My top ten great reads
In need of some inspiration? Businesswoman, author and motivational speaker Veronica Canning shares some of her favourite titles.
1. THE ELEGANCE OF THE HEDGEHOG by Muriel Barbery
Set in an apartment building in Paris with a small number of wonderfully crafted characters, it is a beautifully written insight into how you should not judge people by appearances. The language is wonderful and the peeling back of the layers to reveal the characters is inspiring.
2. THE WAR OF ART: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield
Concise book, from 2003, which sets out how powerful a force resistance can be in stopping you from realising your potential. He thinks that resistance turns up as procrastination and fear of success and he has a fantastic set of techniques to get you motivated and sitting down working on your big goals. Very helpful for anyone who works on their own.
3. THE DARK SIDE OF THE LIGHT CHASERS: RECLAIMING YOUR POWER, CREATIVITY, BRILLIANCE, AND DREAMS by Debbie Ford
This is an old book from 1999 but a gem. You need to know why the people you dislike the most are there to tell you about yourself. You need to see your shadow and learn the profound effect it can have on your life. This is a book which makes you think deeply about your light and dark sides and how to own all of them so that you can be remarkable.
4. VENUS ON FIRE, MARS ON ICE: HORMONAL BALANCE - THE KEY TO LIFE, LOVE AND ENERGY by John Gray
Brand new book by the author of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. It is a good insight into the chemical and hormonal imbalance that can run, or ruin, your life. It explains the huge fatigue that many women suffer from, especially sugar-addicted ones. You must overcome the urge to say “Glass of wine, anyone?” I loved the insights into the particular challenges faced by couples where the woman is the main breadwinner.
5. THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES by Sue Monk Kidd
This is a wonderful read to be savoured in the long winter evenings. It is written through the eyes of a quirky 14-year-old called Lily Owen, and is set in South Carolina in 1964, the year of the Civil Rights Act. It takes you through the aching coming of age of Lily as she comes to live with a wonderful cast of characters whom you absolutely love by the end of the story. I hated it when I finished this book and missed the characters.
6. 101 POEMS THAT COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE: AN ANTHOLOGY OF EMOTIONAL FIRST AID by Daisy Goodwin
Daisy Goodwin has given us a number of these anthologies of poems and I love them all but this is my favourite. She has chosen a wide selection of poets and subjects and matches them very cleverly. This is a book for beside the bed or the fireplace. It will divert and amuse you and if you are a speaker or writer it will be a wonderful resource of inspiration.
7. A LONG WALK TO FREEDOM: TRIUMPH OF HOPE, 1962-1994 VOLUME 2 by Nelson Mandela
This is a deeply moving read which you will remember always. It is riveting as you progress through it you are really overwhelmed by the extraordinary character of Mandela. My abiding memory is of his unbelievable tolerance, courage and forgiveness. I find this a wonderful source of inspiration.
8. THE POWER OF MANY: VALUES FOR SUCCESS IN BUSINESS AND IN LIFE by Meg Whitman
This is an unusual book as it is by a really successful corporate leader who is also a woman! She is famous for leading Ebay from a $4 million business to a $8 billion monster and she tells her story of the journey and shares with us her common sense view of business, and the need for integrity in large corporations. I loved her sincerity and insights regarding building community. A pleasure to read a real book by a woman who stayed grounded despite her huge success.
9. I WONDER by Marian Bantjes
I came across Marion Bantjes on “TED.com, ideas worth spreading” where she explained her view of design and showcased some of her incredible work. I was hooked by her quirkiness and the sheer beauty of her designs. Her new book allows you read her deeply thoughtful essays on unusual topics like Wonder, ornament, and the alphabet and to savour her art and her amazing imagination. Give yourself a visual delight; see the alphabet as never before.
10. MADE TO STICK: WHY SOME IDEAS SURVIVE AND OTHERS DIE by Chip and Dan Heath
Fantastic insights and guidance into making sure your ideas are understood, remembered and have a lasting impact. The techniques they outline will really help you improve how you communicate, whether it is for making your own business better known or just getting people to take notice of your ideas and act on them. They tell great stories, which are amusing and memorable, thereby showing they are good at what they preach.
Veronica Canning is the author of 'Shoeisms: Working Woman's Guide To Take Control and Be the Sassy, Successful Woman You Know You Can Be'