Books I Read In 2016


When I finished my music degree at the end of 2015, I decided to read as many books as I possibly could in 2016.

…But I couldn’t get into reading any fiction books.
I tried really hard to get into reading fiction, but my brain just couldn’t focus on a made up story for the life of me.
I really wanted to be caught up in the wondrous beauty of fiction, but my brain decided to not care about genres I previously adored.

I really hope it’s a phase..

*crosses fingers, toes, arms and legs*
*crosses other peoples fingers, toes, arms and legs*

So if you are looking for non-fiction book recommendations, *because your brain has also kicked you out of the fictional world…or you just want to try something new* you have come to the right place!

These won’t be ranked from best to worst, they will be ranked from the alphabetical order of the author’s last name.

tuesdays with Morrie – Mitch Albom


“Be compassionate…and take responsibility for each other…love each other or die.”

This is a fantastic book with great insight into the mind of a dying older man (Morrie Schwartz), who has lived a full life as a teacher, a husband and a father.
An old student of his (Mitch) captures his last moments in this book, throughout the teachings of life lessons he receives from Morrie.
I loved carrying this book around with me in my daily travels. I felt like I learnt something new and valuable from every chapter.
Morrie’s warm and wise nature just shines throughout the entire book.

#GIRLBOSS – Sophia Amoruso


“Treat your mind like your money; don’t waste it.”

This is a must read for any kind of woman in any kind of industry.
Or now that I think of it, I would like to think a guy could read this as well.
All in all, it’s a great book that really inspires you to work hard for whatever career dream you would like to accomplish. Amoruso has this awesome kick ass, not giving a shit attitude to life, that has really grown her company Nasty Gal to where it is today.
She provides smart advice for young women who are trying to find their feet in the world and in their industries. Giving them not only common sense life lessons, but the confidence to work hard for their careers in order to feel fulfilled in their line of work.

The Highly Sensitive Person – Elaine Aron


“You forget that you belong to a group that has often demonstrated great creativity, insight, passion and caring – all highly valued by society.”

This was a really interesting read, that I found advertised in an online mental health article. I felt like I identified with most of the traits of a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), and I found the book very helpful in understanding more of my own strengths and weaknesses.

Fat Dad, Fat Kid – Shay Butler & Gavin Butler


“…we have to make wise decisions based on the future instead of what’s going to make us feel good right now.”

This book provides helpful health, fitness and lifestyle tips.
I enjoyed how personal the book was and how honest the writers were on recounting their previous lifestyle choices. It doesn’t make you feel inadequate in your own personal choices as a reader, but it gives you the perspective of what life could be like if you ate healthier and exercised regularly.

Plain Speaking Jane – Jane Caro


“…people only change when it gets too uncomfortable to stay the same…My anxiety, I believe, came from a part of me that I knew I needed to change. It was nipping at my heels, pushing me to reach out, to search for the skills I needed and the understandings about myself and life in general that I lacked.”

By reading this memoir, I was given an insight on her life with anxiety and how she coped with it in her career and in her life in general. As a young adult with anxiety, I have moments where I struggle to believe that I can function normally on a regular basis with such a nervous mind. I was inspired by her courage and confidence she approached her work with, no matter the set backs or the negative people she encountered in her career.

Creativity Inc. – Ed Catmull with Amy Wallace


“…our purpose was not merely to build a studio that made hit films but to foster a creative culture that would continually ask questions.”

There are many books out there written about Pixar as a company by other people outside of Pixar, but this book gives the best insight into the real inner workings of the company. This is because it is written by the president of Pixar Animation and Disney Animation, Ed Catmull (with Amy Wallace). This books helps the reader to really understand the mission of Pixar, along with their innovative creative culture, that has boosted the company’s status to where it is today.

