January is long gone but winter is still very much here, with its short days and cold, wintry nights. If you -like me- would rather face a two-headed dragon than going out on a freezing February night, I have a little gift for you: a selection of some of my favourite books so you can snuggle up on your sofa and get the best career advice, laugh out loud or travel to an exotic destination while wearing your comfy pyjamas. You can buy me dinner later.
So, without further ado, here are my February picks:
“Mindset: How You Can Fulfil Your Potential” by Carol S. Dweck
Dr Dweck is a reputed psychologist from Stanford University whose work is focused on the way people deal with challenges and learning. According to her, there are two types of mindset: the fixed mindset and the growth mindset. Most people have a bit of both.
The fixed mindset is all about believing in innate talent: some people are simply born with super abilities and some aren’t. For example, some guy (let’s call him Sean) starts taking Japanese lessons because he dreams of eating fresh sushi in Tokyo and watching Noragami without subtitles. Soon, Sean discovers that the process of learning a whole new language can be quite intimidating and long. After a couple of classes, he watches a video on YouTube of a guy who can speak 28 languages fluently. Tired and a bit frustrated, Sean thinks to himself “this person was obviously born with that talent, why am I even trying to learn Japanese? I’m not good enough!” Sadly, our friend stops going to his Japanese lessons and misses on a great opportunity.
On the other hand, those with a growth mindset see failure as an opportunity to learn. They believe they can better themselves by constant practice and they know that continued hard work is the best way to achieve one’s goals. People with a growth mindset don’t resent the process: they relish it. If Sean had had his growth mindset on, he would have realized he needed some time to master Japanese.
I like this book because its premise is really simple yet extremely powerful: success is not about being born perfect but about honing your skills over time. Remember folks, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
“My Not So Perfect Life” by Sophie Kinsella
If you want to relax and laugh out loud until your ribs hurt, this is the book for you. Kinsella’s writing always manages to make me smile, mainly because her heroines always find themselves in the craziest situations.
“My Not So Perfect Life” is about Katie Brenner, a young marketer from Somerset whose life is seemingly perfect. She lives in London in a really cool flat, works in a trendy office and spends her weekends having drinks at Sketch and working out on her Lululemons.
The catch? that’s not her real life, but the life she pretends to have on Instagram!
In reality, she has the commute from hell, she’s practically invisible to her boss and she’s always broke. Katie’s life is less fancy dinners at Circolo Popolare, more Tesco meal deals.
One of the things I liked most about the book is that I could see myself in Katie. When I moved to London 3 years ago, I had these very high expectations of the whole experience: I was going to meet tons of interesting people, land my dream job, visit a different museum every weekend and live in a small, yet stylish flat in Central London. Well, that didn’t exactly happen: even when I have met people from all around the world and I have had great job opportunities, cancelled trains are part of my daily life and my flat is more Zone 4 than Central London. Glad to know I’m not the only one!
“Older but Better, but Older” by Caroline de Maigret and Sophie Mas
If you liked “How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are” you’re going to love this book. “Older but Better, but Older” is a light read about getting older but without losing your allure and sense of humour. It’s not as good as its predecessor but I still enjoyed a lot. You can read it in a couple of hours and then put it on your coffee table, to have it in handy in case you need a laugh or kill some time.
“The Richest Man in Babylon” by George S. Clason
I believe in reading books only once, simply because there are many books and so little time. However, “The Richest Man in Babylon” is a book I try to read at least once a year because it teaches you simple ways to save money. By using anecdotes, Clason teaches very basic but very useful money lessons. Buy yourself a copy (and buy two more for your family and friends!).
Well, we have come to the end of my favourite winter reads. Have you read any of them? Which book would you recommend to me?