The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know. This inspires me to always keep learning. But I wasn’t always a bookworm. As I journeyed into adulthood I had less time and interest in reading. With a demanding career, a household to manage, and distractions like television and social media, I was convinced that I had zero time to read books.
Then in 2009, I began traveling further and more frequently for work. That first 400-mile drive to meet a client convinced me that I needed to find something to entertain me during those long drives. By the next month, I was hooked on podcasts and audiobooks.
Since then I’ve read and listened to hundreds of books. Almost everything my husband, Jeremiah, and I have accomplished over the last decade we owe to the knowledge we gained from reading. So today I want to share the best books I’ve read that will help you live with more courage, clarity, and confidence.
How the Must-Read Books Will Change Your Life
Reading has been shown to increase intelligence and empathy. It reduces stress and can help you sleep. Reading has also been correlated to net worth. One study found that Americans with household incomes between $50,000 and $75,000 read twice as much as Americans with household incomes under $30,000.
How to Find Time to Read Books
Perhaps you’re convinced, like I was, that you simply don’t have time. We live in an era that has glorified busy. But the truth is that if something is important to us, we’ll find the time. If it’s not, we’ll find an excuse.
Yes, I understand that some people, like new parents, are in a season of life where they can’t squeeze in one more thing. And that’s fine. Cherish every moment of this fleeting season. But for the rest of us, we need to take an honest look at how we’re spending our time.
Over the next week, I challenge you to do a time survey to better understand how you’re using your time. Track how many hours you spend eating, sleeping, working, browsing social media, running errands, watching TV, and on self-care, household chores, or anything that consumes large chunks of time. Then identify which of these categories aren’t in alignment with your top priorities.
After you’ve identified the areas that aren’t helping you achieve your goals, cut them. Really cut them. Go on a 30-day social media fast, cut your cable TV service, or plan for a zero spend month to eliminate unnecessary errands. You don’t have to cut them forever, just long enough to break the habit. I’ve found that going cold turkey is the best way to make progress fast.
I prefer to read most of my books on Kindle. I love the ability to take my entire library anywhere I go. This ensures that I have something productive to do during unplanned downtime.
13 Must-Read Books
Click the title or image to open the link to each book in a new tab.
This is the book that got me hooked on books. Before reading this, I secretly believed that my potential was limited by my upbringing, education, and experience. This book gave me the courage to start believing that I really could create the life I wanted by learning to think differently.
Every day I meet people who have so much to give but have been bullied or frightened enough to hold it back. It's time to stop complying with the system and draw your own map. You have brilliance in you… – Seth Godin Click To Tweet
If you’re still not convinced that your choices, not your circumstances, determine where you can go, you must read this. In this book, Malcolm Gladwell shares story after story of underdogs who found the confidence to surpass their potential. It’s inspiring, educational, and an all-around fun book to read.
Giants are not what we think they are. The same qualities that appear to give them strength are often the sources of great weakness. – Malcolm Gladwell Click To Tweet
This classic novel is filled with so much wisdom you’ll want to read it again and again. If you’re in the midst of searching for clarity, you’ll find answers here. This book will open your eyes and show you exactly where you are, what you have, and where you’re supposed to go.
When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too. ― Paulo Coelho Click To Tweet
As we level up in life, so can our fears. If we don’t learn to recognize them, they can paralyze or even sabotage us. In this book, Gay Hendrix covers the four Upper Limit Problems that keep us from reaching our full potential. This is a wond
Each of us has an inner thermostat that determines how much love, success, and creativity we allow ourselves to enjoy. When we exceed our thermostat setting, we often do something to sabotage ourselves… – Gay Hendrix Click To Tweet
Speaking of limiting beliefs, I had to include this book. I admit that I judged this book by its cover and really didn’t think I’d like it. But I really did. It’s an edgy twist on classic self-help wisdom that parallels many of the ideas I write about in my blog and weekly email.
The only failure is quitting. Everything else is just gathering information.― Jen Sincero Click To Tweet
As an introverted child growing up in the 80s and 90s, I couldn’t help but feel like there was something wrong with me. Susan Cain calls this, “the Extrovert Ideal—the omnipresent belief that the ideal self is gregarious, alpha, and comfortable in the spotlight.” Throughout this book, she highlights the power of introverts and gives us permission to find the courage to be our quiet and wonderful selves.There's zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas. ― Susan Cain Click To Tweet
For most of us, learning to confidently love and accept ourselves is a journey. And this book does a fantastic job navigating that journey. No matter what your faith or spiritual background, I believe you’ll find great value and healing in this book.
By cultivating an unconditional and accepting presence, we are no longer battling against ourselves, keeping our wild and imperfect self in a cage of judgment and mistrust. Instead, we are discovering freedom… – Tara Brach Click To Tweet
13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do: Take Back Your Power, Embrace Change, Face Your Fears, and Train Your Brain for Happiness and Success
Here’s one more book I was sure I wouldn’t like because I believed that I was way beyond these 13 Things. But as I read it, I realized there was only one thing that I was completely free from. Morin offers practical advice for using each of these 13 T
When you learn to let go of the details you can’t control, the amount of time and energy you’ll be able to devote to the things you can control will give you the ability to accomplish incredible feats. ― Amy Morin Click To Tweet
This classic best seller provides actionable tips to find the courage to embrace and create change. This is a must read for anyone looking to live with intention and purpose. No matter where you are in life right now, you’re sure to discover new ways to build a legacy that matters.
Until a person can say deeply and honestly, "I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday," that person cannot say, "I choose otherwise." ― Stephen R. Covey Click To Tweet
This is one of the most powerful books I’ve read and my most highly recommended. Dr. Viktor Frankl’s memoir of his time in Nazi concentration camps will change your outlook on everything. During those years of indescribable pain and torture, he learned that we can’t control what happens to us, but we can choose how we respond to it.
The way in which a man accepts his fate and all the suffering it entails, the way in which he takes up his cross, gives him ample opportunity—even under the most difficult circumstances—to add deeper meaning to life. – Victor Frankl Click To Tweet
Now that you’ve mastered your mindset, let go, have fun, and get creative. Anyone who has tried to create anything in their life will connect with the stories Gilbert shares. This book will make you laugh out loud and give you the courage you need to crush your
Basically, your fear is like a mall cop who thinks he’s a Navy SEAL: He hasn’t slept in days, he’s all hopped up on Red Bull, and he’s liable to shoot at his own shadow in an absurd effort to keep everyone “safe.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert Click To Tweet
This is the first book I read by Brené Brown and it’s also one of my favorites. Reading this book helped me recognize the shame that had been stifling me my entire life. This book gave me the courage to be more authentic and vulnerable in spite of that shame, making me a better wife, writer, coach, and friend.
The power of owning our stories, even the difficult ones, is that we get to write the ending. – Brené Brown Click To Tweet
This is the ultimate book for living courageously. It’s a must-read for anyone living in the first part of the 21st century—relevant to everything happening in the world around us. This book will transform how you communicate with and love yourself, family, community, and the world.
There will be times when standing alone feels too scary… Someone will say, “Don’t do it. You don’t have what it takes to survive the wilderness.” This is when you… remind yourself, “I am the wilderness.” ― Brené Brown Click To Tweet
These thirteen books have the power to transform your life over the next year. If you’re looking for more, check out my list of 17 must-read books, then 10 books for challenging times, and check out all of my favorite books on my resources page. Select a dozen or two and give yourself the gift of learning and growth. You deserve it and you deserve to love your beautiful whole life.