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New year, new reading list, right? Well, before you start putting together a Rory Gilmore sized reading list, might I suggest narrowing down some options that might be extra impactful (at least in my opinion)? In the past year, I’ve reclaimed my title as a reader by putting an end to that all-too-dreaded readers rut and got back into books. Surprisingly, this time around, I gravitated toward readings that I found led the reader toward some kind of personal growth. While I have read my fair share of self-help books, not all of these books fit that description. Instead, what all these books have in common is the fact that they made me feel inspired to take the steps and leaps necessary for my own personal growth. Each of the following books for personal growth are books I adore, and hopefully they’ll help make up your own reading list for self improvement.
This novel follows the story of a woman navigating life post messy divorce and her half sister, who only talks about her past life in China( where she is from). Throughout the course of the book, Tan builds up the complicated relationship between the half sisters, riddled with guilt, embarrassment, love, and elements of the supernatural. If not just because this book is wildly entertaining and an overall great read, I would recommend this book to be on one’s personal growth reading list because of the raw emotion and love found between these two people who have always had a rather complicated relationship. If you feel like you need a bit of grounding, help connecting to your roots, or to your family, I would certainly recommend this book for you.
This book fits the profile of a book for personal growth in that it follows the nonfiction memoir-eque structure, and the overall tone of the writing is peppy, inspired, and fun. While this can sometimes become a lot to digest – especially when it’s a full book of peppiness – “Big Magic” is a little different in that the whole book is essentially confronting fears that people commonly have that are stopping them from doing what they want to do and, well, living their best lives. Elizabeth Gilbert’s voice is also relatable, which makes the pushes toward creative living a little more solid, hitting closer to home. If you feel like you’ve always been a little too timid to step into the creative life you want to live, pick up this book. You won’t regret it.
Following a shepherd with a prophetic dream of treasure, The Alchemist is riddled with life lessons and coming-of-age moments. I feel like this book is an amazing read for someone looking to go on a journey of personal growth. I especially loved how the narrator made it clear that our protagonist was learning more and more along the journey toward the treasure in his dream. Throughout the story, you start to see treasures different from mere images of riches and wealth, but learn to appreciate the journey and understand that the destination isn’t everything. Even what might seem like a simple adventure can hold the greatest and most impactful lessons.
Have you ever set out on a challenge to do something every day? If you have, you know that it takes quite a bit of dedication. Instead of dedicating himself to something a little more ordinary, Gay set out to highlight something delightful from his daily life in one of the hundreds of short essays that make up The Book of Delights. If you’ve never read another person’s account of their daily delights, well, it’s delightful. This book doesn’t come with a pair of rose-colored glasses, but it honestly does make you look at the world in a more positive, grateful way.
Take the hour out of your day it’ll take to read this book. This is a short read that is definitely worth the while. I’ve always known I was a feminist, but I had also been around people growing up who get the idea of feminism a little clouded, so for my own personal definition and understanding of the importance of feminism, this book helped immensely. As simply put as the title, We Should All Be Feminists is a concise book describing why we should all, in fact, be feminists. After reading this book, I had a better idea of how I can make a difference as a feminist in 2022, and it’ll show you how you can too.
While it is hard to believe, yes, there are more beautiful things than Beyonce. In this poetry chapbook, Parker uses her iconic strong, feminine voice to illustrate that there are beauties less appreciated and beautiful than what’s on our social media feeds, than, well, Beyonce. Through evaluating raw emotion, complexities, injustices, etc. Parker shifts the reader’s gaze away from the general beauty standards to something that feels a little more real. If you are having difficulties finding beauty in yourself and feeling rooted in swirling emotions, I’d suggest trying this chapbook on for size. You might really enjoy it.
Much like Gay’s delighful challenge, Colin O’Brady also challenged himself, but on a more physical scale. Impossible first tells the story of the iconic first unassisted solo crossing of the Antarctic. Sounds pretty impossible, right? Well, (spoiler alert) O’Brady did it. Throughout this memoir, the readers get to see exactly what kind of work was put into making this happen (and it was a lot). Though at the same time, O’Brady’s voice is so relatable that a lot of the momentous challenges he faced can be applied to smaller or different scaled challenges and feats in your own lives. Throughout the book, O’Brady consistently suggests readers’ find their own Everest and set out to live their lives to climb that literal or metaphorical peak. This book will get you on your way to achieving those goals for sure.
If you were also a fan of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, the mind-mouse or palace idea that Holmes uses to remember crazy facts that would help with investigations might not seem like too foreign a concept. What if you didn’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to do this? What if Moonwalking With Einstein could be the everyday person’s guide to having a memory as amazing as Sherlock Holmes. Yes, Foer claims anyone can do it. We even see how he uprooted his life as a journalist to pursue a better memory. Once you read about the feats of memory achieved by those who have trained their memories, you’ll know you’ll have to do some training on your own as well. What’s reading for personal growth going to help if you can’t remember all that information you take in? This is why Foer’s book is a must read on a personal growth reading list.
Do you ever take a step back and realize that you care way too much about something? You ever realize you care way too much about way too many things? This book will help you give WAY less f*cks. Through examples big and small, you hear about what goes wrong when you care way too much about stuff that doesn’t really matter all that much. In short, he outlines that you’ll ultimately be way happier if you just stopped caring SO much about what really doesn’t matter. After reading this, I’ve learned how to chill out a little more and start directing my f*cks in a more productive direction. Give this read a chance, and you can too.
What is your most influential read? What other books for personal growth are on your list? Let us know in the comments!