Life Inspiring Books to Read
The Nature of Inspiration
Sadly, our world is full of corruption, greed, fear, and political and social upheaval, as well as one highly focused on achievement and status. This makes it easy to overlook the essential value of inspiration in our lives. Inspiration, by nature, allows us to awaken to new possibilities and transcend our limitations and ordinary experiences.
Inspiration is what propels us from hopelessness or apathy to a focus on using creativity and innovative thinking to make changes in the world. The most notable and unique characteristic of inspiration, however, is that it can be had by anyone with the willingness to be moved.
According to psychologists Andrew J. Elliot and Todd M. Thrash, there are 3 main qualities of inspiration: evocation, transcendence, and approach motivation. To simplify, the inspirational process involves spontaneous evocation, with no intention and transcending our more primal and self-serving worries, followed by a moment of clarity and motivation to approach possible solutions.
Inspiration involves, not only being inspired but acting on your inspiration. A truly inspired individual will follow through with transmitting, expressing, or actualizing a new vision, perpetuating the creative and inspirational process.
When you’re feeling like life needs a little inspiration, it’s nice to know that some books carry hopeful stories about things like finding hope in the midst of struggles, learning what truly holds value in life or relationships that bring a transformational sense of belonging to a lonely individual.
We live in a troubled time of economic, social, and violent upheavals when soothing stories of hope and inspiration can offer some solace from the focus on the tragedies of the day by the news media. Inspirational books allow us to live vicariously through courageous, everyday characters and how they overcame their struggles.
It’s a time when everyone, young and old – and especially Millennials – want to see changes in the world that may change the quality of life of future generations and give us hope in the overall goodness of humanity.
However, today’s readers also understand that the only way to achieve any far-reaching, long-term change is to begin with changing oneself. Inspirational stories often have common characters who do extraordinary things and inspire us to have faith in ourselves to foster societal change.
Also, an inspirational book can simply bring you back to the moment and help you re-evaluate how important the little things are in life. Again, we can relate to quirky, independent-thinking characters who want change in their lives and persevere to achieve it.
Whether you’re feeling like you want to make some minor changes in your life, make huge transformational changes, or just relax into a great story of triumph over tragedy, or to escape the negative news of the day, there are life inspiring books to read that can provide all this and more.
Finally, you may just want to get out of your comfort zone when it comes to book genres. Maybe you generally go for more fantastical or sci-fi reading and wonder if a change might do you good. You won’t be the first one on the bandwagon, however. The Up Lit trend in publishing, featuring books that inspire with hope, but with doses of realism to steer the genre away from maudlin or gratuitous sugariness.
Whether you prefer turning pages, listening to an audio book, or tapping a tablet, here are five of those life inspiring books to read.
A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman
When a boisterous young family moves in next door to a cantankerous old fellow called Ove, he finds his dismal and solitary world upturned. Behind Ove’s curmudgeonous exterior, there is a story and sadness, but then a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters flattens his mailbox. This is the perfect lead-in to a comical, heartwarming tale. It involves unexpected friendship, unkempt cats, and just exactly how to back a U-haul – all of which change one cranky old man to his very foundations.
The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho
The Alchemist, an inspiring masterpiece by Paulo Coelho, tells the mystical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns desperately to travel in search of a worldly treasure. On the contrary, his quest leads to riches much different, and far more satisfying, than he ever imagined. Santiago’s journey reveals the fundamental wisdom of recognizing opportunity, understanding the omens that fall across life’s path, and perhaps most importantly, the importance of following our dreams.
Catching a Miracle, by Mark Spinicelli
Catching a Miracle, part one of a three-part series by first-time author Mark Spinicelli, is an inspiring story about the will of the human spirit to seek answers to the unanswerable. You’ll find yourself deeply immersed in this must-read tale. After losing several relatives to cancer, Spinicelli’s personal research efforts to find a cure in his lifetime have been harnessed in this life inspiring book, in order to mirror his own hope of seeing a real-world initiative to end cancer.
Life of Pi, by Yann Martel
Life of Pi, an inspiring fantasy adventure novel, tells the story of Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel. This Tamil boy, hailing from Pondicherry, explored issues of spirituality from childhood. After a shipwreck, he desperately struggles to survive while stranded on a boat for 227 days in the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal Tiger. The takeaway of this inspiring novel is the conscious choice between hopelessness and faith.
A Lesson Before Dying, by Ernest J. Gaines
A Lesson Before Dying, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, is the deep and compassionate story of a young man who returns to 1940’s Cajun country to teach. He begins to do so in the prison system, and eventually meets a black youth on death row. The twist? He’s there for a crime he didn’t commit. Working together, they come to understand the heroism of resisting.
Tuesdays with Morrie, by Mitch Albom
For Mitch Albom, twenty years ago when he was young and searching, was the time he met the person who gave him the soundest advice – Morrie, his college professor. Mitch rediscovers Morrie in the last months of the older man’s life and begins visiting him in his study every Tuesday, just as they had done in his college years. This rekindled friendship turns into one final transformational “class” – lessons on how to live.