Inspirational Books for These Tough Times

There’s never been a better time to get lost in a great book. These nonfiction titles offer plenty of inspiration, so you’ll be ready to take on the world when it feels safe again. Until then, we’ll be staying in with our stack of books and dreaming of reunions with our favorite people and places.

Shop these titles locally at Park Road Books and Main Street Books in Davidson or shop via the Amazon links below (book summaries pulled from Amazon.com).

Life Inspiration

Untamed, by Glennon Doyle (The Dial Press)

This is how you find yourself.

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.

For many years, Glennon Doyle denied her own discontent. Then, while speaking at a conference, she looked at a woman across the room and fell instantly in love. Three words flooded her mind: There She Is. At first, Glennon assumed these words came to her from on high. But she soon realized they had come to her from within. This was her own voice—the one she had buried beneath decades of numbing addictions, cultural conditioning, and institutional allegiances. This was the voice of the girl she had been before the world told her who to be. Glennon decided to quit abandoning herself and to instead abandon the world’s expectations of her. She quit being good so she could be free. She quit pleasing and started living.

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.

Untamed shows us how to be brave. As Glennon insists: The braver we are, the luckier we get.

Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies: And Other Rituals to Fix Your Life, from Someone Who’s Been There, by Tara Schuster (The Dial Press)

“By the time she was in her late twenties, Tara Schuster was a rising TV executive who had worked for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and helped launch Key & Peele to viral superstardom. By all appearances, she had mastered being a grown-up. But beneath that veneer of success, she was a chronically anxious, self-medicating mess. No one knew that her road to adulthood had been paved with depression, anxiety, and shame, owing in large part to her minimally parented upbringing. She realized she’d hit rock bottom when she drunk-dialed her therapist pleading for help.

Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies is the story of Tara’s path to re-parenting herself and becoming a “ninja of self-love.” Through simple, daily rituals, Tara transformed her mind, body, and relationships, and shows how to

• fake gratitude until you actually feel gratitude
• excavate your emotional wounds and heal them with kindness
• identify your self-limiting beliefs, kick them to the curb, and start living a life you choose
• silence your inner frenemy and shield yourself from self-criticism
• carve out time each morning to start your day empowered, inspired, and ready to rule
• create a life you truly, totally f*cking LOVE

This is the book Tara wished someone had given her and it is the book many of us desperately need: a candid, hysterical, addictively readable, practical guide to growing up (no matter where you are in life) and learning to love yourself in a non-throw-up-in-your-mouth-it’s-so-cheesy way.”

Get Out of Your Own Way: A Skeptic’s Guide to Growth and Fulfillment, by Dave Hollis (HarperCollins Leadership) 

Dave Hollis used to think that “personal growth” was just for broken people.

Then he woke up.

When Dave Hollis’s wife, Rachel, began writing her #1 New York Times bestselling book, Girl, Wash Your Face, he bristled at her transparency and her willingness to talk about such intimate details of their life. But when a looming career funk, a growing drinking problem, and a challenging trek through therapy battered the Disney executive and father of four, Dave began to realize he was letting untruths about himself dictate his life. As he sank to the bottom of his valley, he had to make a choice. Would he push himself out of his comfort zone to become the best man he was capable of being, or would he play it safe and settle for mediocrity?

In Get Out of Your Own Way,Dave tackles topics he once found it difficult to be honest about, things like his struggles with alcohol, problems in his marriage, and his insecurities about being a dad. Dave helps us see our own journeys more clearly as he unpacks the lies he once believed—such as “I Have to Have It All Together,” “Failure Means You’re Weak,” and “If They Doesn’t Need Me, Will They Still Want Me?”—and reveals the tools that helped him change his life.

Offering encouragement, challenge, and a hundred moments to laugh at himself, Dave points the way for those of us who are, like he was, skeptical of self-help but wanting something more than status quo, and helps us drop bogus ideas about who we are supposed to be and finally start living as who we really are.”

Get Out of Your Head: Stopping the Spiral of Toxic Thoughts, by Jennie Allen (WaterBrook)

“Are your thoughts holding you captive? I’ll never be good enough. Other people have better lives than I do. God couldn’t really love me. Jennie Allen knows what it’s like to swirl in a spiral of destructive thoughts, but she also knows we don’t have to stay stuck in toxic thinking patterns.

As she discovered in her own life, God built a way for us to escape that downward spiral. Freedom comes when we refuse to be victims to our thoughts and realize we have already been equipped with power from God to fight and win the war for our minds.

In Get Out of Your Head, Jennie inspires and equips us to transform our emotions, our outlook, and even our circumstances by taking control of our thoughts. Our enemy is determined to get in our heads to make us feel helpless, overwhelmed, and incapable of making a difference for the kingdom of God. But when we submit our minds to Christ, the promises and goodness of God flood our lives in remarkable ways.

It starts in your head. And from there, the possibilities are endless.”

Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything, by BJ Fogg PhD (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

“When it comes to change, TINY IS MIGHTY. Start with two pushups a day, not a two-hour workout; or five deep breaths each morning rather than an hour of meditation. In TINY HABITS, B.J. Fogg brings his experience coaching more than 40,000 people to help you lose weight, de-stress, sleep better, or achieve any goal of your choice.  You just need Fogg’s behavior formula: make it easy, make it fit yor life, and make it rewarding. Whenever you get in your car, take one yoga breath. Smile.  Whenever you get in bed, turn off your phone. Give yourself a high five.  

Change can be easy—once it starts, it grows.  Let B.J. Fogg show you exactly how.”

The Gift of Forgiveness: Inspiring Stories from Those Who Have Overcome the Unforgivable, by Katherine Schwarzenegger Pratt (Pamela Dorman Books)

“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 of Forgiveness is a perfect blend of personal insights, powerful quotations, and hard-won wisdom for those seeking a way to live with greater acceptance, grace, and peace.”

Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know by Malcolm Gladwell (Little, Brown and Company)

Malcolm Gladwell, host of the podcast Revisionist History and author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Outliers, offers a powerful examination of our interactions with strangers — and why they often go wrong.

How did Fidel Castro fool the CIA for a generation? Why did Neville Chamberlain think he could trust Adolf Hitler? Why are campus sexual assaults on the rise? Do television sitcoms teach us something about the way we relate to each other that isn’t true?

While tackling these questions, Malcolm Gladwell was not solely writing a book for the page. He was also producing for the ear. In the audiobook version of Talking to Strangers, you’ll hear the voices of people he interviewed–scientists, criminologists, military psychologists. Court transcripts are brought to life with re-enactments. You actually hear the contentious arrest of Sandra Bland by the side of the road in Texas. As Gladwell revisits the deceptions of Bernie Madoff, the trial of Amanda Knox, and the suicide of Sylvia Plath, you hear directly from many of the players in these real-life tragedies. There’s even a theme song – Janelle Monae’s “Hell You Talmbout.”

Something is very wrong, Gladwell argues, with the tools and strategies we use to make sense of people we don’t know. And because we don’t know how to talk to strangers, we are inviting conflict and misunderstanding in ways that have a profound effect on our lives and our world.”

Career Inspiration

Mid-Reach: A book to inspire, empower, and celebrate failing while in the midst of success, by Betsy Mack (Warren Publishing, Inc.)

Are you mid-reach? Not at the beginning of your career, but far from the end? Written by first-time author and highly-successful young professional Betsy Mack, Mid-Reach is a business memoir that feels more like a high-level conversation with a good friend over a glass of wine. Written for anybody in the messy middle of their career, this is a book that hopes to inspire, empower, and celebrate failing while in the midst of success.

Mid-Reach highlights the importance of fostering relationships, owning your mistakes, and celebrating your successes (even the small ones). Mack offers strategic suggestions and concrete advice that is easily translatable for any situation, while keeping it relatable, witty, smart, fun, and 100% real. Grab a copy, a bottle of wine, (plus maybe a good friend or two), and be prepared to laugh, nod along, and reach … just a little bit further.

Ringmaster: Work, Life, and Keeping It All Together, by Jennifer Folsom (Lulu Publishing Services)

“Contrary to popular belief, there is no work-life balance. If you are working and you have children, your life is a three-ring circus. But you can be the Ringmaster, deciding what goes into each of your three rings: work, life, and you. You decide when and where the spotlight shines. In Ringmaster, author Jennifer Folsom explores the real work-family conflict-a long-term problem in which the inputs and outputs change more frequently than most of us would like to admit. You will likely be working for a very long time, and you’ll probably be parenting for the rest of your life. What you need is a framework for evaluating the daily-and sometimes hourly-decisions and trade-offs between your personal and professional lives. This guide for working parents demonstrates that together, by lifting each other up, sharing strategies, and building our villages, we can successfully grow our careers and our families.”

Page Turning True Tales

Nobody Will Tell You This But Me, by Bess Kalb (Knopf)

“Bess Kalb, Emmy-nominated TV writer and New Yorker contributor, saved every voicemail her grandmother Bobby Bell ever left her. Bobby was a force–irrepressible, glamorous, unapologetically opinionated. Bobby doted on Bess; Bess adored Bobby. Then, at ninety, Bobby died. But in this debut memoir, Bobby is speaking to Bess once more, in a voice as passionate as it ever was in life.

Recounting both family lore and family secrets, Bobby brings us four generations of indomitable women and the men who loved them. There’s Bobby’s mother, who traveled solo from Belarus to America in the 1880s to escape the pogroms, and Bess’s mother, a 1970s rebel who always fought against convention. Then there’s Bess, who grew up in New York and entered the rough-and-tumble world of L.A. television. Her grandma Bobby was with her all the way–she was the light of Bess’s childhood and her fiercest supporter, giving Bess unequivocal love, even if sometimes of the toughest kind.

In Nobody Will Tell You This But Me, Bobby reminds Bess of the experiences they shared, and she delivers–in phone calls, texts, and unforgettable heart-to-hearts brought vividly to the page–her signature wisdom:

If the earth is cracking behind you, you put one foot in front of the other.
Never. Buy. Fake. Anything.
I swear on your life every word of this is true.