The Songlines – Bruce Chatwin


“By singing the world into existence…the Ancestors had been poets in the original sense of poesis, meaning ‘creation’…religious life had a single aim: to keep the land the way it was and should be. The man who went ‘walkabout’ was making a ritual journey. He trod in the footprints of his Ancestors. He sang the Ancestors stanzas without changing a word or note – and so recreated the Creation”

This was a fascinating book to read. Chatwin relays his trip in the Northern Territory where he was on a mission to learn more about indigenous songlines of Australia. He captures the richness of aboriginal culture through his findings, where he discovers the history of the songlines and how they preserve the history of the land. They preserve the sacredness of the land, by replenishing the land with song of it’s creation. By keeping the song of it’s creation alive, they keep their spiritual dreaming alive in the land and in their community. As white Australians, I believe it is so important to learn about the oldest living culture of our land, that can also provide us with a stronger sense of identity since we are all one that share the same home and land we call Australia.

The Most Of Nora Ephron – Nora Ephron


“Be the heroine of your life, not the victim.”

This book is jam packed with Ephron’s wide and diverse range of writings and various publications. From her work as a journalist, a screenwriter, a playwright, a novelist, a blogger, to her writings on being an obsessed foodie, and the interesting pieces of her personal writings that reveal the real Nora Ephron. I loved learning about her and reading her work, as it revealed how strong and forward she was for her time. 

Bossypants – Tina Fey


“Ah, babies! They’re more than just adorable little creatures on whom you can blame your farts.”

This was a hilarious read!
I enjoyed this book, as it felt like she was really talking to you with the use of an informal writing style, and comedic expression. I love how down to earth she is, and how she doesn’t over glamourise her fame. She tells like it is, right from her childhood to her successful career at Saturday Night Live, to her experiences as a mother. This book can replace that “funny” friend in your life, who you only keep around for the jokes.

Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert


“Inspiration is always trying to work with me. So I sit there and I work too. That’s the deal. I trust it; it trusts me.”

I believe that this is a must read for an artist in any industry.
Gilbert is fantastic at breaking down previously thought ideals for artists, such as that we need to suffer and be in pain in order to create groundbreaking art. She doesn’t sugar coat any of her beliefs on being an artist either, she emphasises the age old value of hard work and perseverance instead. She writes about the weaknesses of your fears, how to respond to failure, and most of all to keep creating art no matter the limitations you form in your mind.

The Hollow Of The Hand – PJ Harvey & Seamus Murphy


“In the hollow of the hand
is a folded square
of paper,

but nobody looks twice at the white paper
that gleams in the hand that begs,
stretching out and shining in the rain.”

This is a book of poetry from PJ Harvey and photography from Seamus Murphy.
It’s such a cohesive collaboration of poetry and photography, because of the similar tones and emotion they tend to capture through her words and his vision. Harvey’s poetry is quite dry in language but vibrant in it’s stories and surroundings. Most of the poems have a rhythm to them, when they are read aloud and in your head. Even though there is no set tempo, you can still feel it when they are read. Murphy’s photos really captured intriguing people and corners of the world they traveled to in the book. 

Thrive – Arianna Huffington


“Take time to wonder at the world around us, feel gratitude for the good in our lives, and overcome our natural bias towards focusing on the negative.”

The book is broken down into four sections: wellbeing, wisdom, wonder and giving. It provides a very interesting and insightful outlook on life. She challenges you on what you believe are the most important aspects of your life that aren’t based on your wealth or career. Introducing the third metric (third measure of success) that “goes beyond the two metrics of money and power”, in order for us to learn how to lead a more fulfilling life.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? – Mindy Kaling


“The blanket/sweatshirt keeps the laptop from getting too hot and radiating my ovaries, which everyone knows makes your children come out with ADD.”

Very similar in style to Bossypants, this book is hilarious.
If you love The Office, and The Mindy Project, then this is definitely the book for you. There really isn’t a boring moment in this book. It will have you giggling to yourself on the train, and reading out various sections to your family members whether they want to hear it or not. Yep, I’m also aware that this book came out in 2011, and I am very slow at keeping up with..well life in general. And that she released another book this year called ‘Why Not Me?’, which I will catch up with next year. Way after it’s best before date.
*i’m so with it and relevant*

milk and honey – rupi kaur


“your art
is not about how many people
like your work
your art
is about
if your heart likes your work
if your soul likes your work
it’s about how honest
you are with yourself
and you
must never
trade honesty
for relatability

– to all you young poets”

I absolutely adored Kaur’s collection of poems.
They are so raw, blunt and emotional in their delivery, that they make you stop, sit back and think about your own response to these feelings. Most of the things she writes just ring true in my mind, and I love that she has written these things in ways I don’t believe I could. This is because I felt like they reveal truths we have all felt, but we have never consciously brought to the table for dissection.

