It’s almost Christmas, and no doubt you’ve got a few things you’d like Santa to bring you this year. But if you want a few non-fiction books in his sack, you might wonder which ones to ask for. Here are the ones I think any writer would like to find under their tree in 2022.
Big Magic: How to Live a Creative Life and Let Go of Your Fear – Elizabeth Gilbert
Awesome author Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray Love) shares her wisdom and unique understanding of creativity, shattering the perceptions of mystery and suffering that surround the process – and showing you just how easy it can be.
Not only does she share stories from her own life, but she also divvies up those from her friends and the people that have inspired her. Elizabeth challenges you to embrace your curiosity, tackle what you most love and face down what you most fear.
Whether you long to write a book, create art, cope with challenges at work, embark on a long-held dream, or simply make your everyday life more vivid and rewarding, Big Magic will take you on a journey of exploration filled with wonder and unexpected joys.
2. Courage is Calling: A Book About Bravery – Ryan Holiday
The first in Ryan’s Stoic Virtues series draws on ancient Stoic wisdom and examples across history and around the world; Ryan shows why courage is so important and how to cultivate it in our own lives.
Stoic philosophy suggests courage is not simply physical bravery but also doing the right thing and standing up for what you believe; it’s creativity, generosity and perseverance. And it is the only way to live an extraordinary, fulfilled and effective life.
Everything in life begins with courage – and if you’re a writer or aspiring author, that can mean having the courage to share your message and your work with a far wider audience.
Courage is Calling was one of my favourite books of the year, inspiring my next tattoo!
3. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life – Anne Lamott
Bird by Bird has been on my reading list for years, but it’s always become buried under newer, more flashy titles. How wrong was I to keep putting it off?! Written by a writer for writers, it also gives some fantastic principles to live life by too.
It was inspired by a conversation Anne witnessed between her father and her brother, who, like many of us, faced a huge project that almost paralysed him with fear due to the enormity of what lay ahead. Very apt for writers! Anne uses this and explores all aspects of writing, but mainly the mindset and attributes that can help you be successful.
“Thirty years ago, my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'”
Frankly,I’m so annoyed I left reading Bird by Bird until 2022, but at the same time, I’m so happy I’ve finally read it. I think you’ll get so much from it.
4. Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones – James Clear
Any of you who know me will know that habits and behaviour change are a huge passion of mine. When talking about them, I always reference a book called Tiny Habits by the researcher BJ Fogg. After all, it was his research that inspired James Clear to write Atomic Habits in the first place.
Nevertheless, James writes in such a naturally engaging way, using stories to illustrate how these techniques have helped others in the world of sport, business and science, that I decided to re-read Atomic Habits this year. I’m so glad I did! My highlighters and notebook were very happy too!
In this book, James reveals exactly how minuscule changes can grow into life-altering outcomes. He uncovers a handful of simple life hacks and delves into cutting-edge psychology and neuroscience to explain why they matter.
If this has been on your TBR pile for a while, add it to your Christmas list now for a far more productive 2023.
5. The 5-Second Rule: Transform Your Life, Work and Confidence with Everyday Courage – Mel Robbins
Mel is a huge inspiration for me – and for many. This is the book that changed my life – you can hear her talk about my journey on the Feel Better Live More podcast, episode 220 (my story crops up at around 12:58 for about 5 minutes!).
I still use the principles of the 5-second rule every single day (yet another tattoo on the horizon) because it works. When you don’t feel like doing something, when you’re talking yourself out of taking that challenging next step, counting back from five is the answer.
It helps me get up at 5.30 am every day, which today led to this blog post. It’s scientifically proven to work because it interrupts the emotional part of the brain before it has a chance to talk you out of the thing you want to do.
Did I feel like getting out of bed this morning at 5.30 am? It’s the UK in November, so take one guess! But counting back from five helped me push past how I felt and put my ass in the chair to write.
If you struggle with procrastination when it comes to writing – or anything in life – The 5-Second Rule will change everything. And in my honest opinion, the audio version is the best way to absorb the information, as Mel is a fantastic speaker.
6. Discipline is Destiny: The Power of Self-Control – Ryan Holiday
You may think it biased that I’ve included another Ryan Holiday book on this Christmas booklist, but I couldn’t leave it off! The second in his Stoic Virtues series, and it’s another brilliant one.
Ryan is a master storyteller – so much so that he inspires me to include stories in my own work wherever possible. And it’s something I always encourage my authors to include too.
