For travel lovers
Gardens of the Italian Lakes
This stunning hardcover coffee table book is a must-have for anyone who loves Italy or gardening. Featuring an in-depth look at Italian gardens (the only book of its kind), the captivating photographs instantly transport you to Italy.
Gardens of the Italian Lakes by Steven Desmond is published by Frances Lincoln (part of the Quarto Knows publishing group) and is available from Amazon.co.uk for £22.75 (hardcover).
This lovely photography book features England and Wales most beautiful remote villages and harbours (aka 'hidey holes').
The book was dedicated to the memory of Robin’s chocolate lab ‘Coco’ who accompanied him on all of his journeys that feature in the book , which will warm the heart of any animal lover.
Alongside the photos from his travels, Robin has also included the paintings of artists who live in the remote areas featured within the book – most likely inspired by their breath-taking surroundings.
Hidey Holes by Robin Whitcomb is published by Troubador Publishing Ltd and is available from Amazon.co.uk for £13.48 (hardcover).
The Greenwood Guide to South Africa hand-picked accommodation (Fifteenth Edition)
This guide is perfect for people who like intimate accommodations that are a bit off the beaten path. Focusing not only on the looks of a place, but the service and other unique touches it provides, travelers are assured that all of the recommendations within the guide have been vetted first-hand by their team of travelers.
The guide includes maps of South Africa, and covers B&Bs, guest-houses, game lodges, farms, self-contained cottages and other properties that don’t quite fit those boxes!
Each entry in the guide includes a summary paragraph about the property and includes top tips and contact details. We love how original the guide feels in comparison to some of the travel guides put out by larger travel companies, which can often feel a bit generic.
The Greenwood Guide to South Africa hand-picked accommodation (Fifteenth Edition) by Greenwood Guides is available from Amazon.co.uk for £14.95 (paperback).
For those who want to improve
The Art of Possible: New habits, neuroscience and the power of deliberate action
We love a good self-help book - especially at this time of the year when the cold weather sets in and you find yourself a bit down in the dumps and looking for a bit of inspiration.
This book is to be used like a workbook to help you face your fears, explore your emotions and get a better understanding of what’s holding you back to find your own ‘Art of Possible’. Anything to help one get of a rut can’t be wrong in our estimation.
The Art of Possible: New habits, neuroscience and the power of deliberate action by Kate Tojeiro is published by Black Mustang Press and is available from Amazon.co.uk for £12.99 (hardcover).
For clean-eating gurus
Jar Salads: 52 Happy Healthy Lunches
If you love eating healthily and are looking for lunchtime inspiration, then you’ll love this book, which is bursting with a wealth of delicious (and seriously healthy) jar lunches.
With 52 recipes, there are more than enough options to keep the recipes from becoming mundane, and you’ll not only save heaps on overpriced (and often unhealthy) take-away lunches, but will feel pretty smug knowing that you’ve made your own scrumptious lunch creations. We know what we’ll be doing for lunch come New Year!
Jar Salads: 52 Happy Healthy Lunches by Alexander Hart is available from Amazon.co.uk for £13.48 (hardcover) and is published by Smith Street Books.
For London foodies
London’s Best Brunches
Given that breakfast is my favourite meal of the day, brunch has always had a special place in my heart. Luckily for me, the brunch scene in London has seriously evolved in the past decade, when breakfast options were pretty grim, apart from the traditional English fry up.
This handy guide features the best brunches in London, with an overview on the signature dish at each restaurant, as well as recommendations on coffee, tea and cocktails to accompany your dish. The guide also does a good job of explaining the vibe at each venue, so you can base your decision on the atmosphere just as much as the food itself.
Quite simply a must for any self-respecting breakfast lover living in London.
London’s Best Brunches by Laura Herring is published by Smith Street Books and is available from Amazon.co.uk for £12.08 (paperback).
If you've ever found yourself feeling frazzled and are in need of some effective tips on reducing your stress, than this practical guide is a must.
In this book Bestselling author Shamash Alidina shows how simple it is to master the proven techniques of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR). MBSR has enhanced the physical and emotional well-being of hundreds of thousands of people around the world. In as little as 10 minutes a day over 8 weeks, you'll be taken step by step through a carefully structured sequence of guided meditations and easy yoga exercises. Vivid stories, everyday examples, and opportunities for self-reflection make the book especially inviting.
Take time for yourself
I'm my own worst enemy when it comes to slowing down and truly taking time out to relax, which made the book challenging at first. You really need to make a conscious effort to partake in the exercises to receive the maximum benefit. That being said, once you get into a stride, you'll find that the exercises become more natural every day and you'll feel a renewed sense of calm in previously stressful situations.
So, if one of your New Year's resolutions was to become 'more mindful', now's the time to start your journey to a less stressful year.
The Mindful Way Through Stress: The Proven 8-Week Path to Health, Happiness and Well-Being from Guildford Press is available from February 2015 in hardback, paperback and e-book.
One of the greatest luxuries of all is having the time to relax with a great book.