My 2020 Summer Reading List

Jul 13, 2020

I am so excited to go on holiday! It really did seem that summer sun was just a dream, but I’m going away on Monday and just can’t wait. I don’t know about you, but for me holiday is about down time and that means lying in the sun and reading a good book. Unfortunately, reading is one of life’s luxuries that I haven’t indulged in recently. However, on holiday I let go and really dive into some great reads – pure heaven!


Did you know that reading a book you really enjoy is a great form of self-care? Letting your mind go to a distant land, think new thoughts or challenge difficult beliefs is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.


If you’re wondering what to read this summer, I have put together a list of a few business books I am currently reading that are AMAZING and a few fiction books as well.  None of these books are hard going though and can be easily enjoyed while lying in the sun.


Business Books


Building a Story Brand  by Donald Miller


Amazon says:

“New York Times bestselling author Donald Miller uses the seven universal elements of powerful stories to teach readers how to dramatically improve how they connect with customers and grow their businesses. Donald Miller's StoryBrand process is a proven solution to the struggle business leaders face when talking about their businesses. This revolutionary method for connecting with customers provides readers with the ultimate competitive advantage, revealing the secret for helping their customers understand the compelling benefits of using their products, ideas, or services. Building a StoryBrand does this by teaching readers the seven universal story points all humans respond to; the real reason customers make purchases; how to simplify a brand message so people understand it; and how to create the most effective messaging for websites, brochures, and social media. Whether you are the marketing director of a multibillion dollar company, the owner of a small business, a politician running for office, or the lead singer of a rock band, Building a StoryBrand will forever transform the way you talk about who you are, what you do, and the unique value you bring to your customers.”


I say:

The book is split into three sections, the first focusing on why most marketing fails. The second section introduces the Story Brand Framework which aims to help you create better brand messaging. The third and final section of the book demonstrates how this messaging should be repeated and used across all your marketing materials.


One of the key things for me in this book was understanding the “Story Brand Framework” which uses the seven components that make up the stories and film plots we have been brought up on to help you write your brand message. Framing your brand as a story the perfect form of communication because it puts everything in order so that your customers don’t have to work too hard to understand what’s going on. At the end of each chapter in section 2, Miller sets a range of tasks to help you develop your message to create a statement that will engage customers and help you grow your business.


The key elements of this framework are:

  1. A character – The customer is the hero.
  2. Has a problem – Successful companies attend to their inner frustrations.
  3. And meets a guide – The customers are looking for a guide.
  4. Who has a plan – Customers trust a guide who has a plan.
  5. And calls them to action – Customers are challenged to take action.
  6. That helps them avoid failure – Everyone is trying to avoid a tragic ending.
  7. And ends in a success – This principle shows people how the product can positively influence their lives.


Atomic Habits by James Clear



Amazon says: 

Transform your life with tiny changes in behaviour starting now.

People think when you want to change your life, you need to think big. But world-renowned habits expert James Clear has discovered another way. He knows that real change comes from the compound effect of hundreds of small decisions doing two push-ups a day, waking up five minutes early, or holding a single short phone call.

He calls them atomic habits.

In this ground-breaking book, Clears reveals exactly how these minuscule changes can grow into such life-altering outcomes. He uncovers a handful of simple life hacks (the forgotten art of Habit Stacking, the unexpected power of the Two Minute Rule, or the trick to entering the Goldilocks Zone), and delves into cutting-edge psychology and neuroscience to explain why they matter. Along the way, he tells inspiring stories of Olympic gold medallists, leading CEOs, and distinguished scientists who have used the science of tiny habits to stay productive, motivated, and happy. 

These small changes will have a revolutionary effect on your career, your relationships, and your life.”


I say:

I thought this book was AMAZING. Two big standouts for me were the concept of identity habits and the behaviour change model itself.

The idea behind identity habits is that if you can weave in identity into your habits, they become indestructible. For example, if I try to set a habit of walking every day, it can fail for various reasons. But if I identify myself as an active person (and truly believe myself to be one), getting out and walking everyday is part of who I am and I don’t even need to think about doing it, it’s ingrained. This idea blew my mind!