From Aristotle and Marcus Aurelius to Toni Morrison and Queen Elizabeth II, Ryan illuminates the great exemplars of a self-discipline practice and what we can learn from them.
Moderation, Ryan argues, is not about abstinence: it is about self-respect, focus and balance. Without it, even the most positive traits become vices. But with it, happiness and success are assured: the key is not more but finding the right amount.
Without self-discipline, all our plans fall apart. In Discipline is Destiny, Ryan shows how to cultivate willpower, moderation and self-control in our lives. It’s a must if you’re keen to be a little more disciplined with your writing in 2023.
7. The Source: Open Your Mind, Change Your Life – Dr Tara Swart
Often, we can feel a little apprehensive about believing in things like ‘affirmations’, ‘manifestation’ and ‘the law of attraction’ – wondering whether it’s all a little too woo-woo. Can you really change your life simply by changing your thoughts?
Dr Tara Swart is on a mission to change our perceptions, and in her book, The Source, she sets about sharing the neuroscience behind the woo.
You’ll discover how to:
– Challenge ‘autopilot’ thinking and rewire your brain’s pathways to fulfil your potential
– Manifest the things you want by directing your energy towards your deepest values and ambitions
– Harness the power of visualisation to prime your brain to grab opportunities and take control of your future
– Attack life with confidence, dispel fear and avoid negative thinking
All things that writers could do with for a little boost!
Because Tara is a psychiatrist, you can be sure her work is grounded in research, but what I particularly like is how she makes science so easy to understand for us less sciencey types.
A really inspiring read!
8. Dare to Write: How to Confidently Write a Non-Fiction Book to Grow Your Business – Steph Caswell
I know, I know! Adding my book to a Christmas booklist might seem a bit cheeky, but if you’re serious about writing a non-fiction book in 2023, you need it by your side.
Writing a book in your niche provides you with so many opportunities to grow your business, as well as raise your profile to expert status. But it often feels overwhelming. How do you know if your idea is a good one? Where do you even begin? What should the structure be?
Questions everyone has when they decide to write a book, so you’re not alone.
In Dare to Write, I take you through the whole process of writing your non-fiction book. From developing your idea and creating your outline to working with editors and publishing your work, you’re taken on a step-by-step journey from start to finish.
And you could soon be holding your own book – and adding it to people’s Christmas lists – in 2023!
9. The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles – Steven Pressfield
What keeps so many of us from doing what we long to do?
Why is there a naysayer within? How can we avoid the roadblocks of any creative endeavour—be it starting up a dream business venture, writing a novel, or painting a masterpiece?
In this book, Steven identifies the enemy that every one of us must face, outlines a battle plan to conquer this internal foe, and then pinpoints just how to achieve the greatest success.
One of the reasons The War of Art always stands out for me is the unique way it’s structured. Often, when writing books, we think we need long, detailed chapters. Steven breaks this rule brilliantly, which shows that if the information is fantastic, it doesn’t always need to be drawn out.
A couple of them are only a paragraph!
I come back to this book often, even if just for a quick pick-me-up and a kick in the butt. It’s short, sweet and just what you need to battle your inner creative naysayer this Christmas.
10. Dare to Lead: Brave Work, Tough Conversations, Whole Hearts – Brené Brown
To write a book is to lead on a topic/niche in your field. To be the go-to expert that people admire and listen to – a thought leader if you will. But to do that, you need courage, and an understanding of what being a leader really means.
But to be a successful business owner, you also need to be able to lead your business too – even if you’re a solo entrepreneur, it still matters.
Brené argues that when we dare to lead, we don’t pretend to have the right answers; we stay curious and ask the right questions. We don’t see power as finite and hoard it; we know that power becomes infinite when we share it and work to align authority and accountability. We don’t avoid difficult conversations and situations; we lean into the vulnerability that’s necessary to do good work.
It’s a book that encourages you to ask, what can I do better?
All of Brené’s books leave you feeling courageous and inspired, yet also reflective. I always find it hard to say which one I love the most, but Dare to Lead is a great place to start if you’re ready to step up and lead; you’re just not sure how.
You may also realise it’s where I drew inspiration for my book’s title, Dare to Write.
So, which book will be on your Christmas list?
So there you have it, my non-fiction book suggestions for your Christmas list this year. The question is, which one will you choose? Or, if you’re anything like me, which ones…?
Wishing you a wonderful festive season and all the best for 2023.