Literary lockdown: Five books to promote your personal development

By Emily Byrne 

Header Image by Gemma Smith

Here at YUDU we’re promoting a proactive and productive lockdown. Reading has definitely benefited my own well-being and given me the opportunity to be mindful and find a little safe space away from the chaos of Covid-19. I’ve been using my extra time to read into personal development, finding out how I can be a better version of myself. Here are five book recommendations from our team – all of which promote personal development in some way.

1) Emily Byrne: Marketing Executive – ‘The Miracle Morning’ by Hal Elrod

‘The Miracle Morning’ follows the journey of Hal Elrod, beginning with a car accident, which leaves him in a life-changing coma. When Hal wakes, his long-term girlfriend leaves him and he must learn to walk again. Elrod goes on to excel in a sales career he was previously resenting and eventually run his own highly successful consultancy.

‘The Miracle Morning’ states in order to become successful you have to dedicate time to personal development each day. Elrod provides a 6-step morning routine to shape that time, with chapter names such as; ‘Affirmations’ and ‘Mediation’.

Elrod asks what stops us chasing our dreams and living ‘level ten’ versions of our lives. Above all, the book reminded me, in light of Covid-19, life is a blessing and every day is a new opportunity to succeed, develop and focus on achieving our goals and dreams.

2) Emily Byrne: Marketing Executive – ‘Things I Know About Love’ by Dolly Alderton

Sorry… because I couldn’t pick just one.

This charming little novel written by Sunday Times columnist and girl-power journalist, Dolly Alderton, is not so much about self-help, but self-realisation. After all, learning to love yourself is essential, before you can love anyone else.

Dolly’s hilarious accounts of drunken taxi journeys across the entire country to visit one-night stands, first-date faux pas and underwhelming meet ups with boys following MSN conversations are suddenly undercut by the tragic death of her best friends’ sister.

This event forces Dolly to face her demons and undertake a course of intensive therapy. During the therapy, Dolly discovers that we live to love ourselves and the love found in friendship can be everlasting and unconditional.

3) Richard Stephenson: CEO – ‘The School of Life: An Emotional Education’ by Alain de Botton

“Everybody should read ‘The School of Life: An Emotional Education’ by Alain de Botton, particularly during the Covid-19 crisis. I truly believe this book will help people deal with the emotional impact of this crisis and focus on personal development.

Based on emotional education and personal resilience, Alain de Botton prompts us to question how we manage ourselves, tackle our problems and how these problems might correspond with the rest of the world.

‘The School of Life’ will provide you with the wisdom and tools needed to deal with Covid-19 emotionally and will enable you to empathise with those affected. A must read.”

4) Jim Preen: Director of Crisis Management – ‘Into the silence’ by Wade Davis

“I’m not sure ‘Into the silence’ is any kind of self-help or personal development manual, but then again it might be both those things. When men returned from the Western Front in 1918 having miraculously survived the machine age butchery of the trenches, they found an England desperate to forget the war. For many the thought of settling back into twee English tea parties, croquet lawns and cricket was unthinkable.

Today, because of coronavirus, we hear a lot of statistics about mortality rates and the numbers of excess deaths. On the first day of the Battle of the Somme, British forces suffered 20,000 excess deaths, all young men who in normal circumstances had no reason to perish.

‘Silence’ is the story of George Mallory and the men who couldn’t stand prim Georgian England and headed to Everest and the thin air of the Himalayas to find some kind of redemption. They climbed in not much more than tweed suits stuffed with feathers and had to walk 400 miles just to reach base camp.

Their notes and letters home are preserved, so often the men seem to speak directly to the reader. It’s a long book, more than 500 pages, but might just be the thing you need during lockdown. From the trenches to the top of the world, it’s quite a read.

I suppose my real personal development book is Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course. I learnt to cook using her recipes, which any fool can follow. If it hadn’t been for the owner of Norwich City football club, I’d probably have starved.”

 5) James O’Brien: Director of Customer Engagement – ‘Outliers’ by Malcolm Gladwell

 “Outliers examines the patterns that elevate individuals to become successful in their chosen field. A must read for anyone who continues to beat themselves up about their career or individual pursuit. Gladwell leads the reader to examine your own circumstances against a different yardstick as becoming a success is certainly not linear or straightforward.”

We really hope you can take something from these recommendations and use this troubling time to focus on becoming the best version of you, whatever that might mean… or even to focus on just getting through.

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