So, there I was at a work dinner, heavily pregnant with my eldest, when my colleague dropped the Bombshell: she hadn’t managed to finish a single book since the birth of her child…
Ten whole years ago.
To me, this news about Mom life was even more horrifying than all of those unsolicited birth stories I was getting to hear about!
Yes, of course I had realised that things would have to change – and I would have to sacrifice important things. Like sleep… but my beloved books?!
Seriously. No. No, no. Not happening!
There had to be a workaround – and I was going to find it. So – I did some research and made the quietly life changing discovery which was Audible Audiobooks.
This discovery has meant that I have been able to keep on “reading” during motherhood, during the ironing and whilst I walk to work… It has led to some of the biggest Aha moments of my life. And I wanted to share with you the books that have had the greatest impact on me. Together, they have – quite literally – changed my life.
Learning to love Audible
During the first months of maternity leave, I discovered I simply couldn’t concentrate enough to take in a book – whether audio format or not.
Perhaps partly because my first download choice was pretty ambitious: the critically acclaimed Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. I am told that this is a whole 42 hours of Audible awesome. However, I confess that three years later, I have yet to make it passed the first 42 minutes. For some reason, I rarely listen to fiction. Which is a shame as I find the idea of the likes of Stephen Fry and Meryl Streep reading stories to me incredibly appealing. But, no… maybe one day… so, in the meantime I was going to need a new approach to make audiobooks work for me!
It took a little trial and error, but eventually I cracked it.
When my daughter was nine months old, we decamped to my French house for a few weeks so I could do some renovating, painting and decorating -whilst my parents watched little Ella. With many long hours of painting, alone, ahead of me – I dug out my Audible subscription in search of some company.
When in a book shop, I generally gravitate to the non fiction, self development section. And so, I searched Audible‘s virtual shelves and as I was vaguely starting to think about returning to work after Maternity Leave, downloaded a book called Playing Big – from an author I had never heard of before: Tara Mohr. Time to get my head back vaguely into the right mindset for returning to the office…
1. Playing Big
Frankly, discovering Playing Big was one of the pivotal moments in my career – and life. I vividly remember painting my bedroom ceiling – taking in all that Tara Mohr had to say. I felt called out – time and time again – for behaviours that were keeping me small, tactical, invisible at work.
Tara’s work is an extraordinary combination of philosophy on getting the most out of life – and practical advice for taking control.
I felt truly inspired; motivated every day as I listened to expect more, achieve more. I didn’t know what was out there for me when I went back to work – but this book made me see that I was not yet achieving my potential. Additionally her Inner Mentor chapter has had a profound impact on me. This book has genuinely changed my path and my life.
It was also a gateway to a new world: it taught me how well I respond to this genre of book – particularly in audio form. I find all of the writers I mention here to be so encouraging, relatable and inspiring. It is quickly like chatting to a friend. Now I am back at work I listen to Audible on my commute most days, so I get through a new book every couple of weeks. I have an easy source of motivation any time I need a boost.
2. Year of Yes
After finishing Playing Big, I was looking for another big hitter as I took my painting in the hallway. Now – one thing I decided to do during my first maternity leave was binge watch Grey’s Anatomy which is produced by Shona Rhimes. I had repeatedly heard how good it was from friends’ comments on my facebook feed over the years and decided this would be a good use of my time, living vicariously through this awesome series, as I sat breastfeeding on the couch for months on end. I got through all ten series – which at the time felt like a huge achievement! However, I note now that having been so inspired by all these great writers, it was the last show I ever binge watched. With two children, you need that time for other things!
So, I chose to listen to Year of Yes because I was quite obsessed with Grey’s at the time – but also because I love the premise of saying yes to every opportunity and pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. Shona is a naturally introverted, quiet character who hated public speaking – but by refusing to turn down any opportunity has achieved even greater things. Great read for someone who knows Grey’s – but also a lot in here for someone who doesn’t know her TV shows (my mother enjoyed it having never heard of Meredith or Derek!)
3. How to own the room
Book three is more specific. Fact is, I used to be terrified of public speaking. And by terrified, I mean paralysing fear: frozen to the spot, red face, trembling hands, stammering… the works.
I would put a lot of energy into avoid “opportunities” to speak! But then I had to face facts that this was seriously going to hold me back at work, especially if I ever wanted to get promoted!
