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Reading suggestions

Reading lists begin as a shelf full of hope until the year flies by, and you find yourself flooded with procrastination. Cheers to the books we’ve been meaning to read all these years and should probably start at some point.

Beaten but not Broken. Vanessa Govender

At the height of her journalism career, more than one million households across the country knew her name and her face. Her reportage on human suffering and triumph captivated viewers, and with it Vanessa Govender shot to fame as one of a handful of female Indian television news reporters in South Africa.  Yet Govender, a champion for society’s downtrodden, was hiding a shocking story of her own. In Beaten but not Broken, she finally opens up about her deepest secret. She was a rookie reporter at the SABC in 1999. He was a popular presenter at a radio station. They were the perfect pair, or so it seemed. Behind closed doors the bruising punches, the cracking slaps and the episodes filled with beatings, kicking and strangling were as ferocious as the emotional and verbal abuse he hurled at her. No one knew the brutal and graphic details of Govender’s abuse… until now. In this memoir, Govender breaks the ranks of a close knit, conservative community to speak out about her five-year-long hell in an abusive relationship. Govender tells a graphic story of extreme abuse, living with the pain and how she was saved by her own relentless fighting spirit. But just as she thought she had finally overcome her past the publishing process triggers her trauma afresh and she is hurled back into fear and anxiety. This reality, and in a bid to be completely honest with the reader, sees her penning an epilogue for her book two days before it goes to print; a piece of writing that speaks to her ongoing journey of healing.

The Headspace Guide to Meditation & Mindfulness. Andy Puddicombe

As a former Buddhist monk with over 10 years of teaching experience, Andy Puddicombe has been acknowledged as the UK’s foremost mindfulness meditation expert. Like his readers and students, he began his own meditation practice as a normal, busy person with everyday concerns, and he has since designed a program of mindfulness and guided meditation that fits neatly into a jam-packed daily routine-proving that just 10 minutes a day can make a world of difference. Simple exercises, stories and techniques culled from Andy’s years of experience will help anyone calm the chatter in their minds. The result? More headspace, less stress.

Get Some Headspace also brings us the extraordinary science behind this seemingly simple cure-all. This book and practice will help readers positively impact every area of their physical and mental health through mindfulness, from productivity and focus, to stress and anxiety relief, sleep, weight-loss, personal relationships…and the list goes on and on.

The Book of Dreams. Nina George

Henri Skinner is a hardened ex-war reporter on the run from his past. On his way to see his son, Sam, for the first time in years, Henri steps into the road without looking and collides with oncoming traffic. He is rushed to a nearby hospital where he floats, comatose, between dreams, reliving the fairytales of his childhood and the secrets that made him run away in the first place.

After the accident, Sam—a thirteen-year old synesthete with an IQ of 144 and an appetite for science fiction—waits by his father’s bedside every day. There he meets Eddie Tomlin, a woman forced to confront her love for Henri after all these years, and twelve-year old Madelyn Zeidler, a coma patient like Henri and the sole survivor of a traffic accident that killed her family. As these four very different individuals fight—for hope, for patience, for life—they are bound together inextricably, facing the ravages of loss and first love side by side.

A revelatory, urgently human story that examines what we consider serious and painful alongside light and whimsy, THE BOOK OF DREAMS is a tender meditation on memory, liminality, and empathy, asking with grace and gravitas what we will truly find meaningful in our lives once we are gone.

Range. Why generalists triumph in a Specialized World. David Epstein

What’s the most effective path to success in any domain? It’s not what you think.

Plenty of experts argue that anyone who wants to develop a skill, play an instrument, or lead their field should start early, focus intensely, and rack up as many hours of deliberate practice as possible. If you dabble or delay, you’ll never catch up to the people who got a head start. But if you take a closer look at the world’s top performers, from professional athletes to Nobel laureates, you’ll find that early specialization is the exception, not the rule.

David Epstein, author of the New York Times bestseller The Sports Gene, studied the world’s most successful athletes, artists, musicians, inventors, forecasters and scientists. He discovered that in most fields–especially those that are complex and unpredictable–generalists, not specialists, are primed to excel. Generalists often find their path late, and they juggle many interests rather than focusing on one. They’re also more creative, more agile, and able to make connections their more specialized peers can’t spy from deep in their hyperfocused trenches. As experts silo themselves further while computers master more of the skills once reserved for highly focused humans, people who think broadly and embrace diverse experiences and perspectives will increasingly thrive.

Our obsession with getting a head start is understandable; early specialization feels efficient. But Epstein marshals an enormous body of scientific research to argue that we should all actively cultivate inefficiency. Failing a test is the best way to learn. Frequent quitters end up with the most fulfilling careers. The most impactful inventors cross domains rather than deepening their knowledge in a single area. Provocative, rigorous, and engrossing, Range explains how to maintain the benefits of breadth, diverse experience, interdisciplinary thinking, and delayed concentration in a world that increasingly incentivizes, even demands, hyperspecialization.

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