Updated: May 9
by Shannon Talbot
This winter give me a blanket to cuddle up in, a fire to sit next to and a great book to read. Add a glass of red wine or a hot coffee and you have my idea of bliss. It’s also one of the few hobbies that I can get completely lost in even amidst the chaos that comes with living in a house full of boys.
Only two types of books work though for me to completely zone out – cheesy, romance novels that usually have a happy ending and as you learned in my last blog, personal growth books. A bit of opposites you could say. Or are they? For me, I’ve spent the last two years to find my “Path to Presence” also known as my “Happy Path” and these two types of books fill me with positivity and hope and determination. I am an eternal optimist after all.
In this post, I’m sharing some of my favourite personal growth books I’ve read over the last two years but would be happy to share some of my top feel-good fiction books too if you drop me a note.
These books are all so great and for many reasons that I ranked them in the order of which I read them, not in order of preference. I also planned to share my top 10 but really couldn’t take one off the list, so consider it your holiday bonus!
1. Becoming Michelle by Michelle Obama. While at Sick Kids with Jackson, a friend visited me and asked me if I’d read Michelle’s book yet. At one point Michelle talks about struggling with infertility and so my friend thought I’d find it an interesting read. I called Chris right away and asked him to grab me a copy on the way to the hospital. This book was so good I’d finished it before Jackson was discharged the first time. It was also a big catalyst for change in my life. Who knew that by reading it I was actually getting a playbook on how to change careers. Plus, I just really love everything about Michelle and her values.
2. Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis. This book first introduced me to the idea of getting up earlier in the morning to put aside time to do the things you love before anyone else is awake to disturb you. It also taught me how important it is to just take action. In other words, stop planning to take action and do it! Lastly, it’s where my daily routine of goal setting and gratitude practicing came from.
3. Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight. The story of Nike’s creation is extremely inspirational. Phil does an incredible job of walking readers through the trials and errors of starting a business and the dreams, grit and determination required. Not only did this book remind me of how much I used to love running and why, but it also had some pretty crazy stories that were extremely entertaining and at times shocking.
4. The 5AM Club by Robin Sharma. If you read my last post, you’ll know this book was a game changer for me. After Rachel Hollis planted the seed with me to start getting up early (something I did not enjoy), Robin turned that seed into a desire and helped me understand how important it is to start the day out right. In addition to what I shared in my last blog I also learned the concept of ‘micro-wins’. Focusing on small improvements versus trying to make drastic changes. An improvement of 1% doesn’t seem big but stacked up over time can make a big difference in our lives.
5. Truth be Told by Beverley McLachlin. This book was recommended to me by an inspiring leader from a previous workplace. It is a remarkable read about the first woman to hold the position of Chief Justice of Canada and the longest-serving one. She also became a member of the “5am club” in order to write this book but what I loved most about Beverley’s story was her humility and authenticity. She is an extremely accomplished person yet shares how she struggled with self-doubt along the way making her very relatable at times, well when she’s not meeting Queen Elizabeth.
6. Untamed by Glennon Doyle. This whole book is an AHA for me and I feel like I highlighted Glennon’s words of wisdom on practically every other page. But since I can’t quote the whole book, I will share one part that really resonated with me. A lot of women define themselves by their roles – wife, mother, career woman. But, the problem with defining ourselves as a role is when that role changes, we are left questioning who we are? So, we must change our questions from “who do I love”? to “what do I love”? and live a life of our own. We need to be a “goddamn cheetah”!
7., 8., 9. Educated by Tara Westover, The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls and From the
Ashes by Jesse Thistle. I’ve combined these three together as they are all extraordinary
personal memoirs of overcoming deep personal struggles and trauma despite the odds
rarely being in their favour. Tara, Jeannette and Jesse’s stories are phenomenal and really draw the readers in so much so that you don’t want to put the book down.
10. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. Ever since Eat, Pray, Love, I have loved Elizabeth Gilbert so when I googled books about happiness and this one popped up, I was intrigued. This book is for any of you who want to unleash your inner creativity, no matter what the subject. There is one main question the books centres around - “do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?” It is also another book that speaks to the benefits of waking up early.
11. The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor. When it comes to personal growth topics, happiness is one my favourites and this book did not disappoint. This book reinforces just how important positivity is in our lives and shares some pretty incredible results from studies done on positive (also known as growth) mindsets – in other words, mind over matter type of experiments. There are also some really great insights for anyone who leads a team and just how important positive interactions and feedback are. One of my favourite quotes, in the book, and to no surprise is, “we become more successful when we are happier and more positive.”
I’d love to hear, what’s on your bookshelf and why?