Updated: Jan 12
I am a voracious reader and it’s been SO long since I’ve gotten lost for hours in a good book - but that’s exactly what I’m doing today in honor of #BuyaBookDay.
In case you need some inspiration on your next read, I went ahead and did some of the heavy-lifting for you. Instead of searching the internet for the "Best Memoirs", "Best Self-Help Books", and "Best Inspirational Books", you can literally just bookmark this list and take it from there.
The following is a list of [some of] my favorite books from memoirs and self-help, to manifestos on personal and professional development. In no particular order:
by Elizabeth Nyamayaro
"A 'profound and soul-nourishing memoir' (Oprah Daily) from an African girl whose near-death experience sparked a lifelong dedication to humanitarian work that helps bring change across the world."
This book brought me such delight in reading Elizabeth’s inspiration behind her groundbreaking humanitarian work. Be prepared for some gorgeous writing here, too!
Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing
by Bruce D. Perry, MD PhD + Oprah Winfrey
"Our earliest experiences shape our lives far down the road, and What Happened to You? provides powerful scientific and emotional insights into the behavioral patterns so many of us struggle to understand."
This book speaks to me on so many levels — it’s everything I’m working on in my life right now in recovering from childhood trauma. Plus it’s the grace of Oprah and the wisdom of Dr. Perry and together their work is powerful.
by Sharon Stone
"'Not your typical Hollywood autobiography. Brutally honest, restless and questing.'
—O, The Oprah Magazine
Sharon Stone tells her own story: a journey of healing, love, and purpose."
I didn’t know half of the brutal and beautiful things Sharon Stone endured in her life. This read left me so charged with strength and inspiration - her writing is dope, too!
A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing
by Bronnie Ware
"Revised edition of the best-selling memoir that has been read by over a million people worldwide with translations in 29 languages."
You know I love talking about death and this is a MUST-READ!! If you want to grab a dose of perspective and gratitude for living a life on purpose this is the book.
The Journey Beyond Yourself
by Michael A. Singer
"Spiritual teacher Michael A. Singer explores the question of human identity and shows how the development of consciousness can enable us all to dwell in the present moment and achieve happiness and self-realization."
I read this book in one afternoon — but admittedly had to reread it again to make sure I absorbed all of it’s incredible wisdom. Michael Singer’s work speaks to the seekers and self-healers.
75 Essential Meditations to Reduce Stress, Improve Mental Health, and Find Peace in the Everyday
by Matthew Sockolov
"Calm the mind and find peace with these simple mindfulness meditations.
Mindfulness is an evidence-based method for reducing stress, enhancing resilience, and maintaining mental well-being. Even short meditations can turn a bad day around, ground us in the present moment, and help us approach life with gratitude and kindness."
A wonderful book to start your journey learning more about mindfulness — and if you want to begin meditation and not feel like a loser because you can’t keep your mind clear for more than 5 seconds at a time (HELLO: me!) then this is a great book for you!
How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
by Simon Sinek
"The inspiring, life-changing bestseller by the author of LEADERS EAT LAST and TOGETHER IS BETTER.
In 2009, Simon Sinek started a movement to help people become more inspired at work, and in turn inspire their colleagues and customers. Since then, millions have been touched by the power of his ideas, including more than 28 million who’ve watched his TED Talk based on START WITH WHY — the third most popular TED video of all time."
I taught Simon’s book in my class at USC — it’s such a brilliant baseline read for understanding why brands, businesses, and even people need to understand their WHY.
Shambhala Pocket Classics
"A collection of short inspirational readings by 'one of the world's wisest women' and author of When Things Fall Apart (O, the Oprah Magazine)
Pema Chödrön, beloved Buddhist nun and best-selling author, offers this treasury of 108 short selections from her more than four decades of study and writings. Here she presents teachings on breaking free of destructive patterns; developing patience, kindness, and joy amid our everyday struggles; becoming fearless; and unlocking our natural warmth, intelligence, and goodness. Designed for on-the-go inspiration, this is a perfect guide to Buddhist principles and the foundations of meditation and mindfulness."
You know I love me some Pema! Her work is uplifting and challenging and I can’t get enough. This is one of my favorite books because you can pick it up and just grab a bite of wisdom on a page whenever you need it!
9. Dare to Lead
Brave work. Tough conversations. Whole hearts.
by Brené Brown
"#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Brené Brown has taught us what it means to dare greatly, rise strong, and brave the wilderness. Now, based on new research conducted with leaders, change makers, and culture shifters, she’s showing us how to put those ideas into practice so we can step up and lead."
We all know Brené’s work is the bomb — but Dare to Lead remains one of my faves. It’s a classic to savor and share. And I can’t wait to read her new one, Atlas of the Heart!
A Step-by-Step Plan to Create the World You Want to Live In
by Christen Brandt and Tammy Tibbetts, founders of She's The First
"If you've ever felt too overwhelmed to make a difference, or just unsure of how to apply your unique skills to a bigger purpose, this book is ready to unlock your potential."
Christen and Tammy are incredible leaders and advocates for girls and women around the world. The fact that they wrote this book on impact didn’t surprise me — they have so much to share about taking simple steps of action to help you create the impact in the world you wish to create. Get this book and share it with a young person in your life, too!
11. Leap Frog
The New Revolution for Women Entrepreneurs - Outsmart the Status Quo: Launch, Fund, and Grow Your Business
by Nathalie Molina Niño, CEO and Founder of Brava Investments with Sara Grace
"For women entrepreneurs (and anyone sick of the status quo), this smart, unapologetic collection delivers fifty proven hacks to leapfrog over obstacles and succeed in business."
Nathalie is one of my favorite disrupters. This book, which I’m quoted in, really helps break down the systemic barriers that stand in the way of folks who are looking to be entrepreneurs but don’t come from the typical privileged backgrounds most founders come from. Her hacks are smart and sourced from other incredible entrepreneurs — I highly recommend!
12. I'm Judging You
The Do-Better Manual
by Luvvie Ajayi (Awesomely Luvvie)
"'A truth-riot of a book!'―Shonda Rhimes
Comedian, activist, and hugely popular culture blogger at AwesomelyLuvvie.com, Luvvie Ajayi, serves up necessary advice for the masses in this hilarious book of essays"
No one does snark, wisdom, and belly laughing writing like Luvvie.
I also read this book in one afternoon — and pretty much devour whatever words Luvvie puts out in the world. This is a great gift that I’ve given to many people in my life.
BONUS! I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the two books that I've written:
How I Filled Up on Life ... and How You Can Too!
by Jessica Weiner
"A Very Hungry Girl chronicles the journey of Jessica Weiner, who spent most of her life hungering to be someone else. She was so desperate to be accepted and valued that she spiraled into an eating disorder, experiencing the attendant lack of self-esteem that rules—and almost ruined—her life."
I can’t believe I wrote this at 26 — but if you are ever curious about the stories that started it all for me — it’s in here and So. Much. More.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Loving Your Body Today
(Formerly titled Do I Look Fat in This?)
by Jessica Weiner
"Did you know the language you speak is as important as the food you eat?
Whether you're a size 2, 12, or 22, it's considered normal to hate your body. Society practically encourages it. But this discontent is really just a way of masking deeper issues such as insecurity, low self-esteem, or a longing for love and acceptance. By focusing on what others tell you are your shortcomings, you miss countless opportunities to feel connected, sexy, and powerful."
I tried to wrap up each chapter of this book with practical tools you can use RIGHT NOW because I wanted my readers to know that the concept of loving yourself isn’t something big and outside — it starts within and it’s available to you now!