Books are some of the greatest sources of wisdom, enlightenment, and inspiration. It’s amazing how simple words, thoughtfully conceived and skillfully constructed, can evoke the deepest emotions and drive us to the most extraordinary feats.
As W. Fusselman wrote:
“Today a reader; tomorrow a leader.”
But not all books are created equal, and it takes time to sift through the stacks. Fortunately, we have already done the work — so you can sit back, relax, and select from the best. Here are 21 inspirational books to add to your reading list.
1. Beneath a Scarlet Sky, by Mark T. Sullivan
It’s a book based on the true story of Pino Lella, a spy for the Catholic underground who helped Jews escape from Italy during WWII. This book reaches the darkest depths and the brightest peaks of human experience. It will leave you breathless, transformed, and enriched.
2. The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, by Don Miguel Ruiz
This inspiring book draws from the ancient Toltec wisdom, identifying self-limiting ideologies to encourage mental breakthrough and freedom. First published in 1997 and translated into 46 languages, it is a tried-and-true guide that will transform your perspective.
3. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, by Richard Carlson
This fresh self-help manual explores the minute, often overlooked aspects of our lives to promote successful habits and ways of thinking.
It demonstrates how to deal with challenges, reduce stress and anxiety, and create a game plan for chasing – and attaining – your goals.
4. Garbage Bag Suitcase: A Memoir, by Shenandoah Chefalo
In this stirring memoir, Chefalo chronicles her life from her dysfunctional childhood and her foster care experience to a near-fatal car accident and her achievements as part of the one percent of all foster care children who graduated from college.
5. The Gifts of Imperfection, by Brene Brown
This authentic book embraces what many self-help guides perceive only as grounds for improvement: imperfection. It will help you confront your fears and insecurities so that you can become more confident and carefree through its honest and heartfelt storytelling.
6. Hope is My Wingman, by Michael Antcliffe
This captivating story provides a rare inside look at the last 16 months of Michael Antcliffe’s life. Facing the fate of terminal cancer, this inspiring man took control of his last breathing moments, accomplishing more in a year than many do in a lifetime.
7. Very Good Lives, by J.K. Rowling
This book presents J.K. Rowling’s memorable and deeply impactful commencement speech at Harvard University in 2008. Interlaced with her own post-graduate experiences, this golden nugget of wisdom will show you how to cope with uncertainty and make hard decisions.
8. The Story of My Life, by Helen Keller
Helen Keller’s autobiography, published in 1903, is an inspiring story of tenacity and perseverance. With her unwavering faith, this exceptional woman overcame the difficulties of blindness and deafness to become an outstanding scholar and an effective advocate for the handicapped.
9. Note to Self: Inspiring Words From Inspiring People, by Gayle King
This New York Times bestseller compiles a selection of letters from the CBS This Morning segment, Note to Self, in which influential people write advice and encouragement to their younger selves. You will enjoy sincere thoughts and reflections from Oprah to Maya Angelou.
10. Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl
This groundbreaking 1946 book, written by a former prisoner in Nazi concentration camps during WWII, presents a compelling theory exposing the connection between meaning and purpose and our very survival. It will refresh your perspective of life and its challenges.
11. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey
This weighty book encompasses all aspects of personal and professional life, offering holistic strategies for solving problems and developing successful habits. This perceptive bestseller shows how to encounter the changes and difficulties of living with integrity, justice, and dignity.
12. The Great Divorce, by C.S. Lewis
This 1945 novel was written by the same author who wrote the beloved Chronicles of Narnia. It provides an eye-opening view of heaven and hell. Deriving age-old concepts from such works as The Pilgrim’s Progress, this captivating story will challenge your ideas about the afterlife like never before.
13. When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi
This #1 New York Times Bestseller is a moving autobiographical book. It was written by an American neurosurgeon diagnosed with lung cancer at the onset of his career. He passed away in 2015 while writing, but he left behind a deeply profound and insightful work that will leave you shaken and transformed.
14. The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho
This classic, life-changing novel follows the life of Santiago. This Andalusian shepherd boy embarks on an epic quest for worldly treasure. The story beautifully represents the timeless principles of perseverance and faith.
15. The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank
This journal chronicles two years of a young Jewish girl’s life, during which she and her family hid from the Gestapo. It is a vivid, compelling, heartbreaking, and at times humorous story that will leave you scarred but encouraged.
16. The Only Skill that Matters, by Jonathan Levi
In this groundbreaking book, Levi reveals a neuroscience-based approach for improving your reading, retention, and learning. Drawing from the skills of world record holders, it shows how to optimize your cognitive abilities for success in all areas of life.
17. Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe
This novel is the first of Achebe’s acclaimed African Trilogy. Through the perspective of Okonkwo, an inspiring Igbo warrior, it tells the story of Africa’s resistance against British control and oppression. Although wrought with misfortune, this novel is an eye-opening and essential classic.
18. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, by Angela Duckworth
This New York Times bestseller takes another look at how to perceive success and achieve it. Expounding on the key principles of passion and perseverance, Duckworth shows that it is possible to overcome any problem and reach any goal.
19. Battlefield of the Mind, by Joyce Meyer
This bestselling book shows how to confront negative thoughts and see ourselves through the eyes of God. Drawing from her own experiences, Meyer articulates life-transforming ideas that will help you win your battles from where they start.
20. Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World, by Max Lucado
This unique book takes a step back from our type-A culture to deal with the ever-present issues of stress and anxiety. It draws from Biblical values and truths to show that peace and serenity are possible – even amidst the storms of life.
21. Life Is So Good, by George Dawson
This is the heartwarming account of George Dawson, a slave’s grandson who learned to read at 98 and lived to the age of 103. You will learn a lifetime from the astute and profound reflections of this remarkable man.
This list is only a sampling of all the inspiring, enriching, and enlightening books in our world. However, it is a great place to start if you are looking for captivating reads that will transform how you think – and how you live.
Looking for authors offering free e-books? Check out this list!