Reading List

Reading List by the Sabbatical Guide

“That’s the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet.”

Jhumpa Lahiri

And not just travel.

Stephen King described reading as a simple form of telepathy. Pick up a book, read a few paragraphs and a writer puts an image in your brain. They, scribbling away at a little desk many years ago, create a world transferred from their thoughts to yours.

No matter the subject, there is a book that can change a view, educate or completely change your life.

I’ve read hundreds of books in my lifetime, and continue reading many every year (2018 list). Here are the BEST ones I’ve picked up, and I hope you get some enjoyment from them too.

I’ve split this down into a number of categories to make it easy to navigate:

Personal Development

The Effective Executive (Peter Drucker)
There is one thing you can take complete control of, and that is your time and what you do with it. This book taught me more being productive and prioritisation than any other.

Who Moved My Cheese? An Amazing Way To Deal With Change in Work and Life (Spencer Johnson)
There is only one constant in life, and that’s change! This is a very simple, but very powerful book that changed my attitude to change forever.

Discipline Equals Freedom (Jocko Willink)
I feel you learn more from people who are very different to you than those that are similar. Jocko is an ex Navy SEAL commander, and a tough bastard. This book is an extreme view on mindset, health, leadership and much more. It does not pull any punches, but the way it is formatted and the tough messages make it an incredibly engaging read. I re-read it once a year to keep me focused.

The Obstacle Is The Way (Ryan Holiday)
I clipped so many notes from this book and refer to them all the time! This is all about accepting the shit life throws at you and turning it into an opportunity to learn rather than letting it get you down. An absolutely brilliant read.


On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (Stephen King)
Part autobiography, part instruction manual on the craft of writing, if you want some writing inspirations, read this.

Bird by Bird: Instructions on Writing and Life (Anne Lamott)
A hugely helpful book on the mental process of writing and how to capture your thoughts on a page.

Travel Writing/Travelogues

The Great Railway Bazaar: By Train Through Asia (Paul Theroux)
I would have happily put anything by Paul Theroux on this list. The way he captures human interaction whilst travelling brings his stories to life in a way no-one else I’ve read can manage.

Down Under: Notes from a Sunburned Country (Bill Bryson)
Another hard choice, as I have not read a bad book by Bill Bryson, but this is my favourite. He has a unique talent for cramming a book with facts, and combing that with hilarious stories of his travels. If I can ever write half as well as him I’ll be pretty pleased.


The Sharpe Series (Bernard Cornwell)
I’m not a big reader of fiction, but these books are addictive. Blending a great story with historical accuracy meant I learned a lot along the way too!

The Discworld Novels (Terry Pratchett)
I get lost in this alternative universe for hours at a time. An easy, funny and unashamedly unconventional read they are absolute classics.


The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere (Tim Ferriss)
The first book that made me seriously think about my work/life balance and how little of the world I’d seen. The phrase ‘mini-retirements’ was the basis for this website.

Vagabonding (Rolf Potts)
The pragmatic guide to long-term travel. This book covers all bases, and will start to turn your dreams of travel into a practical plan.


Open: An Autobiography (Andre Agassi)
I wouldn’t consider myself a tennis fan, but this is a whirlwind of a book that’s brilliantly written.

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Useful Tools for Booking Your Sabbatical


I always use Skyscanner or Agoda alongside Google Flights to make sure I’ve got the best price. I use Google Flights to save a route and monitor price changes and a combination of Skyscanner and Agoda to get the cheapest tickets. 

If you are in the UK I would also highly recommend signing up for Jack’s Flight Club to get incredible flight deals sent to your email inbox every week.


When booking accommodation I always start with as they generally have the best range and prices. I also regularly use Airbnb for longer stays and apartments in cities (use this link for £25 off your first stay). For a different experience try signing up to Housecarers for free house-sitting opportunities (get 10% off membership with this link).


Travel insurance might seem like an unnecessary cost, but when a flight gets cancelled, injury occurs or you damage a piece of gear you’ll regret not paying in advance. I’ve used  World Nomads for two sabbaticals and (after badly damaging a hire car in Laos!) found the claim process to be simple and transparent.


Using local guides is one of my favourite travel tips. The easiest way to find a local guide is to use Get Your Guide who offer tours with local guides all over the world.


Check out my gear page for my favourite travel gear, here for a detailed 3-month packing list for men and women and here to find 38 great travel gifts.


Getting from the airport to your destinations is an added stress after a tiring flight, so take the guesswork out and pre-book with Their prices often beat the local taxis and I've found them to be reliable and easy to use.

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