These days, it seems everyone could use an extra dose of inspiration—check out these inspirational reads motivating readers to focus on living their best lives, even under difficult circumstances. Through, yoga, poetry, memorable quotes, uplifting stories, and more, these authors offer up the encouragement we need right now.
Quarantine getting you down? Priya Parker—author of The Art of Gathering—inspires us to connect in an article from The New York Times:
You Can Still Have Happy Hour, Just Do It on Facebook!
Untamed by Glennon Doyle
Now a Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine pick!
In her most revealing and powerful memoir yet, the activist, speaker and bestselling author explores the joy and peace we discover when we stop striving to meet others’ expectations and start trusting the voice deep within us.
There is a voice of longing inside each woman. We strive so mightily to be good: good partners, daughters, mothers, employees, and friends. We hope all this striving will make us feel alive. Instead, it leaves us feeling weary, stuck, overwhelmed, and underwhelmed. We look at our lives and wonder: Wasn’t it all supposed to be more beautiful than this? We quickly silence that question, telling ourselves to be grateful, hiding our discontent—even from ourselves.
Soulful and uproarious, forceful and tender, Untamed is both an intimate memoir and a galvanizing wake-up call. It is the story of how one woman learned that a responsible mother is not one who slowly dies for her children, but one who shows them how to fully live. It is the story of navigating divorce, forming a new blended family, and discovering that the brokenness or wholeness of a family depends not on its structure but on each member’s ability to bring her full self to the table. And it is the story of how each of us can begin to trust ourselves enough to set boundaries, make peace with our bodies, honor our anger and heartbreak, and unleash our truest, wildest instincts so that we become women who can finally look at ourselves and say: There She Is.
The Gift of Forgiveness: Inspiring Stories from Those Who Have Overcome the Unforgiveable by Katherine Schwarzenegger Pratt
A fresh, inspiring book on learning how to forgive—with firsthand stories from those who have learned to let go of resentment and find peace.
Written with grace and understanding and based on more than twenty in-depth interviews and stories as well as personal reflections from Schwarzenegger Pratt herself, The Gift of Forgiveness is about one of the most difficult challenges in life—learning to forgive. Here, Katherine Schwarzenegger Pratt shows us what we can learn from those who have struggled with forgiveness, some still struggling, and others who have been able to forgive what might seem truly unforgivable.
The book features experiences from those well-known and unknown, including Elizabeth Smart, who learned to forgive her captors; Sue Klebold, whose son, Dylan, was one of the Columbine shooters, learning empathy and how to forgive herself; Chris Williams, who forgave the drunken teenager who killed his wife and child; and of course Schwarzenegger Pratt’s own challenges and path to forgiveness in her own life. All provide different journeys to forgiveness and the process—sometimes slow and thorny, sometimes almost instantaneous—by which they learned to forgive and let go.
The Gift: How the Creative Spirit Transforms the World by Lewis Hyde
A modern classic cherished by many of the greatest artists of our time, The Gift is a brilliant, life-changing defense of the value of creative labor.
Drawing on examples from folklore and literature, history and tribal customs, economics and modern copyright law, Lewis Hyde demonstrates how our society—governed by the marketplace—is poorly equipped to determine the worth of artists’ work. He shows us that another way is possible: the alternative economy of the gift, which allows creations and ideas to circulate freely, rather than hoarding them as commodities.
Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown, PhD, LMSW
Rising strong after a fall is how we cultivate wholeheartedness. It’s the process, Brown writes, that teaches us the most about who we are.
Social scientist Brené Brown has ignited a global conversation on courage, vulnerability, shame, and worthiness. Her pioneering work uncovered a profound truth: Vulnerability—the willingness to show up and be seen with no guarantee of outcome—is the only path to more love, belonging, creativity, and joy. But living a brave life is not always easy: We are, inevitably, going to stumble and fall.
It is the rise from falling that Brown takes as her subject in Rising Strong. As a grounded theory researcher, Brown has listened as a range of people—from leaders in Fortune 500 companies and the military to artists, couples in long-term relationships, teachers, and parents—shared their stories of being brave, falling, and getting back up. She asked herself, What do these people with strong and loving relationships, leaders nurturing creativity, artists pushing innovation, and clergy walking with people through faith and mystery have in common? The answer was clear: They recognize the power of emotion and they’re not afraid to lean in to discomfort.
Regardless of magnitude or circumstance, the rising strong process is the same: We reckon with our emotions and get curious about what we’re feeling; we rumble with our stories until we get to a place of truth; and we live this process, every day, until it becomes a practice and creates nothing short of a revolution in our lives.
I Really Needed This Today: Words to Live By by Hoda Kotb
From New York Times bestselling author and beloved Today show co-host Hoda Kotb comes an inspiring collection of quotes—drawn from her own personal favorites featured on her enormously popular Instagram account—that offer wisdom, courage, and hope.
