It’s summertime! When I was a kid that meant weekly walks down to Herman’s Drugstore, which is where the Bookmobile would visit each week. I looked forward to that adventure every Wednesday night. (Am I dating myself? That’s okay by me.)
I know that anytime is a good time to read, but summer reading has always felt a little more special. The books I’ve read over the years tend to take me back to simpler times and bring happy memories to mind.
Is summer reading a tradition for you?
What’s on your summer reading list? Please use the comment section below to add your recommendations. Others will appreciate your suggestions.
If you’re looking for something to read, I have 32 recommendations for you that are sure to be thought-provoking, entertaining, and inspiring!
The list may seem a bit quirky, as I didn’t focus on “what’s new.” Sure, new books get all the attention, but I don’t think we should forget the goodies that have been published over the years.
In all likelihood, you’ve already read some of these, but I thought they were worth mentioning anyway as they’re all still insightful and inspiring rereading. I know I like to read the Alchemist every year; it’s my absolute favorite on this list. Paulo Coehlo certainly knows how to write stories that entertain while they enlighten. His writing never fails to give me goosebumps.
I’m also a huge Anne Lamott fan; I don’t know another author who can weave stories of pain, struggle, hope and healing together as beautifully as she does. It doesn’t really matter which Lamott book you read, you’ll always end up feeling a little more hopeful about yourself and the world when you finish it.
Whatever you read, I hope the books you select take you to new worlds, make you think, bring a smile to your face, and touch your heart.
My Top Ten Inspiring Books that Could Change Your Life
- The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo
First published in 1998 and originally written in Portuguese, The Alchemist has been translated into more than 65 languages and after 25 years, it still remains on the New York Times Best Seller list. Yes, that’s a record. There are few things more enjoyable than spending time with Santiago as he sets on a journey to discover his treasure. This allegorical novel is one of my very favorites. It definitely introduces the reader to goosebump-worthy material as it unfolds with the beautiful messages it offers about life, love, adventure, happiness, and fulfilling one’s destiny.
- The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz.
Drawn from ancient Toltec Wisdom, Ruiz takes you through 4 basic ‘agreements” that will guide you in every decision and action you need to take in life. The book has sold over 5 million copies, which is a testament to not only its popularity but the far-reaching benefits of its message. The first agreement is to be impeccable with your word. I’ll let you read the book to learn agreements two, three, and four!
- The Power of Less by Leo Babauta
Before everyone got all excited about adopting a minimalist mindset (the trend started by Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up), Leo Babauta was teaching us the exquisite beauty of focusing on the essential and eliminating the extraneous in our lives. Babauta’s work focuses on how to spend your time and energy, and eliminate wasted, unnecessary effort. He advocates slowing down, paying attention, and adopting small new habits to reduce the stress in your life, increase your success, and multiply your happiness.
- The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch and Jeffrey Zaslow
Begin with the end in mind – that’s how you’re told to do things at work, but do we apply that to our lives? Often not. Randy Pausch had no choice, though; he was dying and he wanted his last days on earth to provide direction and meaning for his children whom he would not live to see grow up. Of course, they were too young to understand his messages at the time so Randy wanted to give his words of wisdom in a way that would be remembered long after he was gone. He used the opportunity to give a “last lecture” … a speech about what he felt were the most important lessons in life (that speech would later become this book). Pausch just wanted a record of these lessons for his kids, he never expected the lessons to touch millions of people. The teachings in this book are so rich and endearing and offer important reminders worth revisiting.
If you’re not familiar with Byron Katie’s work, it’s time to introduce yourself to her books. Wayne Dyer called Katie “one of the truly inspiring teachers of our time.” You’ll learn why he gave her such great praise when you read this book that teaches you how to stop struggling with things you cannot change so you can experience more joy in your life.
- Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson
I think the title on this one pretty much sums up the value of listening to the advice in this little treasure. We lost Richard Carlson too soon, but his work lives on and keeps inspiring. If you haven’t revisited this book lately (or if you’ve NEVER read this book), add it to your summer reading list.
- Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers by Anne Lamott
Anne could describe the contents of my recycling bin and make it sound beautiful and interesting while bringing subtle yet deep meaning to its existence in my life. Yup, she’s that good. In addition to this book being penned in Anne’s famously glorious writing style, her message in Help, Thanks, Wow is spot-on, too. (Do yourself a favor: check out all of Anne’s books and start following her on Facebook!)
- Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
Because if you’re in the mood to read a classic, why not read a classic among all classics, right? Keep tilting at windmills Don Quixote!
What if that thing you’ve been fighting with is actually trying to teach you something? What if you’ve been looking at your challenges all wrong? A rather mind-blowing thought, isn’t it? This book is chock-full of insights that seem counterintuitive, making it a mind-blowing read that can truly change your life.
- The Seekers’ Guide: Making Your Life a Spiritual Adventure by Elizabeth Lesser
I just love Elizabeth Lesser and if you haven’t had a chance to get acquainted with her work yet, The Seekers’ Guide is a great place to start. Lesser invites you to reframe how you view your life, encouraging you to see it as a “spiritual adventure.” If you’re a seeker like me, Elizabeth Lesser’s words will resonate with you and hug you like a silk-edged blanket. This is such a good book!
12 more great reads (because let’s face it, who can have a summer reading list with only 10 books on it? That’d be ridiculous!):
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (Okay, you may have already read this one. Read it again, because you’ll love it even more the second time!)
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed (the movie was fine, but the book is incredible!)
The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma
The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav
Life without Limits: Inspiration for a Ridiculously Good Life by Nick Vujicic (this man is off-the-charts amazing!)
Finding Your Own North Star by Martha Beck (my TOP recommendation if you’re feeling lost in your life and are looking for direction)
A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson (the BEST!)
The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
Daring Greatly by Brené Brown (even better than her Netflix special, this is the one where you learn how to develop true courage!)
Carry On, Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life by Glennon Doyle Melton
It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again by Julia Cameron with Emma Lively (for anyone starting over!)