Furiously Happy – Jenny Lawson


“…as soon as I had the strength to get up out of bed I would again turn my hand to being furiously happy. Not just to save my life, but to make my life.”

This book follows Lawson’s hilarious first memoir ‘Let’s Pretend This Never Happened’, that even Neil Gaiman thinks is funny. There ya go.
Also known as The Bloggess, Lawson writes hilarious excerpts of her life and publishes it all on her blog. And this book is pretty similar. Just more angled to stories of how she has suffered with her mental health issues and how she gets through them. I think it’s great the way she applies her sense of humour to situations of all kinds, and really has an effective way of sharing her very unique view on the world through writing, that still makes her loveable and relatable to her audience.

Just Kids – Patti Smith


“Much has been said about Robert, and more will be added. Young men will adopt his gait. Young girls will wear white dresses and mourn his curls. He will be condemned and adored. His excesses damned or romanticised. In the end, truth will be found in his work, the corporeal body of the artist. Man cannot judge it. For art sings of God, and ultimately belongs to him.”

I value a well written book mostly over a good story, and this book provides both.
There is something beautifully soothing about how a good writer can string a sentence together, and Patti Smith does it exceptionally well. The story of her days with Robert Mapplethorpe were beautifully vibrant and tragic, and I could not tear my eyes away from the pages. As a poet and songwriter myself I was intrigued at how a true artist like herself lived back in her younger years, and who she surrounded herself with.  

M Train – Patti Smith


“A sudden gust of wind shakes the branches of trees, scattering a swirl of leaves that shimmer eerily in the bright filtered light. Leaves as vowels, whispers of words like a breath of filtered light. Leaves are vowels. I sweep them up hoping to find the combinations I am looking for. The language of the lesser gods.”

This book was very different to her Just Kids memoir, but it delved deeper into her psyche. She speaks of her travels and her life at home near her favourite cafe, constantly weaving in and out of her dreams and reality. In here I feel like you really get to know Smith as a woman, who has built a life based on what gives her peace and joy for her soul. She shows her gratitude for her life through this book.

My Life On The Road – Gloria Steinem


“…ordinary people are smart, smart people are ordinary, decisions are best made by the people affected by them and human beings have an almost infinitive capacity for adapting to the expectations around us – which is both the good and the bad news.”

This is about Steinem’s upbringing, her love for traveling and her life as an feminist activist. It’s a very interesting read, where she recounts significant events in her life, and also gives great advice to others, on how she became the leader she is today. She mainly attributes it to her act of always listening to other people’s stories, to try and understand other people’s points of view, no matter status or wealth. She recognises that it is people like taxi drivers who have a better understanding of society, because they meet so many different people on a daily basis, and are exposed to so many different circumstances in their shifts.

33 Artists in 3 Acts – Sarah Thornton


“…inherent dilemma between the desire to express oneself and the anxiety that it provokes, between an urgent yearning to be known and a more urgent need to keep parts of oneself hidden…That conflict…is central to a lot of what artists do.”
(Andrea Fraser on D.W. Winnicott theory: ‘Communicating and Not Communicating’)

In this book, Thornton interviews well known contemporary artists, finding out how they live and work in their chosen field, asking them what it means to be making art in a world like ours today. It was an intriguing read as I did not have much knowledge on these visual artists before, and I discovered that artists in any chosen field all have a similar view on creativity and approach to creativity. That involves having a clear emphasis of needing to tell a story through a piece, that has clear reason and purpose in it’s creation.


Thank you for reading & following my blog this 2016!
Hope you all have a great New Year in 2017, that brings you much joy and laughter.


Published by Hayley McManus

I'm a writer who wants to share more content, instead of keeping them jammed in many notebooks in fear of anything and everything illogical.

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