reading book by the fire

reading book in front of fire

As 2019 draws to a close, it’s a wonderful time of the year to pick out the best and brightest business books, self-help guides, and thought-leading titles of the past 12 months.

Why? Because while you’re curled up in front of the fire sipping your festive drink of choice, what better accompaniment do you need than the most nourishing brain food around? Books!

The hardest thing is knowing where to start, but here’s where I come in. As a business book ghostwriter and book coach, I read countless non fiction books every year. These are – in my estimation – eight of the best of 2019.

There are other lists like this around, but this one is different. Because I’ve chosen the books that not only contain super-useful and inspiring content, but that are also written in a clear and engaging way. A nonfiction book should never be a dull read.

So if one of your aims for 2020 is to write your own book, you could do a lot worse than learn from the various ways in which these authors put their ideas across.

Just pick a couple for the festive season and dive in.

Be The Change by Gina MartinBe The Change: A toolkit for the activist in you by Gina Martin.

Written by the woman who campaigned for the recently introduced law against ‘upskirting’ in the UK, this is an inspiration. What I love about the book is the way Martin emphasises her everyday credentials. Before she began her mission she wasn’t a seasoned campaigner or an expert in media use, but she learned as she went along and gives you the benefit of her experience here. A heady combination of motivation and practical advice, this is the perfect read if your new year’s resolution is to change your corner of the world.

Think Like Google Think Like Google: Use SEO and empathy to rank, convert, and profit no matter how much they change the rules by Tom Gerencer.

How refreshing to read a book about SEO that’s been written for humans. If you’re an expert in a technical field and thinking about writing a book, you could do no better than learn from Gerencer’s story-telling style and clarity of writing. Of more importance, though, is the wealth of knowledge he imparts. I was left in no doubt as to what I would need to do to improve my website’s ranking, and have already put some of his gems into practice. A shame it’s only available in e-book format – I’d love to thumb through it.

Invisible WomenInvisible Women: Exposing data bias in a world designed for men by Caroline Criado Perez. Winner of the Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year.

Meticulously researched and global in scope, Criado Perez poses jaw-dropper after jaw-dropper as she systematically whips the assumptions you never knew you had from under your feet. From houses built without kitchens, to drugs marketed for women but tested mainly on men, this is a book designed to make you stop and think. Its value isn’t only in the change it will (hopefully) create, but in the way it challenges its readers to see the world afresh. If you’d welcome a way of gaining a new perspective on your work, this will get you started.

A Little Peace of MindA Little Peace of Mind: The revolutionary solution for freedom from anxiety, panic attacks and stress by Nicola Bird.

I read this because I’m a long-time fan of Bird’s teaching of what’s become known as the Three Principles. What’s wonderful about this book is how she explains abstract concepts and makes them both concrete and meaningful, and in an entertaining way. You’ll learn the simple truth behind how we experience life, what this means for our sanity, and what it’s like to be ‘snargled’.

The Busy Person's Guide to Great Presenting

The Busy Person’s Guide to Great Presenting: Become a compelling, confident presenter. Every time. By Lee Warren.

This is a fabulous example of a business book that keeps its target audience front and centre. If you’re a time-poor professional who needs to give a talk at short notice, and you suspect you’ll do a mediocre job of it without some help, this is for you. Clear and concise, the book tells you what you need to know and no more. At the same time, it’s pretty obvious its author has an abundance of experience way beyond the book. A great example for you if you’re struggling to remove the ‘kitchen sink’ from your own book.

Stiff Upper LipStiff Upper Lip: Secrets, crimes and the schooling of a ruling class by Alex Renton.

A fascinating deep-dive into a little-explored topic: the history and impact of the British public school system. Renton brings both his journalist’s eye and his own experience to this hard-hitting book. I admire the way in which he’s able to analyse the subject matter in an objective way, despite having an emotional investment in it because of his own childhood; it makes the book all the more powerful. The short chapters are highly snackable, and it’s certainly an eye-opener into an influential world.

Make Yourself a Little Bit FamousMake Yourself a Little Bit Famous: How to power up your profile and get known for what you do by Penny Haslam.

If you’re wanting to raise your profile in the media and understand how the heck to come across well in interviews, this is the book for you. Haslam has a background in TV and radio, so she knows her stuff. What I love about it is the way she makes you feel relaxed about the idea of appearing onstage (gulp) through her clever use of humour. She also explains everything so clearly that it’s impossible not to feel inspired to give her suggestions a go. A new year’s resolution perhaps?

Your Business Your Book: How to plan, write and promote the book that puts you in the spotlight by Ginny Carter.

I couldn’t allow this list to be complete without a mention of my own book, published in November :) Seriously though, it’s the only guide you need if you want to write a book for your business in 2020. You’ll learn what to write about and who for, how to make sure your book supports and promotes your business, and ways of writing with ease and clarity. Finally, you’ll discover the secret to publishing and marketing your book successfully. It’s the gift Santa should definitely be putting in your stocking. Start dropping hints without delay.

So there you have it: eight books that will stimulate your mind, engage your spirit, and boost your business next year. Enjoy!

(The links for the books are affiliate links, so I earn a few pennies if you buy from them. If you prefer, you can search separately on Amazon or and buy them that way).

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