The behavioural model is so simple and makes so much sense that it is doable for everybody. While very simple, it encompasses everything needed in building good habits and breaking bad ones:

Make it obvious <–> Make it invisible

Make it attractive <–> Make it unattractive

Make it easy <–> Make it difficult

Make it satisfying <–> Make it unsatisfying


Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo



Amazon says:

“Do you ever have trouble finishing what you start? Do amazing ideas come to you all the time but after the initial excitement wanes you struggle to follow through? If you're creative and ambitious, the answer is likely yes.

The problem isn't you. It's not that you're not hardworking, intelligent or deserving, but that you haven't yet installed the one key belief that will change everything: Everything is figureoutable.

Whether you want to leave a dead-end job, heal a relationship, grow a business, master your money, or just find two free hours in your day, Everything is Figureoutable will train your brain to think more positively and help you break down any dream into manageable steps.

Inside you'll learn:

- How to deal with criticism and imposter syndrome
- Why it's crucial that you strive for progress not perfection
- How to bounce back from failure
- How to overcome a lack of time and money

You'll also hear triumphant stories of everyday people using the everything is figureoutable philosophy to transform their life. Everything is figureoutable is more than just a fun phrase to say. It's a practical, actionable discipline. And it's about to make you unstoppable!”


I say:

I cannot begin to tell you how much I love Marie Forleo. I watch her TV show, subscribe to her newsletter, listen to her podcast and have gone through her B-School programme. This woman has so much wisdom and an absolutely epic delivery. There are so many gems in this book, but for me, the three stand outs are:


1 - Dealing With The Fear of Anything

Fear is not the enemy, waiting to stop feeling afraid is. You can think about all of the times that you are going to fail or allow fear to stop you from living the life you truly want to live, but it doesn’t need to steal your dreams. The antidote to fear is action, and taking action is the key to getting results!


2 - Start Before You’re Ready

I quote Marie on this all the time. There is never a good time to start. There are always going to be obstacles and challenges that are going to stand in your way and try to hold you back, but they will only do so if you allow them to. Take action on your goals and your dreams, jump into the uncertainty that is life no matter how much fear you are feeling, and push out of your comfort zone.


3 - Progress Not Perfection

This has been one of my personal mantras for at least 10 years. Perfection is something that none of us are ever going to be able to achieve. Even those who you look up the most aren’t perfect. No matter how skilled somebody might be, there is always room for progression and growth. Progress puts you into a productive mindset. When you focus on progressing, the stress and burden of trying to be perfect are lifted. You will accomplish more because you will be giving yourself the freedom to learn.


Fiction Books



The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett



Amazon says:


The Vanishing Half is an utterly mesmerising novel. It seduces with its literary flair, surprises with its breath-taking plot twists, delights with its psychological insights, and challenges us to consider the corrupting consequences of racism on different communities and individual lives. I absolutely loved this book' Bernardine Evaristo, winner of the Booker Prize 2019

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it's not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it's everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters' story lines intersect?

Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passingLooking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person's decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.”


I say:

I haven’t read this book yet myself, but it has appeared on 24 top lists to read for 2020 and is very topical. I’m going to give it a go…



The Burning White: Book Five of Lightbringer by Brent Weeks




Amazon says:


The Burning White is the epic conclusion to the Lightbringer series by New York Times bestseller Brent Weeks - one of the most popular fantasy series of recent years.”


I say:

Ok, this is me geeking out. I absolutely love the genre of epic fantasy and have spent countless hours reading Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson, David Eddings and Raymond Feist to name but a few. I read Game of Thrones about 6 years before they started filming the TV extravaganza many of us came to love (except the last season, the less said about that the better). So this series by Brent Weeks is relatively new, but has a unique idea and form of magic that I have never seen anywhere before which is really exciting (to geeks like me!).  The last book in this series came out  earlier this year and as a pure indulgence, I will be rereading the whole series before tucking into this last book. If you swing that way, here are all 5 books:


The Lightbringer series
The Black Prism
The Blinding Knife
The Broken Eye
The Blood Mirror
The Burning White


So there you have it. From brand building and habit forming to sheer fantasy, I hope something on this list resonates with you. I encourage you to give yourself the gift of reading this summer and add a different kind of self-care to your repertoire. Let me know what you think of any of these books in the comments below and I wish you a great summer!


Committed to your success,


Marina x

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