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Val's Summer Reading List

Ahh summer. The perfect time to switch off the TV and get in some reading time. Whether you are in a hammock, on a road trip, or sitting in traffic, these are 12 of my absolute favourites for business, fun, and self improvement. I am sure you'll find a little something for everyone here. Note: all links are from Amazon, (in case you need the audio or digital versions) however, you get bonus points if you support your local bookstore.

All business

Definitely one of my most-recommended books. If you are looking for a little clarification and direction for your biz, this is the best place to start. It helps you put the focus right back where it belongs, on your customer, while reminding you to start in the right place.

If you are at all interested in speaking on stage, improving your presentations, or getting more comfortable in front of a camera, this is a must read. Learn from the very best, the founder of TED Talks himself.


Have you ever dreamed of selling it all, strapping on a backpack, and running away? This is the true story of a woman who did just that. Paula writes of her 5000 kms (3100 mile) walk in a way that lets you see the world through her eyes, and takes you on a journey of self discovery right alongside her. Warning: may wake the travel bug in you.

This book will make you hungry. It will tickle your taste buds, cause cravings, and make you feel like eating all the things. But it will also touch your heart and introduce you to characters that will make you both laugh and cry. Easily one of my favourites of all time; you will devour this book.

If you asked me my favourite book ever, most days this would be my answer. A 1957 classic, reading this book is like taking summer, squeezing it into a glass, and then drinking it all in one big thirsty gulp. It's beautiful. It's golden. It's everything a summer book should feel like. (Get a used copy that smells a little old. Trust me. It makes it that much better.)

This book is part history, part magic. Did you know that there are more Chinese restaurants in America than McDonalds, Burger Kings, and Wendy's combined? This book traces the history of Chinese-American experience through the lens of the food. It's one of those reads that will forever change your view of the world. It speaks to the immigrant experience as a whole, and the way it has shaped America. (A very timely read.)

Personal Betterment

This book is not cheap. It costs about the same as three inflatable unicorn pool floaty things. But, it's worth it. You'll find yourself highlighting stuff in this book that you'll come back to time and again. It feels more like a high-end magazine than a book, and I think even people who hesitate to buy and read books will love this one. It's truthy and real and good.

This one is a little unconventional. It's part graphic novel (read: comic book), part love story, part kick in the pants. I first bought this book nearly 25 years ago, before taking my first plane ride, and I have tucked it in my suitcase and re-read it on hundreds of flights since. It's short and sweet and the ending will hit you squarely in the feels. The more you read it, the more you'll learn from it.

What happens when you ask over 100 brilliant and interesting people the same 11 questions? This book. It's a whopper, and it weighs a ton. But every single chapter will delight you, teach you, and inspire you. There's no way you can read it all in one sitting, so do what I did: Open it once a day and just read the chapter your finger lands on. You won't be sorry. (The "how to say no" chapters are some of the best.)

This book impressed me so much the first time I read it, I promptly bought a dozen of them and mailed them to a whole bunch of warrior friends. If you are struggling with a messy life, business, or family - and frankly, who isn't? - you will find such joy in this book. (And you'll likely love it so much that you'll then buy the next one, Love Warrior.)

What can I say other than, this book will change your life. It will make you braver. It will make you laugh. It will make you cry. But mostly, it will teach you that there is literally nothing standing between you and your dreams, except you.

I know what you are thinking... two books by the same guy? Yep. And totally with cause. I promise you, they both deserve to be on the list. Love Does will knock your socks off, but Everybody, Always will blow your mind. You won't look at people the same way, ever again.

I can't wait to hear from y'all... what did you read? What did you think? And most importantly, did you read them sitting in a hammock with chips and guacamole?! Happy Summer, friends.

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