It’s been almost a year since I was laid off as a news editor and content creator at a Toronto community newspaper chain. I was fortunate in that after 20 years I still loved what I did – telling stories of the great things people did in an attempt to make the world a better place. While I did write and assign and edit breaking news, which was often terrible and sad, most of my job consisted of promoting the happy things in life – food, travel, pets, health and entertainment either by writing it myself or discovering, editing and mentoring a host of bloggers to do it for me.

And it was on that newspaper’s website this blog first appeared.

It’s been a busy year for me as I built Book Time on WordPress, was offered a second blogging opportunity at FollowSummer.com, where I review books to inspire travel to various destinations, most recently Toronto, did some freelance work and attempted to figure out what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, or at least in the next few years.

I spent a lot of time reading and – gasp – writing in DK’s What Next? career book, which is reviewed here. DK Books also provided me the opportunity to interview its author, Barbara Moses‘ Canada’s “career guru”. I wrote two pieces – one that talked about career planning for executive directors, which first appeared on EDLink, and a second, which focused on the work-life balance.

The year, as anyone who is looking for a job will tell you, has gone by exceedingly fast. I have done a lot of soul searching, pinpointing my values and figuring out what is important to me. I have come to realization I want a career that challenges me, that will allow me to learn new things and have the creativity to take my ideas and run with them. I want to be busy and do a variety of tasks including writing and editing, social media and communications. I want to continue to tell stories about the people who are making the world a better place.

And thanks to a few amazing books, I was able to figure that out. If you are looking for a job, or are undergoing any change, I suggest the following:

The art of stopping time by Pedram Shojai (Raincoast Books) offers advice to help you get the most of your life.
The art of stopping time by Pedram Shojai (Raincoast Books) offers advice to help you get the most of your life.

The art of stopping time

I started reading the art of stopping time by Pedram Shojai ($24.99, Raincoast Books, Rodale Books) at a time when I was beginning to feel a constant state of panic. Shojai reminded me to breathe, to simply take five deep breaths and be mindful. It is such a simple thing, breathing, yet apparently I wasn’t doing it properly because as soon as I did, the world seemed better.

And this is exactly what I like about this book. Each chapter is only two or three pages long and the idea is for you to read one chapter a day and do the exercises within it. Based on a Chinese practice, called the gong, or in this case the 100-Day Gong, you are suppose to do a specific task at a set time each day. And by the end of 100 days, you should have found yourself some time and be more mindful in it.

I enjoyed the chapter titled Assembling Your Life Garden, where you detail what is important to you and how much water, or energy, you need to keep what is important to you thriving. Each person has room for only five to 10 plants, or values. And you need to remember, if you put something else in your garden, less time is left for what you feel is important.

Superhero Therapy by Janina Scarlet helps you vanquish your inner demons so you can be the best you can be. Book courtesy of Raincoast Books
Superhero Therapy by Janina Scarlet helps you vanquish your inner demons so you can be the best you can be.

Superhero Therapy

Superhero Therapy by Janina Scarlet ($22.42, Raincoast Books, Instant Help Books) packs a lot of information into a small book. The author uses acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) to help people vanquish their inner monsters (depression, anxiety and anger, among others) and be the superhero they always wanted to be.

Gratitude plays a big part in this book as does searching for your core values. There is a clock activity in the book where you are asked to identify your values and then mark down whether you are spending just enough time, too much, too little or no time at all on your career, freedom or creativity values, for example. By the end of the book, and after participating in the activities, you should have stilled the voices in your head, showed yourself compassion and discover what is important to you.

If I could tell you just one thing by Richard Reed and PGCBooks features wisdom from the world's greatest people.
If I could tell you just one thing by Richard Reed and PGCBooks features wisdom from the world’s greatest people.

If I could tell you just one thing…Encounters with Remarkable People and their Most Valuable Advice

If I could tell you just one thing…Encounters with Remarkable People and their Most Valuable Advice by Richard Reed ($14.99, PGCBooks, Canon Gate) is a beautiful book, both the cover and all the words inside it. Reed interviews various influential people – from former U.S. president Bill Clinton to Dame Judi Dench and Chef Heston Blumenthal – and writes a few pages about each of their lives and then asks them to impart one piece of advice.

The stories are amazing and the wisdom is priceless, oftentimes telling me what I needed to hear at the time or confirming what I think is important.

“One of the most important things is to see people. The person who opens the door for you, the person who pours your coffee. Acknowledge them. Show them respect.”

~ Bill Clinton

“The secret, darling, is to love everyone you meet. From the moment you meet them. Give everyone the benefit of the doubt.”

~ Joanna Lumley

Creative Pep Talk Inspiration from 50 artists by Andy J. Miller offers advice to live by. Book courtesy of Raincoast Books
Creative Pep Talk Inspiration from 50 artists by Andy J. Miller offers advice to live by.

Creative Pep Talk Inspiration from 50 artists

Creative Pep Talk Inspiration from 50 artists by Andy J. Miller ($20.99, Raincoast Books, Chronicle Books) features words of wisdom from 50 of today’s “leading creative professionals” Each double page spread offers the advice, some information about it and an illustration of the words.

We learn to “Create Curiosity” by author and illustrator Oliver Jeffers and remember “Everyone Has a Story To Tell” by Kate Bingaman-Burt .

Other books to inspire creativity and help you find happiness in your life:

The Key to Happiness by Ashley-Ann Pereira and Upon A Star Books
The Key to Happiness by Ashley-Ann Pereira

The Key to Happiness

The Key to Happiness by by Ashley-Ann Pereira ($17.95, Upon A Star Books) offers you tools to help you let go of emotions that aren’t serving you. It is reviewed here.

Insanely Gifted helps you turn your demons into creative rocket fuel. Book courtesy of PGCBooks
Insanely Gifted helps you turn your demons into creative rocket fuel.

Insanely Gifted, Turn Your Demons into Creative Rocket Fuel

Insanely Gifted, Turn Your Demons into Creative Rocket Fuel by Jamie Catto ($14.56, PGCBooks, Canon Gate) is full of techniques and games to transform our thinking and turn our inner demons into allies.

The Big Life by Ann Shoket, courtesy of Raincoast Books.
The Big Life by Ann Shoket offers you a glimpse on how to turn your passion into a career.

The Big Life

The Big Life by Ann Shoket ($28.99, Raincoast Books, Rodale) is packed with actionable guidance combined with personal advice from high-profile millennial women who have already achieved tremendous success, plus intimate conversations with a cast of compelling characters and Shoket’s own stories on her quest for The Big Life.

A copy of these books were provided by Raincoast Books, PGCBooks and Upon A Star Books Inc. for an honest review. The opinions are my own.