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If you’re an avid reader, every book is inspirational. In fact, the mere idea of someone writing a book is inspirational. After all, in today’s world, we all want to be actors, pop stars, or Apple executives, how many people are still interested enough in the written word to want to write a book about it?

Nevertheless, there are some books that are more inspirational than others. Some give direction on ways you can make your life better, others give examples of people who have made their lives better against the odds. Some give direction for losing weight. 

When you’re down or stuck in a rut, inspirational books can be very helpful because they’re just so, well, inspirational.

Here are some of what we think are the most inspirational books to put on your book list this year.

Chasing Slow: Courage to Journey off the Beaten Path, Erin Loechner

The title “Chasing Slow” is inspiring in and of itself. In fact, one reader was so inspired by this book that she actually wrote a blog on the 12 Life Lessons she learned from it. That’s putting theory into practice if there ever were such a thing.

As the name suggests, “Chasing Slow” focuses on the merits of living slow in a fast-moving culture.  

Loechner begins by asserting that for those who are constantly looking to get ahead, more will never be enough. By living life slowly, she posits, we begin to subtract tension. We can do this by noticing the tension around us. Although slowing down and living in the moment, may not be the norm, sometimes going against the norm is what it takes to create new and more positive thought patterns.  

In “Chasing Slow” Erin Loechner gives us the tools for creating a less stressful existence, including setting perspectives, and going “offline.” The big takeaway: “Keep slowing down. You’ve got a race to lose.”

Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill

“Think and Grow Rich’” – sounds like good work if you can get it. Apparently, it sounded so good to so many people, that “Think and Grow Rich” became the most widely circulated book on the topic of personal success in the 20th century.

In “Think and Grow Rich,” Mr. Hill urges us to define our goals. Is there a certain job we want, a certain amount of money we want to make? If so, Hill gives the reader his formula for thinking our goals into being – hence think and grow rich. 

Hill posits that with confidence, education, imagination and organized planning, among other things, we can begin to work toward making our fortune. 

However, just when you think this is the sort of paradigm for all self-improvement books, Hill throws in a bit of a curveball. 

In step 10, he begins discussing the mystery of sex transmutation, and how you can tap into your sex drive to achieve success. From there, he moves on to the sixth sense and the six ghosts of fear, but it’s all not as weird as it sounds.

 In fact, it makes a lot of sense. Read “Think and Grow Rich.” It will definitely make you think, and the richness will follow from the knowledge you come away with.

The Art of Happiness, HH Dalai Lama and Dr. Harold Cutler

To say that the Dalai Lama wrote the book on happiness is absolutely true. Who better to take advice from than the original guru of joy? This guy influenced the Beatles, then again so did Linda McCartney and Yoko Ono, but that’s still no small beans.

According to Buddhist philosophy, there are the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold path, karma and reincarnation, all of which are steps toward nirvana. In Buddhism, happiness is the main goal of life. Who in the western world wouldn’t want more insight into such a religion? The Art of Happiness” is the book that gives the western world just such an insight. 

The “Art of Happiness” is the result of a multiday exchange between American psychiatrist Harold Cutler and the Dalai Lama. Together, they come up with a general guideline for using the Buddhist philosophy to use to achieve our own nirvana in the Western world. 

As you read the book, you’ll be led through the Dalai Lama’s basic views on happiness as a worthwhile and achievable goal, and what you can do in order to pursue it. Part one deals with The Purpose of Life, part 2 deals with Human Warmth and Compassion, Part 3, with the Transformation of Suffering, Part 4 with Overcoming Obstacles. Part 5 contains parting thought on Living a Spiritual Life. Read it, reflect on it, and learn from it and you’ll find “The Art of Happiness” is a work of art. 

I Am Malala: The Story of a Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, Malala Yousafzai

When most of us think of inspirational books, we don’t think of them for young adults. After all, most of our children look more to the lyrics of Taylor Swift for inspiration than any self-improvement books. However, there are some inspirational books that every child should read.

When your child chooses a role model, they’re going to pick someone they can relate to. Children can relate to Malala because she is a child herself, and, like the protagonists in many children’s stories and films, she stands up against adults when they are wrong. However, in the case of Malala, these adults had guns and were willing to use them against Malala when she spoke out about her right to receive an education.

Also, like children’s books and movies, “I Am Malala” has a happy ending. She survived the gunshot and sent a strong message to the world about universal possibility and what it means for a female to receive education.