Several years ago, Today show co-host Hoda Kotb began posting a variety of quotes on her Instagram page. Some were penned by a favorite writer; others offered a dose of love or laughter. She thought the quotes were meaningful only to her, but soon a funny thing started happening—reactions poured in from thousands of people who were just as moved. The quotes weren’t only providing inspiration to Hoda, they were comforting and connecting people. So many of their comments read, “I really needed this today,” a phrase that inspired the book’s title.
In I Really Needed This Today, Hoda not only shares 365 sayings and quotes, she writes about the people and experiences that have pushed her to challenge boundaries, embrace change, and explore relationships to their fullest.
Gmorning, Gnight!: Little Pep Talks for Me & You by Lin-Manuel Miranda; Illustrated by Jonny Sun
From the creator and star of Hamilton, with beautiful illustrations by Jonny Sun, comes a book of affirmations to inspire readers at the beginning and end of each day.
Good morning. Do NOT get stuck in the comments section of life today. Make, do, create the things. Let others tussle it out. Vamos!
Before he inspired the world with Hamilton and was catapulted to international fame, Lin-Manuel Miranda was inspiring his Twitter followers with words of encouragement at the beginning and end of each day. He wrote these original sayings, aphorisms, and poetry for himself as much as for others. But as Miranda’s audience grew, these messages took on a life on their own. Now Miranda has gathered the best of his daily greetings into a beautiful collection illustrated by acclaimed artist (and fellow Twitter favorite) Jonny Sun. Full of comfort and motivation, Gmorning, Gnight! is a touchstone for anyone who needs a quick lift.
Click for the Spanish Language Edition: ¡Buen día, Buenas noches!
Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion by Pema Chödrön
An inspiring book where readers will learn practical methods for heightening awareness and overcoming habitual patterns that block compassion—from the author of When Things Fall Apart.
Comfortable with Uncertainty offers short, stand-alone readings designed to help us cultivate compassion and awareness amid the challenges of daily living. More than a collection of thoughts for the day, it offers a progressive program of spiritual study, leading the reader through essential concepts, themes, and practices on the Buddhist path.
Readers do not need to have prior knowledge of Buddhist thought or practice, making Comfortable with Uncertainty a perfect introduction to Pema Chödrön’s teaching. It features the most essential and stirring passages from Chödrön’s previous books, exploring topics such as lovingkindness, meditation, mindfulness, “nowness,” letting go, and working with fear and other painful emotions.
Laughter Yoga: Daily Practices for Health and Happiness by Madan Kataria, M.D.; Read by Sunil Malhotra
Could you use a good laugh? This definitive guide by the founder of the worldwide laughter yoga movement will show you how to giggle your way to good health!
Bring laughter into your life at any time of day—no special equipment needed, no new wardrobe, no expensive classes, not even a sense of humor!
Laughter yoga is all about voluntary laughter—how you can learn to laugh even in the absence of humorous stimuli, and reap the extraordinary, scientifically proven benefits, which include stress reduction, pain relief, weight loss, heightened immunity, and, especially, enhanced mood: If you act happy, you’ll become happy—your body can’t tell the difference!
Children laugh more than 300 times a day, adults fewer than fifteen. But it’s easy to start laughing again. The exercises in this book combine voluntary laughter with yogic breathing to give you a full body-mind workout. And it turns out that laughter is the fastest way to reduce stress and the best kind of cardio: Ten minutes of hearty laughter is equal to thirty minutes on the rowing machine.
The Rumi Prescription: How an Ancient Mystic Poet Changed My Modern Manic Life by Melody Moezzi; Read by Mozhan Marnò
A powerful personal journey to find meaning and life lessons in the words of a wildly popular 13th century poet.
Rumi’s inspiring and deceptively simple poems have been called ecstatic, mystical, and devotional. To writer and activist Melody Moezzi, they became a lifeline. In The Rumi Prescription, we follow her path of discovery as she translates Rumi’s works for herself – to gain wisdom and insight in the face of a creative and spiritual roadblock. With the help of her father, who is a lifelong fan of Rumi’s poetry, she immerses herself in this rich body of work, and discovers a 13th-century prescription for modern life.
Addressing isolation, distraction, depression, fear, and other everyday challenges we face, the book offers a roadmap for living with intention and ease, and embracing love at every turn–despite our deeply divided and chaotic times. Most of all, it presents a vivid reminder that we already have the answers we seek, if we can just slow down to honor them.
Want More Poetry?
Since its founding in 1915, Alfred A. Knopf has prided itself on publishing some of the finest poets of our time. And for more than twenty years, the imprint has celebrated National Poetry Month by sending out a free poem every day throughout April.