Different books inspire people differently. Some books will kick you right in the gut and others will seem like a lot of hype. Taylor and I have both recommended “life-changing” books to each other only to be unimpressed at the lack of earth-shaking change it inspired for us, because we’re different people with different hearts and souls. But even if you don’t find the entire premise of a book inspiring, it can still provide pockets of wisdom and inspiration that will stay with you for years to come.
These 14 books are so inspirational and offer so much tangible wisdom, we think everyone should have them on their permanent bookshelves.
No matter what you do, make sure that you do it because it is what your heart and soul desire. Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, a fable about following your dreams, has sold more than 65 million copies worldwide in more than 50 different languages, making it an international bestseller.
“The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight.”
Cleo Wade is one of the most inspirational women of our generation. We love both of her books, but her first baby, Heart Talk, holds a special place on our shelves.
“Love yourself enough to walk into only the rooms and situations that show care and love for you. Love yourself enough to walk out of the rooms that harm you in any way. Love yourself enough to hold the people who harm you accountable for their words and actions. Love yourself enough to express your wants, your needs, and your desires. Love yourself enough to tell the truth. Love yourself enough to keep yourself safe. Love yourself enough to say enough is enough when enough has become enough.”
Truthfully, all Brené Brown books belong on your shelf if you’re looking for inspiration. It’s not about winning or losing. Daring Greatly dispels the cultural myth that vulnerability is weakness and argues that it is, in truth, our most accurate measure of courage.
“Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”
Always do your best. Don’t make assumptions. Never take anything personally. Be impeccable with your word. It’s amazing how four simple ideas can transform everything. I still open it whenever I struggle. A tiny book with gigantic wisdom—and not nearly as woo-woo as you might think.
“What you will see is love coming out of the trees, love coming out of the sky, love coming out of the light. You will perceive love from everything around you. This is the state of bliss.”
An iconic book from an iconic woman. In today’s world, it’s so refreshing and inspiring to read the story of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and who inspires us to do the same.
“Confidence, I’d learned then, sometimes needs to be called from within. I’ve repeated the same words to myself so many times now, through many climbs. Am I good enough? Yes I am.”
At the age of 36, on the verge of completing a decade’s training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. One day he was a doctor saving lives, the next he was struggling to live. When Breath Becomes Air is a life-affirming reflection on facing our mortality and humanism.
“I would have to learn to live in a different way, seeing death as an imposing itinerant visitor but knowing that even if I’m dying, until I actually die, I am still living.”
I had never thought of myself as creative until a few years ago. I’m not artistic, therefore, I’m not creative. This book is a must-read for anyone struggling to understand and embrace their own creativity daily.
“In our experience, one of the scariest snakes in the room is the fear of failure, which manifests itself in such ways as fear of being judged, fear of getting started, fear of the unknown. And while much has been said about fear of failure, it still is the single biggest obstacle people face to creative success.”
I remember when I read about Sheryl Sandberg’s husband suddenly passing away. I felt sorrow for a friend I had never met. I love Sandberg’s first book, Lean In, it guided me through my early days of my career, but Option B is a must-read for everyone, whether you’re an entrepreneur or not.
“Option A is not available. so let’s just kick the shit out of Option B.
Life is never perfect. We all live some form of Option B.”
It’s hard to pick a favorite Joan book. Not to harp on bereavement, because this book is so much more than that, so please don’t discount it. The Year of Magical Thinking is a steely and devastating examination of her personal grief following the sudden death of her husband. The result changed the nature of writing about bereavement.
“We are imperfect mortal beings, aware of that mortality even as we push it away, failed by our very complication, so wired that when we mourn our losses we also mourn, for better or for worse, ourselves. As we were. As we are no longer. As we will one day not be at all.”
Everything Rupi Kaur writes is magical. This collection of poetry about love is a must-have for your bookshelves. When we‘re feeling down or upset, we turn to the power of poetry to find a little encouragement. And no poet speaks to us quite as deeply as Rupi Kaur.
“what is it with you and sunflowers he asks
i point to the field of yellow outside
sunflowers worship the sun i tell him
only when it arrives do they rise
when the sun leaves
they bow their heads in mourning
that is what the sun does to those flowers
it’s what you do to me”
Deepak Chopra has written more than 50 books, so picking just one is almost impossible. But this one definitely belongs on your shelf. In this book, Deepak Chopra describes how we can move stuck energy and change old habits through reflection, contemplation and meditation. We also have the capacity to influence our genes and change the structure of our brains. We can even make time an ally rather than viewing it as a constant enemy.
“The highest correlation for reaching ninety or hundred years of age in good shape is emotional resilience, the ability to bounce back from life’s setbacks. That fits neatly with one of the qualities of healthy energy: flexibility.”
This book is almost 10 years old and it is still the number-one book I recommend to people struggling with their business or their brand.
“There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.”
Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer when he gave his “Last Lecture.” The lecture he gave, “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams,” wasn’t about dying. It was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment.
“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”
I remember poking fun at my mom when I saw this book on her coffee table for the first time. Honestly, I don’t even remember how I ended up with my own copy, but I’m so glad I did. What a beautiful and inspiring book that I think all introverts can relate to.
“I am not lucky. You know what I am? I am smart, I am talented, I take advantage of the opportunities that come my way and I work really, really hard. Don’t call me lucky. Call me a badass.”
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