12 week step by step programme to use yourself or with others to heal through art which, when life is a little calmer, I fully intend to try out.

Mind-Body Workbook for Anger: Effective Tools for Anger Management and Conflict Resolution
Has given me major new insight into how and why anger works, and what I can do about it. I was REALLY enjoying this book, and got 5 chapters in, then life got busy and it disappeared off my e-reader app, which is a shame.

Kiddies books we’ve loved this year include…

You’re a Bad Man, Mr. Gum!
This is pee yourself funny whether you’re 8 or 38. Seriously funny. My son could not put it down – the first time he has ever been like that about a book, and read whole chapters aloud to let us join him in his snorting and hoots! The whole family now quotes some of the absurdities from it including our favourite – “The truth is a lemon meringue pie!”

Little House in the Big Woods
We have been reading the Laura Ingalls Wilder books aloud since June-  lord half a year, and counting – on the recommendation of a couple of women who heard how much Merrily loved making butter. I wouldn’t have thought of sharing them with her till she was 7 or 8 but she has been really enjoying them, and the whole family reference them regularly. The first was my favourite as a girl, and remains so. We have also watched a couple of the series, and have started watching the film. All our kids are just fascinated about how life was then.

Blueberry Girl
A dear friend gave this very special book to Ash for her third birthday and it is SO beautifully written and illustrated. It is through this that I discovered Neil Gaiman – sometimes I wonder if I live under a rock to have not come across him before! Watch the beautiful animated reading of the book here. Whilst you’re there you might as well check out another reading by him of Instructions.

Reaching for the Moon
This was my first book release of the year, and is, of my three self-published books, the quickest seller. It seems to really resonate with mothers and daughters and is spreading like wild fire. My 5 1/2 year old begged to be able to read one of my books, brandishing this one in her little hands, knowing that it was for girls, but I have put her off for a couple more years! I was so honored to hear that it is being taught in a local school and have been invited in to talk to the girls on the topic.

You still here? Any book recommendations for me? What have you read and loved this year?

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