Following the weeks of Christmas craziness, the BuyMeOnce team are all allowing themselves a collective exhale. The holidays are the perfect time to take stock, reflect and take on inspiration for the new year ahead. And what better way than to get stuck into a good book?
If you’re anything like me, you may struggle to make the time to read when online distractions are so abundant. So together, the team have pledged to take a bit of offline respite this season with some new year reads. Here’s what we’ve got our noses in right now:
Learn to Code Now by SUPERHi
The Education of an Idealist by Samantha Power
Memoir is generally a genre that fascinates me, but I specifically found myself drawn to this book after hearing the author speak so eloquently and candidly about her work both as a war correspondent and as the US Ambassador to the UN in the Obama administration.
I’m also inspired by Power’s ability to combine a career of this magnitude with the demands of a growing family; as a mother of two little ones, I’m intrigued to learn how she balanced life and what sacrifices were made.
Admittedly not the most Christmassy of reads, but given the issues of our time, I feel that trying to make sense of, and understand, how those in positions of influence navigate the political landscape is so important.
The Sustainable(ish) Living Guide by Jen Gale
For someone passionate about the environment it's been a bumpy year, which is why I'm so excited about this book hitting bookstores. This satisfyingly chunky book shows you "how to change your impact without radically changing your life”. I'm also honoured that the author, Jen, came to me to ask for my expert solutions around impulse buying, which you can find on page 16!
Jen offers practical solutions and points you to organisations that can help you. And that's the key thing, we can't do this on our own! We need businesses to make it easier for us to do the right thing.
This truth really focusses my mind for 2020. How can I make BuyMeOnce more useful so more people will want to take part in long-term buying? Spreading the truth that this is the best thing we can do for the environment is my personal mission, and the reason that BuyMeOnce exists. If I'm ever tired at work, I can take strength from the power of this mission, the importance that it succeeds, and what it will mean for us all if we do not.
Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain
Self reflection this time of the year is very important to me.
I believe in the power of positive manifestations and this book, a classic in its heyday, is a how-to book on how to use mental imagery and affirmation to produce positive changes into my life. I love occasionally dabbling into motivational books written by Tony Robbins, Esther and Jerry Hicks or Deepak Chopra for inspiration and motivation, especially when faced with a New Year ahead and a desire to be better in all the things I do.
The late Shaki Gawain’s writing style has been heralded as simple and easy to follow, which is perfect for that week, when I’ll no doubt be distracted by friends who have stayed back in the city and want to catch up. Her book will be savored at home, on the subway, whilst waiting for friends, in the mornings after meditation and at night before I turn over to sleep.
Cool It - The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming by Bjørn Lomborg
I’ve been meaning to read this book for a while now, and the holidays are the perfect opportunity to get into some meaty non-fiction. Bjørn Lomborg is a Danish statistician putting forward the idea that the disaster-and-doom language of the media has resulted in a collective hysteria over the climate change issue. Taking a practical and humanist view, he suggests that tackling issues such as HIV/AIDS, malnutrition and the provision of clean water are cheaper, more achievable and would save more lives.
At a time when 'climate anxiety' is peaking, and I often feel resigned to the world’s demise, this is a very attractive notion. However, Lomborg has been accused of cherry-picking facts, belittling environmentalists and swinging too far the other way, to suggest there isn't much to worry about. I'll keep my critical hat on during the journey.
Becoming by Michelle Obama
This year over the Christmas period I’ll be picking up Michelle Obama’s “Becoming.” As a literature graduate it’s always been my natural tendency to devour fiction, so in 2020 I’m making a conscious effort to expand my non-fiction horizons - however, I also want something warm, inspiring and easy to read over Christmas. It’s hard to deny things in the world are, right now, erring on the bleak and scary side.
When it was first published it was impossible to make a journey in London without seeing “Becoming” hovering in front of two or three people’s faces (not to even mention instagram), so I’m hopeful that it’s going to be a page turner. Mostly, however, I want to read this book because I’m conscious that next year is going to require some serious energy and motivation. This first year of the new decade is going to be a crucial one, not just for me and for BuyMeOnce but for the planet as well. Hopefully this lauded memoir written by a strong, powerful, warm and humble woman will be just what’s needed to reassure me that our small individual actions can really matter. No pressure, Michelle, but I’m counting on you.
Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien
The thrill of starting anything new is hard to escape, and for me books are the ultimate problem. I start books by the dozen, make good progress, and then get excited by a newer, more freshly recommended book. This Christmas I want to tie up all remaining loose threads.
Thien’s Do Not Say We Have Nothing is the driving force behind that personal quest. I managed to get 100 pages in, enthralled by its effortless blend of history and fiction. And then I put it down.
It’s a book about China old and new, of desperation and hope. Like many great novels, it’s also at its heart a book about books. The most vivid passages take place as our young narrator is read a story by their student house-guest - a post-Tiananmen refugee in Canada.
The spellbinding novel she’s reading is unfinished - it stops halfway through a sentence. They would have ached to know how that story ended. I owe it to those characters to finish theirs.