Brendan’s Top 10 Holiday Reads – For Business & Pleasure


This year I have maintained a reasonably consistent regime of reading and listening to books and audiobooks for business as well as for pleasure. As we wind up 2019 I thought I would choose from my reads for the year and offer some recommendations for holiday reading while you take a break, and for the new year preparation and focus.

The fiction books are ideal for summer holiday reading, unlike last year where I was spoiled for quality (as well as being darn good reads), this year I thought to recommend some lighter books that are not as taxing as we enjoy our summer break. The non-fiction books I recommend to start the new working year as we begin to set goals and focus on achieving big results in business and personal development for 2020.


Holiday reading should be for leisure and entertainment, no need to think about business, marketing, or self-improvement. So relax with my five fiction and biography recommendations for the year:

  1. The Land Before Avocado by Richard Glover – not strictly fiction, but it falls in the light summer reading category rather than the business focus. This book is an amusing and sometimes shocking trip back to the 70s. For this old enough to remember, it is amusing, for those too young, it might be rather eye-opening. Either way, it is well done and will provide many summer BBQ stopping conversations when you recall to your guests how not-too-long-ago a married female needed to get husband approval before embarking on overseas travel, and falling pregnant meant losing your job by force of legislation! Although these modern days are weird, they were weirder in seemingly more liberal times.
  2. Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid – not a great example of modern literary craft, but what a rocking yarn! Pretty much read the whole thing in three sittings. Written in an interview-style which was suitable to the docu-fiction theme. The characters were drawn nicely, you could almost see them and the action. I can see why it is popular and locked in for a screen version. So read it before the movie comes out! Loosely based on Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks.
  3. Place on Dalhousie by Melina Marchetta – a good summer Australian read of dysfunctional families, growth, acceptance, and loyalty. Set in inner western Sydney in 2011. The characters are either likeable and detestable in equal measure, but that is a tribute to the author’s ability to paint a portrait. All the emotions you would want are here, but there is a nice balance which makes it a summer read that will not spoil your holiday or leisure time.
  4. The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce –  not sure if I loved it so much because I am a music fan and music plays a role so deeply in this book, albums and songs become almost like characters with the power to heal. Although there is some sadness in it, the word I keep coming back to is ‘lovely’. It is a really lovely book, the idea of driving it and the plotline is unique and heartfelt. It is about music and love, love and music, and people and places growing old.
  5. Bridge of Clay by Marcus Zusak – the “deepest” book in this list, this is a really great piece of literary at with some of the most beautiful passages of writing I have read. The style is poetic and the characters remarkably realistic. Despite this, it is not overly challenging, so it is a great opportunity to read something of great quality while not being overly taxing. It takes a little while to get into it, but when you do, you will be hooked. Another Australian book set in suburban Sydney, there is a tragedy, loss, journey both mental and physical, and multiple levels of joy. Have tissues close by.


Ok, after New Year’s Eve it might be time to start gearing up for work mode. You might have set resolutions or have big plans for 2020. Here are my five recommendations for business & personal development books from those I consumed this year:

  1. Atomic Habits by James Clear – How tiny changes, repeated over and over again will become habits which deliver potentially big results. Start the New Year off by having a look at your goals and the habits you need to form to achieve them. This book looks at how habits are formed and how they work. It then provides a guide to how we can build positive habits, eliminate negative ones, and improve our life.
  2. This is Marketing by Seth Godin – Seth Godin’s most recent book urges us to look beyond the medium and the message and look to our audience needs and desires. He recommends we express outwards our values and tell our authentic story to appeal to a group of fans. In 2020 it will be a huge competitive advantage to focus on finding, nurturing and enabling a minimum viable audience and inspire them into action with your product or service. It is a book full of short and punchy servings which works well to ease into the new year.
  3. Mindful Entrepreneur by Joel Gerschman, Howard Finger & Aryeh Goldman – Another book that is suited for new year consumption. A great way to start off as it sums up great principles in narrative style. It is important because it covers both business strategy and management as well as mindset and life balance with tools for practical application . One of the books we have adopted into practice ourselves this year.
  4. Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller  – Another book that was engaging to read and immediately actionable. Start 2020 by thinking about and designing your brand story with these easy to understand 7-part framework, Using common and proven structure of a story that we see in any movie, you will be able to create and communicate your brand message to your audience thought character, problems, guide, path, call to action, failure, and success.
  5. Own the Day by Aubrey Marcus – The fifth book to recommend is one focussed on the self in body and spirit this year. There is some good stuff in this book about concentrating on those elements throughout the day we can improve on in terms of diet, exercise, mental manamgenet, relationships and sex. Although there are some I would rather check with a doctor or scientist, there is enough which can be easily implemented to increase performance and enjoyment of life, business, or career in 2020. Presented chronologically so you can visualise your day implementing his ideas and recommendations, which makes it easy to read. The only downside is that it is a little masculine and bit sales-pitchy for supplements at times.

I hope you find something to relax with, exercise your mind, set some big goals, and design pathways to achieve them in new year. All the best for the season.

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