With humor and poignancy, Bess Kalb gives us proof of the special bond that can skip a generation and endure beyond death. This book is a feat of extraordinary ventriloquism and imagination by a remarkably talented writer.”

Inside Out, by Demi Moore (Harper)

Famed American actress Demi Moore at last tells her own story in a surprisingly intimate and emotionally charged memoir.

For decades, Demi Moore has been synonymous with celebrity. From iconic film roles to high-profile relationships, Moore has never been far from the spotlight—or the headlines.

Even as Demi was becoming the highest paid actress in Hollywood, however, she was always outrunning her past, just one step ahead of the doubts and insecurities that defined her childhood. Throughout her rise to fame and during some of the most pivotal moments of her life, Demi battled addiction, body image issues, and childhood trauma that would follow her for years—all while juggling a skyrocketing career and at times negative public perception.  As her success grew, Demi found herself questioning if she belonged in Hollywood, if she was a good mother, a good actress—and, always, if she was simply good enough.

As much as her story is about adversity, it is also about tremendous resilience. In this deeply candid and reflective memoir, Demi pulls back the curtain and opens up about her career and personal life—laying bare her tumultuous relationship with her mother, her marriages, her struggles balancing stardom with raising a family, and her journey toward open heartedness. Inside Out is a story of survival, success, and surrender—a wrenchingly honest portrayal of one woman’s at once ordinary and iconic life.”

Open Book, by Jessica Simpson with Kevin Carr O’Leary (Dey Street Books)

Jessica reveals for the first time her inner monologue and most intimate struggles. Guided by the journals she’s kept since age 15, and brimming with her unique humor and down-to-earth humanity, Open Book is as inspiring as it is entertaining.

This was supposed to be a very different book. Five years ago, Jessica Simpson was approached to write a motivational guide to living your best life. She walked away from the offer, and nobody understood why. The truth is that she didn’t want to lie. 

Jessica couldn’t be authentic with her listeners if she wasn’t fully honest with herself first. 

Now, America’s Sweetheart, preacher’s daughter, pop phenomenon, reality TV pioneer, and the billion-dollar fashion mogul invites listeners on a remarkable journey, examining a life that blessed her with the compassion to help others but also burdened her with an almost crippling need to please. Open Book is Jessica Simpson using her voice, heart, soul, and humor to share things she’s never shared before.

First celebrated for her voice, she became one of the most talked-about women in the world, whether for music and fashion, her relationship struggles, or as a walking blonde joke. But now, instead of being talked about, Jessica is doing the talking. Her audiobook shares the wisdom and inspirations she’s learned and shows the real woman behind all the pop-culture clichés – “chicken or fish”, “Daisy Duke”, “football jinx”, “mom jeans”, “sexual napalm…” and more. Open Book is an opportunity to laugh and cry with a close friend, one that will inspire you to live your best, most authentic life, now that she is finally living hers.”

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup, by John Carreyrou (Vintage)

“In 2014, Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes was widely seen as the female Steve Jobs: a brilliant Stanford dropout whose startup “unicorn” promised to revolutionize the medical industry with a machine that would make blood testing significantly faster and easier. Backed by investors such as Larry Ellison and Tim Draper, Theranos sold shares in a fundraising round that valued the company at more than $9 billion, putting Holmes’s worth at an estimated $4.7 billion. There was just one problem: The technology didn’t work.

A riveting story of the biggest corporate fraud since Enron, a tale of ambition and hubris set amid the bold promises of Silicon Valley.”

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, HER Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed, by Lori Gottlieb (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) Release date: April 2

“One day, Lori Gottlieb is a therapist who helps patients in her Los Angeles practice. The next, a crisis causes her world to come crashing down. Enter Wendell, the quirky but seasoned therapist in whose of­fice she suddenly lands. With his balding head, cardigan, and khakis, he seems to have come straight from Therapist Central Casting. Yet he will turn out to be anything but.

As Gottlieb explores the inner chambers of her patients’ lives — a self-absorbed Hollywood producer, a young newlywed diagnosed with a terminal illness, a senior citizen threatening to end her life on her birthday if nothing gets better, and a twenty-something who can’t stop hooking up with the wrong guys — she finds that the questions they are struggling with are the very ones she is now bringing to Wendell.

With startling wisdom and humor, Gottlieb invites us into her world as both clinician and patient, examining the truths and fictions we tell ourselves and others as we teeter on the tightrope between love and desire, meaning and mortality, guilt and redemption, terror and courage, hope and change.

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is rev­olutionary in its candor, offering a deeply per­sonal yet universal tour of our hearts and minds and providing the rarest of gifts: a boldly reveal­ing portrait of what it means to be human, and a disarmingly funny and illuminating account of our own mysterious lives and our power to transform them.”

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Ashley Kaufman
I'm happiest sipping coffee or wine and love exploring new places with family and friends, I graduated from Davidson College and now work as a PR consultant and copywriter. I write about Southern travel on my blog: http://pointssouth.wordpress.com/

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