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12 Books That Will Change Your Life

Books that will inspire you, make you think, and maybe even change your life. Books that you read and can’t help but recommend and pass off to a friend. These books have all changed my life in different ways and left an everlasting impression. I hope this list finds you well. If you love a book, pass it on.

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The Artist’s Way

Everyone needs to read this book. Dad, Mom, YOU (the beautiful being reading this): you too. It’ll change your life whether you’re ready or not. The premise of the book is that each and every one of us is an artist. We all have an artist inside of us and it’s our duty to nurture it.

The Artist’s Way was brought into my life during a break-up, an end of a job, moving countries, and an all-around super low point in my life. After 12 weeks, I’ve had an awakening, came out, then wrote 10 Days to Higher Self. I credit The Artist’s Way for the majority of that shift.

Tip: The book is a 12-week journey. It can be intimidating to commit to and start. Doing it with a group of friends can enhance the experience and hold you accountable. There are daily and weekly exercises to foster the artist inside of you. I recommend meeting 1x/week with a group to discuss the weekly topics and questions (aka a book club). As always, you must commit the time and effort to get the results.

Big Magic

Speaking of Elizabeth Gilbert. Whether you want to write a book, make art, start a new chapter, fulfill a big dream, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, “Big Magic” is for you.

“Big Magic” is broken into six sections: Courage, Enchantment, Permission, Persistence, Trust and Divinity. Best-selling author, Gilbert, encourages the shyest creative to come alive.

The 4-hour Workweek

Warning: Tim Ferris is king of motivation. You must prepare for a kick in the ass and everything you thought to be true about the world is lies.

If you want to be (or are) an entrepreneur, you must read this book. Ferris breaks the myth that you must work harder to make more money. He encourages readers to escape the 9-5, live anywhere, and join the “new rich.”

Whether you agree with all of Ferris’ principles, it’s worth the read.

You Are a Badass at Making Money

At one point in time, I hated money. I thought it was evil. I ran away from anyone who had a lot of it, anyone who loved it. It took me 6 months to read You Are a Badass at Making Money. I went to deep places with the book. I analyzed my relationship with money and why it was evil. I still struggle with asking for money, talking about money, and putting a cost on my services and time. But, the book was helpful and eye-opening. I was able to identify my problems and question my beliefs. Books don’t solve your problems. It’s your job to do the work.

Long story short, read the damn book.

On Writing by Stephen King

I have a crush on a 71-year-old author and his name is Stephen King. On Writing is part memoir part advice on writing. He is a master at his craft and he’s f*cking hilarious. If you want to learn from the best and have a laugh, read this book.

Whether you are a writer or not, it’s helpful to learn from experts in any field. Take notes on their routines and what led to their success. I recommend this book to literally everyone.

Tip: I recommend listening to the audio book. King narrates it himself.

The Millionaire Messenger by Brenden Burchard

The Millionaire Messenger teaches people how to share their unique story and wisdom with the world and build a business doing so. If you’re looking for clarity on your purpose and how to share your story, this is a great book. Brendon includes questions (or homework) at the end of each chapter. It allows you to dig deep and reflect on each point.

Untamed by Glennon Doyle

Untamed is a story of living in un-alignment, nestling into comfortability. Have you stayed too long in a relationship? Too long in an unfulfilling job? Glennon Doyle’s life crumbled and she shares it all, every last crumb. I love this book for the depth, vulnerability, and outright honesty. Glennon Doyle uses her failures and misfortunes to empower other woman and for that I will praise her name as long as I live.

Contributions from The Explorer Community:

Thank you to everyone who contributed!

You are a Badass by Jen Sincero

First and foremost, Jen Sincero’s style of writing is so frank and hilarious that I wanted to be friends with her immediately. It cuts through the BS and gets straight to the point: we tell ourselves a lot of lies and stories because we’re scared of what we really want or that we are actually capable of achieving it. I won’t give any more away, but this book is definitely worth a read no matter where you are on your journey.

Contributor: Megan Zink, Moderately Excited and Color and Curiosity – IG: @moderatelyexcited (travel) + @colorandcuriosity (inspirational interviews)

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

After I read this book, I chuckled a little bit because I realized the opportunity to read it was so similar to the plot: it was there, I didn’t know what else to do, I thought it might bring me some clarity and something hard to pin down was pulling me toward it (kind of like the main character to the Pacific Crest Trail). And I also essentially always had hiking on the brain since we were out west at the time. There’s a reason many people seemed surprised when I said I hadn’t read it – I’m glad I did, I got some great takeaways. This one will stick with you for a long time.

Contributor: Megan Zink, Moderately Excited and Color and Curiosity – IG: @moderatelyexcited (travel) + @colorandcuriosity (inspirational interviews)

Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin

A few years back, I decided to f*ck my 9-5 job and started my journey as a digital nomad. 

It was fun, it was stressful, and it was often very messy. No day was ever the same, and clients praised me for being so flexible, adaptable and easy-going. 

But many things were very overwhelming and there were never enough hours in a day. Basically, I was all over the place and I always felt exhausted. 

After a year or two, I felt like I had hit a wall. I had to change my habits to use my time efficiently and become more balanced in life. 

I started to read books about changing habits, but I just couldn’t relate to them and it all felt a bit pointless. Until I discovered Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin. 

Her way of combining research with vivid stories and examples of everyday situations was an absolute game-changer. Now I have more structure in my daily routines and finally feel in control. My work results are better than ever, and I feel much more relaxed in my personal life. 

I love Gretchen’s sense of humor and down-to-earth approach. This book made it possible for me to really understand my habits and change them for the better! 

Contributor: Philear Jongkind, Philly’s Passport – IG: @phillyspassport

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants

Braiding Sweetgrass is a must-read for understanding the relationship between humans and Earth. The author uses her knowledge of Indigenous wisdom and Western science to explain what is currently a very toxic relationship. In our modern, capitalist society, we tend to look at the earth as a commodity, with a mindset of scarcity and exploitation. We need to heal this relationship, for the sake of us all, by looking at the Earth as a gift, with a mindset of abundance and appreciation. She shares so many nuggets of wisdom in this book I couldn’t do them justice here.

I will end with this quote: “If citizenship is a matter of shared beliefs, then I believe in the democracy of species. If citizenship means an oath of loyalty to a leader, then I choose the leader of the trees. If good citizens agree to uphold the laws of the nation, then I choose natural law, the law of reciprocity, of regeneration, of mutual flourishing.”

Contributor: Melissa, Melissaannmaida.com – IG: @melissaannmaida

Feminism Is for Everybody: Passionate Politics

“If any female feels she needs anything beyond herself to legitimate and validate her existence, she is already giving away her power to be self-defining, her agency.” 

Feminism for Everybody is a must-read for understanding how feminism benefits us all. Feminist politics are rooted in love and justice for all. This book goes into how women can be responsible for upholding the patriarchy as well as how young boys and men are negatively impacted by it. If you already call yourself a feminist, if you despise the movement, or you have no idea what it is really about, this book is for you!

Contributor: Melissa, Melissaannmaida.com – IG: @melissaannmaida


What books have had a lasting effect on you? Any life-changing books to add to the list? *comment below to recommend a book*

Also check out: Best Travel Memoirs of All Time

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