“Genius is no more than childhood recaptured at will, childhood equipped now with man’s physical means to express itself, and with the analytical mind that enables it to bring order into the sum of experience, involuntarily amassed.” – Charles Baudelaire
I came across that quote at the beginning of Vivienne Westwood’s personal memoir, on display in Waterstones Oxford Street. I didn’t buy it (yet) but made a mental note to add it to my reading list. Which had me thinking about some of the books I’ve read during my time in Canada, Australia and Ireland.
We all need to remember to read for pleasure, to ‘eat, pray, love’, reflect on life and the inner workings of the soul. It’s wonderful to escape into a flirty fiction romp or mystery adventure taking you through others’ troubles and tribulations. But if you are in fact the average of the five people you spend the most time with and you work remotely, travel solo or find yourself in a new place making new connections, you may turn to books to fill that void. If you’re from the school of thought that books can be your companions and even mentors in times of change, this post is for you.
Ever since I was little, I’ve wanted to create. Be a writer. An artist. A designer. It’s no coincidence this list is written by creative and passionate women – I’ve read many an inspiring autobiography about men succeeding in business and in life but this list contains books that have moved me. Made me laugh. Motivated me to do more and do better. Entrepreneurial autobiographies often times portray their spouse as a character who’s acted as a support, a caregiver or an influence. These women talk about the hard reality of pursuing your passion while being a primary caregiver, wife, ex-wife and/or friend, who is also trying to push the boundaries of success while aiming to create and conquer.
Often times they don’t talk about their family or love lives at all, other than the hardships and personal experiences that have brought them to where they are today. They’re not all married, single, divorced and their family status does not define their life story. Rather it is a piece of it and the books on this list focus on the pursuit of passion, the desire to do more and make a difference. Primarily, the theme of this list centres around following your ambitions, accepting opportunities as they arise and creating new ones for yourself. They also reflect on what they’ve learned to date and you can take from them what you will – get inspired, reignite your passion or learn from their mistakes. If you have aspirations to create and feel like you’re destined for bigger things, take a page out of these books!
In chronological order, my most recent inspiring reads are:
- Yes Please by Amy Poehler – Positive affirmations, sassy statements, a go-getter attitude and drive to create, collaborate and perform are main topics in this book. Her passion has seen her through a series of life’s ups and downs, to come together in this cracking good read.
- #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso – read about her journey from selling clothes on eBay from a hotel room to leading as CEO and Creative Director of multimillion dollar private company Nasty Gal in the boardroom. Her strong vision, determination and ability to learn on the fly is sure to motivate you to follow your passion.
- The Vogue Factor by Kirstie Clements – An Aussie girl moves to big-city Sydney and works her way up the ranks at Vogue Australia, falling in love with a Frenchman along the way, with stints working in Paris and for other Condé Nast titles. If you delight in name dropping, want to work your way up in the magazine publishing industry and are curious about what goes on behind the designer labels and the world’s high fashion bible Down Under, look no further than this frank memoir.
- Thrive by Ariana Huffington – She’s driven, successful, a mentor and influencer who has strong family values. As President and Editor-in-Chief of Huffington Post Media Group, she wills you to stop and listen to your body and examine your routines and their impact on your life. She asks you to nourish your body and soul to ‘thrive’ in today’s world, personally and professionally.
- All In by Arlene Dickinson – This Canadian Dragon has written a memoir about what it takes to succeed when the odds are stacked against you. She writes about juggling family responsibilities as a single mother, up-skilling on the job and taking over the reigns to become CEO of one of the country’s powerhouse communications firms.
- Everybody Matters by Mary Robinson – In keeping with my multicultural list, this autobiography examines the life of Ireland’s former President. Her progressive work in the Irish Senate, tenure as President and role as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights will have you asking yourself, what have I done lately to leave the world a better place? I wrote about my thoughts on this one in more detail here.
- The Joys of Much Too Much by Bonnie Fuller – This is one I read before making the move to Australia for study and work, meeting my Irish husband and travelling to live and work around the world. You could say it has influenced me to keep pushing myself and taking new challenges on. It’s written by a Canadian journalist who moved to New York for love, ending up heartbroken and on the pathway to editorial success – what’s not to love? This one is all about ‘having it all’ in whatever shape or form that comes in for you. For Bonnie, it’s meant becoming the Editorial Director of American Media, marrying a fellow Canuck and having four children, while residing in New York. Her life is fast-paced and her views are strong and inspirational.
I also have a ‘to-read’ list of other titles about inspirational ladies, which keeps growing:
- HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton
- The Woman I Wanted To Be by Diane Von Furstenberg
- Strong Woman: The Truth About Getting To The Top by Karren Brady
- Bossypants by Tina Fey
- Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
- Vivienne Westwood
Now what about you? Have you read any of the above or would you add to this list?