The Little Book of Big Changes by Amy Johnson

Written by: Anusha Banerjee, Staff Writer

What I’ve found most helpful about this book is learning about the way my brain and consciousness come together to make or break a habit. Amy Johnson strings together metaphors of the sky and weather to explain profound human behaviour, but manages to do so with such simplicity that it presents a clear picture. She explains the volatility and polarity of thought and emotion – the way it violently changes, or its persistence through habit and routine. Learning about what is considered a ‘bad’ or a ‘good’ habit is something that’s been inculcated in most of our brains since early childhood. Yet, learning about the way habits are formed in the first place, and what can be done to manipulate that process to work for you, is one that seems to be a well-kept secret that Johnson brings into the spotlight. Not only does Johnson use imaginative analogies to explain the rationale behind bad habits, but also backs it up with neurological justification. It’s not something the average person learns about in their daily life – the firing and wiring of neurons, initiation of urges and the process of strengthening those neural connections that build bad habits over time is an extremely insightful and relevant read.

Sane New World by Ruby Wax

Written by: Graziela Marianne Williams, Staff Writer

In this self-help book, memoir and manifesto, comedian and author Ruby Wax lays out a playbook for living well with a variety of different mental illnesses, ranging from low-level anxiety to severe conditions. The author draws on her own compelling experiences as a self-proclaimed ‘poster girl for mental illness’. Wax has been publically open about her experience of bipolar disorder throughout her career, and utilises her undergraduate study of psychotherapy and MA in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, to craft an engaging, hopeful and funny guide to entering the new world promised in the title. Her explanation of neuroplasticity, cognitive behavioural therapy and mindfulness techniques for those sceptical about the practice are a highlight. However, Wax’s book is not for everyone. Her style could be considered brash and slightly outdated, with the liberal use of terms such as ‘mad’ and ‘crazy’ to self-describe and identify the reader, which may not read as comfortably as it might’ve at the original time of publication nearly a decade ago. However, Sane New World remains a heartening read that acknowledges the painful reality of living with mental illness while providing grounded ways to make everyday life easier. I would therefore still recommend it as a helpful self-care read for anyone looking for guidance.

Good Vibes, Good Life by Vex King

Written by: Sakinah Siddiqui, Staff Writer

If you have never considered reading a self-care book, Good Vibes, Good Life by Vex King is a perfect beginner read. If you’re looking for a new book after a rough 2023 and need help in resetting your goals for 2024, this is the book for you! The book begins with Vex taking you through his experiences and struggles, from his childhood through to university days, whilst sharing how he utilised his experiences to develop into a better person and completely change his life around. The book is split into two sections, parts 1 to 5 offering advice-based help such as how to surround yourself with positive people. Parts 5 to 7, a personal favourite, focus on manifesting your goals and how to take action in achieving them.  This part of the book talks about creating a mood board to visualise your goals, something which I have done since reading and I cannot recommend enough!  If you’re feeling lost, Good Vibes, Good Life may help when reflecting on your current state and the future, which is very important when setting goals long-term, such as post-university plans!

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