So I joined Toastmasters – and for the next year forced myself to speak in public on a regular basis. If fear of public speaking is a blocker for you, I really recommend seeking out your local Toastmasters chapter. Everyone you meet there signed up in the first place for the same reason – and so they are very supportive!
Anyway, having worked through the paralysing terror stage – I have moved on to the next challenge: being good at public speaking! This is where How to own the Room comes in.
I really like Viv’s engaging narration style – and as this is written specifically for women, designed to take you from terror to TED style speaking. If this is an area you are interested in (or actively avoiding!) – I highly recommend this.
4. She means business
I had not heard of Carrie until I was searching for a new book and noticed that She means business has (at time of writing) 1,283 five star reviews on Amazon. Such a huge vote of confidence piqued my curiosity… and – I decided to give it a listen. Very glad I did. Her story is fantastically inspiring, her advice both relatable and practical – and her style very engaging.
It opened my eyes to thinking of things with an entrepreneurial outlook; something I had not really done previously. Her viewpoint gave me the ability to think differently about my own skills and how I could market them – or anything else, for that matter.
If you have any spark of a side hustle or business dream inside of you – I really recommend this book. And if you don’t – I bet her advice will trigger that curiosity to one…
5. The 5 second rule
If you don’t already know her – let me start by telling you that Mel Robbins is a force of nature. She has an unforgettable, powerful voice – and listening to her narrate certainly wakes you up, in more ways than one.
As you might guess, her 5 Second Rule is pretty simple to grasp – but, if you think you are going to have got the best content in the first chapter or so, think again.
My mother listened to this book and told me that although she was expecting it to be the same idea, thinly spun out of hours – but was so wrong. Totally engaged throughout with new ideas.
I have now listened to all of Mel’s Audible recording and her style packs a punch throughout – but this is my favourite.
6. Daring Greatly
I first became aware of Brené Brown through a good friend who loves her work so much that when she had the opportunity to meet her in person, she was so star struck she couldn’t speak! If she could have that impact on people, clearly this was a writer to investigate…
And so, I listened to my first Brené audiobook, Daring Greatly, in 2018 whilst on a twelve hour road trip: just my six month old baby, my two year old toddler and me. I had recently had to apply – out of the blue – to get divorced and the reality is, I had not been expecting to do that journey, in foreign country, on the wrong side of the road, alone with the children.
It is safe to say that Brené kept me sane that day – for which I am eternally grateful – and I have thought of her as a friend ever since. Her stunning research into vulnerability and shame is fascinating and life changing.
If you aren’t aware of her work – I suggest you look into it. You won’t be sorry! I have listened to pretty much everything she has done and could have added any of her books to this list – but, if you are new to Brené, Daring Greatly is a great place to start.
And if ever I am going on a long car journey with the girls, it is always a comfort to have some Brené teed up to listen to on the way.
Six of many contenders
It was difficult to create my Top 6 “reads”.
There are so many other books which were contenders for this list. Indeed, I will do a separate post on parenting books – which I have also greatly enjoyed on Audible!
For me, now, I listen to Audio books a lot. I use them to multitask if I am doing chores such as cooking or cleaning, getting a train – or on long drives. Indeed for the latter, I fill up my tea flask, put on a good book and suddenly that drive is almost like having an hour or two to myself in a coffee shop with a good book! Almost…
During my No Spend year, my monthly Audible subscription is the one treat I have allowed myself to keep – as I feel that adds such great value to my self development. It keeps me inspired! And the great thing is, if you start a book and it isn’t for you, you can do an exchange at the touch of button. There are too many good books out there to waste time with ones which aren’t improving your life!
Free Audible Trial
As you can probably guess, I recommend Audible to anyone who will listen. But it can be especially game changing for busy mothers and other people who do not find the time to read but miss the joy of books!
An Audible trial offers a great way for a new customer to try audiobooks and make the most of every moment.
With your trial, your will receive:
- One free audiobook of your choice – yours to keep, even if they cancel. If you are a Prime customer – you will actually receive two audiobooks in your trial.
- The ability to choose from the world’s largest selection of audiobooks including best sellers, new releases, self development, romances, mysteries, classics, and more
- After 30 days, your will receive 1 book each month for just £7.99/month (renews automatically).
- Cancel easily anytime.
If you are interested in the free trial – you can sign up by clicking here!
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