13 Fascinating and Insightful Books to Read in 2018


I’ve always loved reading, in fact, I spent years working in publishing and working with amazing authors, and though I don’t have the time I used to, to read, I still love a good book.  These days I “read” more using Audible (listening) than reading as I can listen to books when I’m driving, running or walking, mowing the lawn and gardening, and of course, cleaning.  Listening to books makes me feel that doing chores and things I don’t enjoy (not a natural cleaner) is less of a waste of my precious time!

13 Fascinating and Insightful Books to Read in 2018

What have I enjoyed or found fascinating reading/listening to this year?  Let me share with you some I’ve found insightful and fascinating.

Style Titles

1. Advanced Style: Older and Wiser Ari Seth Cohen

Flipping through this book and enjoying the creativity and self-expression of these amazing women inspires me to grow up a little more authentically and definitely disgracefully.


2. The Lost Art of Dress: The women who once made America Stylish by Linda Przybyszewski

Jill Chivers mentioned this book in a couple of the videos we made so I thought I’d read a copy and it’s totally fascinating discovering the history of the subject of “home economics” and how the “Dress Doctors” taught university courses on how to dress.  It made me realise that I am continuing on with their work here on Inside Out Style.

Productivity/Thinking/Psychology/Creativity Topics

I’m totally curious about what makes people tick and how our brains work so love to learn more about this amazing organ and how I can live a more productive, creative and successful life.

3. Daring Greatly: How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent and lead by Brene Brown

Another brilliant book by researcher and thought leader Brene Brown covering 12 years of research covering the home, relationships, work and parenting.  It’s an invitation to embrace courage and vulnerability even when there are no guarantees.

4. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck

Based on decades of research Carol Dweck shares the idea that the power of having a growth mindset, rather than a fixed mindset will set you up for success in all areas of your life.  It’s something my kids have been learning about in school and it’s something you may want to teach yourself and your own kids.

5. The Willpower Instinct: How self-control works, why it matters, and what you can do to get more of it by   Kelly McGonigal

Did you know that your willpower is actually a finite resource?  The more you deny yourself something, the harder it becomes.  Standford psychologist Kelly McGonigal shares her research into how it can be harnessed to improve health, happiness and productivity.

You can also watch her TED talk on the topic.

6. Broadcasting Happiness: The science of igniting and sustaining positive change by Michelle Gielan

With current political tensions in the world, wouldn’t it be great to have a bit more happiness and hope in our lives?  This book on broadcasting happiness shares why it’s so important to put more positive messages out into the world.  And just being aware that watching 3 minutes of negative news on TV can make you feel that your whole day was not so great 8 hours later is one reason why Michelle wrote the book.  Watch the video below to find out more.

7. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action Simon Sinek

Why do we do things and what motivates us?  Why do some people or organisations more innovative and influential than others?  What is the answer to these questions?  It’s actually all about finding the “why”.  Why motivates us, it gets our emotions as well as our brains involved and it’s a powerful tool. You really don’t have to be a leader to find this book fascinating – even if you need to motivate your kids to do things, you will find out how to communicate more effectively.

You can also watch Simon Sinek’s TED talk on the topic here.

8. Your Brain at Work: Strategies for overcoming distraction, regaining focus and working smarter all day long by David Rock

This book has helped me become more focused. It’s made me realise just how easy it is for me to fritter away time, or to use my time unproductively.  I learned in this book that I have to avoid reading emails first thing as otherwise, half the day can disappear, particularly as the morning is my most productive time.  Instead, I should do some creative work such as write a blog post and then go later into the administration of email.

9. Gut by Giulia Enders

What’s the gut got to do with psychology or the brain?  Everything – did you know that the gut is one of the most complex, important and miraculous parts of the anatomy and has a link to what are seen as brain diseases such as depression.  Totally fascinating and written in a realy absorbing and fascinating way.

It will change what you think about how you eat forever.

10. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport

Another book that has helped me think more about how I work and how I want to work.  I’m notorious for having 20 internet tabs open at a time along with every program that exists on my computer.  This does not help me get work done and be more productive.

11. Barking Up the Wrong Tree: The surprising science behind why everything you know about success is (mostly) wrong by Eric Baker

This was a fun and fascinating book that delves into why pirates were so successful (and it’s not the reason you assume) and how your biggest weakness might actually be your greatest strength.

12. Algorithms to Live By: The computer science of human decisions by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths

This is a dense book (if you’re reading it, I suggest listening to this one) but totally fascinating as it let me know that my filing system of a pile of papers on my desk is actually the most time efficient one for me and isn’t actually a “mess”.

13. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

Written by the author of the bestseller Eat Pray Love, this book delves into the idea that living a creative life and being creative doesn’t have to include suffering and how we can embrace our own curiosity to become more creative.

What are the best books you read this year? I’m looking for recommendations for next year!


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  • I LOVE the Lost Art of Dress! It’s so much more than a treatise on fashion or style, but a real history of women and work in the US, and a testament to the resilience of women academics in the last century.

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