10 Inspirational Books That Will Actually Change Your Life This Year


Before we get all, “how is it already 2019 where has the time gone soon I’ll be buying gifts for my grandkids and dreading watching the ball drop on NYE because it’s too late for me,” let’s think about all the good that comes out of a new year. We’re all about to spend the next few days setting goals, making to-do lists, and of course, adding about thirty books to our TBR.

If you’re looking for a kick in the butt this year — to get stuff done, to finally get over that sh*tty guy, to get further in your career, to make long-lasting relationships, to finally step into your power — these are for you. It’s about to be a good year, y’all.


Jill Soloway
She Wants It: Desire, Power, and Toppling the Patriarchy

Jill Soloway is the amazing and fearless creator, writer, director, and executive producer behind Amazon's Transparent, so I knew anything written by them would be just as incredible. They discuss the road to creating Transparent, how it's based on their own life experiences, being a queer, non-binary person in the entertainment industry, being a mother, and more. This book will make you laugh and cry and then laugh again.

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Michelle Obama

Think what you will about politics, but there is no denying that Michelle Obama is smart as hell and a true force to be reckoned with. You've probably already seen dozens of Instagram stories with quotes from this book, but I promise it gets even better than that.

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Olivia Laing
The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone

A friend got me this book in a gift exchange this year, and I'm already finished and obsessed with it. Laing takes us through the experience of loneliness while living in a big city and what that means for an artist. As a writer who lives alone in a city, I see so many parallels to what she's been through and her story was very validating to my own. This is a special read if you've been through a recent life change or if you're interested in reflecting on how you've changed going into the new year.

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Carmen Maria Machado
Her Body and Other Parties

This is one of the most impactful books I've ever read (dramatic, but true!). This collection of short stories is about the violence we impart on the female body, from sexual and physical violence to the violence women put on themselves. While this book doesn't offer the usual inspirational story of hardship and revival, it made me angry and frustrated enough to invoke change in my own life. Each story is invigorating in its own way, and I think you'll get something new out of each of them.

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David J. Schwartz
The Magic of Thinking Big

If you're looking for a book to motivate you to set goals and actually achieve them, this is it. A few pages in, and I had already started making to-do lists and actually checking things off. This one is a classic for productivity gurus. Goal setters, you'll love this.

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Terese Marie Mailhot
Heart Berries: A Memoir

This memoir has been everywhere since it was released last winter, and now that I've finally read it, I know exactly why. It's a woman's coming of age story that deals with trauma, mental illness, and understanding family. You can tell that her writing is a way of her coming to terms with all of that and is a form of healing for her. You see her struggles but also how she's coming out of it. It's so beautiful — don't miss this one.

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Mary H. K. Choi
Emergency Contact

This book reminded me that love doesn't always look like To All the Boys I've Loved Before. Sometimes it's messy and complicated and awkward, and that's okay!! I fell absolutely in love with these characters, the stories they had to tell, and their chemistry. Penny moves to Austin after high school and meets Sam, a barista who isn't doing so hot in basically any area of his life. They start texting... like nonstop. It's sweet, emotional, and relatable. Patiently waiting for Netflix to make this movie.

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Joan Didion
The Year of Magical Thinking

I experienced a few family deaths in 2017 and 2018, and someone recommended this book to me. (And here I am, recommending it to you!!) Everyone deals with grief differently, and Didion (one of the most amazing writers I've ever read) is aware of that. She doesn't give advice, she simply tells her story, which is enough to inspire and encourage you on your own journey of grief or loss. I'll forewarn you that this book will probably make you sob uncontrollably a few times (especially if you're an empath like me!), but the mascara stained pillowcases are 100 percent worth it.

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Mitch Prinstein
Popular: The Power of Likability in a Status-Obsessed World

Popularity and cliques are probably the number one things you want to forget about high school (unless you were one of the popular ones!), but it's hard to grasp how much popularity affects our day-to-day as adults, too. This book has helped me deal with feelings of inadequacy at work as well as feelings of isolation and that whole "not good enough" BS we all struggle with at some point.

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Brené Brown
Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone

It's no secret that I am absolutely obsessed with Brené Brown. I've read almost all of her books by now, but this one had a big impact on me last year. (So, I think it would affect you all this year!) Brown talks about disconnection in our communities, workplaces, and social circles, and offers ideas in which to find and create your own sense of belonging in the world. She sticks with the "wilderness" theme throughout the book, which I'll admit is not my favorite aspect of the book, but her ability to resonate with readers is impeccable. She combines science with firsthand experience which is so validating and makes her advice easy to follow.

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What are you reading this year?! Let us know in the comments!