Judy’s reading

Nicolette Rubenzstein is NOT a guilty working mother. And she knows she’s not guilty because she’s actively strategised the way she and her husband will manage their children, their domestic life and both their careers simultaneously.

In Not Guilty, Nicolette applies the McKinsey 7-S strategic planning framework that guided her as Head of Strategy at Colonial First State for 12 years to raising her family of 3 girls. And while she’s quick to say there’s no silver bullet for resolving the everlasting juggle between work and home, ⁠

Nicolette rationalises that it’s a mosaic of small things that taken together, make working with a family more likely to succeed. With that in mind, the 7-part framework that she knew so well at the Bank, suddenly made sense as a tool for optimising how home could work better in parallel as well.

This book was on the very top of my 2021 book pile. When I first read Cal Newport’s previous book, Deep Work, I immediately knew that low-value distractions were keeping me from doing things that were important to me. In this new book, Professor Newport again highlights the value of solitude and the importance of turning off the digital world to recover our sense of equilibrium and connection with others, not just for the benefit of the work we do but to recapture the world of thoughtful leisure we used to know, that brings both enrichment and as sense of calm. You can read it slowly and really drink it in, or scan it in an afternoon and see if his detoxification plan is for you.

I can’t put Obama’s “A Promised Land” down. I have also been listening to the audiobook, which he narrates. His voice is like velvet. He’s funny. He has great comic timing. He’s thoughtful. He speaks movingly of his mother, his grandmother, his wife Michelle and his two daughters. I’d never thought of him before as a man surrounded by women.

He gives credit to many others for his success and spends time examining the choices he made and the costs they exacted on those he loves. His fear of the pitfalls of hubris and his humility, speak volumes.  It’s so reassuring after the bragging and self congratulation which has shocked so often over the last four years.  Listening to him read, I feel like he is talking just to me. Highly recommended.

Having trouble structuring your day? Listen to the episode where Judy describes James Clear’s brilliant two-minute rule and Ryder Carroll’s Bullet Journalling method. Two great books, highly recommended.

Nadine Ingram‘s cookbook, Flour and Stone, is centre stage on my shelf of baking bibles. And it brings together, each to play to their respective strengths, two of my favourite Unpaused podcast guests, Nadine and her publisher and sometime recipe tester, Julie Gibbs. As well as inspired recipes, there’s also failsafe technique and an introduction that leaves nothing to chance. A keeper.⁠

by Amor Towles

The Times called it “a book to spark joy’ but I liked what The Lady said: “Charming… if you’re in need of respite from the prevailing gloom, look no further…”. ⁠My favourite book for reading but especially in a lockdown.

The pandemic has brought Unpaused into the here and now. So over the lockdown Unpaused changed direction temporarily, to help you focus on the many ways of getting your house in order. With hours to fill at home, there’s good work to be done that will stand you in great stead when the world returns to some sort of normal.  This book is part of this series, to lift the spirits and help get your house in order.


In fiction, Curtis Sittenfeld imagines a different reality for the country she loves and the twin cities in Minnesota in which she now lives. Excellent reading about leadership for right now.