We love books. We love reading them, collecting them and, above all, giving them as gifts. Since the holiday season is a time for reflection and resolutions, we’ve gathered our top inspiring books from thinkers, present and past, to jumpstart creativity and connection in the coming year.
Released in October, this little canvas-bound book compiles some of the most provocative and beloved quotes from Cheryl Strayed. Drawn from her wildly successful books Wild, Torch and Tiny Beautiful Things, the quotes appear formatted one per page without attribution. Together, there are 160 pages to dip into when you need a little push of inspiration, encouragement or bravery, including this one: “Believe in the integrity and value of the jagged path. We don’t always do the right thing on our way to rightness.”
The Little Prince
As Antoine de Saint-Exupéry himself put it, The Little Prince is a book for children written for grown-ups. This classic French novella tells the story of an aviator who crashes into the desert. There, he meets a young boy, “the little prince,” who tells him tales of his unusual and otherworldly life in outer space. Each allegory illuminates an aspect of human nature and our collective potential. The accompanying watercolor illustrations are beautiful in their own right.
The War of Art
Though we generally shy away from any books with “self” or “help” in the genre description, we’re making an exception for this energetic manifesto geared toward writers. Written in 2002, The War of Art is a straight-talking book about fighting the inner resistance that keeps us from achieving our goals, whether it’s writing a book, starting a diet or founding a company. Pressfield asks, “Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”
Letters to a Young Poet
It’s the correspondence that has inspired millions. Over the course of 10 beautifully written letters, Austrian poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, gives advice to an aspiring writer enrolled at his alma mater. Not only do these letters offer insight into the author’s own poetry, but they provide gems of wisdom and strength for anyone, poet or otherwise. He writes, “If you will stay close to nature, to its simplicity, to the small things hardly noticeable, those things can unexpectedly become great and immeasurable.”
The Year of Magical Thinking
by Joan Didion
Death is part of life. Life is part of death. In recent years, no one has written about these truths as movingly as Joan Didion. The Year of Magical Thinking is a memoir of mourning, but it is also a memoir of surviving. Didion wrote the book following the death of her husband, John Gregory Dunne, while they were both dealing with the hospitalization of their daughter. Didion frankly describes her “magical thinking” and the difficulty she had grappling with the enormity of her grief. Whether you’ve experienced the death of someone close to you or not, Didion’s simple and elegant prose will inspire you to look at your relationship with your emotions and the ones you love.