When I want to be inspired with new ideas to try, nothing beats a book. These are all books I adore and have been changed by recently.

Read on to see how exactly I was inspired by the books and why they’re the perfect books to start off a new year with.

8 epic books for entrepreneurs, biz owners, creatives and bloggers to read to kick-start their year #books #business #creativity #inspiration

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Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert is your cheerleader spurring you on to do something amazing and new, to listen to that little idea that pops into your mind and to CREATE. I love that she tackles fear head-on in the book, and not “oh fear is silly, get over it” but “fear is useful at keeping you alive, learn to work with it”.

She is super honest about her own creative path, in a similar way that Anne Lamott is in her book Bird by Bird: writing is hard work, and while we might only see the successes of people, we don’t see all their failures, their rejection letters, their self-doubt and struggles.

I was inspired by her saying that we don’t need someone else’s permission to live a creative life and haven’t got that idea out of my head since I read it. Too often the only reason someone else is out there doing that thing you’ve always wanted to do or make is simply because they did it! They wrote and wrote and wrote, or painted and painted and painted…

Permission to be Creative

For a while now I’ve said that I wanted to teach again in some capacity. I lectured at the University of Auckland for 9 years and while I love what I’m doing, I do miss teaching classes. I saw other people successfully running online courses, like Holly Becker of Decor8 and then years later people like Mariah Coz of Fempreneur, and wished I could be doing that alongside my other work.

My fear was not that I couldn’t write or teach the course but that I’d create a course and no-one would turn up. As an introvert, I’m not big on self-promotion and struggle with this. This book help spurred me to finally turn my ideas into action and deal with the fears. In February, I’ll be teaching a course on how to launch your dream food blog. I cannot wait and am glad I’m challenging myself this year to be BOLD.

Big Magic is very practical too, not all airy-fairy – she doesn’t tell people to quit their day jobs to go painting, and talks about how hard the work is to make things happen. It’s the perfect book to start the new year with.

#Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso

Founder of Nasty Gal, Sophia Amoruso’s book is part life-story and part field guide to being a kick-ass female business owner. I’m inspired by how hard she worked to get where she is today and her fantastic attitude to everything she does. Here’s one quote which inspired me from the book:

Be Your Own Idol - Sophia Amoruso

I often look at people with bigger Twitter followings or email subscribers and think HEY, my writing is awesome too! Why don’t I have their social media numbers? (Being a statistican, I know how much the numbers can be gamed and there’s so many reasons why theirs are bigger than mine but also can’t help but notice them!) I often think I deserve more of an audience because I believe in my work and then get down about it. I do know that I haven’t been consistent with sharing my work and knowledge publicly in the past, so have been focusing on doing this more and trying not to look at other people’s numbers.

My business is doing well, I have much to celebrate and be proud of! I love my work, and the websites I design. I put my mind and my heart into my projects and love getting to know all sorts of people in the process.

Essentialism by Greg McKeown

This book is a must for any entrepreneur, creative or business owner who struggles with overwhelm, time management, feeling busy etc. McKeown is ruthless in his advice, with wisdom such as:

Remember that if you don’t prioritize your life someone else will.- GREG MCKEOWN

And this is such a good one:

Remember that if you don’t prioritize your life someone else will. - GREG MCKEOWN

I need to re-read this book regularly and keep sticking to what is essential. My Myers-Briggs personality type is ISTJ-A, so I don’t like to commit to something and then change my mind and say “no”. I’m learning to choose to not do things which I don’t want to do (e.g. social events when I’m tired) and Essentialism is a great reminder.

Show Your Work by Austin Kleon

All Austin Kleon’s work is inspiring and he gave me a good kick up the backside to get back into blogging, and sharing my thinking and my work. I love that he acknowledges how difficult self-promotion can be for artists and gives practical ways of overcoming this in a non-spammy way.

Show Your Work - Austin Kleon

His handwriting and doodles make the book a delight to read.

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller

I’ve read and re-read this book many times. Donald Miller’s funny and thoughtful book on what makes a life lived a good story is incredibly special to me.

I often think about his example that in movies we want to see lots of drama and conflict, that the essence of a good story is a character who wants something and overcomes adversity to get it. However, when it comes to our own lives we don’t want the drama or conflict! Maybe living a good story means embracing all the hard stuff that comes our way and overcoming it?

Fear is a manipulative emotion that can trick us into living a boring life. - DONALD MILLER

Creativity Inc by Ed Catmull

This book is so incredible. I took notes the whole way through, and then read long excerpts out to my husband and anyone else who was around at the time I was reading it. The Pixar story itself is amazing in and of itself, but Ed Catmull’s leadership and perspective on creativity is out of this world.

Catmull sees failure as a necessary consequence of doing something new, and to simply keep trying new things and not to hold onto any idea too tightly. He encourages sharing of things well before they’re perfect and that people’s implementations of things are more important to the end result than the initial ideas. He loves uncovering problems in the company which are hindering their creativity and working on them together creatively, even if they make people feel uncomfortable.

This book is simply outstanding.


The Life-Changing Art of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

While it seems everyone has read this book, it’s a fantastic read if you haven’t had a chance to get to it yet. Having a clear desk, an organized office and only keeping things which “bring you joy” really does help. All this year, we’ve been reducing all the stuff we have in our office (and in the rest of the house) and we are almost there. I think. It’s been a long process. (And I am not a hoarder.) Marie’s book is super inspiring. I want to read and re-read it.

When I’m designing blogs, I think about the book’s principles a lot. Many bloggers have extremely cluttered sites and not everything is needed. Many of the things that are there are there for reasons other than their usefulness. I love to question why someone is keen to hold onto something in their blog when we redesign it. Is it really needed? What is the cost of keeping it – does it make it harder to find what you want, does it stop you from feeling calm and focused?

Oh and I don’t think I’ll see socks or more generally, the folding of washing the same way again thanks to this book!

But when we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future. MARIE KONDO

The 12 Week Year by Brian P. Moran

There are so many year planners out there these days. Some look so pretty, and some are more practical. I’ve tried so many different methods for staying organized (I’ll cover these in an upcoming post), but The 12 Week Year seems like a far smarter way of setting and reaching your goals.

Instead of thinking in terms of 12 months (which can seem like so much time, it’s easy to put things off and get behind), think in terms of 12 weeks. It’s more concrete and immediate and each week feels like it counts. I’m going to give this method a try and have been working through the process of vision, goals, tactics, measurement and planning.

Moran asks when was the moment that Olympian legend Michael Phelps became great, was it when he got his medal, or when he chose to compete for it? I love this quote:


This year is about dreaming big for me. It will be the first year in the last 8 (!) that I have not been pregnant or had a baby under the age of 1. I have much more energy to dedicate to my business and lots of vision for it! I’m excited about a lot of ideas. While I have been blogging in various places since 2002, I have re-found my passion for it in the last few months and I think it shows in what I’ve been writing about here.

Books have been my not-so-secret inspiration source this past year and I can’t wait to read the pile of 15 books beside my bed.

Have you read these books? What did you find inspiring by them?

Please let me know in the comments. Oh and I love reading, so if you have any recommendations for me please let me know. I’ll eagerly order them in from my local library and let you know what I think of them too.

Note: Links to the books on Amazon are affiliate links. By purchasing a book on Amazon, a small percentage goes to my book-reading fund. Thank you!

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