Death and Other Happy Endings
How would you spend your time if you found out you only had 90 days left to live? Instead of flying off to exotic places for untold adventures after getting such a grim diagnosis, Jennifer Cole decides to say what she doesn’t want to leave unsaid to her challenging sister, cheating ex-husband and charming ex-lover. With unexpected results and acceptance of the inevitable, Cole will inspire you to speak your own truth, whatever the consequences.
Bird by Bird
If you want to write but can’t quite make it happen, this how-to will help you get through both the emotional blockages and the practical hurdles. Lamott offers insight into the existential turmoil of writing, plus more practical tips on how to get started and keep going, all in the tone of that strict-but-loving teacher who helps shape our passions and our self-discipline.
My Life on the Road
For many of us, Gloria Steinem as an icon, but not someone we feel we know. This book will introduce you to who she is. She shares how her early years helped shape her life, including the many places she traveled and the people whose stories transformed her. By writing not as the source of inspiration, but to share who inspired her, Steinem models how each of us is a link in the chain.
The Power of Myth
Known for the saying “follow your bliss,” it’s no surprise that Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth would be an inspiration. Reveling in myths from different cultures and periods past and present, Campbell draws a line between various mythological traditions and how they can help us find our life’s purpose.
Women Who Run with the Wolves
Clarissa Pinkola Estés Phd
Inside every woman is a wild woman, and each wild woman has many faces. She is mother, she is maiden, she is warrior, she is priestess, she is crone. Pinkola Estes repositions some of the stories, fairy tales, and legends we think we know, unveiling the feminine and helping us realize the power of archetypes who, when working together, can guide us towards our most realized selves.
Woman Enters Left
When an unfulfilled 1950s movie star receives a surprising inheritance from a screenwriter she barely knows, she hits the road back east to try to uncover the mystery behind the woman’s relationship with her own mother, and how the two women took the same drive in the opposite direction decades earlier. Told in tandem, we find out from all three what self-discovery—and rediscovery—looks like when you have the courage to demand it.
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
Running was an essential part of Murakami’s writing process. This book is about way more than putting one foot in front of the other. Written as a memoir, Murakami chronicles his training for the New York City marathon, cutting in stories about how he became a writer as well as some wisdom on aging. It’s about passion, dedication and how weaving the two together creates magic.
Her boyfriend Claude may have evicted her, but Harriet is not about to go quietly. Whether she is hero or anti-hero to the modern-day feminist reader, one thing is certain—Harriet is over the niceties expected of women. And there’s something inspiring about that. Don’t we all just want to be unselfconsciously self-centered sometimes? Maybe we won’t follow through, but witnessing one woman do it sure does loosen you up a bit.
Best friends since childhood, Nel Wright (who stayed in Ohio for a conventional life) and Sula Peace (who escaped to the big city), juxtapose a choice that women often face between social expectations and what we want. Most of us strive for a middle way, but Morrison unlocks what our decisions can mean, their repercussions and how to live authentically, through the stories of these two women who take very different paths.
What’s more inspiring than a woman who traverses 1,700 miles of Australian outback with four camels and a dog all by herself? A mirror of life, and why it’s worth the effort, Davidson depicts the kaleidoscope of the human condition, finding meaning in the land, the peoples who care for it, and within both the perils and power of modern womanhood—all hard-earned lessons we can strive for even in our most simple, everyday lives.
There are so many different approaches to “living the dream.” You could embark on an outdoor adventure, pursue the career you’ve always wanted, create deeper connections, live wild and carefree, or find authenticity and meaning in many of the other myriad ways. Part of living my best life means connecting to the diversity of experience through other people’s stories.
Here are 10 inspiring stories from those who have grabbed life by the horns in their own way—I hope that they’ll motivate everyone to do the same.
Featured image: @Elisall via Twenty20