For the love of reading; Sharing my must-read books

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As I have shared with you previously, each year for the past few years, my focus has been to set myself year-long goals that are designed to bring more joy to my life, or to support me to live in a more joyful way.

And now it’s mid-year, and as part of my mid-year review, I am reviewing my goals for the year. How am I tracking? How am I feeling about the goals I’ve set? I’ve written more about my mid-year review process here.

But first, a little history. At the end of 2017, I realised that whilst reading was one of the great joys of my life, I had not been devoting much time or energy to reading quality books. Sure, I had been reading!  But what I was reading was mostly magazines and to be honest, I was not reading as many books as I would like.  I could come up with lots of excuses and reasons why this was the case, but it came down to the fact I simply wasn’t prioritising reading books.

Make Reading more a goal

And so, as part of my ongoing process of focusing on what brings me joy and trying to bring more of that into my life, I set myself a goal to read 52 books in a year.  I even added it to my bucket list to help keep me motivated!  I knew setting a goal would mean I was more likely to do it. Whilst this may sound counterintuitive, as reading is meant to be pleasurable and setting a goal to read more may suck the enjoyment from what is an innately enjoyable activity, I knew having a goal would assist me to actually make it happen!

I had read 52 (or more) books per year many times as a child and teen, but as an adult, I’d found that whilst I adore reading, time was frequently not spent reading books. More often I was scrolling through Facebook or Instagram, listening to podcasts or flicking through a magazine rather than getting stuck into a great book.

Attempting to read 52 books in a year


With an eye on my goal and truly desiring to read more for pleasure as well as personal development, I set my goal of 52 books read by 31 December 2018.  I determined one book a week was a reasonable target and should be achievable if I kept my goal top of mind.

But it wasn’t enough for me to simply decide I wanted to read more, I needed to adjust my habits. Here are some of the adjustments I made;

  1. I intentionally stopped listening to as many podcasts, and started listening to audiobooks on my daily walks. 

  2. I chose to head to bed 15 minutes earlier so I could read before turning off the light. 

  3. I also started to look at pockets of time (for example whilst waiting for my children at their extracurricular after-school activities), where I previously may have not used my time in a way that was aligned with my goal, and chose to read at these times instead of mindlessly scrolling on my phone.

I was super excited when I realised in October that I was well on track to achieve my goal of 52 books read in the year, and so pushed myself a little harder! Ultimately by the end of 2018 I had read or listened to 66 books.

By having a goal to read more, with a set date and specific number to aim for, I rediscovered the joy of reading.  I also realised how much time is available FOR reading, once I made it a priority. Now, I find myself frequently having two or three different books on the go at once. Many times, these include an audiobook, a non-fiction book as well as a fiction book. Paper books, e-books and audiobooks; I love them all!

This year I have set myself the same goal; 52 books by the end of 2019. But I have set myself a stretch goal of 78 books (yes, for those of you with maths brains, that is 50% more on top of my goal). That is a big ask, but even if I miss that goal I know I will have improved my life by focussing my time on reading and digesting the information that is contained within the pages of a great book.

Recommending Books


Because my clients and friends know I am a keen reader, they often ask me for recommendations of books I have read or enjoyed that they might also enjoy, or that would help them tackle I particular challenge.

Over the years I have noticed there are common themes people tend to ask me about, and therefore, there are a handful of books I frequently recommend and continue to refer to people, based on those themes.  I’ve gathered those recommendations together into a NEW Recommended Resources page.  On this page, I recommend great books that I’ve read and found valuable. They are grouped by topic or theme, with the intention of helping you identify quickly the type of information and assistance the book provides.  As I discover more great books I feel happy to recommend, I will be adding them to the page too.

A quick note; I love reading purely for pleasure. It’s one of my top forms of self-care. The fun of escaping into a gripping story and losing oneself in the characters and plot is one of life’s greatest joys.  Therefore, of course I read many, many novels that are fantastic, and unputdownable.  But novels are a personal choice, and this is not the forum for me to share all my favourite novels.  Rather, in line with the nature of my work as a career and life confidence coach, most of what I share here are books I have found to be invaluable when making changes in our career and lives.  The few times I recommend novels, it’s where they encourage deeper thought or have covered a topic I am frequently asked about.

Must-Read Books

Here are my top 8 must-read non-fiction books, based on two criteria: what I’ve read recently, and what I have been recommending most often to clients and friends over the past 12 months or so.  

  1. Dare to Lead - Brene Brown

  2. Side Hustle - Chris Guillebeau

  3. The Making of Men - Arne Rubenstein

  4. Your Dream Life Starts Here - Kristina Karlsson

  5. Becoming - Michelle Obama

  6. Any Ordinary Day - Leigh Sales

  7. Atomic Habits - James Clear

  8. Lean in - Sheryl Sandberg

Have you read any of these books? And if so, what did you think?

If you haven’t read any of these books perhaps one of these will speak to you, and be the next book on your reading list?


If you enjoyed this post, make sure you check out my NEW Recommended Resources page which has many more books, grouped by topic.  I will be adding to it regularly, so check back often!

Finally, whilst books are always a delight to read and can be a great support when you are making changes in your life, sometimes we need more than a book can provide.  That is where a coach can assist. 

As a Career and Life Confidence Coach, I love to help people make the changes they desire, and I’d love to support you too.  To learn more about coaching with me, book your complimentary consult today.

*Please note, this post contains affiliate links.