My Half-Term Holiday Reads (Self-Help Non-Fiction + Novel)

holiday reads/ books

A little dip into my holiday reads….

Since (almost) finishing the utterly disruptive (in an empowering way) career manual Deep Work-Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, I’ve limited late night mindless scrolling, focused more on deep and meaningful work and connectivity and I unsurprisingly feel 100% happier for it (heartfelt thanks to my close friend, author of must-read Sorted: The Active Woman’s Guide to Health, Dr Juliet McGrattan for this perfect birthday present).

Granted, I’m annoyingly smug right now as over this half-term holiday (which I’m still on) I’ve read a fair bit of non fiction whilst lapping up country life at the glorious 18th Century Glynn Batron Cottages in Cornwall (oh, and I mustn’t forget the solitary Mike Gayle novel circa 2004 I found under a newspaper in the play room here, I inhaled over two evenings, so more on that later, too).

The books above along with Workin’ Moms and Kevin Hart’s live shows on Netflix have brought me unbridled happiness this holiday along with of course, the fresh South Western air and spring water, organic fare aplenty plus the forest bathing, donkey patting, pig feeding, starlight swimming, yoga stretching chilled out week we’re enjoying (I’ll be dedicating a post to the trip itself soon so hold tight for that).

But back to the books and a brief review of them all so you can all hop off here and have a read yourself.


First up, Dr Rangan Chatterjee’s Feel Better in 5 is a spritely, impactful read that will utterly change the way you think about health thanks to his easy, actionable ‘health snack’ busting plan. Rangan debunks why diets don’t work from the off and kick-starts your positive mental attitude by reminding you that, ‘If I were to tell you I wanted you to start smoking non-stop for five minutes a day, then eat rich chocolate biscuits for five non-stop minutes….and that I wanted you to do this five days a week, every week, you woudn’t be at all surprised when all this started changing your health’. He continues that in that respect by taking consistent healthy steps, over time, you can change your health for the better. Inspiring stuff that actually works as he’s tested the plan out on his patients fulfilling the, ‘trust me, I’m a doctor’ adage to a (green) ‘tea’. Vibrant foodie and easy to grasp exercise how-to’s make it unmissable.

You’re Not Listening-What You’re Missing & Why It Matters by Kate Murphy is a thought-provoking read that actually made me sit up and listen (literally) with its call to arms to listen, to transform our conversations, by stopping our fear of silence or simply waiting to speak. New York Times contributor Kate shares conversations she’s had with a diverse group of renowned listeners spanning CIA interrogators to hairdressers, bartenders and group moderators who have all collectively taught me how to have more meaningful chats with my kids, husband, and friends using my ears more and mouthless and have equally improved my job tenfold, as I ask more pertinent questions and hopefully in a way that puts others at ease. Stop speaking and start listening is the name of the game and I’m proud to say, thanks to this book, I’ve become an exceptional listener. Thank you Kate.

Deep Work– Cal Newport

I’m not far from the end (honest) and strongly recommend this substantive guide to becoming more focused in your work-life. We’re all endlessly distracted by social media and as a procrastinating creative (as many of us are) reading this sobering text reminded me of the good fight necessary in order to create our most meaningful work. Cognitively demanding tasks really require focus (I didn’t click on FB once writing this), and they will benefit no-end from your commitment. That doesn’t mean banning social media, it just means dedicating time and energy where it matters so you don’t do your work a disservice. By reading this book, you’ll achieve a lot more, in less time and will feel greater fulfilled, promise. Even by the first few chapters, I switched on Out of Office emails more, consolidated time dedicated to work admin and creative work, turned my phone off earlier and slowly emerged from a blur of emails and notifications as someone fully in charge of my (online) life and where I place my energy.  People respect boundaries. Emails and dms do not have to be answered immediately. This book will give you your life back.

His ‘N’ Hers -A cat. A flat. And a couple who think it’s over by Mike Gayle

I forgot how much I love the male confessional genre Mike created back in the day and as this 2004 novel spends most of its time in the 90s, it’s not unintentionally dated either. A love story we can all relate to, our first love, set in Birmingham during the couple’s uni days, I was instantly transported back to my own first love during High School and then Sixth Form in Leeds and welled up several times while willing our hero to do the right thing, stop being so cowardly and recognise love when its right in front of him. I’ve read previous works of Gayle’s over the years, My Legendary Girlfriend and Mr Commitment to name just two and I’m going to seek out his other more recent novels after this heartwarmer as there’s not an abundance on offer to counterbalance chick-lit like this from a male point of view in my opinion, and it was pretty revelatory in parts.


Let me know if you read these books won’t you.

holiday reads


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