For as long as I can remember, I have been an avid book lover. I was never interested in sport or physical activity as a child and much preferred to curl up on the couch and read all day. While lots of things have changed throughout my life, my love for reading is one that is still going strong.
A couple of years ago, I decided to take my reading to a new level and tried to read 50 books in a year (making it to 47 books in total). The next year, I set myself the same goal and managed to read 59 books. Now this year, I’m seeing if I can do it again. I love this challenge because it helps me to prioritise my time. Instead of scrolling my phone or zoning out in front the TV, I’m in the habit of picking up a book. Not only do I enjoy myself when I do it but I’ve also found that it nourishes my creativity, helps with my anxiety and reminds me to slow down and create more space for myself. Not to mention, I’m always learning something new or thinking about things in unique and different ways.
So if you’re interested in reading more (and reaping the benefits) then here are 16 book recommendations for multi-passionate women.
Cloudstreet by Tim Winton
I was first introduced to this book when I was studying at university and started binge listening to this song. Intrigued by the lyrics, I looked them up and discovered that it was loosely based on a book called Cloudstreet. The book tells the story of two Australian families who battle through disability, alcoholism, poverty and a hefty dose of misfortune. And while the themes of the book are heavy, they’re balanced with a childlike sense of wonder and magic that makes the book so enjoyable.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
There are some books that are simply made for the movies and this is definitely one of them. But please, don’t wait for the movie to be created. Read this book and read it now. The book follows main character Eleanor Oliphant who lives a simple, and socially-awkward, life. This makes for some incredibly uncomfortable moments that had me in fits of laughter. But beneath the socially-awkward moments is a story of trauma, mental illness and, eventually, recovery. This story reminded me that you never know what someone has dealt with in the past and that small acts of kindness can make all the difference.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
I once heard that reading is the ultimate act of empathy. For a short moment in time, you have an opportunity to see into someone’s mind and understand their feelings and emotions. While I will never know what it’s like to be a black woman living in America, this book gave me a glimpse into the lived experiences of many people of colour. The book is based on main character Starr who witnesses the fatal police shooting of her childhood best friend. While this book is written as a piece of fiction, I found it devastatingly honest and true. A must-read if you desire to understand the travesties that are happening in America right now. And if you’re interested in topics like this then I also adore this song by Benjamin Booker (which makes me want to cry every time).
One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus
The book is based around four characters who all unexpectedly end up in detention and witness the death of fellow classmate Simon. While I found this book a little bit corny and predictable, it’s on the list because of the way it spoke about social media and technology within a schooling environment (and how that can lead to bullying, harassment and, in extreme cases, death).
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
The Red Tent is a fictional novel loosely based on the story of Dinah from the Book of Genesis and is written from a woman’s perspective. It tells the story of ancient womanhood and what it meant to be a wife, mother, sister and daughter during those times. This book felt like a homecoming for me. It reminded me of the importance of sisterhood and matriarchal tradition and offers an invaluable insight into what the lives of Biblical women might have looked like.
The Dry by Jane Harper
This is a novel about a murder that isn’t as simple as it seems. If you’re after a page-turner then this novel is full of drama and suspense that will keep you on the edge of your seat. It’s definitely a book that you won’t be able to put down so make sure you’ve cleared your schedule before diving in.
The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland
This is a book about flowers and words and family and love. Reading this book broke my heart but I loved every minute of it. Do yourself a favour and read it.
Green Light by Benjamin Stevenson
If you’re a fan of podcasts like Serial and Teacher’s Pet then add this novel to your recommended reading list. This piece of fiction follows main character Jack Quick who produces a true crime podcast and TV series about the murder of a young woman Eliza Daley. While the supposed murderer, Curtis Wade, is caught within hours, Jack believes (and convinces hundreds of his listeners) that Curtis is innocent. But just before his final episode goes to air, Jack finds evidence that suggests Curtis is guilty after all. The rest of the book deals with his choice to conceal the facts or tell the truth and the deadly aftermath of his decision.
Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
I borrowed this book after listening to Yuval talk to Russell Brand on his Under The Skin podcast. The episode blew my mind and I knew that I had to read the book immediately. While the book is described as a brief history of humankind, I found it really interesting from a sociological and psychological perspective. For example, Yuval talks about the uniqueness of the human language and why it’s so effective. Not only does the human language allow us to communicate and express ourselves, it also allows us to create ‘shared fictions’.
"The ability to speak about fictions is the most unique feature of the Sapiens language. Fiction has enabled us not to merely imagine things but to do so collectively. We can weave common myths such as the biblical creation story, the Dreamtime myths of Aboriginal Australians and the nationalist myths of modern states. Such myths give Sapiens the unprecedented ability to cooperate flexibly in large numbers."
