As a bucket list blogger, I am a bit obsessed with non-fiction inspirational books and memoirs. Although I have listed a few of these on my Inspiration Page, along with a post I wrote a year ago, Get Inspired to Start a Bucket List! I thought I would share a list of must-reads for this summer.
Just some notes about the books I suggest:
– Some of the books are more lighthearted, while others are more tragic or meant to make you think. However, I found all of them life-changing and comforting.
– Perhaps not all of these books will resonate with everyone — some are about travel, some about improving relationships, or conquering fear, while others about becoming a better writer or blogger — but I still believe all the books on this list contain universal qualities as well : they are inspiring, evoke a call to action, and change the way we think.
– These books are great to read by the poolside, to bring to the beach, or to read on a cozy night in.
“Brave, funny, and deeply moving.”
— Cathy Alter, author of Up for Renewal: What Magazines Taught Me About Love, Sex, and Starting Over
“Three cheers to The Lost Girls for showing us, with good humor and graceful prose, the beauty and importance of leading life astray.”
— Franz Wisner, New York Times Bestselling author of Honeymoon with My Brother
Three friends, each on the brink of a quarter-life crisis, make a pact to quit their high pressure New York City media jobs and leave behind their friends, boyfriends, and everything familiar to embark on a year-long backpacking adventure around the world in The Lost Girls.
The book that started the Quiet Revolution
At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over working in teams. It is to introverts—Rosa Parks, Chopin, Dr. Seuss, Steve Wozniak—that we owe many of the great contributions to society.
In Quiet, Susan Cain argues that we dramatically undervalue introverts and shows how much we lose in doing so. She charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal throughout the twentieth century and explores how deeply it has come to permeate our culture. She also introduces us to successful introverts—from a witty, high-octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions. Passionately argued, superbly researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how they see themselves.
Now with Extra Libris material, including a reader’s guide and bonus content
For more than sixty years the rock-solid, time-tested advice in this book has carried thousands of now famous people up the ladder of success in their business and personal lives.
Now this previously revised and updated bestseller is available in trade paperback for the first time to help you achieve your maximum potential throughout the next century! Learn:
* Three fundamental techniques in handling people
* The six ways to make people like you
* The twelve ways to win people to you way of thinking
* The nine ways to change people without arousing resentment
With roughly 95,000 blogs launched worldwide every 24 hours (BlogPulse), making a fledgling site stand out isn’t easy. This authoritative handbook gives creative hopefuls a leg up. Joy Cho, of the award-winning Oh Joy!, offers expert advice on starting and growing a blog, from design and finance to overcoming blogger’s block, attracting readers, and more. With a foreword from Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge plus expert interviews, this book will fine-tune what the next generation of bloggers shares with the world.
Learn how to: – Design your site
– Choose the right platform
– Attract a fan base
– Finance your blog
– Maintain work/life balance
– Manage comments
– Find content inspiration
– Overcome blogger’s block
– Choose the right ads
– Develop a voice
– Protect your work
– Create a media kit
– Leverage your social network
– Take better photographs
– Set up an affiliate program
– Partner with sponsors
– Build community
– Go full-time with your blog
– And more!
I’ve experienced a whole lot the last few years and I have a lot to share. So I hope that you’ll take a moment to sit back, relax and enjoy the words I’ve put together for you in this book. I think you’ll find I’ve left no stone unturned, no door unopened, no window unbroken, no rug unvacuumed, no ivories untickled. What I’m saying is, let us begin, shall we?
In the summer of June of 1991, I was a normal kid. I did normal things. I had friends and a mother that loved me. I was just like you. Until the day my life was stolen.
For eighteen years I was a prisoner. I was an object for someone to use and abuse. For eighteen years I was not allowed to speak my own name. I became a mother and was forced to be a sister. For eighteen years I survived an impossible situation.
On August 26, 2009, I took my name back. My name is Jaycee Lee Dugard. I don’t think of myself as a victim, I simply survived an intolerable situation. A Stolen Life is my story—in my own words, in my own way, exactly as I remember it.