The Battlefield of the Mind, Joyce Meyer

If you’ve ever been blessed enough to watch Joyce Meyer in action, the word firecracker comes to mind. She is funny, sarcastic, realistic, smart as a whip, and anchored completely to God’s Word. In the book, “The Battlefield of the Mind,” she reveals her strategies for winning the battlefield of the mind for spiritual growth.

Meyers is not content to look at worry, doubt and confusion passively. She sees them as feelings of condemnation that attack the human mind that requires action to fend off. The weapon is your thinking. 

She posits that Christ intended for us to enjoy life, and by walking around with negative feelings we are not living as God intended us to. In other words, we need to stop feeling sorry for ourselves and tap into our own powers.

Another thing about the “Battlefield of the Mind,” it may be nonfiction, but it sure ain’t boring. Joyce Myers is a saucy lady with her own unique sense of humor, and you can bet, there’s more to gain from this one than just good advice. 

The Audacity of Hope, Barack Obama 

The American Dream is the American set of ideals that freedom includes the opportunity for success and that with hard work comes the opportunity for social mobility. Every time we see evidence that the American dream is achievable it gives us hope. This hope inspires us. “The Audacity of Hope” by Barack Obama is the story of one man’s road to the American dream.  

Why do we love Barack Obama? Because of what he wasn’t. He wasn’t a millionaire, he wasn’t white, and he wasn’t born into a good family. The only thing he had going for him was the “audacity to hope,” the belief that he had the right to dream, even if he wasn’t rich and priviliged. 

Apparently, his audacity paid off. In 2010, Obama came became the first African American United States president. 

The book “The Audacity of Hope” is the story of Barack’s journey to the presidential position with a view to his different approach to politics; the idea that the United States Congress did not have to be an “endless clash of armies,” but rather that a common ground could be achieved for the greater good of all. He also writes of his personal struggle with the self- deprecating humor we know him for today.

Deep, yes, well written, yes, hopeful, yes, and inspirational- the book is as inspirational as the man who wrote it. The “Audacity of Hope” is not only a story of politics, it is a story of the American Dream.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (And It’s All Small Stuff), Richard Carlson

When you were growing up, you may have heard the expression, “Pick your battles.” The idea was that there were certain fights that needed to be won, and certain fights that you were better off saving your energy. According to “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff,” you’re always better off saving your energy.

“Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” operates on the following guidelines.

  1. Your life is not an emergency.
  2. Give other people a break.
  3. Begin relaxing now.

Sound good to you? If so, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” will tell you how to do it. In fact, Carlson even advises getting bored on purpose. He also talks about knowing what’s within your control and the best way to capitalize on it, and what’s out of your control and how to let it go.

Another thing that you’ll take away from reading this book is Carlson’s sense of humor. He’s cynical, sarcastic, and self-deprecating, but he also knows how to put it all aside and find what really matters.

Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert is not the Dalai Lama, she’s not Barack Obama, and she’s not Malala Yousafzai. She’d probably be the first to admit that she’s no one’s idea of perfect, but that’s part of what makes her story so inspirational.

Elizabeth Gilbert is the everywoman. We can’t help but see a little bit of ourselves in her, which makes her our ideal guide in this spiritual journey. She’s skeptical enough to doubt Buddism as the ultimate cure-all, yet hopeful enough to give it a shot.

Eat, Pray, Love begins when Elizabeth Gilbert finds herself at thirty in a (mid-life?) crisis. She had just gone through a divorce and wasn’t sure if she was ready to get back on the proverbial horse Instead, she found herself searching for, well, herself and it took a journey around the world to find her. 

“Eat, Pray, Love” is Elizabeth Gilbert’s story of that journey. It’s her tale of self-discovery and her renewed romance with spirituality, love, and of course food. If you’re looking for a book about of inspiration, read, “Eat, Pray, Love.”

The Power of Broke, Daymond John

If you’ve ever seen him on “Shark Tank,” you know Daymond John has charisma, and when you find out he began his entrepreneurial career selling hand sewn t-shirts in Queens, you’ll see he had it for a pretty long time.

When Daymond started looking for ways to promote his product with $40 in his pocket, he didn’t know the power of broke, but when it led him to his eventual launch of FUBU which became a $6-million-dollar enterprise, he certainly realized just how potent having no money could be.

“The Power of Broke” is Daymond’s rags to riches story and its fun as well as heartwarming. Its full of characters like DJ Steve Aoki, cleaning lady turned cupcake queen, Gigi Butler, and Shark Tank denizen Mo Bridges who stitched up his clothing line on his grandma’s sewing machine. 

Whether this book shows you the power of broke, or just gives you a powerfully good feeling, it’s well worth the read. Put it on your list of inspirational books.