I have always loved to read, and my genre of choice seemed to shift to personal development right around the time I turned 30. Don’t get me wrong, I still love a good mystery or young adult novel, but lately I find myself reaching for inspiring books that can offer me wisdom, truth, or a new outlook to adopt.
Basically, If I can learn from it and become a better person, I’m all in. It’s not an understatement to say that many of my perspectives have broadened due to the power of words.
Over the past few years, I have read many books covering a wide range of topics. As I was scrolling through all of the books on my kindle and Goodreads account, I was taking mental notes of the powerful lessons I have gained from each one. It wasn’t easy to pinpoint the books that have left me with long-lasting impact.
I know I’ve barely scratched the surface with the books that I’ve been exposed to, but I did my best to narrow the list down to my top SEVEN book choices that have left the biggest impact on my soul over that past few years.
Go ahead and add these titles to your must-read list for 2021, and prepare to be inspired!
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
This book was incredible and motivating, and the cherry on top is that it was a quick read. Elizabeth’s way with words (especially her inventive yet relatable metaphors) makes her ideas accessible and easy to digest. If you are in a creative rut or just want to be inspired to go after your dreams, this book will give you the jumpstart you need. It’s packed with truth-bombs from a wise author who has first-hand experience with the creative highs and lows that we all experience. I loved her frankness and message to live a life of creativity simply because it brings you joy. My key takeaway: “Done is better than good.” Amen, Liz.
Untamed by Glennon Doyle
Ah, Glennon—such a gem of an author. This book is HOT HOT HOT on the charts right now, and for good reason. I’m not lying when I say this book rocked my world and flipped it upside down (in the best way). She is fierce and relatable: the perfect ingredients for a world-changing (and timely) read. It will inspire women to let go of societal ideals that hold us back from becoming who we truly are. For me, it forced a process of dismantling and relearning the lessons of my past. There are SO many amazing pearls of wisdom in this book; I truly think it should be a required read for all women. I don’t know about you, but I’m all for rediscovering my “wild” and joining forces with all the other CHEETAHS out there who are untamed and proud of it. Rawr.
The Collapse of Parenting by Leonard Sax
Even if you’re not a parent, READ. THIS. BOOK. We live in a very different world from the one our parents were raised in, and the author of this book does a phenomenal job of exposing all the ways parents in this generation are failing to prioritize their relationships with their kids. Handing them smartphones too early and failing to establish firm rules and boundaries are a couple. We assume that our childrens’ behavior problems are random and not attributed to our shoddy parenting. The author provides parents with solid advice and tangible steps we can take to reassert our authority. His message, when applied, ensures that our kids are healthy and have strong morals. They will leave the nest better equipped to take on the world. It’s a humbling read, but an important one. #savethekids
More Myself by Alicia Keys
Alicia Keys is my best friend—she just doesn’t know it yet. I have always admired her talent, but before reading her memoir I never knew much about her personal life or values. Reading her story and learning about the obstacles she overcame to become more herself was empowering. I think most women will relate to her struggles, especially the constant need to prove herself (story of my 20’s much?) Alicia never claims to have it all figured out, but is open to sharing what she’s learned and admitting that life is about evolving. Among many other things, she will make you question who the hell invented makeup and why we feel so much pressure to wear it. Thanks for giving me permission to be more myself, Alicia.
Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
This was one of the first books that I read in the personal development genre. Shauna Niequist is a Christian author and speaker who provides readers with a lovely and cozy Sunday-morning-in-your-slippers vibe. She will inspire you to look at every aspect of your life and make some honest choices about how you can slow down, stop putting so much unnecessary pressure on yourself (especially when it comes to constantly trying to meet others’ impossible expectations), and preserve/renew your energy by spending time in nature and with people who fill you up. Reading this book was like a breath of fresh air that forced me to do some serious soul-searching. I promise after you read this you will immediately run to your calendar and erase all activities because did you REALLY mean to volunteer to make all those Rice Krispy treats for your child’s bake sale at school? Yeah, me neither.
Essentialism by Greg McKeown
Speaking of slowing down, this book is a great companion to Present Over Perfect. It’s a reminder to keep perspective and focus on the things that matter most in life, letting the excess fall away. In our society we get so caught up in materialism, social media, pleasing others and keeping up with the Jones’. More often than not, we choose to focus on things that don’t serve us, often at the expense of family time and our own well-being. After reading this book, I made a more conscious effort to put my phone down. I have tried harder enjoy the present moment, prioritize my relationships and “me-time”, and no longer feel guilty about saying “no.” I think we could all afford to take inventory of our lives and reexamine what is “essential” and what is simply taking up unnecessary space and time.
Unoffendable by Brant Hansen
I read this book in ONE DAY, people. It was that good. The subject itself is serious, but the way in which the author approaches it is so witty and down-to-earth. I found myself laughing out loud while scratching my head and asking myself, “Why DO I get offended so easily?” In this day and age where people take offense to every little thing, and every generation is more fragile than the one preceding it, I found this book to be a refreshing and much-needed diamond in the rough. It will help all human beings navigate the world with more gratitude, patience, and love, and less anger, hurt and judgment. The author is Christian so he does offer a lot of religious wisdom, but the lasting message overrules everything: that giving up your “right” to be offended is the most freeing thing you can do.