Rachel Friedman has always been the consummate good girl who does well in school and plays it safe, so the college grad surprises no one more than herself when, on a whim (and in an effort to escape impending life decisions), she buys a ticket to Ireland, a place she has never visited. There she forms an unlikely bond with a free-spirited Australian girl, a born adventurer who spurs Rachel on to a yearlong odyssey that takes her to three continents, fills her life with newfound friends, and gives birth to a previously unrealized passion for adventure.
As her journey takes her to Australia and South America, Rachel discovers and embraces her love of travel and unlocks more truths about herself than she ever realized she was seeking. Along the way, the erstwhile good girl finally learns to do something she’s never done before: simply live for the moment.
Problogger.net is where bloggers worldwide go for advice and information on enhancing their blog’s presence. Whether you’re just starting out or have been blogging for years, these two professional bloggers show you how to turn your passion for blogging into extra revenue. This practical guide to creating and marketing a blog with the potential for generating a six-figure income shows you how to choose subject matter that works for you, handle technical issues, and evaluate your blog’s success so that you can use your blog to generate income indirectly.
“I honestly loved this book.”
—Jim Norton, New York Times bestselling author of I Hate Your Guts
“Eleanor taught Noelle that, first and foremost, Courage Takes Practice. Her yearlong quest to face her terrors, great and small, is moving, enriching, and hilarious—we readers are lucky to be along for the ride.”
—Julie Powell, bestselling author of Julie & Julia
In the tradition of My Year of Living Biblically and Eat Pray Love comes My Year with Eleanor, Noelle Hancock’s hilarious tale of her decision to heed the advice of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and do one thing a day that scares her in the year before her 30th birthday. Fans of Sloane Crosley and Chelsea Handler will absolutely adore Hancock’s charming and outrageous chronicle of her courageous endeavor and delight in her poignant and inspiring personal growth.
An affecting and hope-filled posthumous collection of essays and stories from the talented young Yale graduate whose title essay captured the world’s attention in 2012 and turned her into an icon for her generation.
Marina Keegan’s star was on the rise when she graduated magna cum laude from Yale in May 2012. She had a play that was to be produced at the New York International Fringe Festival and a job waiting for her at the New Yorker. Tragically, five days after graduation, Marina died in a car crash.
As her family, friends, and classmates, deep in grief, joined to create a memorial service for Marina, her unforgettable last essay for the Yale Daily News, “The Opposite of Loneliness,” went viral, receiving more than 1.4 million hits. She had struck a chord.
Even though she was just twenty-two when she died, Marina left behind a rich, expansive trove of prose that, like her title essay, captures the hope, uncertainty, and possibility of her generation. The Opposite of Loneliness is an assemblage of Marina’s essays and stories that, like The Last Lecture, articulates the universal struggle that all of us face as we figure out what we aspire to be and how we can harness our talents to make an impact on the world.
“Long live the King” hailed Entertainment Weekly upon publication of Stephen King’s On Writing. Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999—and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it—fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.
“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'”
A special thanks to my interpersonal communication professors Dr. Scott Caplan and Dr. Steve Mortenson for introducing my classmates and I to David Richo’s books. Although I know some people may be wary to verge into books listed in the self-help category, I can assure you guys that Richo’s books will positively change the way you think. After taking some of his lessons, I find myself feeling so much more tranquil.
Most relationship problems are essentially trust issues, explains psychotherapist David Richo. Whether it’s fear of commitment, insecurity, jealousy, or a tendency to be controlling, the real obstacle is a fundamental lack of trust—both in ourselves and in our partner.
Daring to Trust offers key insights and practical exercises for exploring and addressing our trust issues in relationships. Topics include:
• How we learn early in life to trust others (or not to trust them)
• Why we fear trusting
• Developing greater trust in ourselves as the basis for trusting others
• How to know if someone is trustworthy
• Naïve trust vs. healthy, adult trust
• What to do when trust is broken
Ultimately, Richo explains, we must develop trust in four directions: toward ourselves, toward others, toward life as it is, and toward a higher power or spiritual path. These four types of trust are not only the basis of healthy relationships, they are also the foundation of emotional well-being and freedom from fear.
Examines the deepest roots of fear and how it limits our ability to act and fulfill our greatest potential.
