My summer reading list

My summer reading list @notaboutthekids

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My summer reading list @notaboutthekids

My summer reading list

Reader, the truth is I am not much of a reader these days – we all know books face stiff competition. But I’m having a flurry, so am going to share a short summer reading list. For now (and to state the blindingly obvious) I find dipping back into books a welcome break from screen time. Also, I’ve been inspired by the idea that we should always be looking outside of our business (it came from this lady, Emma Hart, click to read about her). So I’m making an effort to spend more time outside my bubble (podcast listening list to follow soon!). Some of the following I have already started, one’s finished, there is a re-read and some to-be-reads. Please throw in your recommendations at the end, they are welcomed by me and anyone who comes by this post I bet. Click on the book titles to buy, they are all linked.

Work like a woman, a manifesto for change

Mary Portas

I love Mary Portas and I love this book. In it, she describes her journey from alpha-overachiever-hard-nose-retail-goddess-guru to discovering the business values that really matter to her – collaboration, empathy, instinct, and trust. She draws on powerful statistical (angry-making) evidence that proves how the current system still discriminates – making it virtually impossible for mothers, in particular, to flourish at work. She argues that the real change will come by changing the way everyone works. Top-down. It’s been a revelatory read for me so far – helping to unpick some of the feelings I have around work. That no one had ever pulled me to one side to explain the rules. Mary Portas is calling for a rewriting of the rules so that the suit men and women of all kinds, saying –

“Value difference. Not just in gender, race or class, but in personality too.”


Sweet Sorrow

David Nicholls

I was listening to an episode of the High Low podcast with Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes the other day and they reminded me of how much I loved – loved – One Daythe David Nicholls 2009 bestseller which follows a couple from their first kiss at Edinburgh uni, over the course of their relationship for the next 20 years. It contains one of my favourite lines in any novel ever, but I can’t tell you because it is a huge plot spoiler! If you haven’t read it – do, I’m re-reading because Nicholls’ long-awaited new book Sweet Sorrow isn’t out until July. The blub suggests it’s a story of one life-changing summer – so the perfect holiday book? Mine’s on pre-order.


Jocelyn K. Glei

This is the kind of book that suits my scrappy multi-hyphenate life – one that you can dip in and out of and read in pretty much any order you wish. The writer Jocelyn K. Glei is on a mission to sort out our relationship with email. But more than that, to get us to rethink our days so that we are doing the real work – rather than keep ourselves really busy by generating and responding to email (see also, Instagram posts, Tweets…).  My big takeaway so far is the stuff on how to write emails, especially ones that don’t piss people off. And how to receive them graciously, without getting pissed off yourself. Recommend.

I Am Her Tribe

Danielle Doby

This is a departure for me – because it was a gift (thanks Toni). Don’t tell anyone, but I’d never heard of Danielle Doby before her first book landed in my hands. I’m going to describe her as an Instagram artist.  She created the viral hashtag #IAmHerTribe designed to unite women online through moments of empowerment and storytelling, inviting us to –

“Come as you are. Your tribe has arrived. Your breath can rest here.”

I Am her Tribe is a book of positive and powerful poetry and writing. Another one to dip in and out of.  A great present for a friend or a colleague – or yourself.

Conversations with Friends

Sally Rooney

Does this make me the last one to read a Sally Rooney book? This is in the list out of good intention. While worky inspirational books-to-learn from are all great, a decent novel is always full of lessons too. Conversations’ is Rooney’s award-winning first novel, it’s about being young, messy relationships, and cool people and is prefaced by pages and page of positive reviews. Here’s to making space for a thing, just because. Have you read it? Send more novel ideas, please!

The Skills

From First Job to Dream Job – What Every Woman Needs to Know, Mishal Husain

Coming back round to where we started with Mary Portas – this one from BBC News presenter Mishal Husain was snuggled up next to it at ‘Smiths. Like Portas’s, this is a book dedicated taking down the less visible, very very tricky barriers to equality that still exist in our workplace. Dealing with how we talk to women and girls, what happens when a woman starts to speak, our digital selves, resilience and how to climb. The Skills is a practical title, and this is a practical book about focusing on learning the skills that matter – then owning them.  A manual for women of all ages, featuring many wise voices –

“No matter what your current ability is, effort is what ignites that ability and turns it into accomplishment.”

Carol Dwek

One that I wish I had read 20 years ago, but couldn’t, so I’ll read it now.

Now – over to you – what’s looking good?

What's your View?

8 comments on “My summer reading list

  1. Jules on

    Will deffo read the Mary Portas. And you’ve inspired me to produce my own summer reading list x

  2. Tam on

    I am also late to Sally Rooney but have Conversations With Friends and Ordinary People on the bedside table, next on the list….just waiting for me to finish The Goldfinch – which I am loving & which was given to me when pregnant with my now 8.5 yr old (!) You have tempted me with Mary Portas but I fear it might make me cross! I need Unsubscribe in my life by the sounds of it though! Always love a book chat – thanks for this

  3. Helen on

    Mary did make me cross but positive at the same time. It’s helpful to understand how things work – or don’t work – for us if that makes sense? I was given ‘Goldfinch many years ago but put it to one side because I found the beginning difficult to take. Should I go back to it..?
    Thanks for stopping by! x

  4. Ruth Martin on

    I was the same with goldfinch, for same reasons. I loved The secret History, one of Best books I’ve read, would like to re-read it as read it a v long time ago!! Thank you for the books inspiration xxx

  5. Helen on

    The beginning was pretty gut-wrenching, wasn’t it? And I COMPLETELY AGREE about The Secret History – a top 5 book for me. Thanks for visiting Ruth x

  6. Karen on

    I’m such a slow reader that it takes me forever to finish anything! I’m really enjoying Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, at the moment I’m trying to get up early and sneak past the kids so I can read a couple of pages each morning. The Mary Portas book sounds REALLY interesting for the research I’m doing at the moment (that is my justification for why I’m adding it to my basket when I still have several books on the go 😄)

  7. Helen on

    Hey Karen, I’d say the Portas book is really essential reading – make space for it and allow it to jump the queue. And thank you for the Brene Brown recommendation, I’m so late to the Brene party, even though I have read some of her work I haven’t delved into the TV show or anything yet. I WILL! xoxo

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