Great Reads on Holidays

One pastime I absolutely look forward to on holidays is getting stuck into reading. Something so important and yet it feels indulgent.

My holiday reading collection was a very eclectic assortment of books and magazines, mostly birthday and Christmas gifts from family who know me well. At first glance you would think that the books are extremely diverse in topic but uncannily I found a distinct common thread through all of them. See if you can pick the coincidental theme.

Any Ordinary Day by Leigh Sales

I wasn’t sure if I really did want to read this book, I wondered if it really was the holiday reading material I was after. A book that speaks to survivors of unimaginable horrors and worst days of your life in your nightmares, but to my amazement it leaves you feeling uplifted and full of hope.

The author Leigh Sales is an author, journalist and host of the ABC news and current affairs program 7.30. In the book she speaks to survivors of some of the worst tragedies that have happened in Australia. People that have lost family members in the most horrendous circumstances, people that were in the wrong place at the wrong time, ordinary people on any ordinary day… that goes horribly wrong. It is written so candidly it makes you feel that you are sitting right there with Leigh as she interviews the subjects, a process which must have been very daunting.

These people were thrust into the media spotlight unwittingly at a time of disaster and unfortunately for them their names have stayed there ever since. Thankfully they have all managed to move on from the moments that are burnt into the memories of all of us who witnessed events unfolding. A real twist in the story is Leigh’s own road bumps that like a lot of people are a part of life that nobody knows. I think we are all guilty of making assumptions about someone from a persona they present, but we all have a back story that shapes our path in life. This is a fantastic read for putting a spotlight on human resilience and hope, I would highly recommend it.

Ikigai – The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles.

This is almost a handbook, a how to if you will, for the Japanese concept of Ikigai. In a nutshell it is a theory of how we can live to a ripe old age feeling fulfilled with good health and happiness. As with a lot of how to books there are some aspects that hit a nerve and other suggestions that you tend to skim over but overall it makes sense, especially if you are in the right mindset to begin and in tune with what is being put forward.

The book is based on research in different communities in Japan that have a population that is living proof of the theories and it takes you through aspects of life that when combined can bring about this feeling of contentment and peace. The journey is all about finding your own Ikigai or reason for being. That’s a big concept to take in but it’s broken down into manageable pieces in the book. Basically the road to happiness is seen as doing what you love, what the world needs, what you can be paid for and what you are good at. These four principles of passion, mission, vocation and profession when intersecting, are your ikigai and your reason for being.  If you have all that then it does seem easy to be living your best life! Hand me my green tea and look out, I’m on a mission.

Lonely Planet’s Guide to Travel Photography by Richard l’Anson

Well hello Ikigai. Obviously this one really is a guidebook for getting the best out of your digital camera and capturing breathtaking photos when travelling. These types of books are invaluable to anyone interested in taking their photography up a notch and getting practical help to improve composition, understanding your equipment, using light and finding subjects that tell a story in a single picture. This book is so helpful, I can see that the pages will be getting dog eared and well-worn as I refer back to it over and over again. Richard I’Anson’s photography is simply stunning and his website ( and Instagram page (@richianson) are well worth following for inspiration and advice.

Van Cat Meow by Richard East

I couldn’t explain this book any better than the publishers have. ‘A lost man. A rescued cat. A road trip like no other’. I bought this book after following Richard and Willow on Instagram. They make my day every time I see a photo of their journey, their love and their messages.  Yes I am talking about a man and his cat, a gorgeous black rescue cat that travels the country with Richard.  Together in a big white camper van this is another example of finding your reason for being and enjoying every day to the best of your ability and spreading a bit of happiness along the way.  If you follow Richard and Willow on Instagram (@vancatmeow) your world will be a little bit lighter and brighter.

Who knew that when all the books were read, I was able to gain a better idea of where I am taking my own path in 2019.

Here’s to living what you love.





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