In this book, psychotherapist David Richo explores how we replay the past in our present-day relationships—and how we can free ourselves from this destructive pattern. We all have a tendency to transfer potent feelings, needs, expectations, and beliefs from childhood or from former relationships onto the people in our daily lives, whether they are our intimate partners, friends, or acquaintances. When the Past Is Present helps us to become more aware of the ways we slip into the past so that we can identify our emotional baggage and take steps to unpack it and put it where it belongs.
Drawing on decades of experience as a psychotherapist, Richo helps readers to:
• Understand how the wounds of childhood become exposed in adult relationships—and why this is a gift
• Identify and heal the emotional wounds we carry over from the past so that they won’t sabotage present-day relationships
• Recognize how strong attractions and aversions to people in the present can be signals of own own unfinished business
• Use mindfulness to stay in the present moment and cultivate authentic intimacy
“You can’t just be the smartest. You have to be the most athletic, you have to be able to have the most fun, you have to be the prettiest, the best dressed, the nicest, the most wanted. You have to constantly be out on the town partying, and then you have to get straight As. And most of all, you have to appear to be happy.” — CJ, age seventeen
High school isn’t what it used to be. With record numbers of students competing fiercely to get into college, schools are no longer primarily places of learning. They’re dog-eat-dog battlegrounds in which kids must set aside interests and passions in order to strategize over how to game the system. In this increasingly stressful environment, kids aren’t defined by their character or hunger for knowledge, but by often arbitrary scores and statistics.
In The Overachievers, journalist Alexandra Robbins delivers a poignant, funny, riveting narrative that explores how our high-stakes educational culture has spiraled out of control. During the year of her ten-year reunion, Robbins returns to her high school, where she follows students, including CJ and others:
- Julie, a track and academic star who is terrified she’s making the wrong choices;
- “AP” Frank, who grapples with horrifying parental pressure to succeed;
- Taylor, a soccer and lacrosse captain whose ambition threatens her popular girl status;
- Sam, who worries his years of overachieving will be wasted if he doesn’t attend a name-brand college;
- Audrey, who struggles with perfectionism; and
- The Stealth Overachiever, a mystery junior who flies under the radar.
Robbins tackles hard-hitting issues such as the student and teacher cheating epidemic, over-testing, sports rage, the black market for study drugs, and a college admissions process so cutthroat that some students are driven to depression and suicide because of a B. Even the earliest years of schooling have become insanely competitive, as Robbins learned when she gained unprecedented access into the inner workings of a prestigious Manhattan kindergarten admissions office. A compelling mix of fast-paced storytelling and engrossing investigative journalism, The Overachievers aims both to calm the admissions frenzy and to expose its escalating dangers.
One Sunday afternoon, as she unloaded the dishwasher, Gretchen Rubin felt hit by a wave of homesickness. Homesick—why? She was standing right in her own kitchen. She felt homesick, she realized, with love for home itself. “Of all the elements of a happy life,” she thought, “my home is the most important.” In a flash, she decided to undertake a new happiness project, and this time, to focus on home.
And what did she want from her home? A place that calmed her, and energized her. A place that, by making her feel safe, would free her to take risks. Also, while Rubin wanted to be happier at home, she wanted to appreciate how much happiness was there already.
So, starting in September (the new January), Rubin dedicated a school year—September through May—to making her home a place of greater simplicity, comfort, and love.
In The Happiness Project, she worked out general theories of happiness. Here she goes deeper on factors that matter for home, such as possessions, marriage, time, and parenthood. How can she control the cubicle in her pocket? How might she spotlight her family’s treasured possessions? And it really was time to replace that dud toaster.
Each month, Rubin tackles a different theme as she experiments with concrete, manageable resolutions—and this time, she coaxes her family to try some resolutions, as well.
With her signature blend of memoir, science, philosophy, and experimentation, Rubin’s passion for her subject jumps off the page, and reading just a few chapters of this book will inspire readers to find more happiness in their own lives.
Gretchen Rubin had an epiphany one rainy afternoon in the unlikeliest of places: a city bus. “The days are long, but the years are short,” she realized. “Time is passing, and I’m not focusing enough on the things that really matter.” In that moment, she decided to dedicate a year to her happiness project.
