Left a good job in the city…. The reading list

When you tell people you work with that you’re leaving your job in the office with the view in the first picture to go and work 3 days a week in the office in the second picture and work on your own business ideas for the other two days, the most surprising thing is just how many people start to tell you that they want to do the same thing.


I think when you work in a big corporate office you know that there will be a couple of other people around who have the same need to get out and try something different, but really you mostly assume that people are pretty happy to carry on with the same sort of thing whether there or elsewhere. Whenever you leave a job, people get more honest with you – usually about what they really think about their job and the company – but when you’re leaving to do something that isn’t just the same role at a different company it takes it to a new level; so many people have been telling me they want to do what I’m doing – they want to work part time, they want to get out there and see what happens when they pursue their dreams (and even those who are happy where they are have been so supportive, I’ve been very lucky).

As I’ve had these conversations with people I’ve ended up sending out my escaping reading list to quite a few of them – and as I’ve now realised quite how many out there are interested in doing the same thing I thought I’d put it up here too in case anyone feels like a read! These aren’t all the books I’ve read recently, but they are the ones I found most useful. I already have a few more suggestions, but if anyone has more I would love to hear them!


I’ve talked about the Escape Manifesto before in my post about the Escape to Umbria weekend, and I’m not going to apologise to all the people reading this who I’ve told they must buy it! What I loved about this was that it was the first time I saw what was in my head being talked about by someone else – what I was already calling the ‘conveyor belt’ feeling that I didn’t hate what I was doing but hadn’t intended to end up there and really should be somewhere else. There is a tonne of inspiration here but it’s also totally realistic – if you’re scared that you’ll feel like you’re supposed to quit your job immediately and to hell with the consequences then don’t be, everything is talked through in a measured way. The book helps you work out what you may want to do (not just set up a business, it could be travel or change career), what’s stopping you doing it and what can stop those blockers – one of the features I really liked was that there is down to earth financial advice – how you can build up an escape fund rather than just dropping everything and hoping for a million pound idea overnight.



F**k it – do what you love is the book to go back to when you’ve not really been doing anything that takes you towards where you want to be or you feel a bit disillusioned and need a reminder of why you’re doing it – it just brings everything back to a quite basic level and makes you think “of course, who wouldn’t want to do what they love, how do I make it happen sooner?!”. Rather a ‘life’s too short’ feel.



I have mixed feelings about The 4 Hour Work Week. It has a lot of really useful & common-sensical tips around efficiency, streamlining things & challenging work norms, but as an overall way to live/work feels rather selfish and somewhat exploitative (the example given of the author saying that of course he’d want his virtual assistant in India to automatically send his mum flowers for her birthday – seriously, you work 4 hours a week and you can’t use 10 minutes of that to remember your mum’s birthday and click on Interflora?!). However, lots of people swear by it and if what you aim for is lots of free time rather that doing work you love then it would be worth a read.



Much love for Escape from Cubicle Nation – this one has a lot in common with the Escape Manifesto in the way it mixes inspiration with realism, and I feel like I read both of them at the right time for me. While the Escape Manifesto takes you through the journey you need to go on in order to work out what you might want to do and how you might do it, this takes a trip through that area and then focuses down on setting up on your own – the massive section on ‘the reality of entrepreneurship’ caused a lot of scribbling notes in the end pages. There is also a section on how to deal with family and friends who may not be quite as convinced of your plans as you are, which could be really useful for people who know that is one of their blockers. This was one of the books which made me really glad for the NHS – American books have a lot to say about how to afford healthcare if you work for yourself!



I cried three times within about the first 25 pages of Start Something That Matters (not sure if that says more about me or the book…). If you’re after lots of inspiration and the feeling that anything is possible then this is the book to go to! It mixes in the story of TOMS (shoe company which gives one pair of shoes to a child without them for each pair bought in case you’re not familiar) with general entrepreneurial advice. This book feels like a bit of an antidote to the 4 Hour Work Week – you can do something you love, enjoy working and ultimately build something which doesn’t just improve your life but also improves the lives of others.


Two other books I read, liked and can’t quite remember what I liked about them… The $100 Startup, and The Idea in You.


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