And it’s this ability of human language (and minds) that has allowed humankind to thrive. How interesting is that?
Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
I’m not going to lie, this book made me cry in so many places. Filled with so many anecdotes, raw truths and poetry, it’s the perfect reminder of what’s truly important. I read this book at a time when I was struggling with the relationships in my life. I desperately wanted to be more present but felt like I had nothing more to give.
As Shauna puts it:
"It’s easy to be liked by strangers, it’s very hard to be loved and connected to the people in your home when you’re always bringing them your most exhausted self and resenting the fact that the scraps you’re giving them aren’t cutting it."
It was these words that finally inspired me to take a step back from my business and make more space for rest, relaxation and relationships.
Creative is a Verb by Patti Digh
I’ve read a lot of books about creativity and I wouldn’t have thought that I needed to read another one. But for some reason, I picked this one off the shelf at the library and I’m so glad that I did. This book isn’t just information and instructions on living a creative life, it’s a celebration. A celebration of creativity. Patti’s writing was so vivid and sensory, I had goosebumps the whole time that I read it.
Here is one of my favourite parts:
"Much writing I read these days is to sell something by a formula. Is that your highest purpose? Is that the voice that is dying to be let free into the world? If it is, great, that’s fantastic. If not, stop it. Sit with yourself and your unique place in the world and write it all down. Write it all down. Speak your voice. So many people say they need to find their voice. You have a voice, now use it, damn it."
Saga Land by Richard Fidler and Kari Gislason
I never thought I liked history until I was introduced to mythology and became obsessed with the ways in which history and mythology are so intertwined. Saga Land is a book about the sagas of Iceland which are true stories of the people who lived there during Viking times. The stories read like mythology and are beautifully told by Richard Fidler and Kari Gislason who take their own trip to Iceland to explore family mysteries and to discover deeper truths about the sagas. Random side note: I realised while reading the book that one of my favourite albums was written by a band who is from Iceland. So if you want a soundtrack for the book then I’d highly suggest this one!
How To Be Here by Rob Bell
There are some people who fully understand what it means to be having the human experience and who can put the experience into the most eloquent and perfect words. I’m not one of those people but Rob Bell certainly is!
This book talks about a lot of different things but mostly it’s a reminder to walk our own path and make our dreams happen. While this book is full of so many incredible one-liners, I especially loved this inspiration here:
"Whatever it is that you find yourself in the midst of on any given day - from laundry and meetings and traffic to going to class and answering emails and driving the kids around - I want you to learn to live like you’re not missing a thing, like your eyes are wide open, fully awake to the miraculous nature of your own experience."
Not Just Lucky by Jamila Rizvi
For the past couple of years, I have been absorbed in the personal development world and focused on the changes that I can make in order to be my best self. But what I loved most about this book by Jamila Rizvi was understanding that personal development isn’t everything and we need systemic change too!
For example, I have always struggled to 'dream big’ and feel ambitious in my career (no matter how hard I worked on my mindset and core beliefs). And I realised during this book that it wasn’t because my mindset was broken. I didn’t feel ambitious because I wasn’t taught how to be ambitious (or that I was even allowed to be ambitious).
As Jamila says:
"Women routinely underestimate their own abilities because that’s what the world has taught them to do."
While the book is heavily focused on the career woman, I also found this an important read for any woman who wants to rise up in her business too!
The Hate Race by Maxine Beneba Clarke
This memoir is all about growing up black in white middle-class Australia and, all I can say is, that it’s scary and unfair. What I found most interesting about this book is the ways in which Maxine experienced racism from very young children. I believe that children aren’t born racist, they’re taught or shown how to be racist. And the fact that people are experiencing racism from children who are only five years old is highly, highly problematic. But reading this book, it inspired me to do better and to raise my children to be kind, equal and open to all people. If you want to do the same then I highly encourage you to read Maxine’s memoir.
Educated by Tara Westover
Educated is a memoir from a young woman who was raised in a radically religious family. Tara was never registered for a birth certificate. She was homeschooled by her family. And she grew up preparing for the End of Days. As Tara grows older, her situation becomes more dangerous and she makes the decision to leave home and become educated. This is a book about the power of education and the struggle that some people go through in order to obtain it.
These are just a small list of books that I have read and loved in the past two years. But every week, I’m picking up a new one and learning more and more. Do you have a book that you would recommend? Pop it in the comments below and you might see it being shared in the next list of book recommendations!