The Next Chapter

Brian Francis recommends three books to help busy readers manage their time, money and stress

The Toronto writer and The Next Chapter columnist reviews Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman, Get Your $hit Together by Aleks Jassem and Nikita Stanley, and The Art of Taking It Easy by Dr. Brian King.
Brian Francis is a writer and columnist on The Next Chapter. (James Heaslip)

This interview originally aired on Jan. 8, 2022.

Brian Francis is a writer and columnist for The Next Chapter. His first novel, Fruit, was a finalist for Canada Reads 2009.

He is also the author of the novel Natural Order and his first YA novel, Break in Case of Emergency, was a finalist for the 2019 Governor General's Literary Award for young people's literature — text.

His latest book is the 2021 memoir Missed Connections, which was a finalist for the 2022 Trillium Book Award, recognizing excellence in literature by Ontario writers.

Francis stopped by The Next Chapter to talk about three books to help readers manage their time, money and stress:  Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman, Get Your $hit Together by Aleks Jassem and Nikita Stanley, and The Art of Taking It Easy by Dr. Brian King.

Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman

Four Thousand Weeks is a self-help book by Oliver Burkeman. (Allen Lane)

"The title of the book comes from the idea that if you live to be 80, you will have lived about 4,000 weeks. This book is not so much about maximizing your time or creating to-do lists, but it's about how to approach and think about time a little differently.

You need to take inventory and stock of how you're spending time and doing the things that are most valuable to you.

"Burkeman draws on ancient and contemporary philosophers, psychologists and spiritual teachers to  deliver a practical and profound guide to time management. Some of the tips that he offered about how we think about time really resonated with me. 

"He says you need to portion off your time for things that are meaningful to you — because, as he points out, you only have 4,000 weeks. So you need to take inventory and stock of how you're spending the time and doing the things that are most valuable to you." 

Get Your $hit Together by Aleks Jassem and Nikita Stanley

Get Your $hit Together is a book by Aleks Jassem and Nikita Stanley. (Collins, Kayla Rocca)

"In 2014, two moms combined their talents and mutual distaste for the typical mommy rhetoric and created the website Rebel Mama.  It's a safe and judgment-free space known for its celebration of individuality and authenticity. These Toronto-based authors have a strong social media following; in this book, they cover a range of topics about financial empowerment geared toward women, but more specifically toward mothers and new moms.

"The book discusses having a wide range of conversations, including how to talk to your partner about money, untangling wills — topics that people might not like to talk about, but are necessary anyway. 

The book discusses having a wide range of conversations on topics that people might not like to talk about, but are necessary anyway.


"The book also talks about navigating the world of parental leave, child care options, how to deal with debt and how to understand investment strategy. So it really is about financial literacy, managing your money, and how new moms can make money. This is especially the case if they decide to stay at home, like some women do, or return to the workforce and have that balancing act between home and work life." 

The Art of Taking It Easy by Dr. Brian King

The Art of Taking It Easy is a book by Dr. Brian King. (Apollo Publishers)

"Dr. Brian King has a doctorate in psychology and also does stand-up comedy, which is an interesting career choice. King says that stress sometimes is a reaction that our brain has to a perceived threat. But not all threats are created equal.

You have to learn to control your reaction to stress. And that's what this book is about — tools and tips for how you can assess your stress and deal with it appropriately.

"Whether you're sitting in traffic and you're getting stressed out or whether you're about to be attacked by a bear, your brain signals that you're under attack — and then causes a stressful situation.

"We need to assess our stress because obviously not all situations are created equal in terms of the amount of stress that they can bring about. And so by stepping away and trying to be rational about your your stress, you're able to navigate your way through it.

"You have to learn to control your reaction to stress. That's what this book is about — tools and tips for how you can assess your stress and deal with it appropriately." 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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