One of my 100 Things for this year is to make a list of the 5 most inspirational books I’ve ever read. This could change in the future, but this is my current list in random order. Another Thing I want to do is to convince somebody to read one of these books, so if you do read one after seeing my recommendation, please let me know!
- Girl Seeks Bliss: Zen and the Art of Modern Life Maintenance by Nicole Beland
I already posted a book review, but let me sum it up: Buddhism made accessible for modern women. You don’t have to be Buddhist to benefit from lessons on mindfulness and simplicity. I’m going to reread this book this year because there’s too many juicy tidbits for me to take in after one read through. My 2016 Word of the Year is Simplify, so I know this book will be a helpful tool as I work on simplifying my home and my life.
- The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
Another book I reviewed on my blog. Actually, I have several posts about this book, and it even has its own category. I am a perfectionist Aries, and I grew up thinking I wasn’t a good artist because I couldn’t paint or sculpt or otherwise create things that looked “real.” This book helped me learn that art is about a lot more than trying to create realistic things, and it has opened me up to allow myself to be more creative all around.
- Ish by Peter H. Reynolds
Even before reading The Artist’s Way, Ish opened my mind to the freedom of imperfection. I read this book and saw myself. It’s about a boy who loves to draw until he is told that he is not good at it. So he throws out everything he’s ever drawn. Then his sister takes his art out of the garbage and hangs it up in her room, because she loves it, and she says that while his picture might not look exactly like a tree, it looks tree-ish. And that’s beautiful to her. What a great message! (This is the second book in the author/illustrator’s “Creatrilogy” the starts with The Dot and ends with Sky Color. I highly recommend all three, but for my list I had to go with the one that means the most to me.)
- Dangerous Angels by Francesca Lia Block
My introduction to FLB was Girl Goddess #9, a collection of short stories, and I fell in love with her. But it was Dangerous Angels that inspired me. It’s a collection of five novellas previously published separately, but I can’t imagine reading them as stand-alones. Weetzie Bat lives in a world of magic realism, a term I had never heard before which basically means it’s the real world but magical stuff happens. So she goes to high school and has a gay best friend and loves her grandmother, except then this lamp turns out to have a genie in it that grants her wishes. She wishes for “My secret agent lover man” and then meets a guy who says his name is My Secret Agent Lover Man, and while she does think it’s a strange name, she goes with it and that’s what everyone calls him. I want to believe that magic and the real world are not mutually exclusive – maybe not literally, but the world doesn’t have to be gloom and doom, it can be rainbows and unicorns and glitter and genies and witch babies and ghosts that sing be-bop… Come to think of it, I want to reread this too.
- No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty
The man behind National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo, which itself revolutionized my life, wrote a handbook to the month. I read it as I was gearing up for my first NaNo in 2007, and reread it the next couple years. By now I know everything in the book and don’t need pep talks to keep me going during November – I know I can write 50,000 words in one month. I have had a quote from this book on my bulletin board at work for years: “A deadline is, simply put, optimism in its most ass-kicking form.” This is why college students stay up all night cranking out papers that are due the next day, even though it was assigned at the beginning of the semester. When you know you have to get something done, like REALLY have to get it done… you do it. When it matters to you, you do everything in your power to hit your deadline. And sometimes that means making time (which usually means not doing procrastination things, but can also mean putting off chores if necessary). I don’t know if I would have won NaNo that first year if it weren’t for this book, and I encourage everyone who wants to try writing a novel for NaNo to read this book first.
So there’s my list. What books have inspired you?