In this lively and compelling account, Rubin chronicles her adventures during the twelve months she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier. Among other things, she found that novelty and challenge are powerful sources of happiness; that money can help buy happiness, when spent wisely; that outer order contributes to inner calm; and that the very smallest of changes can make the biggest difference.
“In many ways, I was an independent woman,” writes Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Alice Steinbach. “For years I’d made my own choices, paid my own bills, shoveled my own snow.” But somehow she had become dependent in quite another way. “I had fallen into the habit of defining myself in terms of who I was to other people and what they expected of me.” But who was she away from the people and things that defined her? In this exquisite book, Steinbach searches for the answer to this question in some of the most beautiful and exciting places in the world: Paris, where she finds a soul mate; Oxford, where she takes a course on the English village; Milan, where she befriends a young woman about to be married. Beautifully illustrated with postcards from Steinbach’s journeys, this revealing and witty book transports you into a fascinating inner and outer journey, an unforgettable voyage of discovery.
In March 2010, thirteen-year-old Taylor Storch’s life was tragically cut short by a skiing accident. With only a few minutes to consider their options, her grieving family made the life-changing decision to donate her organs. Knowing Taylor’s caring spirit, they were sure this was what she would have wanted. Over the course of the next two years, Tara and Todd Storch connected with four of the five people who now live because of Taylor’s gift. And through these encounters, the Storches have discovered unexpected blessings that are changing countless lives.
Now Tara and Todd share their inspiring story, shining a light at the end of the tunnel for those enduring the suffering of losing a loved one. Through the stories of the donor recipients, readers will discover hope in the midst of pain. Honest with their struggles, the Storches show readers that life is a gift and our response to grief is a choice. They also speak with a clear voice about the importance and the blessing of being an organ donor, telling the inspiring story of the creation of Taylor’s Gift Foundation and its goals to raise awareness of the need for organ donation, to re-gift life, renew health, and restore families. They are changing the conversation around the globe that organ donation is not about death–it’s about life! Foreword by Max Lucado.
This book was written by my dear professor and mentor Dr. Jeanne Murray Walker, who is also a professional poet. Her book is filled with vivid imagery, as well as metaphors. Reading her account helped me a lot after I lost my grandfather, while I was studying abroad in Australia, so a special thanks to Dr. Walker.
Award-winning poet Jeanne Murray Walker tells an extraordinarily wise, witty, and quietly wrenching tale of her mother’s long passage into dementia. This powerful story explores parental love, profound grief, and the unexpected consolation of memory. While Walker does not flinch from the horrors of “the ugly twins, aging and death,” her eye for the apt image provides a window into unexpected joy and humor even during the darkest days.
This is a multi-layered narrative of generations, faith, and friendship. As Walker leans in to the task of caring for her mother, their relationship unexpectedly deepens and becomes life-giving. Her mother’s memory, which more and more dwells in the distant past, illuminates Walker’s own childhood. She rediscovers and begins to understand her own past, as well as to enter more fully into her mother’s final years.
THE GEOGRAPHY OF MEMORY is not only a personal journey made public in the most engaging, funny, and revealing way possible, here is a story of redemption for anyone who is caring for or expecting to care for ill and aging parents-and for all the rest of us as well.
Next on my list:
Like many of his generation, Bill Bryson backpacked across Europe in the early seventies — in search of enlightenment, beer, and women. Twenty years later he decided to retrace the journey he undertook in the halcyon days of his youth. The result is Neither Here Nor There, an affectionate and riotously funny pilgrimage from the frozen wastes of Scandinavia to the chaotic tumult of Istanbul, with stops along the way in Europe’s most diverting and historic locales. Like many of his generation, Bill Bryson backpacked across Europe in the early seventies–in search of enlightenment, beer, and women. Twenty years later he decided to retrace the journey he undertook in the halcyon days of his youth. The result is Neither Here Nor There, an affectionate and riotously funny pilgrimage from the frozen wastes of Scandinavia to the chaotic tumult of Istanbul, with stops along the way in Europe’s most diverting and historic locales.
Has anyone read a book/some of the books on this list before or have suggestions about other books to read? I’d love to hear your thoughts.