A reading list that will motivate you to take charge of your life in 2021


Finish 2021 with a happy ending.

If I had to imagine a perfect summer afternoon, it would go something like this: me, lying on a daybed outside, in the shade. I’m a little bit sunburnt. Not too much, just enough to feel sleepy.

I’m very full because I just had a delicious lunch. And now I’m reading a book; a business, career or personal development book that’s going to help me kick ass this year… once I manage to get up.

There’s a cocktail next to me, and the straw is long enough that I don’t have to lift my head to take a sip. Oh, and there’s a bag of chips waiting patiently for me to get peckish.

Is this your idea of heaven, too? If so, I have just the thing. Seven things actually. My round-up of the best books that will help you get ahead in 2021, whether you’re looking for career growth, personal growth, or both. 

Untamed by Glennon Doyle 

If you’ve arrived at that point in life where you’re considering asking for a refund, perhaps try reading this book first. Written by activist, speaker and author Glennon Doyle, it teaches us to stop people-pleasing, stop ignoring that nagging feeling of discontentment and stop living according to the world’s expectations. It’s labelled as a memoir and a wake-up call that will show you how to set boundaries, make peace with your body and listen to your instincts, among other things.

Blowing My Way To The Top by Jen Atkin

I think it’s safe to say Jen has earned the $30 for the title alone, but if you need more convincing, read on. Jen is THE celebrity hairstylist in Hollywood (do you get the title now?) and the entrepreneur behind haircare brand Ouai. She’s also very cool and very funny, if her cameo appearances on Keeping Up With The Kardashians are anything to go by. Anyway. Blowing My Way To The Top acts as a hilarious how-to guide for finding your voice and creating an epic career and life, with top-secret tales peppered throughout. Oooo.

The Space Between by Michelle Andrews and Zara McDonald

This would’ve come in reeeeeal handy when I was in my twenties. Maybe it would’ve helped me overcome my first heartbreak. Or convinced me to live in Paris for a year. Or steered me away from wearing so much fluro. Anyway, while my ship has technically sailed, maybe you’ll catch yours? The Space Between is split into four parts – Love, Ambition, Mind & Body and Voice – and is packed with honest stories and advice for navigating this transformational decade of your life. And because it’s by Michelle Andrews and Zara McDonald of the Shameless podcast, you know it’s gonna be good.

Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey

I recently drove from Queensland to Victoria which, if you haven’t done it before, is one long-ass drive. I’d heard good things about Greenlights, and had fallen asleep to Matthew McConaughey’s syrupy voice on Calm more than once, so downloading the audiobook was an easy choice. And what a book it was to kick off a new year. Part memoir, part advice book, McConaughey reads his journal entries, shares wild stories and dishes out advice. I felt SO inspired and adventurous after it – ever since, I have been making decisions by first asking myself, What Would McConaughey Do?

Can’t Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation by Anne Helen Petersen

Never seem to get to the end of your to-do list? Only have enough energy to scroll Instagram? Feel like you should be hustling all the damn time? Hmm, me too. This one’s for us. Inspired by Anne’s viral BuzzFeed article of the same topic, Can’t Even explores what millennial burnout is, how we got to this point, and how it impacts every corner of your life. Not cute. A good one to read so you can make a change this year, once and for all.

Girl On Fire: How to Choose Yourself, Burn the Rule Book and Blaze Your Own Trail in Life and Business by Cara Alwill Leyba 

What would you do if you knew how? Publish a book? Start a podcast? Launch a clothing line? In Girl On Fire, Cara argues that you don’t need society’s rule book, and you don’t need to wait for your *big break*. You can do all of those things yourself, and probably soon, if you get off the couch now. Girl On Fire is all about creating your opportunities and doing things your way, rather than waiting for someone to show you the way. Brb, going to write a book now. 

This One Wild and Precious Life by Sarah Wilson

After the year we’ve all had, this book couldn’t have come at a better time. Author, philanthropist and mental health advocate Sarah Wilson is back with another guide to level up your life. This one tells us it’s understandable to feel disconnected and discontent right now and provides a hopeful path forward through science, philosophy and literature. On the way, she shares some of her best practices for a joyful life – think growing a Big Life, getting full-fat spiritual and participating in wild activism.

Alyce is a contributing writer for Fashion Journal and the director and head writer at Bossy, a Melbourne-based copywriting and content studio. You can find Bossy here and here.

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