Friday, 10 March 2017

What's on your bookshelf? with Nicola from itsneecola. We talk Self Help, Spirituality + Khloe Kardashian

I’m prefacing this by saying that this is a brand-new series.  I sit down with people doing cool things and ask them what’s on their bookshelf and what they read. I don’t know if what you read is a reflection on your character …? But I’m nosy and the first thing I do when I go round someone’s house, is gravitate towards their bookshelves. So this is that, in blog post form. I know I’m not the only one who does this, so I hope this gives you reading inspo and/or just satisfies your curiosity – it definitely satisfies mine.

Like I said, I wouldn’t say what you read is a huge eye-opener into who you are to the core, but I do think some of our choices can be explained by maybe memories we hold onto, our character, what we’re passionate about etc etc etc. And at least that’s what I’d say looking at my own pile of books right now, and what I found to be the case with my friend Nicola from the blog, itsneecola. Our shelves are pretty different and I thought they would be; which just made the conversation so much more interesting. Because as someone who reads pretty often, you think you have and know about this whole world of literature and, all these books influencing you. And when you talk to someone else about what they read, you realise you haven’t even scratched the surface.

Nicola started as a beauty blogger but that’s since expanded to lifestyle and self-development. Her posts are informative, inspirational and encouraging and a must read It should then come as little surprise then when we were chatting about why she started reading, it was at a time “when my mental health wasn’t doing so great and I wanted to read something calm and relaxing to read before bed”. Her go to books of choice? The Number One's Ladies Detective Agency, of which her mum has all 17 and counting, and passes them down to her.

*Queue a little fangirl moment on my part*

This is possibly my favourite book series ever. And to be honest, I couldn’t quite believe I know another person (irl) who also loves these books! In case you have yet to hop onto this bandwagon, the series is set in Botswana and is about a Mma Ramostwe , 'a traditionally built woman' who runs the country’s first and only female run detective agency. “They just have really simple problems and like, logical solutions … I just find them so relaxing to read … "It also really made me want to go to Botswana”. I've never been to southern Africa, but I too can attest to this. The people, food, atmosphere and culture seeps through these books.

Speaking of worldliness and travelling, a while back I read a post by Nicola called Be Your Own Coach , about how not everyone can have access to a therapist but, how  you can still be your own self-help coach by making use of the many resources available to you, such as books. Nicola actually reads quite a lot of self-help and it’s definitely something we delved into.


"A few years ago I was working with a network marketing company, whose ethos was about self-development and I think that’s how I started getting into it.” Before this chat I’d say I knew nothing about self-development books. I always thought they had a reputation of being quite out-there and not giving very tangible or helpful advice. But Nicola hasn’t "personally had any bad experiences or read any *bad* books". And one thing I did take away from our conversation is that there is sort of a scale when it comes to self-help books. Here are some books Nicola isolated:

Strong Looks Better Naked by Khloe Kardashian. Which we had a bit of a giggle about because it’s one of those books where, if you judged it by the cover or the fact that it’s by a Kardashian, you may not gravitate towards it. ... No shade. But it's actually been really well received. "It’s not really mystical self-help. It’s more of a case of, she went through shit, she got through shit and here's how she did it". And the book is divided into 3 sections, body, mind and heart – which is surprisingly quite practical considering I thought it was more of a biography.

How to Make Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

“It was the first self-care book i read and it kick-started my interest in those sort of books ... I'd say it's a solid self-development book"

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
As always "the book is definitely better than the film, and you’ll get a lot more out of it practically, if you read the book first”.

The Skeleton Cupboard by Tanya Byron

“I'd recommend it for anyone considering a career in mental healthcare or counselling. Or actually for anyone and everyone who has been through/experienced or simply needs to learn more about mental health. It offers a very honest and real view.”

The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff

"It reads quite nicely but maybe it’s a bit more *hard core* self-help, because it’s about Taoism”

The Good Psychopath’s Guide to Success by Andy McNab
“It is actually really good, but I don’t think it reads or flows quite as well. It’s also really long.”

We then had a bit of quick fire round: 
If there's one book on your shelves/in your collection, that you'd recommend straight away, what would it be?

“It depends on the person and the situation [they’re in] so I’ve got a couple”
What's So Amazing About Grace by Philip Yancey

"I wouldn’t say I'm a religious person but I think I'm spiritual. And if there's things you want to know about God, the world, and you just want to sort out things out in your head, I’d recommend this one."

The Shack by Wm Paul Young
Nicola's passion for this book, legit makes me want to read it, like right now. "It is so intense. The main character just goes through some horrific things. But I think if you're going through stuff, this is the one. But yeah, it's very intense."

You're on a desert island and you can only take 2 books - what would they be and why?

“If I was stranded and about to die, I’d probably read The Shack - just as an inspirational one and to you know, know that everything would be alright in the end. Or maybe The Number One Ladies Detective Agency again? I’d want something relaxing and quite light. … Or maybe I'd burn an encyclopaedia to make a fire.” – Keeping it practical. Also, remember encyclopaedias?! What a throwback.

The Passion Flower Massacre by Nicola Morgan

“I'd say it was my first ever "favourite" book as a teenager and was my go-to recommendation to anyone for years and years!”

What’s next on your list to read?

This question opened an unexpected can of worms because Nicola has super organised TBR, on a Word Document, that is 5 pages long, and is ever impending and ever growing. #goals

Hot Feminist by Polly Vernon is one of them, which I thought was interesting given it’s been quite controversial. “This whole question of whether we can be feminists and love make up and care about our appearance - obviously, I think we can, but I want concrete answers”

“I’m also looking for books that give concrete answers on the relationship between religion and astrology. I want to know the thought process behind things like star signs and also whether religion and astrology are compatible? … I also want to read the Lord of the Rings books. I love the films but I’ve never read the book. Just in case I ever wanted to get a tattoo or something from Lord of the Rings, I’d want to really know my stuff.”

I learnt so much from this chat. Nicola's smart, self aware and; her recommendations, especially on self-help books, definitely broadened my horizons. You know, past Cheryl Strayed. 

Posts to check out on itsneecola:
Invisible Illness


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