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9 books I read in 2023


I remember being all snuggled up in bed with my head under the covers and flashlight in hand reading for as long as I could keep my eyes open. Two weeks ago I sat on the couch with a blanket over my knees until 4am to finish a book that I was enjoying, again reading for as long as I could keep my eyes open. I started an online bookclub a few years ago that I now run with my dear friend Karen, just so I could have people to talk to about the books I was reading. Yes, I love books. Books are constant companions, sources of inspiration, learning and growth, friends that take me into new places, times and worlds.


Here are nine books I read last year as part of my learning journey (in no particular order because I don't play favourites!).


The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog by Dr Bruce Perry

“In fact, the research on the most effective treatments to help child trauma victims might be accurately summed up this way: what works best is anything that increases the quality and number of relationships in the child’s life.”

The heart of this book is relationships, that love really is the key. It focuses on brain development using a neuro-sequential model. The neuroscience and psychological research are shared within very human stories. The stories shared are heart-wrenching but for the most part inherently hopeful. We read this together at a school I work at- it created some really valuable conversations as a staff.


Into The Magic Shop by James R Doty

Written by a neuroscientist, this book looks at more than the mass of cells that makes up the brain. It is about the power of connecting our minds and our hearts- right up my alley! Mindfulness, trust and energy. James Doty shares his own journey and the ripples that came from an act of kindness in his youth. It's quite a story.


The Gift by Arun Gandhi

In this book Arun Gandhi shares ten lessons he learned from his grandfather, Mahatma Gandhi. The lessons are timeless and much needed in our time. He shares these lessons through stories of the times when he was with his grandfather, they offer an insight into the man behind the icon and help bring the lessons to life.


Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess

This book is all about making learning engaging, stretching our own curiosity and creativity, and transforming our lives as educators. It is jam packed with ideas that we can try in our own classrooms and stages. It is a smorgasbord that provides inspiration and challenge. This was our last Teachers Matter Bookclub book for the year and it was a fun way to finish.


Resilient by Rick Hanson

Another book that addresses what I think we need more of in the world today is Resilience. Rick Hanson brings neuroscience, positive psychology and meditative practice together as he provides a pathway so we can live with an 'unshakeable core'. The book takes us through twelve practices that can make a perceptible difference to our sense of wellbeing and resilience. We started the bookclub year with this book and on reflection it was a good way to start!


Dare to Lead by Brené Brown

“We are not here to fit in, be well balanced, or provide exempla for others. We are here to be eccentric, different, perhaps strange, perhaps merely to add our small piece, our little clunky, chunky selves, to the great mosaic of being. As the gods intended, we are here to become more and more ourselves.”

Oh this is a must read for every leader, teacher, parent, coach, or anyone who aspires to these sorts of roles. We read this during the year for our Teachers Matter Bookclub and it made for some great conversations and deep reflections. I love how Brené weaves research with story to make what she is sharing accessible and memorable. She doesn't mince words and there is challenge on nearly every page; the challenge to step into the arena, have the courage to be vulnerable and make a positive impact through how we lead others.


Seven and a Half Lessons about the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett

This book challenged me and stretched me in good ways. This was another Teachers Matter Bookclub book and it was such a good one to unpack with others. Lisa Feldman Barrett is a neuroscientist who breaks down some of the complexity of recent findings about the brain and communicates it through these 'lessons' or short essays. She takes the science and applies it to real life giving us some tools to reflect on why we do what we do and how we can use what we now know to do things better. Be prepared to have preconceived notions challenged, it is worth it.


What my soul told me by Richard Barrett

A dear friend gifted me this book and I am very grateful she did. It is a guide to activating our souls to live deeper, richer lives of contribution and connection. It provided me with some great questions to reflect on my beliefs and values.


The Heroine's Journey by Maureen Murdock

I heard about this book through GIFEW, an organisation I belong to, and then a friend gifted me it. I have always loved mythology and thoroughly enjoyed Joseph Campbell's work on the Hero's Journey but had never considered the heroine's pathway. Maureen Murdock explores how contemporary women move into self actualisation through aligning with this journey. She weaves in mythologies, poetry, and stories to illustrate this pathway. It is especially relevant for those of us raised in a patriarchal society who are wanting a greater sense of fulfillment, integration and connection.


I love to hear about what other people are reading. What books have made an impact for you?


I am looking forward to sharing the reading journey again this year, if you are interested in joining the Teachers Matter Bookclub please click here to find out more.



Megan Gallagher, is a mum, teacher, coach, speaker, PLD facilitator and consultant. She weaves her teaching experience, intense interest and curiosity about the brain, and coaching skills together in all that she does.

She specialises in coaching for children, families and educators, teacher wellbeing, curriculum design, and impactful teaching and learning.

One of her greatest pleasures in life is seeing others shining and this is the basis of the work she does with Ignite Your Spark.

For more information please check out meggallagher.nz or you can contact her at meg@meggallagher.nz 


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